Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Have you ever done something different every day for 60 days? Well, I have and I’m excited to share my 60 days of 60 coffees journey with you.
Why 60 Days?
In 2019, I was turning 60 years old and I wanted to commemorate this special milestone. But I wasn’t sure what I should do? Do I throw a party (or have someone else do that)? Book a trip with my girlfriends who were also turning 60? Celebrate with my husband or have a party with the family? Nothing was jumping out at me. And then, I had an “aha” moment. Why not do a “60 days of 60 coffees”? Since I loved coffee (and have loved it for over 45 years), it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate my birthday!
But what if there weren’t 60 coffee shops? As it turns out, I need not have worried. I started researching coffee shops Winnipeg, and up popped a long list of coffee shops. A few I knew about already such as Starbucks, Second Cup, and Joe Black. But there were many that I did not know about, and I was excited to learn more.
I started to create a plan, mapping out all the different shops by geographical area, and assigning a different shop for each of the 60 days (I would visit any out-of-town shops on the weekends). Because my birthday was December 31 (last day of the year), I had to work backwards to determine the start date of my coffee adventure, which turned out to be November 2. I also wanted a “keepsake” of my journey so I thought I would record it on my Instagram account (@gennysaccobak). Aside from posting a photo (presumably of me holding a coffee cup!), I wasn’t exactly sure what I would post or how this would unfold. But, as I thought about the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, I decided not to overthink it and just enjoy the experience.
My Love of Starbucks
My first stop was Starbucks on Ellice Avenue. Now, Starbucks has a special place in my heart. It was the first coffee shop I discovered in my early 20’s and still remains one of my favourites. In fact, I loved it so much that I worked part time as a barista for 4 years, starting in 2016! But I’ll save this experience for a future blog! Back to Starbucks as my Day 1 visit. I took a selfie of me holding a cup of coffee with one of the baristas. I then explained what I was doing to celebrate my birthday, wrote a few words about being at Starbucks and tagged the coffee shop. I ended with a tag line that I included with all my future posts: “Come along with me on my coffee journey as I discover all the great coffee shops in Manitoba!”
I Became a Coffee Detective
As the coffee shop tour progressed, I started to include more and more information about the coffee shop, the owners, what type of coffee I was drinking, what I thought about the coffee, and anything else I thought would be interesting to add. I began researching the coffee shops, starting with their social media account and their website (if they had one). If I couldn’t find the info I was looking for, I looked at Yelp reviews or searched for news articles. I became a “coffee detective”, looking for answers! I also started adding more #hashtags! However, I soon discovered there was a limit as to how many character you could include, so I had to start editing my posts to ensure I was still including all the pertinent information.
It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey
As we all know, life can take many twists and turns, and can take us down different paths or present us with different challenges. My coffee journey had now become a “pilgrimage” A pilgrimage is a place, where all life’s quests come to an end, but what’s also important is the journey because in life, we are faced with a number of challenges that are given to us emotionally, mentally and physically. There were days when I had to go off my plan and improvise on the spot to find a different location (such as finding a place that was open on Christmas Day), or I deliberately went down a different path when a circumstance presented itself. There were also a few times when I wasn’t feeling well but I pushed through to complete the task.
I had people ask me why I had to visit a different coffee shop every day. Couldn’t I just skip a day or review the same shop more than once? My answer was a firm NO to both questions because it was important to me to complete this and stay on track the way I had planned it. When I started this trek, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew is that I had to follow through and complete it. As I progressed though, I soon discovered that this was a test of my endurance, of my resolve, and of believing in myself. I had never done anything like this in my life, and I had a feeling that I would come out of this at the end “transformed” and changed forever.
A Traveller is Never Alone
When I first set out on my “60 Days of 60 Coffees” journey, I did this for myself. I wanted to commemorate this special milestone and had no expectations of what people would think or if / how they would respond. But a funny thing happened. People started to like my posts and to comment on them – and not just my friends but strangers too. I had people ask me where I was going the next day, which was my favourite coffee shop, and so on. I even had people send me recommendations of coffee shops that I should visit. The response was so surreal and so humbling. It meant that I wasn’t alone; that I had inspired people to come along with me and perhaps encouraged them to visit these coffee shops and start their own tour of discovering the coffee community in Manitoba.
The Coffee Culture is Alive and Well
I have to say that the biggest surprise for me was discovering how rich and diverse the coffee culture was in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba. And not just the coffee shops and cafes but the micro roasters too! The attention to detail in the creation of that perfect cup of coffee, or that perfect espresso drink was very impressive. In speaking with the baristas during my visit to their shop (a few of them referred to themselves as “artisans” because really, they were creating a coffee masterpiece so to speak!), they talked about ensuring the perfect grind of the coffee beans, supporting local roasters (in Manitoba and throughout Canada) and knowing the origins of the coffee beans. Their knowledge of the process and of coffee in general made me especially glad I took on this quest.
The Writer Has Awakened
In the novel (and subsequent movie) “Dune” by Frank Herbert, Duke Leto Atreides tells his son Paul, “Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” And when Paul finally discovers his true purpose, he shouts, “Father, the sleeper has awakened!” During my “60 Days of 60 Coffees” adventure, I also discovered my true purpose. And that was to “awaken” the writer within me, to allow me to rediscover my love of writing. I found that I really enjoyed the process of writing about my experiences, of connecting with the owners and the baristas, and of course, connecting with myself.
Coffee With Genny B
On the last day of my coffee adventure, which also happened to be my 60th birthday, I realized that I wanted to continue exploring the world of coffee, to discover more of the culture and community in Manitoba, and to connect with the cafes and micro-roasters. It had awoken such a desire within me to continue but in what form? And just like that “aha” moment I had with my “60 Days of 60 Coffees”, I thought, “why not create a “Coffee with Genny B” blog or podcast or both”? The rest is history!