Heritage Outpost or Clearing My Quite Full Plate

I believe it says  “Foolish is the person who misses his chance and afterwards reproaches fate”
(image via www.lacan.com)

In ancient Iran, some dishes (plates, bowls) had short proverbs or dictums engraved in the dish.  Buried by the meal, these adages only reveal themselves as the food is consumed, and an appropriate dinner conversation can take form on the basis of the talking points arranged around the dish. This prompt for (the lost art of) dinner conversation could be considered the lasting objective of the meal.  One’s hunger for physical sustenance has lapsed, but the hunger for knowledge, understanding and opinion can only grow with new thoughts thrust at the endless void where human understanding resides.

With that in mind, I've had a lot on my plate over the last few months. I dove headfirst into the construction and coordination of the newest Heritage outgrowth, Heritage Outpost. The components involved in the opening of a new cafe are copious at best and overwhelming at their worst.  I've had to immerse myself in city health codes, literature on all the different voltages available and required in our outlets (and then all the different outlets for each voltage), researching materials appropriate for building out in a ‘historic building,’ and learning the ups and downs of what brand new espresso machines have to offer.  I feel like I've learned a lot (but, I’ve still not figured out how one trains 6 new baristas at the same time).  It’s all been exciting and has consumed me as much as I’ve been consuming the material, but all the individual bits and pieces involved are starting to clear, and the message is becoming less hazy.


The dish has slowly been clearing at Heritage Outpost (Photo via @HeritageBicycle)

My plate is not yet empty, but I have some suspicions about the rest of the text obscured by the last T’s that need crossing and the I’s that need dotting. I contend that the message will read as such: Outpost is for the people, the coffee people, the hot chocolate people, the tea drinkers and the deep thinkers.  Outpost is for Uptown! Outpost is for the commuters (we have a walk up window!) and the sit-with-your-computers. Outpost is for the socializers and the social outcasts.  Outpost is the next branch stemming from the tree that's firmly rooted in Chicago.

Heritage Outpost will be the living manifestation of that now hidden device, 7 days a week, on the ground floor of the new Flats apartment building located at 1325 W Wilson St in Chicago. It will be a full service cafe, complemented by gorgeous and comfortable seating arrangements (rooftop seating and events are arriving when it’s actually fun to sit on a rooftop in Chicago… springtime), and the same caliber of friendly and personable staff the community has come to expect from the growing Heritage family.


The message starts to reveal itself
There’s something brewing beyond these walls (image via @HeritageBicycle)

As Outpost settles in, the impact of the newly revealed dictum will begin to reveal itself with in the context of it’s environment (what’s truly more interesting, the fact, or what the fact means and how it relates to the universe that surrounds the fact?). When the doors open in the next few days, I’ll start shifting gears and will have some new plates thrust in front of me, the goals clear, but the revelatory message will appear hazy until it can find a way to distinguish itself.  

(Heritage Outpost is located at 1325 W Wilson St in Chicago’s Uptown Neighborhood, it’s slated hours of operation are from 6am to 7pm, seven days a week.  Heritage Outpost is planning to softly open it’s doors during the week of the 16th of December. Opening party TBA! All inquiries regarding Outpost can be directed to Outpost@HeritageBicycles.com)

December 04, 2014 by Adam Rahn

Coffee - One on One

Everyday, I get questions, comments, and excited little tidbits of information from our customers regarding bicycles, and I have to apologize to them, because that’s all Greek to me, but, I assure them, that I can talk their ear off about coffee if that’s what they’re into.  

So I’m going to do that.

Now you can do this at home (image via www.yuppiechef.com)

Heritage General Store is now offering one on one home brewing classes with me, Adam!  These classes are intended to be a focused block of time dedicated to what motivates you with regards to coffee.  Whether it’s fine tuning your home pour over, wrapping your mind around that siphon pot you picked up on a whim, or just producing the best cup possible out of your tried and true Mr. Coffee, there’s always something to be learned, and there’s something to be gained, moving one step closer to producing the same caliber brew at home as you might find at Heritage or your other favorite haunts.

