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Vermont Café Pulls Plug on Laptops, iPads

Vermont Café Pulls Plug on Laptops, iPads


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August First café banned laptops and iPads this month, and has seen sales increase

According to owner Jodi Whalen, café campers make it difficult for new customers to find seats.

Attention all Burlington, Vt. area finals crammers, aspiring novelists, and iPad video editors: August First Bakery & Café doesn’t want your business. Well, they don’t want your business if you’re planning on plugging in and setting up shop on your laptop or tablet, anyway. According to a report from NPR’s All Tech Considered, the café formally banned all large-screened devices earlier this month.

While the move was initially met with resistance, owner Jodi Whalen reports the move has actually helped August First’s sales. Whalen opened the café four years ago, offering her customers — largely students from nearby University of Vermont — free Wi-Fi. She noticed students would hang out for hours on their computers and two years later, she decided to pull the Wi-Fi plug. At the beginning of the month she decided to take it a step further by posting a sign that read “No laptops, iPads or Similar Devices. Reading, day dreaming, and chit chatting are encouraged.”

Since the dawn of café Wi-Fi, conventional wisdom has been if you keep customers plugged in they will spend. But according to Whalen, making sure new customers have a place to sit and table space overrides any of the potential benefits. Could this be the beginning of the end of café campout sessions? Considering the results, it’s certainly possible more coffee shops will follow suit. But in the meantime, Vermonters will need to find another spot to write their future Oscar-nominated screenplays and Great American Novels.

Adam D’Arpino is the Restaurants Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDArpino.


Best Coffee in New York City

As the city that never sleeps, coffee is key to keeping the Big Apple buzzing, and with more and more expert baristas, skilled roasters and energetic coffee enthusiasts taking root around the city, NYC&rsquos coffee scene is better than ever. In our March/April 2012 issue, writer Sarah Karnasciewicz explores the history and evolution of coffee in New York, but we couldn&rsquot stop there. From a killer cappuccino to a kegged cold-brew, here are a few of our favorite spots to sip coffee across the city.

Best no-frills coffee: Ninth Street Espresso
Don&rsquot expect coffee syrups or flavorings at these three NYC cafés&mdashin fact you won&rsquot even spot a mocha on the menu. What you will find are flawlessly executed espresso drinks made with Ninth Street&rsquos own house blend of Intelligentsia beans alongside single-origin house coffees brewed via Chemex, urn and cold soak.
Multiple locations around New York City

Most diverse brewing methods: WTF Coffee Lab

Sock pot, pourover, Chemex, siphon, cold brew&mdashfor the uninitiated, this Brooklyn café looks more like a chemistry lab that a coffee shop, but each delicious sip, no matter the method you choose, satisfies the inner coffee geek in us all.
47 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn

Best bagels + brew: Bedford Hill Coffee Bar
It&rsquos easy to find good cup of coffee or a tasty bagel independent of each other in New York, but finding the two together can be a challenge. Enter Bedford Hill Coffee Bar, which serves up of Anodyne coffee and espresso drinks alongside toasted toothsome delights from New Yorker Bagels.
343 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn 718-636-7650

Best-dressed baristas: Stumptown

While t-shirts and jeans tend to be common coffee shop attire, you&rsquoll find the dapper baristas at Stumptown inside the Ace Hotel pulling shots of Hairbender espresso while decked out in pageboy caps, collared shirts and even the occasional tie and suspenders.
18 W. 29th St. New York City

Cleverest cold-brew: Upright Coffee
These days you can find almost any imbibable in a keg&mdashbeer, wine, cocktails&mdashand now it&rsquos coffee&rsquos turn. Upright Coffee in Brooklyn cold-brews rotating beans from Brooklyn Roasting for 18 hours before transferring to a keg and hooking up to a chilled draught line for silky-smooth, low-acid iced coffee that&rsquos deliciously drinkable any time of year.
860 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn 718-215-9910

Most inventive coffee pairing: Beaner Bar
Coffee and tamales? Why not! This Williamsburg café serves up creamy Counter Culture espresso drinks and single-origin pour-overs with deliciously authentic tamales for a lunch that can&rsquot be beat.
447 Graham Ave., Brooklyn

Best hole-in-the-wall: Abraço
Blink and you&rsquoll miss this teeny East Village coffee counter&mdashthough the occasional line out front might clue you in (don&rsquot worry, it moves quickly). Order a Counter Culture espresso drink (their cortado is divine) and grab a brioche cinnamon bun to go.
86 E. 7th St., New York City

Tastiest cappuccino and cake: Café Pedlar
Got a sweet tooth? Head to Café Pedlar in Brooklyn where you can score Stumptown espresso drinks and rotating single-origin beans brewed via press pot or Chemex alongside scrumptious sweets like stout or olive oil cake, buttery croissants and even the traditional German sticky buns known as schnecken, all baked at Pedlar&rsquos sister restaurant The Bakeshop at Frankies Spuntino. In the mood for something more savory? Try a chewy, salted pretzels or one of their blistery thin-crust pizzas.
210 Court St., Brooklyn 718-855-7129

Most creative coffee offerings: The Randolph at Broome
Coffee bar by day and cocktail den by night, this Little Italy bar brews up some of the most inventive cups around. Try one of their augmented coffees&mdashlike the Fountain Head with sarsaparilla, star anise, birch and cream, or the Holy Cow with curry, coconut and cacao&mdasheach of which can be spiked with booze for just a few bucks more.
349 Broome St., New York City 212-274-0667

Best warm fuzzies: Birch Coffee

Coffee can make you feel all warm and fuzzy on its own, but at this Flatiron café inside the Gershwin Hotel you&rsquoll feel even better about your morning cup knowing that a portion of the sales goes to humanitarian aid in the Congo.
5 E. 27th St., New York City 212-686-1444

Best pre-theater coffee: Everyman Espresso
Tucked into the lobby of the off-Broadway Classic Stage Company theatre, silken Counter Culture espresso drinks and pour-over coffees get the star treatment at this East Village café.
136 E. 13th St., New York City

Classiest coffee kiosk: Blue Bottle
Take a stroll along the lower west side&rsquos elevated High Line walkway during the warmer months and you&rsquoll spy Blue Bottle&rsquos concession cart doling out supreme espresso and coffee drinks, including their New Orleans-style chicory-infused cold-brew.
The High Line may be accessed at multiple spots, go to thehighline.org for details.

