Thing 10: Qualia Coffee

I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 26. But once I started, I continued on strongly and with great enthusiasm. And I rarely drink coffee for the caffeine-I drink it because it’s delicious. So quality matters, though as a good friend once said “the best coffee is the coffee you have access to.” 

Luckily I have access to a lot of really excellent coffee. Including Qualia! A long time favorite of DC’s Petworth neighborhood, I enjoyed trekking up for beans and jars of cold brew. My typical move was to metro up and then leisurely walk back home with a cold brew in hand. But in Summer 2017 something magical happened. Qualia opened up a second location in Eckington, just 4 blocks from my apartment.

Though this distance is short at the crow flies, it could take anywhere between 6 and 20 minutes for me to walk there. Because Qualia is on the other side of Dave Thomas Circle; a complete bastardization of urban planning that routes a complicated and extremely busy series of intersections around an island Wendy’s. 

But I digress…it’s always worth the short but possibly tumultuous journey for some of the frequently changing single-origin roasts. Because what’s available changes so often, it’s super helpful that they provide complex tasting notes and flavor profiles on every bag. I also love their oat milk lattes, refundable jars of cold brew, and a great selection of tea too! Dan in San Francisco received a bag of Nicaragua Apple, from the Jinotega Region. Hope he has a grinder!

@qualiacoffee

✔️ DC Based 

Thing 9: Prints!

Prints! Yesterday, we discussed how functional ceramics, like mugs and bowls, are a great entry point into buying local art. And as promised, we’re continuing on to things for your walls! I am here to champion prints. “Prints you say? Like copies?” Well, no. Today I am talking about original works of art made by printmakers, not reproductions, which can be made by artists of any media. 

If you’re very new to this, you can read a little bit more about printmaking in an explainer from the Met. But I promise you already know famous printmaking, such as Hokusai’s Great Wave or Warhol’s silkscreens. There is an incredibly huge range in printmaking, with dozens of techniques and countless methods. But due to the nature of how many printmakers work, looking at artists working in this media can be a great way to purchase affordable, original art. 

Similar to how I discussed finding ceramists yesterday, you can search for printmakers and printmaking cooperatives in your area online and on Instagram. Because many types of printmaking require large, expensive presses, it’s common to find groups of artists sharing studios or working out of ateliers/cooperative spaces. This is great from a collector and consumer standpoint, as it can enable you to discover the work of more than one artist at a time. And if you see artwork you like, but it isn’t *quite* the right fit, don’t hesitate to contact the artist directly and see if they have additional pieces for sale. 

Elizabeth in the UK received a monoprint (the image pictured here) from Underway Studio today. This was a fun adventure for me because I got to go on a hunt to find a new local(ish)-to-her artist! If you’re in DC, some of my favorite places to purchase prints are Pyramid Atlantic, Washington Printmakers, Washington Print Club, Victory Dance Creative, and Printmakers Inc., but I am constantly finding new work and new artists to love.

And you should keep track of the artists you like! Following artists on Instagram (or signing up for their mailing list) lets you know where to see additional pieces, keeps you up to date with what they’re making, and can even provide exclusive access or discounts on certain pieces.  Don’t forget that art can make excellent gifts too!

@underwaystudio

@washingtonprintmakers

@washingtonprintclub

@pyramidatlantic

@victorydancecreative

@printmakersinc325

🎁 Tiny creative business 

✔️ DC Based 

Thing 8: A Locally Made Mug

If you’re looking to support the arts in your area, check out the ceramics scene. We’ll talk a little bit about art for your walls later this month, but functional pieces are an excellent way to get star (or grow) your collection! You don’t have to worry about where to hang it, how to frame it, if it goes with your everyday vibe—just use it! Plus, often it’s easier to find something in your price point. 

But Abbey, I don’t know any clay artists. Where do I start?! A few ways! Google may be a good starting point: your city + ceramics. But I will warn you, as a whole, artists are TERRIBLE at updating their websites. You’ll probably have more success on Instagram. Search for hashtags like #SFClay #PhoenixClay #LACeramics and see what you find. More often than not, you will be sent on an amazing artistic treasure hunt. Find an artist or cooperative gallery, and see where you can purchase the work. This is how I found a mug for Rita in Chicago! Because the Thing was a local mug, I went looking for Chicago ceramics. I ended up purchasing a piece by  from Gnarware Workshop by Frenchy Villagrana.