That siphon that you are finally going to learn how to use (image via Steampunktribune.com)

One of the aims of this new program is to demystify the brewing processes that often appear to only be revealed after one dons flannel and grows out their mustache, without the pressure and dead-serious attitude that often permeates coffee culture.  

Coffee is fun, but, culturally, it doesn’t always feel that way.  I want to create a situation where you can feel free to let your hair down, speak openly without fear of a snark-attack.

So let’s get the very most out of those bags of coffee that you so diligently pick up every week.  

Let’s reach inside each of those hand picked beans and pull out all of the hidden notes and delicious flavors.  

Let’s get motivated to appreciate the little things, fresh and finely tuned coffee, that you can produce yourself, with consistency, every day.

Let’s make this happen!


Topics will include, but are not limited to:
-Kalita Wave Brewer-
-Beehouse Brewer-
-French Press-
-Cafe Solo-
-Home Espresso and Getting the Most out of Your Home Machine-
-Milk Steaming and Latte Art-
All affairs include one 12oz bag of Stumptown Coffee
Group sessions are welcome either in shop or in your home or office.
Please Contact:
For More Information Including Pricing and Scheduling


(image via freeretroclipart.com)


We hope to be hearing from you soon.




July 18, 2014 by Adam Rahn

Adam slings drinks, runs shops, writes words

Sometime in the next 365 days, I’ll hit my decade mark of being in the coffee industry.  I’m not really sure what this says about me as a person, perhaps I’m resilient and dedicated, perhaps I simply lack any practical skills to elevate me to a career type level of employment, and perhaps that’s okay.

I really like coffee.  It fills so many of the niches and crannies that occupy my headspace.  I’ll start with one of the big one’s today: a sense of empowerment and self determination.

Specialty coffee navigates the channels leading from the craft care required for the perfect cup that runs counterintuitive to the notion of the picture “perfect” products made (and often consumed) with factory precision. Every step, from seed, to bean, to bar, requires a level of specialization, patience, and precision.  It requires that an individual be bad at something, before they are good, and in the age of products designed explicitly for ease of use at the expense of functionality and reliability, coffee continues to swim against the current.  

“Never have I worked so hard for such a useless skill” is my oft-repeated statement regarding latte art, and it’s kind of true.  I tossed gallons and gallons of milk down the drain, and now I can make hearts, tulips and rosettas in your espresso beverages.  This may seem silly.

On the other hand, now the proof is no longer in the pudding, so to speak.  

Larger companies like Intelligentisa have helped push the agenda of ‘it looks good: it will taste good,’ which I would argue, is generally the case.  As you (the barista-in-training) are steaming all this milk, trying your darndest to make that little heart appear and pouring it down the drain, you’re also going through shot after shot of espresso, practicing consistency and drinkability, you’re sipping every single one just to make sure the taste and texture are what they should be, and you’re hoping that this next one will be the one, and you can finally stop being this black hole sucking up time and resources into the infinite density of your failures, until one day it just clicks, and you suddenly can just do it, and you reason to yourself that some fluke has occurred, and whatever minor adjustment you just made to your pour couldn’t be enough to overcome that hurdle you’ve been tripping over for the last several weeks/months.

But it’s happened, you’ve learned the silliest, most useless skill, and now you can “prove” to someone, before they even take a sip, that this is a worthwhile beverage to enjoy.

Suddenly you’ve learned a ‘craft’ of sorts.  It lacks the danger of welding, or the grit of being a blacksmith, or universal usefulness of a handyman, but you’ve learned a craft.  You have a skill that other people do not have, and that a contingency of people rely on to get them through their day.  

You don’t work off of a script, you work off of your routine, and there’s something empowering about that.  The shift is your own, and with the right knowledge, you have a lot of control over your domain.  How many grams of ground espresso makes that shot most palatable to you?  

All that aside.

This summer is going to be great.  We have some great events on the horizon, specifically, this coming Friday - June 13th @2PM.  We’ll be hosting a cupping (tasting) featuring our good buddy Mike Horgan from Stumptown Roasters.  It’s a great way to figure out what you (the customer you, soon to be the home barista you) like, what you don’t like, and what inspires you toward your own sense of self determination within the world of coffee.