Best people-watching: Third Rail
Grab an espresso drink made from a rotating selection of specialty roasters&rsquo beans, snag a seat in front of the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall front window, and watch the hustle and bustle of Greenwich Village and NYU go by. Or take your cup to go and meander through Washington Square Park, which is just a block away.
240 W. Sullivan St., New York City

Best rotating beans: RBC
While most cafés stick to brewing beans from only one roaster, RBC keeps things fresh with seasonal coffees from dozens of rotating roasters around the country. Order a single-origin espresso drink brewed on their prized Slayer espresso machine.
71 Worth St., New York City 212-226-1111

Best commuter cup: Joe and the Art of Coffee

Commuters needing a little caffeinated kick head to Joe the Art of Coffee in the Graybar passage in Grand Central Terminal for expert on-the-go espresso drinks crafted by some of the best-trained baristas in the biz.
44 Grand Central Terminal, New York City 212-661-8580

Best blends: Gimme! Coffee
Blending coffee is an art form, and Gimme! Coffee roasts up a handful of showstoppers like the Piccolo Mondo mix of rich Mexican and tangy Guatemalan beans and their super top-secret Leftist Espresso blend&mdashthe house bean for their cafés that dot the city.
Multiple locations throughout NYC and Brooklyn

Best place to unplug: Café Grumpy
For many people, the coffee shop does double duty as a remote office, but Café Grumpy&rsquos Chelsea outpost pulls the plug on coffee and computing as one of the few cafés around town that doesn&rsquot offer wi-fi or a place for patrons to power up. The result? A place where the public can take an actual coffee break (remember those?), replete with farm-direct, house-roasted coffee, fresh-baked pastries and some good old-fashioned coffee shop conversation.
224 W. 20th St., New York City (and with several additional locations around NYC and Brooklyn) 212-255-551
1


Colchester-Based VIP Taps Into the Beverage Industry With Software Solutions

The keg in the conference room is a hint, as are the beer taps decorating the walls. All suggest that Vermont Information Processing is a tech company focused on the beverage industry.

From a campus at the Water Tower Hill office park in Colchester, VIP creates software and processes data to help customers manage inventory, distribution and sales through web and mobile applications. It has quietly grown over the past decade from 183 to 429 employees. The list of clients has grown, too, now exceeding 1,000 distributors and 800 suppliers.

Execs at the privately held, employee-owned company won't disclose profits or revenues, but they anticipate more growth. VIP plans to construct one or two buildings on recently purchased adjacent land within three years and to continue expanding the workforce.

"We're constantly, constantly hiring," said human resources assistant Stephanie Slocum.

"We're not short of work," agreed company president Dan Byrnes. "So we're always looking."

VIP's customers range from international beer behemoths such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors to Vermont's own Switchback Brewing, Fiddlehead Brewing and Long Trail Brewing. The company also counts spirit makers and wineries as clients, including national players such as Jack Daniels and E. & J. Gallo Winery, as well as Vermont's Caledonia Spirits.

The software programs that VIP designs don't make beer or wine, but they touch nearly everything else in the economic chain that puts beer in the fridge and cocktails on a restaurant bar.

The company's EasyPick app is designed to help warehouse workers find, scan and accurately load orders using iPhones and Bluetooth scanners. VIP's digital sales sheet allows beverage salespeople to pull up a picture and description of a product on an iPad to make a more visual pitch to store owners. Other programs help with ordering, tracking products and inventory, monitoring display space, delivery, and payments.

Burlington-based Switchback uses VIP's web-based software iDIG to track how much beer is selling where and when on a given day.

"In an industry where there's so much competition, there's so many breweries out there, it gives us the specificity to hone in on these items that are important,'' said Darby Kitchel, territory sales manager for Switchback.

In a siloed industry, VIP has worked to offer software for all three components of the beverage world: supply, distribution and sales.

As a result, the company has a unique footprint in the industry, said Ray Rouleau, VIP's director of strategy and supplier sales, on a tour of the office last week.

The company has a big reach, observed Jeff Couture, executive director of the Vermont Technology Alliance, an industry trade group.

"VIP, somewhat quietly, really, has become a major player in software that is behind some of the major brands in the beverage industry, both the companies that are the distributors and the actual brands themselves," Couture said. "Their software really runs at the core of a lot of these businesses, and it's happening right here in Vermont."

VIP employees work in beverage-themed conference rooms (e.g., the Margarita and the Keg) or at desks arranged in an open-seating plan. There are no individual offices or executive suites for company leaders. When he's not roaming the office, Rouleau spends his time at a stand-up desk next to a window overlooking the parking lot.

"I haven't used a chair in, like, seven years," he said.

The company is not big on titles — Rouleau joked that he wasn't even sure of his own. VIP emphasizes its egalitarian approach as a selling point to potential software designers and junior programmers. In a state with extremely low unemployment and a small tech sector, every pitch counts.

"Their careers blossom here because there's not a hierarchical structure," Rouleau said.

The office's open design helps seed collaboration, added Byrnes, who was dressed on the sunny October day in athletic casual: khaki shorts and sneakers. "That's the whole idea," he said, "that we're all communicating, that everyone is in touch with what's happening."

The company's bid to develop a team approach was visible in other ways, too. A group of sweaty employees tromped into the office from their lunch hour wearing shin guards and carrying hockey sticks.

They'd just faced off at the company's street-hockey rink behind one of its buildings. Out front, another group of employees raced up and down a basketball court. A few more were working out in an employee gym, which has locker rooms and showers.

Christine Krebs often plays point guard during the lunch-hour basketball games. "I just always get refreshed and ready to do my second half of the day," she said. She started as a software developer at VIP 14 years ago and now manages a data and analytics team that helps customers "find trends and find where they can sell product better."

Krebs said she has stayed because she likes the company culture and because there are opportunities to advance if "you are willing to work hard."

The workplace amenities exist to encourage both employee wellness and a winning attitude. In the rapidly evolving beverage industry, VIP is constantly cultivating new clients and developing new software solutions for their problems. "So, competition's good," Rouleau said.

Of course, it's not all about slap shots. Nurturing is part of the playbook, too. VIP is one of few local companies to offer on-site childcare. During Seven Days' visit, infants and toddlers were taking their afternoon nap as a lullaby soundtrack played softly. Ben Barnum, a sales data entry employee, was holding his 11-month-old daughter, Addie. "I come down on my lunch breaks and watch her progress daily," he said.

The licensed facility has 60 slots for company members' children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years. Parents must pay for the care but at a lower rate than most local childcare centers charge.

VIP founder Howard Aiken, now retired, opened the company childcare center in 1990 to make the work-family balance easier for employees. "There were three or four women that were about to have their first babies," said Louise Morgan, operations director.

At that point, VIP had 24 employees and had just moved to new quarters in Colchester. The business was slowly expanding from its original mission: data collection and sales analysis for the beverage industry.

When VIP was founded in 1972 in Burlington, cloud storage, email and smartphones didn't yet exist. Customers would send sales info to VIP by bus it would be keyed in and processed on a mainframe computer before returning to the customer as a tidy report.

As computers became common in workplaces, VIP began to offer beverage delivery route accounting solutions. And with more technological advances, VIP expanded its range of software solutions, including a big shift in recent years to mobile devices.

In 2001, Aiken decided to sell the company to his employees — 45 at the time. His thinking? "I want to have the employees that helped build the company own this company," according to Byrnes, who was one of those employees. He's been with VIP for three decades.

Today the company is 100 percent worker owned through an employee stock ownership plan. New hires begin collecting shares through a retirement program after one year and are fully vested after six. When they leave, they get cash value for the shares they have accrued. The structure helps build motivation, Rouleau said.

"It goes into the whole culture. You work here because you're an owner you work here because it's a family," he noted.

VIP's growth has accelerated over the past five years with the purchase of several other companies, including Beverage Data Network in 2015 and TradePulse in 2017. About 360 of VIP's 429 employees are based in Colchester the others work remotely or at small offices in states including California, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

In addition to helping customers do market research, VIP helps create analytics and market research reports for industry trade groups such as the Beer Institute and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.

Jobs at VIP include customer support, as well as data "cleansing" to check sales and confirm that, for example, a vendor is a restaurant and not a convenience store. There is some employee turnover, but most hires who settle in wind up staying, Rouleau said. "Once you fit in, you are in. I always tell people: If you make it one year, you make it 10."

