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Back Buzz - November 18, 2017

pumping heartParadise Park Cafe, 6334 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, California

Once again my slight hiatus from my coffee columns has been due to another short visit to California. But I'm back and, after an unexpectedly long period of recovery, finally unjetlagged, with new columns to write.

But before I zoom across the pond, I recently noticed something in Sheffield that has confused me. As I passed through Broomhill on the bus I noticed that Nam Song Vietnamese Coffee House, which I wrote about recently, has changed its name to Five Rivers Coffee Company. Was this because they thought Sheffielders wouldn't remember or be able to pronounce Nam Song, which means "five rivers" in Vietnamese? This name change occurred not long after Cawa Coffee Roasters opened across the road, just two doors down from Costa Coffee which lies opposite Five Rivers. So is Sheffield becoming the new Seattle or something? Will we start to experience coffee wars? Perhaps, in a competition to survive, they'll all start to lower their prices in order to attract customers. Ah, well, we'll just have to wait and seeā€¦

Meanwhile, back to California. While visiting my mother in Long Beach I flew up to Oakland for a long weekend. The East Bay city of Oakland is famous for the Oakland-Bay Bridge, Jack London Square, art deco theatres, craft breweries, and as the home of my friend Mistah Rick, with whom I meet up to explore breweries. But of course Woman/Man cannot live on beer alone, so we managed to hit a couple of coffee places as well.

After a stop in San Leandro for our first pint we decided to have a mid-afternoon coffee to freshen us up for the rest of the day and evening. So we stopped at Paradise Park Cafe. Located on the corner of Alcatraz Avenue, the cafe is on the border of Berkeley and the city of Emeryville, home of several biotech companies as well as Peet's Coffee. The cafe, which opened in August of this year, is family run. As we walked in I was impressed by the huge croissants displayed in the front case -- but as it was mid-afternoon and we'd had lunch we just had a couple of cappuccinos.

Our cappuccinos were beautifully served in big flat cups, and the coffee was satisfyingly robust. Considering it was 3:30 in the afternoon the cafe was surprisingly busy. As we sat sipping our coffees Tom Waits playing in the background, which is always a good sign.

The food looks good. The menu features all sorts of breakfast items featuring poached eggs, lox, chorizo and pancetta, black beans, tofu, and avocado dishes, and they also offer sandwiches, salads, organic juices and smoothies, and of course coffee drinks -- and there is an ample dessert list featuring an ice cream burrito. The pastries are all from Starter Bakery of Berkeley.

Fortified by a very pleasant caffeine experience we headed out and on our way to further exciting adventures.

Speaking of exciting adventures reminds me of a post-trip e-mail exchange with Mistah Rick featuring some very entertaining videos:

I'm finally just starting to go through some trip notes. Reading about my flight over from England, I was reminded of the Virgin Atlantic safety video which made me break out laughing, alarming my seatmates who were either ensconced in their eye-masked naps or busy reading their magazines. At least I was inspired to watch it to the end. Wow! In August when I went to Seattle mid-week I booked a flight from SFO on Alaska, but due to some partnership actually flew on a Virgin America plane. Their very cleverly choreographed safety video had me too watching until the end -- and re-watching later. But the animated Virgin Atlantic video takes it to another level. Does the Academy have categories for Best live action & Best Animated Short Safety Film? And wow again! Entertainment while flying has come a long way since the early Alaska Airlines days when the pilots would joke with the passengers. I'm hoping I can fly Virgin again next time, so I can look forward to watching their new safety film. I wonder what will happen in the next instalment...