CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Miir


Just last month I visited the west coast of the US again. Although I was mostly in my native Southern California, for a short break I flew up to my old second home of Seattle. My Bay Area friend Rick flew up as well to help me explore new cafes, breweries, and other fun things.

Our B&B was in Fremont, otherwise known as the Center of the Universe or the Artist’s Republic of Fremont, and we were just a few steps from the Fremont Troll which has been protecting the neighbourhood from its home under the Aurora Bridge since 1980. The Washington Ship Canal was only a short walk as well, so there were quite a few places available to have our morning coffee.

On our first morning we walked over to Miir, which is located in a large building on the corner of Stone Way and 34th just off the Burke-Gilman Trail. The building, which is also the headquarters of Brooks Running, apparently consumes up to 80% less energy and water than the average office building, and the resident businesses offer their employees all sorts of environmentally-friendly perks such as bike storage, electrical vehicle-charging stations, and showers and changing rooms.

And there's more: on Miir’s own website they advertise themselves as a certified B corporation, which means that they’re a for-profit organisation but also environmentally conscious. And every product or drink sold at Miir helps to fund a giving project. So you can experience a real feeling of heart-racing positivity as you finish off your fourth three-shot cappuccino of the morning...

My cortado -- referred to a "cortado-ish something" by the barista after I sleepily described that I wanted sort of a cross between a macchiato and a cortado -- had that creamy chocolately but caffeine-powerful taste I recall from several cafes in Portland. Rick ordered a drip coffee and was served a coffee in a cup as well as a jug with more coffee to pour. My dill parmesan scone from the wonderful Macrina Bakery was very good, and Rick's banana ginger muffin, also from Macrina, was nice as well. These were proper morning pastries, just enough to keep us going until lunch.

The cafe is roomy and bright and definitely looks like it’s located in an office building. Aside from coffees there is a long craft beer list and a line of taps on the wall behind the counter, so I suppose one could order a macchiato with a beer chaser -- in other words, a true coffeebeer. Everyone in the place, save one couple who were doing that old-fashioned "talking" thing, were on their phones or laptops. Rick and I, I admit, were also on our phones, but only to research where to go next and what to do for the day, so ours was a collaborative constructive phone engagement (which thankfully had absolutely nothing to do with Pokemon-Go).

The cafe’s coffee beans are supplied by Counter Culture Coffee, which trains baristas and sources handmade coffees directly from farmers and cooperatives, and different coffee roasters are featured regularly. There are shelves and racks all around the cafe that were selling Topo Designs shirts and backpacks and bags of Bivouac Coffee, who must have been the current guest roasters. Also for sale were thermos cups, camp cups, straw holders for cups, corkscrews, billfolds, etc, all with the MIIR logo. I really got the feeling of corporate office: the MIIR Foundation. Perhaps we should have been putting together a PowerPoint presentation of our plans for the day.

When I asked how to get to the Toilets, I was directed to a code for WOMEN, along with a different code for MEN. Quickly memorizing the correct code I entered a very plain corridor and took several turns. I finally came to a door that read WOMEN and I entered the code, pushed the door, and found myself in a regular public restroom with several stalls. Oddly enough, although the toilets themselves were spotless, they all contained yellow water, which was a bit disconcerting. It must have been the toilet cleaner or the pipes, as it couldn't have been Seattle water which is quite pure. Perhaps this was the new colour of Sustainable Water. I was quickly distracted from my concern by the Dyson Airblade hand dryer, which always fills me with delight.

Speaking of wonderful inventions reminds me of a recent very short e-mail exchange with Rick about 3D printing:

I subscribed to the Shapeways newsletter when I was researching 3D printing for my novel The Hat Club so I could learn a bit more about what's happening with the technology. They even have a shop where you can buy products -- jewellery, etc -- that members have made. I've been fascinated by the brand new multicolour printing process available for 3D printers as well as some of the other recent developments. I wonder how long it'll be before we can actually buy our own multicolour multimaterial multidimensional printers? 3D multicolor printing looks amazing! It seems like we're on track for the printer you invented in your novel.

Some elements of your book may already be here. Do they offer mixed birdseed feedstock? (With abundant millet, of course.) Bird enthusiasts have always been able to buy those bell shaped clusters; why not provide them the means to create their own in any shape they can imagine? Cat-shaped. Statues of Civil War heroes. Use this stock in one of those printers capable of laying down a house, and bird watchers can delight as flocks peck away at their walls.

By the way, I see a 3D concrete printer on Ebay for just $34,567...