VIP's intention to expand in Colchester is stymied by just one thing: a shortage of tech workers, specifically software developers.

The company is willing to train recent grads in computer science and other technical fields and has had good luck with students from local schools. But it's been more difficult to find experienced programmers and software developers.

"To get someone that has . three, four, five years of experience, they are not around," Byrnes said.

Usually when employees come from out of state, it's because they have some connection to Vermont, Morgan added. Some went to college here and want to move back, or they have family in the area. VIP tells prospective hires that they "don't have to go to a big city" to have a career in tech, she said.

Despite the hiring obstacles, VIP has no plans to leave Vermont for more fertile tech pastures, its leaders say. And, without shareholders to answer to, it's unlikely the business will follow the familiar trajectory of a homegrown enterprise that gets purchased by an out-of-state corporation, which often then sheds or transfers jobs.

Byrnes is adamant that such a change will not happen at VIP. "We are not interested in selling the company," he stated firmly.

Disclosure: VIP is a Vermont Tech Jam sponsor.

The original print version of this article was headlined "On Tap | Colchester-based VIP creates software solutions for the beverage industry"


Cafe Attendant

The Cafe Representative is responsible for a professional and friendly first impression made to all guests and members entering the club and Cafe area. Your primary role is to obtain and keep members.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provide a clean, safe, and healthy environment for members, guests, and co-workers.
  • Every staff member, regardless of position, has a primary and urgent responsibility to clean and disinfect all club components as they are used by members and guests and yourself.Help retain and attain new members through club promotion and customer service excellence.
  • Check in and greet members by name and always with a smile.
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Know and follow procedures as described in the appropriate procedures manual.
  • Answer all questions for members and guests in accordance with club procedures.
  • Be aware of information sheets on various activities.
  • Responsible for control of cash handled at the register and ensuring proper items are rung in.
  • Keep Cafe area clean, neat and well organized.
  • Demonstrate a positive customer service attitude in keeping with the company’s Core Values of Friendliness, Superior Service, Integrity, Improvement and Safety.
  • Assists customers with questions and product selection
  • Follows departmental procedures for safety, proper food handling, and sanitation according to local, state, and federal health code regulations
  • Prepares various food & juice bar goods following company recipes
  • Any other responsibilities or projects as assigned by supervisor

Qualifications:

  • Must be 21 years old to apply
  • Desire to provide excellent customer service.
  • Outgoing, friendly personality.
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks.
  • Able to communicate effectively with others and convey enthusiasm
  • Follow all FFC Service Standards.
  • Proficiency in CSI, Google Docs and Microsoft Excel
  • Obtain Illinois Food handler certification or any state/city required certifications

Physical Requirements:

This position requires standing and moderate physical activity while on duty during each work. The Café representative must be able to move, lift, stack boxes weighing a minimum of five pounds.


The Right to Repair Is Back on the Ballot

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

Photograph: Lorado/Getty Images

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

On November 3, Massachusetts voters will get to weigh in on Question 1, a proposal on the ballot that would make the data on a car’s computer available to third-party repair shops. This would change the status quo—where only dealerships are allowed to access that data—and present a big gain for proponents of the right-to-repair movement. The RTR folks argue that consumers should have the ability to fix, alter, and otherwise access the inner workings of the technology they purchase, whether that’s a car, a vacuum cleaner, or an iPhone.

This week, WIRED senior associate editor Julian Chokkattu joins us to talk about Question 1, the current state of right-to-repair legislation in the US, and what this ruling could mean for those of us who don’t live in Massachusetts. In the second half of the show, we’ll share our own stories and experiences with repairing our own gadgets and gear.

Read the text of Question 1 and the arguments for it and against it at Ballotpedia. Also see op-eds from The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. The University of Vermont’s policy on residence hall Ethernet ports.

Julian recommends a recipe for hot chocolate from the website From Scratch Fast. Lauren recommends the show Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ and also that you should go vote.

Mike recommends pan de muerto, which you can buy from a Mexican bakery or just bake yourself.

Julian Chokkattu can be found on Twitter @JulianChokkattu. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

If you have feedback about the show, or just want to enter to win a $50 gift card, take our brief listener survey here.

You can always listen to this week's podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here's how:

If you're on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts and search for Gadget Lab. We’re on Spotify too. And in case you really need it, here's the RSS feed.

Lauren Goode: Mike.

Michael Calore: Lauren.

LG: Mike, when was the last time you had your car repaired?

MC: Well, I don't own a car, so I'm going to say 2005.

LG: What was the experience like? Did you go to an independent repair shop?

MC: I did. The car was a Dodge B150 cargo van, so I think the dealership would have just like laughed at me.

LG: You had an older car, but we're going to talk about repairs in newer cars on today's show.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music]

LG: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED, and I'm joined remotely by my cohost, WIRED senior editor Michael Calore. Hey, Mike.

LG: We're also joined by WIRED senior associate editor Julian Chokkattu, who's dialing in from New York. Hey, Julian.

Julian Chokkattu: Hello.

LG: All right. Thanks for joining me today. Today, we're talking about the right to repair. This is something that can be pretty personal to people, because a lot of us have stories about trying to get our electronics or appliances fixed. Later in the show, we're going to talk about our own repairability gripes and experiences, but first, we're going to go to Massachusetts virtually, because there's a ballot measure there that could have far-reaching consequences, so I'm going to give a quick synopsis of what's going on, and then I'll ask Mike and Julian for their takes.

Back in 2012, Massachusetts passed a law that would give car owners and independent repair shops access to mechanical information from your car's on-board diagnostics port. You used to have to go to a dealership for a lot of repairs, and now, anyone could plug a dongle into the OBD port and diagnose the problems with your car. Now, this was seen as a big win for the little guy, consumers and indie repair shops, and it was a landmark law, the first of its kind in the United States, but a lot has changed technologically since then. Cars have basically become computers on wheels, so repair coalitions started pushing a new law that would update the existing law. Now, this year, that is Question 1 on the Massachusetts ballot. It expands the kind of data that consumers and repair shops would have access to, to include wireless telematics.

MC: So telematics, what is that?

LG: Well, telematics, broadly, it can mean mileage and tire pressure and things like that, but it can also encompass a pretty significant amount of data. It can refer to location, speed, idling time, harsh acceleration or braking. It could mean a lot, and as the ballot measure is written now, it's kind of unclear what it's referring to. We now have right-to-repair advocates voting pretty much in favor of this update to the law, to keep up with the times and make sure that consumers have access to or ownership of the data from their car. But opponents of this measure, particularly this one group that's got a lot of money from the big automakers is saying, "Nope." They have a lot of concerns with this ballot measure, and this summer they unleashed, we'll just call it a FUD campaign, which we're going to talk about.

OK. I want to get your thoughts, and Mike, I'm going to go to you first because you're from Massachusetts, right?

MC: Genetically, I'm from Massachusetts, yes. I was born in Boston.

LG: OK. What's your take on this?