Do make sure you’re looking at the work of professional artists. Typically, this will be fairly obvious from the portfolio of images, but it never hurts to do some additional Google recon. While supporting hobbyists can be fun and is not at all a bad thing, it is vital (especially in pandemic times) to try and direct your funds to working artists and arts organizations who rely on sales for their income. You are also guaranteed a more quality product from someone who has honed their craft.

Your beverage will taste better in a mug made by a local artisan. Whether they call themselves clay artists, potters, or ceramists, I guarantee you there is someone making amazing ceramics in your region. Pictured on this post is one of my favorite pieces from Marzel Artes Deolazo aka The Horny Potter. He might call it a bowl, but I use it as a mug 😉 

@hornypotter

@gnarwareworkshop

@vfrnchy

🎁 Tiny creative business 

🌎 Planet Friendly

🏳️‍🌈 Queer Owned

💛 Minority owned

🚺 Woman owned  

Thing 7: Just Add Water

two bottles of cleaning product

Similar to the story of Thing #3, 2020 is also the year we sanitized. It took me a little trial and error to find a cleaning spray that was good for the planet and also actually worked. So I was beyond thrilled when I started using JAWS, because it really does work. And not just in a ‘works fine for a green product’ way; they’re genuinely great cleaners!

As their name anagram clearly spells out, you Just Add Water (to the System). A starter kit includes a spray bottle and two concentrated liquid pods. Each pod makes a full bottle of cleaner. With the exception of the disinfectant, all products are non-toxic. I use the shower cleaner, granite cleaner, and glass cleaner, but the power houses in my apartment are the kitchen cleaner and disinfectant

The kitchen cleaner works SO well, and also smells great (an orange cinnamon scent!). With all of the increased cooking and cleaning at home during the pandemic, I have been using waaaay more cleaning supplies. It’s awesome to only have a small amount of (recyclable) waste with every bottle. Plus, I never have to worry about what is in stock at the store, as I keep a nice stash of refills under my sink from bulk online orders. Brian in NYC may be converted to the JAWS cleaning way soon, as a kitchen and disinfectant starter kit heading his way. 

🌎 Planet Friendly

Thing Six: Republic Restoratives

three bottles of alcohol

A distillery boom came to my quadrant in the mid-2010s. Starting with New Columbia Distillers in 2012, my bordering neighborhood of Ivy City became DC’s distillery row. For me the most welcome addition came in 2016, when DC’s first women-owned distillery, Republic Restoratives, was opened by Pia Carusone, former Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and Rachel Gardner. 

My 2020 was greatly improved by a steady flow of Borough Bourbon and Chapman’s Apple Brandy, and they also offer a solid vodka and rye. My current bottle, batch No.3, is a five year old, high rye bourbon that was aged in 50 year old Armagnac casks. It makes an amazing Manhattan and Old Fashioned, but is also fantastic neat. 

And I cannot rave enough about the apple brandy. Three cheers for the rise and return of actual apple brandy in the United States. For years, you could easily find “apple-flavored brandy” but not actual brandy made from apples (HUGE DIFFERENCE). The first time I tasted real apple brandy (after spending years casually searching to make a recipe from David Wondrich’s Punch) was at Eleven Madison Park, where they end each meal with a bottle you can consume as much of as you like to finish your meal. It is spirit perfection.

Fast forward a few years and I am living less than a mile from the small distillery that makes the best apple brandy I have ever had. What a glorious turn of events. Plus, they have fun offerings like their Pride 2020 package, and make hand sanitizer too! I cannot wait to return to the tasting room and cocktail bar, but I am grateful for the opportunity to pick-up local and delicious bottles during *~*~*these times*~*~*

If you’re in DC, check out pick-up and delivery; if you live elsewhere, they offer many products shipped nationwide. A Kentucky Mule kit (with a 200ml bottle of Borough Bourbon, Fever Tree Ginger Beer, and lime) arrived at Jamee’s place in DC today. 

@republicrestoratives

✔️ DC Based 

🏳️‍🌈 Queer Owned

🚺 Woman owned