Chicago’s Sawada Coffee and Its Military Latte

Chicago and its coffee scene has been on the mind a lot lately. Its been a minute since I last experienced. A coffee drink that is near the forefront of my thoughts is the Instagram friendly and visually appealing Military Latte.

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

The Military Latte is the creation of Sawada Coffee. I got my first experience of the West Loop neighborhood coffee gem on my most recent personal Chicago coffee crawl.

On an early morning I entered Sawada Coffee off North Green Street. I headed up a darken set of stairs that sat in the back of Hogsalt Hospitality’s Green Street Smoked Meats, for which this coffee shop is a part of. It’s kind of ironic that green is in the name of the restaurant.

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

It was a happening West Loop scene as I waited my time to order from the true Americana themed counter. Sawada offers a variety of pour overs, other lattes, chais and espresso drinks. Those things hardly registered with me at the time though as it was going to be the Military Latte all the way.

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Tea-based latte? Coffee-based latte? How about both. Espresso and matcha working together. Add some vanilla syrup for sweetness, cocoa powder and with the green tea sitting amongst the foam you had a coffee presentation unmatched in the city. Back to the word green it is!

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

I enjoyed the unique goodness amongst all the twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling in the aesthetically pleasing coffee shop.

Sawada is named after its founder Hiroshi Sawada who also owns five coffee chops in Japan (making note) and is a World Champion Latte artist. I can easily see why. The Military Latte is not all looks though. It has all the substance and the unique flavor one could only want in a latte. I sipped slowly after my photo shoot. No worries I did drink it hot!

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

I look forward to getting back to Sawada Coffee, other favorite spots and exploring more of the Chicago coffee scene again soon. Military Latte cheers to all!

Sawada Coffee, Chicago, West Loop, Military Latte

You can find Sawada Coffee on Instagram.

Which Chicago coffee shops do you have fond memories of and would recommend checking out?

Hiking Battle Mountain off the San Diego Beaten Path

During a visit to San Diego I stayed in Rancho Bernardo on the north end of town and looked for ways to spend some time outdoors, while also venturing off the beaten path.

The Battle Mountain hike I went on checked off both those boxes. You’ll find Battle Mountain just off I-15 with its entrance oddly enough between two houses in a highly residential area. I initially discovered and captured this hill on another walk.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

I wound up doing this climb just after dawn on an overcast morning.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The short 15-20 minute hike was peaceful. It was a little steep and rocky at times but all-in-all not too bad. I noticed a lot of erosion along the way. My legs definitely got a workout. The climb is roughly 800 feet.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Once at the top, you will see up-close the 20 foot white cross that has stood since 1966. Battle Mountain got its name from a battle that was held nearby in San Pasqual Valley in the 1800’s. This spot was originally called Mule Hill as soldiers from those battles had to kill mules in order to have food to eat.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Expansive panoramic views awaited me at the top. I saw all the residential housing of northern San Diego County, along with Starvation and Iron Mountains, Lake Hodges and more.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego California hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Lake Hodges, San Diego, California

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The hike, well almost run, down the hill took only a matter of minutes. It was a great morning in the Rancho Bernardo part of San Diego walking/hiking up Battle Mountain and taking in the views. For anyone looking for a quick hike and something off the radar in northern San Diego County, this is your spot.

Tip: For a longer hiking adventure I highly recommend the San Dieguito River Park Trail, in which there is an entrance literally right across the street from Battle Mountain.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

What other off the radar outdoor spots would you recommend checking out in San Diego?

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Back to sharing skylines I go which leads me back to the A Million Skyline Looks series.

The latest edition comes from Southern California and a city known for its mild climate all year long, beautiful San Diego.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Downtown scene from the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

I was excited to get a first taste of what San Diego has to offer. Most of my shots are from Coronado Island and along San Diego Bay as well as from random spots on the interstate. Always have that camera ready in the car, especially if you are a passenger! Palm trees make me happy so a lot of the skyline views made me smile even more. Well without further ado.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Beautiful Downtown San Diego from northbound I-5.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from across San Diego Bay

Skyline straight ahead, opposite San Diego Bay.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Heading onto I-5 northbound. San Diego, California front-and-center.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Tidelands Park on Coronado Island

Palms trees guarding the skyline in Tidelands Park on Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Coronado Island

San Diego, California cityscape straight ahead!