MC: Well, I think it is kind of interesting that the major opponents here for GM and Toyota, they have been citing safety issues as the reason why third-parties should not be able to access the data in a customer's car, so like if you took it to an independent repair shop, they wouldn't be able to access this data. You would have to go to the dealership to access this data. They're citing these weird safety and security issues, like they're saying that this could cause increases in cyberstalking or in cyber attacks. Like you can roll up next to somebody on the freeway and turn their car off wirelessly, using a hacking method. Yes, you can do that, but the actual chance of that happening is really, really slim.

Same thing with cyberstalking. Like they say that if a third-party can wirelessly access your car's data, they can find out where you live. They can find out where you work. They can see your GPS, and they can follow you around and follow you to your home. Some people have a code to open the gate to their house or a code to open their garage door stored in their car, so they don't have to carry a separate clicker for it. As the argument goes, the hacker would be able to access that, and then theyɽ be able to break into your home. This is why they're telling people not to vote for it, and those arguments feel pretty flimsy.

LG: Yeah. We saw that this summer when ads were released by a group called the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data. This is a coalition that's funded by the automakers that you've mentioned, and they put out a series of ads. By the way, those ads are now listed as private on YouTube because they were criticized for the ads, which showed a woman being stalked in a garage as she approached her car, or a man wirelessly entering someone's home presumably through the garage data. This is the FUD that I was getting at before, that these are concerns that are not technically impossible, but many on the repair side of the argument saw these concerns as overblown. Mike, what's the parallel between what we're seeing with this argument over cars and consumer electronics or appliances more broadly?

MC: Well, the argument that makes a little bit more sense than the cyberattack thing is the same argument that the big tech companies make when they argue against right-to-repair legislation. They say, "We can't let you fix your gadget because you might hurt yourself." Or "You'll make it vulnerable to failure or vulnerable to hacks." To a certain extent, that is a little bit true, like if you say, "I just want to replace the battery in my iPhone." Well, I'll go to the internet and I'll buy a replacement battery. I'll crack open my iPhone, I'll put the new battery in, and then that battery is like some weird off-brand and it explodes, and then I have an exploding iPhone.

That's harmful to me. It's also bad PR for the company that made the phone. Same thing with even something simple like a replacement screen. You buy a replacement screen, maybe that's not an official part, and you didn't have it officially installed, and it doesn't work exactly right, your experience using that gadget goes down, and your customer satisfaction goes down. It ends up leading to this sort of polluted market for devices and replacement parts, and companies don't like to see that.

They like to have control over those things. Also, there is a big business in repairs, so repairing things and doing those repairs yourself. You can charge whatever you want because you're locking everybody else out. It's those two things that I think are the the most interesting parallels with the broader consumer technology industry and the most interesting arguments against right-to-repair.

LG: Right. What you're describing in many cases are physical components, if someone replaces their own cracked phone screen or their own phone battery. But the argument expands quite a bit when you start to consider all the digital data that's floating around, and I think that's part of this amendment to the law that's being proposed in Massachusetts, that it's cars are transmitting more and more wireless data. Julian, I mean, this kind of seems like an inevitability, cars are just becoming computers on wheels, and so, I mean, what do you make of this, both the fact that there is a proposed amendment to the law, and the argument against it?

JC: Yeah. I mean, if you look at all the ads that they've been putting out against this, I feel like you always just have to look at the experts. Usually, in situations like this, you'll have security watchdogs claiming that this is actually bad news, this is bad for the consumer because it's going to be dangerous, and all these threats are definitely very real. And when there's actual security concerns, these organizations step up and say that. But in fact, with this ballot measure, we've had those security organizations write an op-ed to the Boston Herald to say that this isn't as big of a deal. So I think you just have to look at fact that, at the moment, we aren't having those organizations coming out and saying, "Yeah, the manufacturers are right. This is definitely a security issue." If they're saying the opposite, I'm going to go out on a limb and believe them, and not believe the GMs and Toyotas of the world that are funding the opposition.

LG: Right, and at the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this past July put out a letter raising concerns about the vagueness of this ballot initiative, and said that it would prohibit manufacturers from complying with cybersecurity hygiene best practices. So the NHTSA is actually not super in favor of Question 1, and warned that there could be cybersecurity problems that arise as a result of expanding this access to data on cars—even though, to your point, Julian, oftentimes it's the folks in the cybersecurity community who will be pretty outspoken about what they see as real vulnerabilities versus ones that are overblown. I spoke to a lot of people in reporting out this story that's running on WIRED.com about the Massachusetts ballot initiative, and I was surprised, because one of the sources I spoke to seemed like he would be sort of a shoo-in for a yes on Question 1, but after the NHTSA put out its letter, he was pretty swayed by that and said, "Well, I feel like it's my professional obligation to actually vote against Question 1 now." Whereas people on the right-to-repair side generally are like, "All right. This might not be the hill we want to die on, but we still feel like it's an important step in consumer repairs."

JC: Yeah. I think a lot of the pushback I did see from some, the few organizations that were not so enthused by this ballot measure, is that the timeline is just super, super short. I think the ballot measure is saying, "You have to have this compliance by 2022," and that's for the car models of 2022, so that is already been in production. Car manufacturers are already producing those vehicles, so whether they can safely produce this open standard where they can share this data to independent third-parties in a secure way, that doesn't seem that plausible, especially without rushing the process and potentially introducing other flaws. I mean, if there was one thing Iɽ change, I would maybe extend the deadline a little more, but overall I think it's probably a good thing for consumers. But that's the issue with this, that they might have to extend that deadline if they want to avoid some of this rushing and potentially introducing flaws in the overall process.

LG: Mike, any final words on this before we go to break?

MC: Yeah. I just want to point out that with most right-to-repair arguments, the things that advocates are arguing for is access to what's colloquially known as parts and tools, right? That's everything from the screwdrivers that you use to open up the device to the dongle that you use to plug into the car. Then, the tools can also mean software, any instruction manuals, any sort of documentation that you need in order to make use of the thing, so it's a philosophical question that consumers have to ask themselves. Like if you go out and you spend 25, 35, $45,000 on a car, and your car is generating all this information and storing it about how it's running, about how you're driving, about your habits, so should you be able to access that information?

Should you be able to look at it, to see how you're driving, how your car is operating, what those habits are? Should you be able to hand it to somebody you trust, like your local technician to do those things, or are you only allowed to have an authorized dealer look at it? That's really what this is about. It's that sort of philosophical argument that like, "I paid for this thing. I should be able to see how it's working for me."

LG: Well, early polling does suggest that the state of Massachusetts will vote overwhelmingly in favor of Question 1 this year. The state voted 87 percent in favor of the first right-to-repair law, that passed in 2012 and went into effect in 2013, so it is likely, I think at this point. that this will pass. As Julian mentioned earlier, lots of local papers have come out in support of Question 1 in Massachusetts, but I think what people are going to be looking to see is whether or not this sets a new standard for how other states might handle right-to-repair legislation. Right now, this is the only law of its kind in the United States, but around 20 states have considered right-to-repair legislation in recent years. It hasn't been a super high priority with everything else that's been going on in our world, but we may see more conversations about this in the future, and a lot of people will probably be referencing the Massachusetts law, and we'll be keeping an eye on that for WIRED.

All right. We're going to take a quick break, and when we come back, we're going to talk about our own repair dramas.

All right. Welcome back. We've talked a lot about this one case of right-to-repair in Massachusetts, but chances are, there are many smaller, more immediate repairability issues that are affecting you right now, or have affected you.

