The task of brewing coffee has gone "cutting edge" these days, and Dennis Walker now knows what the baristas at his Arcedium Coffeehouse in St. Charles have to do next.
Walker, who owns the coffee shop along First Street, and barista Michael Burkholder spent last weekend at Coffee Fest 2013 at Navy Pier in Chicago. They were representing Arcedium in the central region of America's Best Espresso competition.
Of 32 finalists, Arcedium's coffee made it to the final eight. The winner, from Louisville, Ky., moves on to the national finals against other regional winners.
"This was the first time we had ever entered the best espresso competition, and it's a feather in our cap," Walker said of the process, which included submitting a written application about the coffee and Arcedium for the Specialty Coffee Association of America to review for consideration.
"I think we will enter again in the future, because now we know what we're going for," Walker added. "We have very good coffee now, but they are looking for that cutting-edge type stuff."
Another tasty cafe:
A reader sent a note to say she enjoyed watching the Mid-American Canoe Race a couple of weeks ago along the Fox River, but her morning was made much better when discovering a new cafe.
She stopped in at the Early Light Café at the 11. E State St. location along the bike trail at the corner of State and Bennett (Route 25) that was formerly a small ice cream shop attached to Mill Race Cyclery.
Rave reviews poured in about the egg sandwiches on ciabatta bread with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.
"Can't wait to go back for their sandwiches," Jan Miller wrote.
Owners Eileen Kanute and Dawn Phillips opened Early Light Café in early May and now call their spot a "grab and go" for bikers, runners and walkers.
"The previous shop here was only open on weekends, so it's taken people a little while to figure out that we are here from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily," Kanute says.
Apparently, the snacks and homemade bakery goods also are enough to make anyone want to stop in again.
Miller calls it a great place for Genevans to walk to "for an inexpensive, tasty treat."
On the mend:
Jim Wheeler can consider himself lucky. A lot of people with every key artery to their heart clogged don't live to talk about it.
But the retired Pottawatomie Park golf course professional was sitting in the Arcedium Coffeehouse last week, admitting he was fortunate to discover he needed heart surgery after an examination, rather than through an emergency trip to the hospital via ambulance.
Wheeler recently underwent quintuple bypass on his heart, and he will start his rehab this week.
"I had some signs, especially shortness of breath, sometimes just from walking up the stairs at home," Wheeler said.
It was baffling to figure out, Wheeler said, because there would be times he could exercise at the Norris Center in St. Charles and feel perfectly fine.
But when fairly simple tasks, like mowing the lawn, became a chore, Wheeler felt it was time to go see his doctor.
"I'm feeling pretty good now," he said.
An auto upgrade:
Those who know me well would say this day would never come. Yes, Virginia, I actually bought a new car. That means the 1994 Maroon Jeep Grand Cherokee I have been cruising around in for nearly 20 years will move on to face its future at McGrath Honda in St. Charles.
That's where I left it in a new life as a trade-in. The ol' Jeep had a ton of miles on it, but plugged away just fine on the road. It was born in a time of no CDs, MP3 players or Pandora radio.
But you can't keep throwing money into an old car, right? At least that's what others tell me.
My knowledge of cars is quite minimal. This is what I know about our new Honda Accord: It is white.
My philosophy about cars is just as simple: They cost too much.
With my limited knowledge about autos and limited dollars for this kind of expense, one should clearly understand why cars have never been on my radar.
Friends and family members get as giddy as school kids on the first day of summer vacation when talking about their new cars. Me? Not so much.
The auto industry is extremely important to our economy and to advertising dollars for media outlets. It's also wonderful that Americans are willing to make an investment that won't provide much return, other than more expenses to operate it.
Through it all, I kind of miss my Jeep.
Roasting for history:
The St. Charles Heritage Center board, staff and supporters have been working hard in preparing for its newest fundraiser -- a Saturday night pig roast on the center's grounds on June 29.
In addition to the fun of having an outdoor barbecue, the fundraiser will feature those other things that draw participants -- a raffle and silent auction items. Information about the event is available by calling the museum at (630) 584-6967.
Italian food for teens:
You can support the STC Underground teen center by eating lunch or dinner at Francesca's on the Fox, or by putting in a carryout or catering order the night of June 25.
The restaurant is donating 20 percent from food or beverage sales that night to support the center.
STC Underground is on the lower level of the Baker Community Center, where teens have met for decades, though the gathering spot has had various names. If you remember when there was a swimming pool or bowling alley down there, it means you have been around here since the 1940s at least.
Those interested in helping the center can make a reservation at the restaurant at (630) 587-9221.
The plastic bag holding our Daily Herald the other day had "Have a Wonderful Day" written on it in black magic marker. Now that's a nice touch from the delivery person to start our day with the morning paper.