Coffee Gift Ideas for Mom

April 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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I haven’t blogged consistently over the past three months. Kim and I have done a lot of traveling and we have moved to a different state. We have had some good and bad things to deal with also that involve our sons. I may write about some of our experiences in the near future. But you can be sure we have had some good coffee along the way. Starting next week I will be posting coffee and coffee shop reviews. I have a lot to catch up on. I have even turned down some coffee until I get caught up.

During our travels we have been able to try coffee in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. We have had some great coffee and some average coffee. Some coffee that we had was even a little disappointing. We have been in some great coffee shops and met with owners and roasters. Talking with some of the owner/roasters was a great diversion during some difficult times.

We have been learning a lot more about coffee and coffee shops too. Since January we also learned more about cupping coffees and barista judging. We plan to look into home roasting in the future too. We have been trying some new coffees and sharing beans with friends. I have introduced some people to the French Press and Chemex brewers too.

Today I want to give you our suggestions for gifts of coffee if your mom likes coffee and has a grinder. If you live close enough to one of these shops then take your mom out for a good cup of coffee. In my reviews you can read what I look for in a coffee shop. The shops I mention here are very good. I will suggest a coffee too, but we have had more than one coffee from each of them and they were all good. I am already thinking that there are other shops I could mention, but I’ll start with these:  Costa Rican La Minita; Dayton, Ohio area  Founder’s Blend, West Side Market, Cleveland, Ohio Nicaraguan Maragogype, Mechanicsburg, Ohio  Dominican Republic Café Femenino, Columbus, Ohio  Ethiopian Amaro Gayo, Tarrytown, New York  Venezie Blend, Grapevine, Texas; the picture at the top is their roaster.

Each of these coffee shops is worth going out of your way to get too. We have had more than one coffee from each of them and thought they were very good. The staff of each was very helpful and friendly. It was a really good experience. From our point of view you should be glad if you live close to one of them. If you don’t you can still order coffee from them and give your mom some great coffee. Time for me to take Kim on a date to a coffee shop we have never been too. Until the next time, remember to stop and enjoy the conversations and coffee.

Much GRACE and peace to you,


(Romans 15:13)

Coffee Tasting Party

September 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews, Coffee Shop Reviews | 5 Comments
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What do Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Haiti, Mexico, and Nicaragua all have in common? They are all countries where coffee beans are grown. Recently we had the privilege of sharing some coffee from each of these countries with some family and friends. We actually tried a couple more coffees too! It would be the first intentional coffee tasting party for us. Man did we have fun. We have already had another and have plans for more in the near future.

Before the party I asked the host if I could bring some different coffees and brew them a couple of different ways so we could try something new. You see I come by teaching naturally. I like to take opportunities to teach whenever I can. I am also a lifelong learner and I think that one of the best ways to continue to learn is to teach about what you are learning. My wife and I have been learning about the roasting, grinding, brewing and tasting of coffee. I wanted to share some of that knowledge and coffee with some family and friends. So I had a plan to share about grinding, brewing and tasting one specific roasters coffee.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters ( provided us with coffee. Their motto is “coffee with a mission.” We’ve reviewed some of their other coffees before. They are involved with direct trade with the coffee farmers and this works out better than fair trade. They care about improving the lifestyles of the indigenous coffee farmers. They have also started a non-profit agency to assist the coffee growers in Latin America called Care Cup International ( I encourage you to check out both sites.

Well Kim and I stopped in Mechanicsburg at the Hemisphere Coffee Roasters shop to meet Paul and Grace who started this ministry/business. We had a good time talking with them and getting to know them. We tried some coffee and they gave us some samples to give away and to brew and little cups to use. We appreciate their helpfulness and generosity! We hope to get back up there again on one of our trips.

None of the people at the picnic own or use a grinder or French Press. They usually buy coffee that is on sale in the grocery store. That has changed now. First I showed them how easy it is to grind whole beans. Then I made the same coffee in an auto-drip and French Press. We tasted the auto-drip first and then the Press. A couple of people weren’t sure if they liked the Press, but they did like the coffee in auto-drip.

We were drinking coffee in little cups so I kept making coffee to taste. I would pass around the bag of whole beans and ask them how they liked the aroma. A few people actually ate a bean of each coffee. Then I would let them smell the aroma after the beans were ground and again after the coffee was poured into their cup. I would ask them to try to describe the aroma.