I have a story about Apple Watch, but I want to go to you guys first. Julian, tell me your repair stories. Let's call this tech support.

JC: I have been fortunate that I haven't had any super traumatic incidents. This week I thought I had to repair my coffee machine, but turns out, I just bought a bad batch of coffee beans. Thankfully, I did not have to repair it at all, but …

LG: So you were holding it wrong, is what you're saying?

JC: Basically, yeah, but I've sent cameras and laptops directly back to the manufacturer, got them repaired with no issues. The only problems that I seem to face are related to cost, which is the price of repairing some of the phones that I've tested. I once was drinking coffee, and everything seems to revolve around coffee, but I once was making coffee in a mug and I dropped the mug while I was holding the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. It was a review unit. I caught the mug before it fell, but the handle tipped right and tapped the camera module on the glass, so the glass on the camera module shattered. But the rest of the phone was fine, so I took it into a shop, and they said that because of the way the phone was designed, they couldn't just replace the glass on the camera module, they had to replace the glass and the entire back of the phone, which is $200, $250. To me, that was just like, are you kidding me?

LG: Wait, was this an authorized Samsung repair shop or was it a random shop?


Our new issue of VegOut Mag features an interview with one of our favorite vegan physicians—Dr. Michael Greger. Evidence-based weight loss? He’s on it. Best foods to eat on a plant-based diet? He’s got a checklist. Tips for improving immune function during the pandemic? He’s got those as well. Check out our interview teaser here and snag the full article in the new edition of VegOut Magazine available now.

/>Anja Grommons


This fast-changing, wide-ranging, ever-moving coffee world, explained.

1. The Future (of Coffee Farming) Is Female
Coffee’s narrative history is intrinsically tied to colonialism—wealthy European colonizers of the 16th and 17th century who propagated the crop from Java to Brazil and beyond. That also means that built into coffee’s history, past and present, you’ll find wage exploitation, racism, and sexism—and as the saying goes, these aren’t bugs, they’re features.

Redressing these disturbing historic imbalances has been one of the central tenets over the last few decades of coffee’s cultural growth around the world. Money is part of that: By paying consistently more to coffee producers than the going “C market” (the heavily regulated commodity-pricing mechanism by which coffee is traded internationally), coffee traders in the West ensure a greater financial return for their producer partners at origin. But it’s just a start.

Addressing gender equity at origin is a growing focal point for quality- and mission-focused coffee companies around the planet. The Partnership for Gender Equity, founded by the Coffee Quality Institute, is investing in gender equity at origin in a big way, with a twofold return in the form of both social impact and increased supply-chain stability. Happy families and safe environments, it turns out, make for better coffee—a novel idea worth exploring further.

There are also in the new millennia a generation of women coffee producers who have emerged as stars. Producers like Aida Batlle (El Salvador), Marysabel Caballero (Honduras), and Elisa Maria Madriñàn (Colombia) are name brands to coffee geeks, who know them first and foremost as producers pushing cup quality and creating mind-bending coffees sought after by the world’s best roasters. For Elisa Madriñàn and her project, La Palma y el Tucan, success means reinvesting in her community—she’s trained an elite all-female group of coffee pickers to select the farm’s revered Gesha coffee crop and provides training resources to farming families throughout the Cundinamarca region.

The heading of this section is somewhat misleading, because the moment for female coffee producer stars is happening right now, all around us. You should seek these coffees out at any cost.


2. Ready to Drink Is Ready to Fail
Doesn’t it all feel a bit same-y right now? The same army of ready-to-drink offerings on grocery shelves, the same “springtime cold brew OMG” articles each and every April 15, and the same sinking feeling that one should have, simply, you know, ordered an iced coffee or a cold brew from a coffee bar as opposed to going with the brown Grady’s jug.

Coffee culture could stand to be a little less grab n’ go in general, don’t you think? The global RTD market for coffee beverages was valued at nearly $9 billion in 2018—that is a cluttered marketplace. And according to some sources, like Euromonitor, the next phase of RTD growth will be built around cold coffee drinks that fuse caffeine with niche dieting trends—think Bulletproof on steroids. (Oy vey.)

Doesn’t it all feel a little tired? A little uncool? RTD is mostly about function over form—we get it—but the coffee often sucks, and the waste is terrible, and it all feels a little wrong these days, like an excess of the Twenty-Teens we’ll look back on with embarrassment. A great many coffee fortunes have been made on the speculation of the RTD bubble. What happens when the bubble, like so much nitro microfoam, inevitably bursts?


3. Coffee Subscriptions Are Absolutely Fascinating
Coffee subscriptions are nothing new, but as society gives way to the new reality of all-delivery-everything, they’re finally getting good.

Want to try a bunch of dope European roasters you otherwise would be hard-pressed to find in the United States? Check out Norway’s Kaffebox, which will happily ship Nordic roaster brands like Koppi, the Coffee Collective, and La Cabra straight to your door.

Are you into, like, print reading and 20th-century magazine culture (from Warhol’s Interview to indie pop landmark Chickfactor) alongside coffee that is highly drinkable, designed to be brewed at home in your kitchen coffeemaker without much fuss or artifice? Tony Konecny and Sumi Ali’s YesPlz is the service for you, shipping a blended bag of beans and a chill zine out weekly. Konecny and Ali have designed an ever-changing blend, dubbed “The Weekly,” designed to walk the line between coffee-loving utility and culinary delight. And it pairs perfectly with a bit of light reading.

Do you want to plug in with a single roaster brand and explore a wide range of origins? Brands like Onyx Coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Go Get Em Tiger offer a wide range of home subscription options, with individualized programs and quirks galore.

This might sound like futurist hyperbole, but there has literally never been a better time for home coffee delivery, and we, the coffee-drinking public, are spoiled for choice. All you need to do is remember that credit card expiration date.


4. Everyone’s a Roaster Now
May the multiroaster rest in peace. This model—whereby a café serves coffee from a plurality of roasters—enjoyed a brief vogue at the turn of the last decade, but as 2020 approaches, it’s swiftly phasing out of style. In its place are coffee bars branching out on their own, pursuing their own roasting destiny in the form of in-house roasting programs or rented time in a collaborative setting. (Think WeWork, but instead of desks, it’s three-ton imported German roasting equipment.) This model offers brands more room for self-expression, the opportunity to create bespoke packaging that represents their brand, and perhaps most important of all, an attractive price break.

Many of the bellwether shops of the multiroaster moment (Barista in Portland, Oregon Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles) are now roasting their own, and so are many other indie coffee brands. Coroasting spaces have popped up over the last few years with great success in New York City, Melbourne, Oakland, Portland, and elsewhere around the world.

Maintaining quality, however, is the tricky part. For every Go Get Em Tiger—we visit their stunning new Los Angeles headquarters elsewhere in this week’s coffee coverage—there are a dozen same-y outfits buying similarly priced green coffee and roasting on the same equipment. The bag might be cool-looking, but is what’s inside any good? And should every 400-square-foot coffee bar really be its own roaster, or would they be better served by focusing on hospitality and leaving the roasting to experts with resources—say, Counter Culture, a national company whose sole focus is wholesale roasting, or Camber Coffee, a plucky Bellingham, Washington, indie winning high-profile accounts across the West Coast.

