In the Loop | What’s up around Denver

Sometimes the best experience comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and checking out some fresh venues to meet up with your friends.

If you’re like most people you find yourself heading to the same place on the weekends out of convenience. But Denver’s food/coffee scene is blowing up with new innovation. So here are some places to hit up if you live in the Denver area and if you don’t well that’s just your luck isn’t it. You’d better start looking at flights asap.

Here are three for this week, to which I’ll add more each Sunday:

Happy Coffee CO:

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These folks pull a mean espresso shot. But it’s not necessarily the dark, dark espresso of the old days. As they describe it, they pull 2 shots with a 3 shot basket to lose the bitter, unrefined flavors that are left. Happy Coffee first opened within Salvagetti Bike shop. It began as a bike thru window, but has since moved to a new location on South Broadway. This inviting little spot is worth shot. (no pun intended…)

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Black Eye Coffee Shop:

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This hip little coffee oasis is located in the Highlands at 3408 Navajo Street. It has some of the best coffee in Denver, using Box Car Coffee as their primary roaster—a pretty darn good choice. The renovated space has a rustic, industrial vibe with refurbished vintage furniture and high exposed ceilings. They take their coffee seriously, which means each drink is made with quality beans and machines. Stop by next time you’re looking for a spot to read your morning paper.

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Old Major:

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When you walk into Old Major, you feel like you might want to pick a table or a bar seat and hole up for the night. The farmhouse style design is inviting and soft on the eyes. But, naturally once through the door, we’re here for the food, which is nothing but phenomenal. The chefs take part in conscious cooking, by which I mean they are aware of the origins of most if not all of the ingredients they use as well as the farmers who grew them. Their in-house butchering and curing is certainly a big draw, but their whole menu is amazing. Plus, you’d hope they’d be churning out delicious food with a kitchen that costs around 200,000 dollars. As they say of their style, “It’s an honest approach to doing food right.”

Note: They have an amazing happy hour from 3pm to 6pm everyday. Which.is.awesome.

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If you don’t already frequent these places fit one or two into your routine this week. You won’t be disappointed.

Vibrations | Slow Listening

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We move through life these days at a fast clip, moving from one activity to the next quickly, less efficiently, less smoothly. I know I am completely guilty of this as well. However, I’ve noticed a push  towards leading one’s life more slowly, filled with awareness and intentional behavior. One notable movement has been the slow-food movement, but less well-known is the push for longer more thoughtful writing and what brings me to this post; engaged music listening or slow listening.

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These are probably the coolest headphones I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a few. So, how would these seemingly attractive, yet normal looking headphones promote slow listening? Jonas Breme introduced the idea of slow listening through the creation of his project Listen Carefully (a pair of headphones) while in school at the University of Applied Science in Potsdam, Germany. Bremes challenges the way we listen and consume music today. He states that listening to music was once an active experience. Active in that you sat and focused on what you were hearing. You took the time to contemplate the song; you let it consume you. However today, listening to music has transformed into a passive experience or passive listening as coined by H. Weber.

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It is true that we plug in our earbuds or throw on our headphones to do our work, take a run, or drive in the car.  Listening to music has become a side-activity. However, we rarely sit back, keep still, and enjoy the music streaming into our ears.  So, in lieu of passively listening to music, Bremes advocates for active, mindful listening with these Listen Carefully Headphones. They are unique because in order to listen to music with them on, you must stay still, relax and listen. Each time you move or get up and walk around, your movements trigger a sensor that lowers the volume of your music. Pretty cool idea, nay? Bremes has a short write up on his website if you want his words on the subject. I think it’s a neat concept and one that would keep us more engaged in the moment.

Disclosure: I did write this post while listening to music. So guilty.

Whether or not you listen to these with a focused mind, here are some songs rotating though my playlist (thanks NPR).

Happy Monday!