After we sipped some coffee I would ask them to try to describe what they tasted. It was a lot of fun listening to their descriptive words. Things like; I’m not sure, fruitiness, tingly, smooth, heavy, and full were used at different times. We even tried some Mexican decaf and one person who doesn’t like decaf liked it and thought it would be good in the French Press.

Overall the Papua New Guinea and Menno Blend were favorites. They are smooth, flavorful, and naturally sweet with a good earthy aroma. The Haitian coffee was liked too. Two people liked the dark roast Nicaraguan Maragojype the best. They thought it was a deeper, bolder flavor. All but one person liked the Mexican decaf.

We had a great time talking and tasting coffee. We gave away sample bags of coffee that we received from HCR. I also ground beans of each coffee we tried and put them in baggies for each taster to take home and enjoy. It was a lot of fun our pleasure to introduce people to the good coffees of Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We truly hope it sends some business their way and helps their “coffee with a mission” grow. We received the coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation!

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review: Stauf’s Kenya AA Lenana

August 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 1 Comment
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We enjoy drinking coffee with friends and getting to know one another better.  We try to share all of the coffee we receive for reviewing with friends and co-workers. Sometimes we have friends over to drink coffee with and sometimes we give beans to them so they can brew it at home. We ask them to tell us how they liked the coffee after they have had it. So it was good to be able to have some friends over to share this Kenya AA Lenana from Stauf’s (

The Stauf’s Kenya AA Lenana  is described as having a uniquely clean finish with the taste and aroma of blueberries and tobacco. It has a medium-light body and a crisp acidity. It came as a whole bean full city roast. It is named after one of the three peaks of Mount Kenya and is grown at altitudes of 4500 feet and above. We all thought the aroma in the bag was pretty good, a mix of fruit and smoke. We were looking forward to brewing it.

We had two groups of friends over at different times and the first brewer choice for each was the Chemex coffee maker because they had never tried coffee brewed that way before. Two even drank their coffee black because they wanted to try a new coffee drinking experience. We thought it had a somewhat sweet, fruitlike flavor. It has a light body and a mildly crisp acidity with a good aftertaste. It went well with the fruit-topped cake we had for desert.

Next we tried the French Press which seems to be the most common brewer that people get after the auto-drip. Here the aroma and flavor were stronger, but acidity is still mild. The body seemed more medium here, just a little bit heavier. Another sugar and cream user drank his cup black and enjoyed it. This is really an enjoyable cup of coffee in the press.

Most of our friends just brew coffee in an auto-drip and they don’t own a grinder. So we help them learn about grinding whole beans, different brewing methods and fresh roasted coffee. Usually they are surprised at how good fresh roasted coffee tastes, even the ones that think that “coffee is coffee.” It is funny to see the smile on their faces when they take that first sip of freshly ground and brewed coffee. From the auto-drip this Kenyan has a mild, naturally sweet flavor. The flavor doesn’t seem to last long in your mouth, but it is a good cup of coffee.

If you would like to try a good mild coffee, this Kenya AA Lenana from Stauf’s might be the one for you. We enjoyed good coffee, good food and good conversation. It was a good coffee brewing and drinking experience. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee With A Mission!

August 2, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 2 Comments
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Coffee with a mission! That’s the slogan of  Hemisphere Coffee Roasters ( This week’s coffee is light/medium roast called Café Diego. It is grown by Diego Chavarria in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. People from Rosedale Mennonite Missions met Diego in the 1970’s while doing work in the area. They became friends and started working together. In 2006 HCR purchased a full container of Café Diego, paying twice what they were currently receiving. With the profit the men are empowered to pay their workers better, sustain the farm, and hire pastors for their workers and their families. Six churches are now supported from ongoing coffee purchases.

The Café Diego is described as having a good acidity and chocolaty undertones. It is grown at high altitudes in old shade canopy. The bean is hard and has wonderful characteristics. One of the things we enjoy about doing the coffee reviews is sharing coffee with friends who don’t normally drink coffee made from fresh ground beans. We get to try new coffees and help friends find out just how easy it is to grind whole beans and then use a different brewer. It is about the relationships with people. It seems to be that way with HCR too.

This light/medium roasted Café Diego has an earthy and fruity aroma. When brewed in the French Press it has a medium body, not too heavy or too light. The taste seems to hit the middle of the tongue and there is a bittersweet chocolate flavor. It has a natural sweetness. We enjoyed the flavor of this coffee.

