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Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Van Pierszalowski of the band WATERS invited us inside his apartment in Highland Park for a morning brew to talk about how coffee is more than just a routine, it's an artform in and of itself. After working as a manager at San Francisco's coffee mecca, Four Barrel Coffee, he learned about the economic impact of sustainable sourced and roasted coffee, which led to a more philosophical approach to the craft of buying, making and enjoying a cup of coffee. Van is set to release his first solo album under the name Van William (and we bet he's sure to thank coffee in his liner notes), follow him on Instagram to find out more.

His First Time

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Climb Throw Blanket

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

I still remember my first cup of coffee: I was a sophomore in college and I was having breakfast with my bandmates in Oakland. It was raining and I was slightly hungover. I remember thinking of ordering coffee as an act of rebellion because at the time I was Not-A-Coffee-Drinker. I remember it tasting horribly. And I remember loving it so incredibly much. During those first few years, coffee and I had somewhat of an abusive relationship. It was so cheap and available everywhere at anytime. I didn't think much about where it came from or how it was made or even how it tasted, to me, there was one type of coffee and that was just called coffee.

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Denver! Mug

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

After years of touring with my old band Port O'Brien and crashing on couches and not paying rent, I settled in San Francisco to work on my new project WATERS. I needed to get a day job to pay the bills and I somehow ended up convincing Four Barrel Coffee to hire me as a barista-in-training. It was there that my relationship with coffee was forever changed.

Getting Schooled

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Marbling 09 Shower Curtain

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

The lengthy training regimen taught me a lot that I had never really considered. Coffee is a berry (NOT A BEAN IN ANY WAY) and berries can be sweet and incredibly delicious! Lighter roasts are not only capable of providing more dynamic flavors, but they also have more caffeine!

Perhaps most importantly, 90% of the world's coffee is grown in developing countries while most of it is consumed in the industrialized world. So, the choices we makes as consumers are super important. While I may have earlier dismissed the marked-up prices of single-origin coffees as a pretentious fad, I started to realize it was actually providing massive economic opportunity for people around the world. Not only do Four Barrel and other specialty coffee houses have exponentially better tasting coffees, many also have direct relationships with farmers and co-ops that benefit them and their local communities.

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

The Best Creative Partner

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

As a songwriter who mostly works in my bedroom, the ritual of home brewing has become very important to my creative life. Coffee is as essential to my process as my guitar. My entire day revolves around it. My morning cup gives me life, while my afternoon cup allows me to reset and to refocus. It provides me with a ritualized structure that is badly needed in the face of a self-disciplined day of artistic struggling.

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

There are plenty of different methods for preparing coffee at home, but my personal favorite is the Chemex. Not only is it gorgeous (it's on permanent display in the MOMA and the Smithsonian), but it also makes two perfect cups of coffee at once. I usually drink a cup in the morning, and put one in the refrigerator for an afternoon iced pick-me-up.

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Hiding Place MugEnd Up Here Mug

Nothing makes me happier than the thought of a perfectly brewed, single-origin, direct-trade, light roast coffee running towards my pre-heated coffee mug down the pour spout of the Chemex in the morning. That sentence would have probably made me cringe years ago, but now I realize that coffee is too important to me to haphazardly consume. It deserves to be treated like the beautiful creative partner that it is.

Van from WATERS on the Secret Weapon that Fuels His Creative Process

Photos by: Jonathan Chu

Shop Van's mug picks here!

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Comments

Mapsland commented on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:19am
cool work
DistinctyDesign commented on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:20am
Great!
Mari Biro commented on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:23am
Very cool!
Nathan Spoor commented on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:29am
Thoroughly enjoyed - awesome post!
Work the Angle commented on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 9:26am
Also my drug of choice
psychologist commented on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 10:09am
Great Selection!
Tom Giles commented on Thursday, May 5, 2016 9:56pm
nice
Adaralbion commented on Saturday, May 7, 2016 1:04am
Not really a coffee drinker but I'm from Italy, we are espresso & cappuccino expert around the world! Loved the article, knowing someone through their passion connects souls better than anything.
#designer commented on Saturday, May 7, 2016 3:37am
SharlesArt commented on Friday, May 13, 2016 8:16am
great article. enjoyed it. yes, coffee is equally necessary in my life & art.
Amanda Mocci commented on Friday, May 13, 2016 10:14am
What a great article! So happy to have my mug featured! :)

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