Thanks for reading,


June 12, 2014 by Adam Rahn

Is It Summer Yet?

It seems that, in true Chicago spirit, we have all stopped waiting for spring to arrive and have decided, instead, to declare loudly that it is here, regardless of what the weather may be doing or undoing.  The cruel joke of snow on April 15th is only the most recent installment in what has been the most drastic winter and almost hilariously erratic spring I can remember in my 24 years in this city.  

So if you’re one of the folks who has been asking, “Hey, when are you gonna start making that (best ever in the whole world) sour cherry lemonade again?!” the answer is “I have no idea.”  It’s kind of hard to make a plan about lemonade when it snowed like 3 days ago.

But, like I said, we’re all trying to be above the whimsy of the seasons, and just go all gung-ho into our normal summer routines, which is why brunching, coffee-ing, weekend outing season seems to have gotten into full swing a few months early.  If RealFeel temperatures of -45 didn’t let us miss work, we are certainly not going to be deterred from breakfast on the patio by 38!  And in honor of the upper 60s/low 70s that happened last weekend, the whole Heritage staff got to participate in the busiest day on record since we opened more than two years ago.  So thank you, everyone.  It is always a pleasure, and a thrill, to sling lattes for you (or on you, depending on your luck and our coordination), and check in with your weekend plans, and visit with your kids, and grill hot dogs etc. etc.

If these few weeks have been any indication, it looks like we’re walking into a pretty epic and energetic summer.  This Sunday is Easter, which means we will be serving the best of the Bang Bang Pie flavors (Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Coconut, and Rhubarb Crumble), as well as the usual host of decadence from Glazed and Infused, and Southport Grocery.  If you haven’t already tried our Easter-inspired white chocolate rosemary espresso and milk beverage, that should be on your list of “Things-to-do-before-it’s-May.”  

Plus, for a limited time only (!!) we are pouring-over these Colombian beans that make just the most delicious, sweet and sour, dark fruit, melt-in your mouth not in your hands kind of coffee yum ever so you should probably come and have some of that.

Next thing you know it’ll be Mother’s Day and then Memorial Day and then 4th of July and then we’ll all be whining about how hot it is and how quickly the summer is going by and then it’ll be all beautiful and autumn and pumpkin spice.  I only remind you in order to encourage that whole live in the moment mentality.

Oh, and also, the ancient Greeks thought Hares were hermaphrodites and could impregnate themselves and thereby maintain their virginity, which made them holy animals and that’s why the Easter bunny brings you baskets of peeps.

April 18, 2014 by Delaney Nichols

Coffee Tasting

“The importance of coffee to the world economy cannot be overstated.”*

Perhaps it is just the freezing, icy heart of winter that makes me ponder the dread questions.  Maybe, come June, and the leafy things, and those hot road mirages, and the utter relief of submersion in the almost-too-cold lake,  I won’t ask you to join me in considering things like whether or not individual actions can possibly matter in the context of a global capitalism that depends on our implicit consent in all kinds of inequities.  And maybe I won’t worry about whether or not the asking of this question does anything other than paralyze us and worsen that immobile feeling that hearts get when they understand too much and recourse seems inaccessible.

“[Coffee] is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade, in many years second in value only to oil as a source of foreign exchange to producing countries.”

In journalism they say you should tell your story in the first sentence.  Then you can get all detail-y and explanatory and expansionist and such.  I’m terrible at that.  I want to start the story with the reason I thought to tell the story and then sort of wander around with a bunch of notecards throwing thoughts about and going on tangents and then maybe right before I stop talking altogether I’ll let you know what is actually going on.  Yes, this makes conversations with me totally frustrating.  