Next up was the AeroPress brewer and it seemed to intensify the flavors. The AeroPress is unique in that you can brew and drink the coffee like an espresso or add water to the cup and drink it like American coffee. We brewed it and tasted it espresso style and it wasn’t overpowering. Neither Kim nor I really like espresso, so we added some water and it still had a surprisingly good deep flavor.

We also used the auto-drip and filled a thermos for a short trip to some used bookstores and antique stores. The coffee had a good roast flavor and hints of dark chocolate. The acidity is low and there is a pleasant aftertaste.

We liked this coffee from any of the brewers we used and would give it two thumbs up. We are not experts about coffee but we are willing to break out of old routines and brew coffee in different ways. We like tasting the differences that each brewing method presents to us. If you haven’t tried a whole bean coffee, give it a try, you can do it and you will be glad you did.

If you want to try some good coffee and help missionaries and missions work at the same time we suggest you try this Café Diego or any of the coffees from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. You’ll be glad you did. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Stauf’s Dominican Republic Cafe Femenino

July 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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We enjoyed our visit to Stauf’s Coffee Shop ( and you can read about it in the coffee shop reviews category. We have not tried a coffee from the Dominican Republic yet so we were looking forward to trying this one that was roasted by Stauf’s. It is described as a bold, full body, with smoky malt and dark chocolate flavors. It finishes clean with a subtle zest of citrus and lower acidity. It came to us as a whole bean full city roast.

The Café Femenino beans are the first and only beans grown exclusively by women farmers. This program is designed to help girls and women get an education and to come out of poverty. The Café Femenino line is helping women in different countries improve their lives and lifestyles. Stauf’s is also committing 20% of the sales to the Griswold Residency of YWCA Columbus, Ohio. This helps provide women in transition with affordable housing.

First up was the French Press and there is a nutty aroma that greets you when you open the bag. After it is brewed it has a flower like aroma in the cup. It has a sweet smooth flavor and medium body that hits the front half of your tongue. There is a clean, fruity, naturally sweet aftertaste.

Next up was the Chemex coffee maker and the aroma in the cup was more fruity and floral. There is a bright clean flavor with a snappy zing to the middle of the tongue. The naturally sweet flavor is more pronounced here. This coffee paired well with almonds, dried figs and dark chocolate.

We enjoyed this coffee in the auto-drip also. The nutty aroma and good flavor were still there. If you are on a diet and want to get away from any type of sweetener you will probably like this coffee because it tastes real good black. The natural sweetness and fruity aftertaste are very pleasing. It goes well with a high fiber, low fat snack. We’d give this coffee two thumbs up in any brewing style.

If you want to help out some good causes ( and while drinking a flavorful coffee we suggest you try this Dominican Republic Café Femenino from Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Rwandan Bukonya Ikawa

July 22, 2010 at 5:24 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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Those of us who like to try different coffees enjoy differences presented by the roasters, the types of roasts and the beans themselves. We like to try the coffee that comes from different regions, countries, or specific farms. As we grow in discerning flavors we begin to get more confident and specific in what we like and don’t like. Bottom line is that we like coffee and enjoy the adventure of tasting the flavor of the next cup.

But could there be more? I think there can and maybe it starts with helping the farmers in different countries who actually grow the coffee. This Rwandan Bukonya Ikawa is from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee ( and is described “as a sweet, aromatic melon medium that rides on top of the full chocolate undertones for a complex and delightful brew. Some are roasted to a solid medium and others to a rich dark.”

Land of a Thousand Hills was started to partner with coffee growers, coffee drinkers, coffee shops and churches to embrace a commitment to Community Trade and give back to the farmers who produce the coffee beans. They hope to use the coffee as a way to build community and connect people in a purposeful and tangible way. They care about helping people who live in one of the world’s poorest countries be empowered by being paid a fair living wage for their work. There are other things they do to help the farmers grow and develop and I would encourage you to check out their story and site. I’ll share more when we review their decaf.

We brewed this coffee in the Clever Coffee Dripper first. It seems to have a spicy, citrus aroma. The acidity is mild and the body is light to medium. The flavor seems to stay on both the front half and sides of the tongue. The aftertaste is kind of spicy and chocolaty.

Next was the Chemex coffee maker and deep roasted flavor comes out here. Kim liked this coffee paired with chocolate. It makes you think while you are drinking it because it is complex. There is something there that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like it.

Then we tried it in the French Press and the aroma is more pronounced. It really smells good when you grind the beans and pour the water into the press. The deep roasted flavor stands out the strongest of either brew here. My mind is working as I try to figure out what I taste. Kim thought it went well with cinnamon graham crackers and chocolate. I’m only a man, but I think she wants me to get her some chocolate!  

