Over the years, I have often talked to people or seen TV shows or movies where people “work” at a coffee shop. I have never been one to seek out these opportunities for a number of reasons:

  1. As a synthetic chemist, my “work” has often been tied to a lab. You can’t really pull out a hot plate and start up a 3 hour reflux at a table in the coffee shop.
  2. The labs I have worked in always have very fast and reliable (and “free to me”) internet… purposely going to a place with spotty (or expensive) connectivity seems like a bad idea.
  3. I was trained at a time when ubiquitous WiFi connections and cloud-based storage didn’t really exist for the average person. I had (and still have…) a lovely little case to organize my USB drives and typically carry 40GB or more of USB drive storage with me whenever I have to move files around. The creative work I engage in as a chemist almost always involves copious references that may or may not be available online, so packing up a suitcase full of reference works to bring along to the coffee shop seemed to be more trouble than it is worth.

The list could be significantly longer than that, but I think that’s enough to get a good picture of my situation. I understand that this might make me seem like a crusty old fart who yells at all the hippies to get off the lawn, but I don’t really try to be that way.

There have been a number of significant changes in my life over the past 8-10 months, and I think I have reached a point where I need to use those as a catalyst to make some more fundamental changes in my approach to work, and life, and the world around me. I find myself escaping to coffee shops to do work (both job related and otherwise) on a regular enough basis that I can identify these occasions as times to explore myself and my world in a more substantial way.

One of the things I have missed in the past year is blogging. It always seems to slip down the priority list, there’s always something more important to do (even if that’s just to take a nap…), and I have sometimes felt guilty for indulging in such a non-productive activity. As I think about the positive changes I can make in my life, I think that one thing that should be fairly easy is to give myself permission to blog. Not because I am filled with the most important information that society must have available on the interwebs, but because it represents a way for me to change gears and explore myself beyond the boundaries of my job and my life as a chemist.

One thing I will include as a consistent theme is a summary and review of the coffee shop and my beverage(s) of choice. Today’s venue is Moxie Java in downtown Moorhead. Moxie has a good atmosphere and energy with comfortable seating. The staff is very nice and handled our drink order well. I ordered a Moxie Java Blend brewed coffee and my partner got a blended iced mocha with a shot of English toffee flavor. The Moxie Java Blend is good, not exceptionally special, a darker roast with not a lot of notable character. It’s functional coffee. The blended iced mocha with a shot of English toffee flavor is also good, but was a second choice because they did not have black tea. That’s right, no black tea. If you want fruity or candy flavored tea, they’ve got it, but if you just want a simple cup of plain black tea, you’re out of luck. They also have WiFi that seems to be incompatible with my computer, so I have no WiFi… makes it kind of hard to work on cloud-based resources. So it looks like Moxie will move VERY far down the list of useful places to do coffee shop work.

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Endangered Species offers a pretty wide variety of chocolate bars of varying strengths with a number of adjuncts. At $3-4 per 3oz bar, they are a reasonable value. The bar I’m reviewing here is the 72% Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans.

Endangered 72% Espresso

The Chocolate:

The 72% cocoa content provides a good chocolate hit with a mild bitterness that is well balanced. The chocolate melts smoothly on the tongue with a pleasant secondary flavor bloom. 

The Adjuncts:

Espresso beans are a wonderful complement to a good quality chocolate bar, unfortunately in this case the espresso beans ruin what could be a good bar. The espresso bean pieces in this bar are much too hard and really interfere with the overall experience. I don’t know if this is a quality issue or just a bad batch of espresso beans, but I have tried a number of good espresso beans that provide a subtle crunch without being hard and gritty like the beans in this bar.

The Form:

These 3oz bars are divided into 15 squares that are perfect for proper enjoyment. The squares snap off cleanly, although the demarkation lines could be a little deeper. This is a form common to Endangered Species brand bars and is a very positive feature of the brand.

Endangered 72% Espresso form

Nutrition:

The Endangered Species 72% Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans bar has typical nutritional values for the quality and price-point of the bar. At 28 calories per square, this bar is ideal for an approximately 100 calorie treat of 4 squares. 

Endangered 72% Espresso nutrition

Overall:

I will not be buying this bar again. The overly hard espresso bean pieces ruin the experience of this bar, although the chocolate itself is good. I will certainly try other options in the Endangered Species line because the chocolate quality and form of the bar are both good.