“[Coffee’s] cultivation, processing, trading, transportation and marketing provide employment for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”

This Sunday we are hosting a tasting.  We’re gonna make some coffee from some different places in some different kinds of ways in order to provide everybody with some insight into how coffees that are grown in different regions taste different and how the same coffee can taste different(ly) depending on preparation and attention paid to detail and tricks of the trade and quality of equipment and so on and so forth.  So I was thinking about how neat it is that we can come into a coffee shop and choose to try beans from Guatemala or Indonesia and how that is a privilege that often I don’t remember to remember.  Regardless of how kind of mind boggling is this post-modern world (as my mother would say), even more amazing is how little is required of us in this exchange.  I will tell you right now how little I know about Colombia.  Like nothing.  That’s how little.  And that’s really just south of here.  Indonesia?  I don’t know if I would know it existed at all if not for coffee.  Which is not to say that I’m trying to rev us up for some kind of huge cathartic guilt trip or something.  I think simply piquing our natural and evolutionarily desirable human curiosity would be great.  The more you know the more you know you don’t.  I feel that way every time I make espresso- the more shots I pull the more I am aware that I know this tiny drop in the massive ocean of what coffee is.  And when this huge whirly-pooling feeling of being a speck of a human in this huge cosmos of coffee cultivation- a barista slinging lattes made out of the second most significant commodity in world trade . . . If my toddler weren’t keeping me awake at night already, I’d have plenty of other reasons to be a perpetual insomniac.

“Coffee is crucial to the economies and politics of many developing countries; for many of the world's Least Developed Countries, exports of coffee account for more than 50 percent of their foreign exchange earnings.”

I went to check out a bunch of UN statistics on the countries our tasting will feature.  The first thing I realized is that I do not know how to read statistics.  For example:  “Energy consumption per capita (kilograms oil equivalent)” in Colombia, is 71 173/1.6.  Great.  I’m sure that’s super important.  And while I now have the goal to understand this before I die, I certainly don’t have time to figure it out this afternoon.  So I threw together this REALLY basic chart of factoids about Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Indonesia, so we can all approach the future with, at the very least, this same set of common knowledge.


Surface Area

Population (2011)

Unemployment (2011)

Internet Users (per 100 inhabitants)

United States

Northern America

3,717,812 sq mi





South America

440,831 sq. mi





Eastern Africa

426,372 sq. mi





Central America

42,042 sq. mi





South-eastern Asia

737,814 sq. mi




And that, I think, was the whole point of what I was talking about.

See you Sunday!

*All quotes taken from http://www.ico.org/: The International Coffee Organization



February 21, 2014 by Delaney Nichols

New Year Blog Post

I really did a bang up job on not writing the obligatory holidays-make-me-love-coffee-more blog post.  Being a parent at Christmastime: 1, Barista blogger extraordinaire: 0.

I did write one, actually.  It was long and sappy and had to do with why we feel certain things taste like experiences, or perhaps, that experiences taste like certain things.  Maybe we all wake up and say to our partner, or best friend, or favorite sister, or next door neighbor we see every day but can’t remember the name of, or first customer of the morning, or recently re-united separated at birth twin: it smells like snow today; winter is coming.  Or maybe we all have a kooky friend who says that to us once a year.  Or maybe it’s just me and I’m crazier than I like to admit.  But there are these intangibles that we encounter and we do, in fact, equate them with a sensation- the air smells different when the seasons are changing.  We crave specific foods because it’s getting close to Thanksgiving.  I know that the smell of pine-y oil soaps always makes me feel like I’m walking into my parents house after a long day at Kindergarten.  And Jameson tastes like stealing from the liquor cabinet in high school.  These are the kinds of things we often feel and then wonder about the universality of experience and is everyone’s color palette different and why do some people eat ancho chilies like popsicles?  These are questions that used to make me feel lonely because I was scared to ask other people, “Hey, does this really weird thing also happen to you?”

So what in the name of all things good does this have to do with being behind the counter?  Is there something that makes this relate to making coffee in January?
It was a long intro folks, but here’s my point.  Tasting coffees, (actually, I will maintain that tasting all kinds of things) makes me feel less like a freak, and more like a member of a freaky club that requires nothing of me other than being born and trying out a lot of food and beverages.  That is to say, the first time you stand in a room with a few other people and you’re all drinking coffee and somebody says, “This kind of tastes like peaches to me,” and you think, “Wait, really!  Me, too!” you feel a little less nutsy pants.  Whenever that happens to you in your life you walk away with a sense that you’ve found of divet of humanity that makes “community” feel less like a word in anthropology textbooks and more like something you have, and can build, and in which you can invest emotionally and spiritually and all that jazz.