We also brewed this coffee in the auto-drip and liked it there also. I realized that we must have liked this coffee because it was gone in less than a week. I went to make some and all that was there was an empty bag. It was there and then it was gone, but it was a good coffee drinking experience. Two thumbs up.

We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. If you want to try a good Rwandan coffee and do good at the same time we suggest you try this Bukonya Ikawa. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Nicaraguan Maragogype

July 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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This coffee is from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters ( and is described as a dark roast with lemon and chocolate notes. It is a unique smooth coffee that grows very scarcely in Central America. Many farmers have stopped cultivating it because doesn’t produce well.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (HCR) was started out of work with Rosedale Mennonite Missions with a vision to assist coffee farmers and their communities. Many of the farmers live in areas of extreme poverty and the relationships between the farmers and HCR is a practical way to help the farmers and their communities profit from the sale of the beans. In 2008 HCR worked to start a non-profit, Care Cup International ( to further assist the farmers through grants and agricultural consulting. In future blog posts I’ll share more about HCR and CCI, but I do want to encourage you to check them out.

Our first brew was with the French Press and there is a nice aroma that comes from these dark roasted beans. They have a deep roasted smell in the bag and after being ground. There is a distinct lemon flavor that spreads all over the tongue with a mild acidity. The body of the coffee is smooth and light. You really notice this coffee when you taste it. Two thumbs up.

We went with the auto-drip next and Kim remarked how good the aroma was when she came down stairs. Overall the flavor is well balanced and deep. There is a smooth feel and good aftertaste. This is a memorable cup of coffee. We would give it two thumbs up again.

Finally we used the Chemex coffee maker and there was a clean deep roasted flavor to enjoy. The taste of lemon was there along with a bittersweet or dark chocolate. It has a nice aftertaste and this is kind of where the dark chocolate comes out. As we sat down and talked about this coffee both of us simply liked the flavor we tasted. Two thumbs up again.

Kim liked drinking this coffee as she was eating some Asian food. It also tastes good with a chocolate oat bar. I made a cup in the single cup brewer and it tasted really good there as well. Both of us could say that we liked this coffee very much. If you have never tried a Nicaraguan coffee we highly recommend this Maragogype from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time, stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Higher Ground Roasters Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

June 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 2 Comments
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This Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Higher Ground Roasters ( is a dark roasted whole bean coffee. It is described as being highly aromatic with a perfect balance of acidity, wine like subtleties, hints of wild berries and a smooth finish. It is also shade grown and preserves the habit. Higher Ground is an environmentally friendly coffee roaster.

I decided to use the auto-drip as our first brewer and instead of preparing it before going to bed I made the coffee first thing in the morning. I still like squeezing the bag and smelling the aroma of the coffee beans then looking into the bag and seeing the beans themselves. That doesn’t get old to me. The coffee gives off an earthy, fruity aroma. It has a light feel in the mouth and a tangy berrylike aftertaste. Two thumbs up.

The French Press was the second brewer choice and it makes the coffee a bit stronger, but no bitterness in at all. The body feels a little heavier but still medium. You can taste berry and there is a moderate acidity. Kim thought it paired well with cinnamon sugar graham crackers. Two thumbs up again.

The Chemex coffee brewer was our third style. Here you get a light to medium body and clean taste with berry and citrus flavors. It has more of a complex flavor here, almost like it starts out one way and then changes. It makes you think about what you are drinking in a good way. It seems to be a fragrant, vibrant coffee. Two thumbs up.

If you have never tried an Ethiopian coffee you can’t go wrong starting with this one. It gave us a good coffee drinking experience. If you are looking for a coffee roaster that is environmentally friendly and produces good coffee Higher Grounds Roasters is what you are looking for. Until next time, enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Coffee Labs Roasters Columbian

May 22, 2010 at 10:13 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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Since going to New York and visiting Coffee Labs Roasters ( Kim and I have been looking forward to coming home and brewing their coffee. On this trip we did take our French Press with us to give us a break from the hotel auto-drip. We have decided to keep taking it with us and start our coffee reviewing right away. Because we had some other coffee to drink we saved these beans until we got home. We’re home and now the fun begins!

This coffee is a Columbian Mesa de Los Santo Don Telmo Reserva. It is a full city to full city plus roast. The whole beans in the bag smell wonderful. By the aroma alone you can hardly wait to grind it, brew it and drink it. (My mouth is beginning to water as I type this).