Meanwhile, there are a few multiroaster holdouts, spots like Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington, and Black Fox Coffee in New York City. For consumers, these bars still offer one of the purest third-wave coffee experiences: the chance to try different roasters all in one quality-focused location. I, for one, cannot wait for the multiroaster comeback.


5. Coffee Wants to Conquer Fine Dining. Does Fine Dining Want Coffee?
The year was 2012. Noma founder Rene Redzepi addressed an assembly of coffee roasters in Scandinavia and boldly announced that his press and awards darling of a modernist dining experience—then, as now, considered one of the best in the world—would soon serve the world’s best restaurant coffee. Shortly thereafter, Redzepi and sommelier Mads Kleppe introduced a program built on coffee equipment from La Marzocco and beans roasted by Oslo’s Tim Wendelboe.

This almighty influence of Noma helped spark a boom in quality-focused coffee services in fine-dining settings, with American counterparts to Noma, like Eleven Madison Park (New York City) and Canlis (Seattle), keeping pace with excellent coffee programs of their own.

And then the laws of physics kicked in: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Grub Street reported that up to 30 percent of Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide used Nespresso pods for coffee service, from Waku Ghin in Singapore to Alléno in Paris, lured by the brand’s reliability and marketing of “fine-dining exclusive” coffee pods, offered only to restaurants with one or more stars (or a French Gault Millau rating above 16).

Today there is something of a detente: Few and far between are the fine-dining restaurateurs who care about their coffee service, but the places that truly excel—Single Thread in Healdsburg, say, or the Blue Hill family of restaurants in New York—have welcomed coffee into their kitchens and onto their menus as a way of life. As coffee writer Oliver Strand once opined, “It seems the ones who are going to get the most out of Noma’s coffee are Noma’s waiters and cooks.”

6. For Café Design, Maximalism Is Coming
Stunningly minimalist. Scandinavian influenced. Clean white everywhere. Coffee bars with an icy aesthetic scope abound across the international design landscape—spots where you feel out of place if you so much as spill a crumb (or even order food in the first place).

A generation of café-goers have been set up by blandly OK Ikea interiors and the all-Nordic-everything whitewash of the Kinfolk-era late aughts—when evoking the snowfall-esque quietude and emptiness of the coffee bars of Copenhagen and Oslo was considered the ne plus ultra of coffee design. Never mind if you were in, say, New York City, a city awash with design influences and home to its own joyously baroque era of Art Deco, or Brasilia, a city built from the ground up by one of the 20th century’s greatest design minds, Brazil’s own midcentury modern genius Oscar Niemeyer.

Oh, no. To look appropriately Third Wave (as a proper noun), one must create a café that would not look out of place in an Icelandic fishing village, or perhaps some Copenhagen antechamber après a Michelin meal of pickled skua cloaca and foraged bilberries.

Happily, finally, this is at last starting to change, both because the public wills it to be so and because the next round of café owners are rightly smart to differentiate. The tyranny of Scandinavian design influence is at last beginning to dissipate, bringing forward new models of who these spaces are for and how we use them.

The new freedom in café culture can look like design maximalism, like the vast Coffee Manufactory expansion in the Row in downtown Los Angeles, or at Manhattan’s new Felix Coffee, a plush and luxurious new coffee bar on Park Avenue that dares to look like it belongs on Park Avenue.

Or it can be used to bring a specific idea to life: There is no more pure and beautiful expression of this form on the planet right now than Deadstock Coffee, a café that unapologetically fuses hip hop sneakerhead dorm-room urgency with a modern expression of coffee culture.

It’s OK to make a mess and be yourself in a room like Deadstock, or wear a suit and tie into a bar like Felix. Here’s to much more of that, and to more cafés that genuinely express a sense of place and self, that dare to be excellent without having to first look like something from the latest issue of Dossier.

You do not need to be a chiseled Finnish snowboard hunk or 90-pound Copenhagen fashion waif to look right in a café these days, and thank fuck for that, truly. The pushback on Scandinavian café design is finally happening—tall poppy syndrome be damned—giving way to a new generation of café design influenced by all the things we humans are: busy, full of ideas, diverse, and alive.

7. Instant Coffee Is Now Very OK
Instant coffee, once considered a nonstarter, anathema to the third-wave coffee movement, is finding a friendly home with some of coffee’s most discerning roasters. Well-regarded brands like Joe Coffee Company (NYC), Equator Coffee (Bay Area), Brandywine Coffee Roasters (Wilmington, Delaware), and Reanimator Coffee (Philadelphia) are getting into the game, collaborating with instant coffee processors like Voila Coffee, Swift Cup, and Sudden Coffee.

It is worth noting how completely utterly unthinkable this would have been even five years ago. Fancy coffee dogma has long dictated that whole-bean coffee was your one and only option for quality that this whole-bean coffee would need to be ground fresh for each and every brew, to exact weight specifications dictated by a byzantine myriad of conflicting recipes and that preground coffee was more or less the devil, or at the very least evil. Pregrinding your coffee meant losing its zip, its life, the very stuff that made specialty coffee special in the first place. Indeed, there are still coffee bars today where the simple request “Do you mind grinding this up for me?” will be met with the deepest of eye rolls.

Then the disruption came, pushed first by a little Los Angeles coffee concern called G&B, whose cofounder Charles Babinski (the “B”) pushed the notion that by pregrinding and carefully weighing individual doses of coffee for espresso, one could streamline production in a way that shaved meaningful time and labor off the barista’s burden. This dovetailed with research being conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area by a guy named Neil Day, whose pioneering product, Perfect Coffee, offered consumers preground packets of coffee using a patented (and highly secret) packaging technique that ensured freshness for weeks, even months.

Perfect was soon acquired by Blue Bottle G&B and its café and roasting brand, Go Get Em Tiger, have raised millions in private capital to expand across the Southlands. From there, it was a quick and slippery slope from rethinking preground to approaching instant coffee with fresh eyes, which is where we are today—and it could be where coffee is headed next in a big way.

The end result is a sea change for how the product category is perceived by third-wave consumers. In March and August of 2016, Sprudge published articles on Sudden and Voila, respectively, and the reader response was as though a bomb had dropped. Today, just three years later, the sight of specialty instant coffee from top-quality brands hardly draws a blink.

First a trend is shocking, then it’s adopted by the avant-garde, and before long it gets picked up by the masses. Isn’t there something sort of deliciously retro about a re-embrace of instant coffee? And here’s the neatest part: It can actually taste pretty great. Turns out that by carefully monitoring the instant coffee production process for variables (heat, weight, time) and starting out with good coffee in the first place, you can make an instant coffee product that tastes much better than the Flavor Crystals of yore.

All this trend needs now is a hook, or a celebrity spokesperson, or some kind of wider moment in the zeitgeist. Does anyone know what kind of coffee AOC drinks? She’s busy AF and could probably use some delicious instant.

8. Coffee Tourism Is Growing. Thank You, Instagram.
Rising awareness—fueled in part by the media and Instagram—has made specialty coffee the destination for a generation of global travelers. This is a major benefit to cafés like Wrecking Ball Coffee, in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, that have used a hybrid of industry cred and smart branding to build a successful coffee company in a highly competitive market. “We have people come in from around the world every day who sought us out because they saw us online,” says Nicholas Cho, a cofounder of the brand. “With more media coverage of coffee in general, there are more people who are interested.” Savvy entrepreneurs know that digital growth can be valuable—Wrecking Ball is currently seeking investors and will expand to Berkeley in 2019. (More on that below.)