Which is why, starting this January, we are gonna start drinking coffee together.  Yes.  That’s right.  We would like to drink coffee with you.  As long as you have not given up caffeine as a New Year’s resolution (and I’m really begging you, please don’t do that!) we are inviting you to partake in a renewed initiative to foster the community of coffee drinking here at Heritage Bicycles General Store.  We think Sundays are a good day for collective activities so please, stay tuned, for what we hope to be an (at least) monthly tasting fiesta.  We will do the usual grind the beans, put the hot waters on the beans, sip, slurp, spit thing, but non-traditionalists that we are at heart, we’d also like to do things like, “Hey, have you ever tried almond milk?  How about non-homogonized milk?  No?  Let’s do that, then.”  And maybe some other things that might get warrant the side-long faux-pas glance, and maybe some funny things, or adventuresome things.  Throw some ideas our way. (I’ll get you started: Let’s try all the major spices used in Thai cooking!)  And if you don’t have any now, come hang out and get inspired.  I think that’s a great New Year’s resolution.

January 03, 2014 by Delaney Nichols

Behind The Counter with Mama D


Coffee tastes better in the Fall.  That seems to be the universal consensus.  And luckily enough Stumptown has rolled out a whole bunch of new coffees just in time to quench that caffeine hankering that rolls in as everything becomes crisp, and clear, and crunchy.  If you are one of those folks who really wants to taste the whole spectrum, from green apple, hops, and lime, to maple, walnut, and butterscotch, to plum, cherry, and dark chocolate, then the coffee tasting we are hosting on Wednesday the 9th is right up your alley.  If you are the type who just loves to savor a well-crafted cup of coffee every once in a while, keep your eyes on our pour-over board, which will let you know what bean we are featuring each week in an effort to introduce us and you to each coffee Stumptown’s impressive single origin menu offers.

So that’s the straight-up, for those who stick to the pure and simple.  Bread and butter coffee drinkers.  Or maybe croissant and creme fraiche coffee drinkers. This is quality we’re talking about here, right?

We’re a playful lot, though, so autumn is a good time to start throwing apples and pumpkins and cinnamon into pretty much everything we do.  If you can drink pumpkin in your coffee, why wouldn’t you?  Lattes = yum, pumpkin = yum- foregone conclusion folks.  In the true spirit of Chicago, which has been statistically proven to be one of the greatest pumpkin loving cities in the United States of America, (I’m actually not joking on this one you guys) we have perfected a unique pumpkin experience, which we think tastes great and is an awesome step removed from the ultra-sweet, cloying pumpkin syrups we’ve tasted everywhere else.  And yes, it has real pumpkin in it.

Recently I was engaged in a conversation by a friend as to whether or not our other fall special, the “House-Made Apple Cider,” is actually apple cider.  The answer is no.  It’s not a “true cider,” which is defined, according to the great internets of ours, as “the juice pressed from apples or other fruits, used for drinking before fermentation (sweet cider) or after fermentation (hard cider).”  So you got us.  Not a single apple has been pressed in the making of this cider.  But I have it on the highest authority (which in these cases is always the opinion of folks under the age of 12) that this golden drink “tastes just like apple pie!” I’m gonna come down on the side of semantics on this one.  But the choice is all yours.

That will get us through October just perfectly.  The greatest coffee in the world made every kind of way- the silly ways, the traditional ways, the milky ways, and the right-out-of-the-roaster-take-it-home-and-make-it-your-way.  Any and all ways, we are open every day letting that blinding sunlight in through the early morning windows, and sweating through these bizarre tropical thunderstorms in the late afternoons when no one can decide if it’s an iced coffee or a hot coffee kind of day.  Come celebrate every Chicagoans favorite season by milking the last days of patio tanning, and that strange and special comfort that comes from watching a chill rain from the dry side of the window.  We are keeping the cold at bay for the time being.  And when we can’t do anything about it anymore, we’ll talk chocolate and peppermint, and the coffee you buy just to keep your hands warm.


~Delaney Nichols

October 09, 2013 by Delaney Nichols