Sailboats guarding the San Diego skyline

Who is ready to set sail in Downtown San Diego, California?!

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

What a harbor and city view these palm trees get to experience every day. Looking southward.

Beautiful Downtown San Diego, California amongst the palm trees

Capturing the San Diego skyline and palm trees every chance I get.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, California

Heading off California State Route 75 and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge into town.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge

Looking straight down Harbor Drive from up-top the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Always have that camera ready as a passenger. You never know when a skyline will present itself.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the friendly skies

Skyline peaking through the window upon descent into San Diego International Airport.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Coronado Island greenery amongst the San Diego, California cityscape.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open Tidelands Park trail.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Just a typical clear, warm day in San Diego from Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open road capturing the San Diego skyline amongst palm trees.

What other spots would you recommend capturing the San Diego skyline from?

Out on the Open Road Ann Arbor Winter Style

Being “Out on the Open Road” can be a challenge in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Midwest during the winter months. Road conditions and the resulting slow times in the car can get on my nerves like many at times. It is was worth it though when I’m able to see the beautiful snow scenes that this time of year produces. This was especially true on some recent drives on and around Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor. Well without further ado.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Out on the open road, Ann Arbor winter style.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The early morning brings with it the same scenic feeling.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Playing on the wintry road, to capture the scenes of winter.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rinse, repeat. More Ann Arbor Huron River Drive beauty.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Huron River is a must Ann Arbor drive no matter the time of the year.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Blue winter skies. The warmer temperatures causing all the heavy snow and branches to start falling onto the road.

Pedestrian bridge over Huron River, Barton Nature Area, Ann Arbor

Out on the open Barton Nature Area pedestrian bridge.

Pedestrian bridge over Huron River, Barton Nature Area, Ann Arbor

Out on the open Barton Nature Area snow-covered trail.

Pedestrian bridge over Huron River, Barton Nature Area, Ann Arbor

The wet and heavy snow clings on to everything on the pedestrian bridge over the Huron River.

Pedestrian bridge over Huron River, Barton Nature Area, Ann Arbor

The wet and heavy snow clings on to everything on the pedestrian bridge over the Huron River.

Pedestrian bridge over Huron River, Barton Nature Area, Ann Arbor

The wet and heavy snow clings on to everything in the Barton Nature Area.

Huron River and snow covered hills of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Looking out at the Huron River and wintry hills of Ann Arbor.

Huron River Drive in winter, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Out on the open road true Ann Arbor winter style.

Bird Rd. - Ann Arbor winter scene

A new dirt road find, the hilly Bird Road in Ann Arbor.

Do you have a favorite drive you like to road trip on over-and-over again during the winter months?

Tech-ing It up at Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta

My brother and I were driving around the Buckhead part of Atlanta in the early evening recently and were looking for a coffee shop to check out. I knew there was an Octane Coffee / Bar in the area, and having been to their Grant Park location on several occasions, knew I could expect a good coffee and experience.

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

This Octane Coffee location sits on the first floor within the happening Atlanta Tech Village. We could feel the entrepreneurial and tech startup vibes both in- and outside of the brightly lit shop. There were lots of open laptops throughout the first floor and a mixer starting next store, as we walked into Octane right before close.

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Being Happy Hour my brother enjoyed one of their cocktail offerings. I of course went the coffee route, going with a basic latte. Just what I came to expect!

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Octane was recently bought by southern based coffee roaster and retailer Revelator Coffee. Thus I saw ready to purchase coffee beans from both brands. Think that might be enough to last me a few days.

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

Additional tips:

  • This location follows more traditional business hours closing at 5pm or earlier each day.
  • Deck parking, which is connected to the village, is available for Octane Coffee customers.
  • If Espresso Cola is on the menu, order!

You can find Octane Coffee in the Atlanta Tech Village on Instagram. Likewise for Revelator Coffee. It was a great first experience at this Octane Coffee / Bar location.

Octane Coffee Bar in Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead, Atlanta

What are some of your favorite coffee shops in Atlanta?