Coffee companies like Wrecking Ball intentionally court these visitors by offering what Cho calls a “fashion wallpaper blogger element”—specifically a wrap of Hygge & West pineapple wallpaper along one side of the café, perfect for your #pineappleselfie with a friend. Similar styles have emerged at cafés in L.A. and New York, like the “But First, Coffee” neon at Alfred in Silver Lake or the very, very pink Pietro Nolita. A visit to the city is incomplete without a ’gram at these spots—the coffee becomes almost secondary.

But coffee tourism is making inroads with the culinary traveler as well. Digital coffee maps and city guides like those offered by Sprudge (and other websites) do brisk traffic well-heeled travelers know that, for example, Tim Wendelboe is a must on a visit to Oslo, and you’re wasting your time in DTLA if you miss the iconic bar at G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market.

One of the great pulls of coffee tourism not typically mentioned on Instagram is its relative accessibility. Unlike the guy we all know who seems to live in an endless Pygmalion love affair of prix fixe—a veritable Gram-a-Lot of humblebrags and haute cuisine—one need not have a secret trust fund or some rich daddy (related or otherwise) to afford experiencing the world’s best cafés. Even the splashiest coffee bar experience tops out at, what, $20 tops? To drink literally the most delicious coffees on the planet, that’s a steal, and it’s why coffee remains one of the world’s most affordable luxuries. (Thanks, colonialism!)

You simply need to get there and hope your lewk is indeed cute.

9. Making Coffee at Home Will Always Be the Best
Trends, waves, the almighty ’Gram—these things pale in comparison to the unassailable pleasure of simply making yourself a nice coffee at home. It’s a market that in some ways resists innovation: Take, for example, the Chemex, introduced in 1941 and still a pinnacle of form and function for the home coffee lover. But for those with an interest in tech, this is a fine time to bring a little bit of upgraded kit into your home coffee routine.

Consider the home coffee brewer. Most people read that and think instantly of the brand Mr. Coffee, but with no offense meant in the slightest to the Mr. Coffee brand and its global subsidiary rights holders, there are many other products on the market capable of producing a cup every bit as good as what you might find in a nice café.

From an affordability perspective, gear by brands like Breville and Baratza makes the act of batch brewing at home both easy and inexpensive. For something with more of a design bent, you might check out machines from Technivorm (of Holland) or Ratio (of Portland). Pair any of these brewers with an entry-level home grinder from Baratza (they start at around $60), and you’ve got a repeatable, easy-to-master home coffee set.

There’s honestly nothing better than coming downstairs, weighing some beans, grinding some coffee, tossing it into a machine, and then, you know, taking a shower or whatever before returning to a nice full pot. That today’s generation of gear manages to brew delicious coffee and look great doing it is just a happy bonus.

10. The Fourth Wave? Inclusivity.
Why lie? The Scandinavian minimalist moment in specialty coffee was also pretty darn white in skin tone. The classic barista trope—square glasses, vinyl records, snotty attitude—is almost entirely represented as white. And that extends to corporate boards, advocacy groups, and trade organizations, for whom even so much as acknowledging the lack of diversity in the industry is a very, very new thing.

This is changing, and fast, as coffee intertwines with the wider social moment. Influencers like Michelle Johnson (The Chocolate Barista), Adam JacksonBey (the Potter’s House) and Erica Escalante (the Arrow Coffeehouse) are proving that the next generation of coffee pros and barista champions need not look like the last. Entrepreneurs like Ian Williams (of Deadstock Coffee) and Sarina Prabasi (Buunni Coffee) show how coffee’s next great leap will be made by those who may have been previously disenfranchised by the culture.

The aforementioned Nick Cho and his business partner and spouse, Trish Rothgeb, are doubling down on coffee’s next big trend being a move toward inclusivity. They’ve been quoted as pursuing coffee’s “fourth wave” with their upcoming shop in Berkeley, an idea defined by “making diversity and inclusion our top priority, instead of just a value.” If it sounds like a big statement, it is, but Rothgeb has some purchase on the term—she coined “third wave” back in 2003, and together the duo have some 40 years of experience on the industry’s front lines.

For our purposes, let’s take it a step further: Fourth wave means rethinking not just what the barista looks like, but the customer, too. Open doors make for better guests, and this, history teaches us, begets its own wave of innovation and experimentation. For coffee in America to remain vital, it has to continue to incorporate new ideas, new waves of young people to obsess over this drink and the multitudes it contains.

That these kids should come from across the planet, as first- or second-generation immigrants, ought to be taken as a given: This is America, after all, the greatest immigrant nation in the history of the world, and fuck anyone wrong enough to think otherwise. For entrepreneurs like Cho and Rothgeb, Williams and Prabasi and the rest, creating a space for that spark to happen—for the next Geoff Watts, whomever they may be and wherever they may be from, to walk in the door and fall in love—that speaks to the possibilities of where coffee is today, and where it’s headed next.


The Day Before the SMT – Checklist

The devil is in the details and the day before the tour is all about the spokesperson and a studio set check.

For the Spokesperson. There are five essential items that you need to do prior to the SMT. If you haven’t addressed these key ingredients prior to this date, this is the final opportunity.

  • Invest in Media Training. I highly recommend a media training session. You are investing a significant amount of budget into the SMT and going that little extra on the budget is like insurance. Even if you have an experienced spokesperson or celebrity, they need to prep for THIS message. Not convinced? We have five questions to ask about media training that are a must read. We offer media training services. In fact, I’ve even written a book on it: The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Discuss Wardrobe Options. There are specific rules for dressing for television so do not rely on your spokesperson to “show up” in a wardrobe you find pleasing or that represents your brand. There is a lot to this topic so please download this free wardrobe and make-up tip sheet that I offer as a bonus to readers of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Confirm a Professional Make-Up Artist. We provide a professional make-up artist for all of our SMTs as part of our package. You need someone who understands the art of applying make-up for TV since it is different from other specialties. We work pros who have provided services for A-list celebrities, but if you have a celebrity spokesperson, they may want to hire a specific make-up artist so definitely ask them well before the date of the SMT if this is a preference. Also, make sure you confirm the rate for a specific make-up artist since the rate may exceed the “going rate” for SMTs and that budget needs to be approved so you’re not dealing with any surprise overages.
  • Prepare Cue Cards for Main Message Points. Even the most experienced spokespersons occasionally need to reference cue cards. In the situation of an SMT, there is a lot of deja vu happening when a spokesperson repeats the same interview up to 25 times so cue cards should be prepared to help guide them. I like to recommend that the spokesperson prepares their own since they are working with the messaging in their own words, but it is essential that these are CUE cards and NOT the script on cue cards. You can also work with them to provide them if they do not want this responsibility. You don’t need special materials for this. It’s easy to just print them out on a regular paper (use Landscape/Horizontal printing).
  • Ask About Catering Requests. Our SMTs always include a catered hot breakfast and in the era of “special needs eaters,” don’t forget to ask your spokesperson if they any special requests (or dietary restrictions) for catering. You don’t want a cranky spokesperson because they’re missing their favorite breakfast food or latte. Communicate any special requests to your SMT producer.