ManMade | Kletterwerks

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You know those Saturdays when you used to wander up into your attic and get lost in all of the stuff stored up there? Moving aside old lamps, trying on your mom’s vintage shirts (ultimately deciding, yes, it’s okay to wear these out…), and playing around with the old typewriter that had gathered years of dust in the corner. If you’re really lucky—in my view—you may return to the real life of downstairs with your parents old hiking backpack, the canvas one that never wears thin. Those are the backpacks that Kletterwerks has begun to resurrect and remake.

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Kletterwerks

Kletterwerks began with humble beginnings when Dana Gleason made is first packs just before his move to Bozeman, Montana. The company developed and built a following in Bozeman and in 1978 Gleason sold his share of the company. He went on to create several more companies selling outdoor gear and Kletterwerks as a company all but disappeared until Gleason’s son, also in the family business breathed new life into the idea and began making Kletterwerks Packs once again.

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Kletterwerks is German—kletter means climbing and werks means plant. The packs are made with solid materials meant to last, which means a lot in an era where the quality of products is seriously lacking. They also have a lifetime warranty to back up their affirmations about product quality. Take some time and look around their site. It’s worth it.

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PS I read about his company on this blog: it’s a pretty cool resource too!

Vibrations | Icona Pop

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It seems Sweden is churning out an impressive line of musicians. I just had to start moving my body the first time an Icona Pop song came on, there wasn’t much else I could do. This hardcore feminine duo from Sweden have hit the electronic pop scene with some head banging tunes that are making it on everyone’s weekend playlist.

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The duo is made up of Caroling Hjelt and Aino Jawo who formed their band in 2009. In 2010, they made a name for themselves with their song Manners, which also made an appearance in Chiddy Bang’s Mind your Manners. This past September they released This is… Icona Pop, which is filled with effortlessly fun songs to “which you can both laugh and cry with at the same time.”

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These songs should start your Monday off with more than enough energy to get through the rest of the week. Give them a listen and enjoy!

Happy Monday!

Libations | Pliny the Elder

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Here’s the beer you should be holding in your hand this weekend – it’s Pliny the Elder. It’s one to sit back and sip away at because it’s kicking with flavor and is worth savoring. There’s a reason this beer is so popular and consistently receives perfect marks. In fact, Beer Advocate has given it a perfect score of 100 points. Obviously, this beer is not joke.

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Pliny the Elder is brewed by Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California. I stopped into this brewery last week while I was in Northern California. Rock music played over the speakers and the clientele was a rough and tumble crew filled with bikers. But, they brew some good suds and while I wouldn’t have placed this particular scene with such a notable brewery, it was a part of the appeal. They haven’t swayed from their roots even with the fame they’ve garnered.

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This highly hopped beer is aptly named. The wise old Pliny the Elder was prominent in Roman times and is known for identifying and naming the hop plant, Lupus Salictarius, a quintessential ingredient in beer. This beer is not to be missed, especially if you’re a hop lover like the rest of the craft brew crowd.

Here’s the skinny:

Pliny the Elder 

Style: American Double IPA

ABV: 8.00%

Hops: Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe

Make sure to do something crazy with the rest of your weekend.

Cheers!

Vibrations | First Aid Kit

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I first started listening to First Aid Kit while studying abroad in Copenhange, DK. The two women above? You got it, they.are.First Aid Kit. They hail from a beautiful place called Sweden. The duo is made up of Johanna and Klara Soderberg. Yes, they are sisters – no surprise there, since all the bands I’ve recently highlighted have been groups comprising of sisters. However, in my search for women artists, killing it on the music scene, I seem to keep running into sister acts. It must be that sisters just make beautiful tunes!

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Their music began circulating in 2008 with the release of their first album Drunken Trees EP. While they have consistently increased their listener base, it was bolstered by their cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.  This album has been followed by two others, equally interesting and thoughtful. Their vocals release folky harmonies that ranges from clear and sweet to somewhat rough and husky. It’s captivating to listen to their voices rolling over each note with defiance and clarity.

Give these two songs a listen!

Also, In addition to this week’s Vibrations, I offer a great music video that I found on this blog. Check out their dance moves. It seems their seriously moved by the universe.