We did our brewing and tasting a little different this time. The first day we had the Columbian in the auto-drip. The aroma is nice. The coffee has very little acidity and a natural sweetness to it. Kim and I both drank it black and were surprised by just how good it tastes that way. I’m used to putting one teaspoon of honey and a little cream in my coffee, but I think adding anything to this brewed coffee would take away from its flavor. Two thumbs up with this style of brewing.

The next day we decided to brew two cups in the French Press followed by two cups in the Chemex. Kim thought about having this quick comparison so we could really taste the coffee because the brewing styles and results are so different. This coffee does have a natural sweetness to it and we enjoyed it without cream or sweetener both ways. It also has a subtle boldness that creeps up on you as you drink it. It has a nice feel in your mouth and a nice aftertaste with just a little fruitiness.

We weren’t quite ready for the caffeine buzz that followed, but it’s good that we both had a lot of work to do. It did seem to give us more than a normal jolt than our usual morning auto-drip style. We chalked it up to brewing quality coffee in the normal strength way for quality brewers. Later that afternoon we decided to make two more cups in the auto-drip for a third comparison. Did I mention that this coffee tastes good?!

We both decided to use a little honey and cream this time and we thought they actually took away from the taste of the coffee. This coffee has a good aroma and overall subtle boldness. I was telling Kim that I really enjoyed this Columbian coffee black, maybe even more than any other coffee we’ve reviewed up to now. Kim thought this would be a great desert coffee. Two thumbs up with all three brewing methods. We’re looking forward to sharing it with friends.

If you are looking for a great Columbian full city (medium) roast you cannot go wrong with this one. You can purchase it at Coffee Labs Roasters ( We received this coffee for free and have given objective feedback. Be sure to read some of our other coffee and coffee shop reviews too.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

(Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10)

Coffee Review – John Conti, “Cafe Tarrazu”

April 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews, Coffee Shop Reviews | Leave a comment
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My wife and I finally made it to the John Conti ( ) shop on Bardstown Road in Louisville. We have seen their coffee in local grocery stores but have never purchased it. Since we are trying to go to all of the coffee shops in Louisville and try the different coffees we decided to go there.

When we got there we did not know that you couldn’t purchase brewed coffee. You can only buy whole bean or ground coffee. The salesman, Nick, we talked with was very helpful. He could give sales people a good reputation. When we told him our story about wanting to try coffee from all of the coffee shops in Louisville and write about our experiences, he went to their break room and brought us out two cups of coffee to try. That is service beyond what we expected.

The coffee we tried is a light roast called Café Tarrazu. It is described as “A combination of Central American coffees specially blended to produce a sweet, balanced cup, smooth, but with a complex blend of fruit, nut, citrus, and floral flavors.” It was developed after their master roaster took a trip to El Salvador to visit coffee plantations. It is one of their most popular roasts. We ended up purchasing a bag of Café Tarrazu and two sampler packs.

We intended to brew it three different ways when we got home (not in the same day of course, I couldn’t handle that much caffeine!) and then write about how it tasted. First up was the auto drip so that the coffee was ready when we got up in the morning. There isn’t much aroma and it isn’t a bold coffee. It tastes good, but we like a bolder coffee in the morning. This was our least favorite way of brewing and drinking Café Tarrazu.

Next we brewed the coffee in the Chemex coffee maker ( You could really taste the subtle flavor of the coffee. Here is where I noticed both the flavor and fruitiness. The light crisp flavor really shined here. This was my favorite brew and tasting style.

Then we brewed the coffee in a French Press. This helped the coffee taste a little bolder, but not too bold. This was my wife’s favorite style of brewing and tasting. The coffee left a nice taste on your tongue and was stronger tasting, but not overpowering.

I’m neither a coffee snob nor a coffee expert, but I know what I like and if I would buy it again. I did not like drinking the coffee in the morning because I like a bolder morning coffee, but I did like it in the afternoon. We thought it has a nice crisp, taste and light body. Overall we liked Café Tarrazu and would recommend it as an afternoon or desert coffee. We will definitely try some of their other coffees, probably some medium or dark roasts though.

Nick, the salesman that helped us probably doesn’t realize how much his helpfulness “sold” us. If all John Conti employees are like him, it explains why they have been successful in Louisville for so many years. You can learn more about John Conti here: .

I’m also looking forward to the next coffee date with my wife. Brewing and tasting the coffees with her at home is fun too.

GRACE and peace to you,


(Romans 15:13)

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