I put my nose to the cup and inhaled deeply before bringing the liquid to my lips. Next, in traditional coffee-tasting fashion, I made a loud slurping noise as the coffee sprayed across my palate. My eyes opened wide. The taste was significantly different from anything Starbucks had ever brought to market. “Its smooth like butter,” I remarked. “Really balanced. Somewhat acidic and bright. Drinkable. Easy.” — Voice of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in an excerpt from Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul


My coffee slurping has always driven my dad nuts. He can’t stand the sound. But my dad is also one who’s been getting up at 5:30am without an alarm for the past 480 years — coffee has always been an afterthought in his world. My brother and I spent our entire childhood being woken up to the sound of his electric razor and the Beetles, “Yellow Submarine” blasting from a shelved stereo in the bathroom. The least he could do was close the damn door! The school morning ritual was always the same.



Mom comes in with a gentle nudge and a soft-spoken “Good Morning sweetie, time to get up for school.” If she was late to the queue, the blinds would also get a slight half-turn to let in that oh-so-glorious sunlight.



If, after a few of mom’s breakfast hollers from the stairwell depths didn’t have us rolling out of bed, it was dad’s turn. He wasn’t so gentle.



Blinds yanked up.

Covers yanked off.

And yes, sometimes a dixie cup of tap water in the face.


As an adult, my morning ritual has changed slightly. No more mom and dad. No more dixie cups in the face. No school bus to catch. And as a freelancer, not even an office to report to. The snooze button doesn’t stand a chance. Snoozing as a freelancer can quickly turn into a 5 hour ordeal. No, my roll-out-of-bed motivation is now centred on the promise of loudly slurping a freshly brewed Grande Blonde at the Starbucks just down from my house, and immersing myself in an unhurried space to read, write, think, and just wake up and start the day.


There is something special about coffee shops — the aroma, the jazz music, the (usually) friendly baristas — that serve as the perfect venue to spawn creativity and excitement. Coffee shops are central to my freelance world. Some of my greatest works have happened with less than 10% laptop juice in some crevice of a boutique café. Its also been the venue for some of the richest conversions I have with clients and friends.


So I’ve decided to appropriately name my newly minted blog after my favourite Starby’s roast, “Grande Blonde.” This is the place where I’ll be distilling crafted thoughts from cafes around Toronto. I love telling stories. Good stories have the ability to reach deep, meaningful crevices of the human experience, both in business and in life. Do you have a story to tell? Let’s grab a coffee.. on me!




Chadd Weston

What’s your story?