Visit the Studio and Set. If the set has special requirements including props, always visit the studio and approve the set the day before the tour. This is generally done in the late afternoon (between 3pm to 5pm) since the studio will have other projects using the space prior to that time. Your SMT producer can make special arrangements, if needed, for earlier access. Make sure that any imperative props that are shipped arrive two days before the SMT and always have a contingency plan. If it is not an option to visit the set, request that the producer email photos of the set to you in advance so they can make any adjustments in advance (if necessary).

Plan On an Early Night. Most SMTs require a 5:00am or 6:00am arrival or call time (that’s on the East Coast) and three hours earlier for the West Coast, so plan for an early night so you’re well rested. Also, confirm a car service or know your route the studio in advance.


Grand Openings

Abby stops by the club to see Trace and catches him mid-rehearsal with the band. Trace immediately stops singing and rushes to Abby, apologizing for running late for their date. He also takes it as an opportunity to introduce her to John. He tells Abby that he needs 30 more minutes to practice and she volunteers to sit and watch.

The next morning, Mick stops by the club to make sure Trace has everything he needs to open. Trace admits he is having trouble getting a live music permit and wonders if Mick has any strings he can pull with the city hall. He tells Trace he will see what he can do.

Bree and Jess are enjoying coffee and muffins at the inn. Despite David being such a great cook and baker, Jess still knows nothing about him. Every time she tries to ask him basic questions, David avoids them.

Abby is shocked when she hears she is up for the title of Vice President at Capital Management. She is excited about the news, but apprehensive when she hears it comes with a heavier workload and more hours. She agrees to think about the offer for a few days.

Kevin is joined by Sarah at the café. He ribs on her why she hasn’t returned any of his calls. She says the two can hang out now and they catch-up. Kevin finds out that Sarah has family in Philadelphia and she learns he is studying for the MCATs. She eats and runs, but not before flashing him one last smile.

Back at Word Play, Bree is shocked when the author, Simon Atwater returns, but this time he wants to invite Bree out for coffee.

Abby fills Trace in about her possible promotion and he tells her he believes in her. Their moment is interrupted by John and Leigh, who tell Trace of a possible gig the band could have in Baltimore. That means the band should rehearse tonight. Abby says it is okay to break their scheduled date because she has two sick daughters at home she has to tend to.

The next morning, a tired Abby is at the café grabbing a cup of coffee when she spots Trace, Leigh and John walking in. Trace offers to walk Abby to her car before joining the band for breakfast. Meanwhile, outside the café, Kevin runs into Sarah while she is on a jog, and he invites her to join and him and the rest of the family for dinner at the house. She says yes.

Simon and Bree are getting to know each other over coffee, and he talks about his new novel. While they’re chatting, Bree receives a text from her Gran and invites Simon to the family’s upcoming family dinner. He takes her up on the invite.

Jess is still trying to get to know David and he although he reveals he has a brother and sister, but that’s it. This piques Jess’s curiosity even more. Later on, she decides to invite David to her family dinner and he says yes.

As Abby and Trace have dinner, she wants to know how long Trace is going to be playing with the band. She tells him that whenever they are around, Trace acts differently and the two never get any alone time. Trace stops her and tells her that he refuses to change for her, but also assures Abby that the two are okay. Trace promises his girlfriend that he will start making her more of a priority.

Meg and Mick are setting up the table for Gran’s big dinner. Mick asks a big favor from Meg. He knows that Councilman Robertson isn’t a fan of his, so he is hoping that Meg can schmooze the councilman to into providing the live music permit for the club. Mick suggests that Meg bring up the importance of the arts to the councilman and see what he says.

At the Green Fair, Connor is helping Danielle out and gets a text about dinner. He invites Danielle to join him and his family that night at the house.

Later that evening, the O’Brien family and their dates are all gathered around the dinner table sharing entertaining holiday stories. Gran delivers a toast welcoming all the additional guests to the O’Brien dinner table. Unfortunately, Trace receives a text and has to run out to the club to deal with an emergency.

Trace arrives at the club to find John jamming on stage with a new band, as an audience looks on. Trace pulls the plug on the speakers and tells the band and audience to clear out.

After dinner, Sarah and Kevin go for a sunset stroll and he tells her that Gran loved her. She tells Kevin she knows why he really wants to become a doctor it’s because the family relies on him to be the one to fix things. Sarah tells him it was nice to watch. Kevin smiles and says everything she said is true.

Simon helps Gran clear the tables, and she tells him she is a fan of his books. Gran also informs Simon that Bree is an excellent writer and gives him a story that Bree wrote in the 8 th grade. Meanwhile, Meg gets some alone time with Bree and wants to know if Simon has seen of any of her writing. Bree says no, because she is afraid Simon won’t like her stories. Megan points out that maybe that isn’t what matters. What should matter is that they like each other.

Meanwhile, Danielle and Connor are chatting on the porch swing and talk about their careers. Danielle says she didn’t need a big school law degree to find a job she loved. She also tells Connor that she likes the side of him she saw at dinner, the one that isn’t filled with bells and whistles. He responds by giving her a kiss.

The next morning Meg tracks down councilman Robertson to try to get the live music permit for Trace and Mick. Following Mick’s earlier advice, Meg brings up how important it is to have live music and arts in Chesapeake Shores. The councilman tells Meg that he knows exactly who she is, because she he looked at her job resume at the City Hall. On the spot, he offers her an actual job working for the city.

Trace is at the club practicing and John shows up to talk. He apologizes to Trace for getting out of control at the club. John promises Trace that it was a one-time thing and he won’t get out of line again. Trace tells John to shape up or he is out of the band for good. John agrees and promises to be on his best behavior.

Mick is eager to hear about how Meg’s conversation with Robertson went. She lets Mick down by telling him that he is not going to issue the club a permit. Instead, Mick is going to have to go through the new arts liaison coordinator of the city… her! She also thanks Mick for sending her resume to the city hall for the job in the first place, suspecting it was him. He just smiles and says he has no idea what she is talking about.

Simon stops by Word Play to invite Bree out to dinner. He also says he read her 8 th grade story that Gran gave him at the dinner. Simon tells her the story actually moved him to tears and now he is eager to read even more of her work.

When the club officially opens, it is a hit. Trace credits Abby’s support for helping make his dream come true. Mick introduces Trace to the audience and they go wild. The Trace Reilly Band starts performing for the club. Meg gets Kevin and Connor on their feet to dance and enjoy the music. Abby gets a text from Wes letting her know the girls are still running a fever and asking for their mom. She rushes home to cuddle her daughters while Trace continues to play, dismayed to realize that Abby has vanished.


OFSAA pulls plug on spring sport championships and festivals again

There will be no OFSAA medals handed out for the second straight spring.

The provincial governing body for high school sports pulled the plug on its spring championships Friday, ending athletic hopes for track and field, badminton, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and tennis.

OFSAA pulls plug on spring sport championships and festivals again Back to video

“Despite this disappointing news, we wish to reiterate our continued support for sports and activity for the benefit of students’ physical and mental well-being,” OFSAA president Nick Rowe said in a statement. “School sports play a vital role in education and in the lives of student.”

Last year, the OFSAA executive council and return-to-sports working group waited until April to cancel its championship schedules.

The organization plans to continue to meet and assess the viability of its events as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and hopes the return “will come as vaccines become more widely distributed”.

In the meantime, they are offering new programs such as virtual challenges, the OFSAA Café and a newly-announced student forum.



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