Pilar Gerasimo, Experience Life Founding Editor

Revolutionary Acts

Experience Life founding editor Pilar Gerasimo shares her renegade perspectives for thriving in a mixed-up world.

Recently in Worthy Goods Category

Experience Life Magazine

Cup of Dreams

I’ve been driven bonkers for years now by how hard it is — outside of San Francisco, Seattle or Portland — to find a coffee shop that offers a latté made with organic milk. I hardly ever drink milk, so if I’m going to indulge in a latté, I want the real, unadulterated thing. And the real, unadulterated thing is surprisingly tough to come by.

Once upon a time, for a brief moment, some Starbucks locations stocked perma-keep, aseptically packed organic milk for picky drinkers like me, but then they stopped. (I believe this was about the same time they expanded their hideous selection of pale, low-fat pastries — perhaps they ran short of shelf space).

Anyway, with the crazy hope that my inquiries will contribute to some kind of critical-mass consumer demand, I’ve just kept on asking every barista I encounter: “Do you have organic milk?” Typically, the bewildered person behind the counter asks me to repeat the question. Sometimes they say “Sorry, no.” But more often, they reply with something ambiguous like, “Um … we have soy?”


Well, thanks to the wonderful word-of-mouth chain at work (one of our editors, Anjula, told another of our editors, Courtney, and Courtney told me), I yesterday discovered a coffee shop I had hitherto only dared dream of: Kopplin’s (www.kopplinscoffee.com) in St. Paul.


On the first day of spring weather, my dad, Jerry Gerasimo, and
Experience Life senior editor Courtney Helgoe soaked up sun and superb
coffee outside Kopplin’s (Hamline and Randolph, St. Paul).

Not only do they offer organic milk, it’s the only milk they serve. And it’s not just organic: It’s whole organic — from local, pasture-fed cows grazed on organic grass — and it’s packed in glass bottles.

But wait, it gets better. Kopplin’s also serves fair-trade coffee — divine espresso drinks and a beautiful array of made-fresh-by-the-cup drip brews — prepared to perfection. Seriously, best latté I’ve had inside the U.S., and quite possibly the best latté I’ve had ever.

Anyway, for all these reasons and more (no skim, no decaf, lots of thought behind all their decisions and aesthetics — visit their FAQ page for more info), Kopplin’s is my new favorite coffee shop.

The crazy part is, they’ve been there for years, right in the ‘hood — I just didn’t know about them.

I figure if THIS wild hope of mine can come true, it means that dozens of others can, too. Walking and biking paths everywhere! Kids learning how their brains and digestive systems work in grade school! Family farmers making a living doing what they love! Hurrah!

Somewhere(s), right now, I know all these and many more wonderful things are happening, and I trust that they — like the Kopplin’s coffee shops of the world –will just continue to flourish. In the meantime, any time I get discouraged about the state of the world, I’m going to Kopplin’s for a whole-milk latté. I’ll just take my seat on the sidewalk and sip until my hope is nudged from its slumber.

Experience Life Magazine

More Healthy Bargains

In my March “Thoughts From the Editor Column,”
I shared a few of my favorite healthy bargains. Here are a few more
bargains I didn’t have room for, but that definitely earn their keep:

Yoga: I used to take a weekly Monday night class that I
adored. It cost me $15, and I figure it easily saved me thousands over
the years in chiropractor appointments and spared me stress-related
illnesses of all kinds. It also gave me an equanimity and ability to
breathe through discomfort that has come in very handy over the years.
Alas, that class was canceled, so I’ve had to improvise. I now do some
yoga at home on a regular basis, squeeze group yoga classes in when I
can, and also attend a monthly two-hour Saturday yoga intensive, which
costs about $20. The difference I feel in my body, and the level of
flexibility I’ve been able to maintain doing even this little bit of
yoga is extraordinary. It has also given me a practice and life-skill I
intend to keep using as long as I live. I consider yoga a terrific
investment of both time and money for virtually anyone.

My Runner’s World subscription: I really like
this magazine for its breadth and depth, for the fascinating and
inspiring stories it tells, and for the practical advice it churns out
month after month. I’ve been a pretty casual runner for the past
several years, and the magazine has remained relevant to me during that
entire time. I suspect it will continue to be relevant for as long as I
continue to run. www.runnersworld.com

Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil: Being Greek myself,
I like to buy the Greek stuff by the big metal canister and decant it
into a smaller bottle I keep by the stove. Thirty bucks worth lasts me
about six months, and I use it for almost all my cooking. I can’t
fathom how many olives it takes to make a canister that size, but I
feel like I’m getting a great deal, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying
it by the bottle. http://olvil.com/oil.html

Heart-rate monitor: I bought a good one for about 100
bucks several years ago, and have gotten huge payback from it. It
really changed the way that I went about exercising (e.g., I stopped
going harder than I needed to, and also quickly realized that interval
training delivered huge benefits), and it was hugely motivating to see
my numbers change over time. You can get a cheapie monitor for $50
these days, but it’s worth paying a little more to get one you really
like. Make sure to get one that’s comfortable and has the important
features you need. I personally don’t care for calorie counters and all
that, but I like having customizable zones and the “out of target zone”
beeper to keep me between the lines. www.polarusa.com

Desert Essence Blemish Touch Stick: Not that I get
blemishes or anything, but when I do (or when I sustain little paper
cuts in the line of duty), I find this fresh-smelling tea-tree oil
antiseptic (packaged in a handy roller-ball applicator) heals things up
fast and it travels like a dream. I think it costs about $5 and you can
get it at Whole Foods and similar places. I keep one in my travel bag,
one in my purse, and one in the bathroom drawer. Also good for
de-stinking stinky environments: Just apply to hands and wave around in
the air. I do this on airplanes from time to time. www.desertessence.com/skin-care/face/tea-tree-oil-blemish-touch-stick

Local food: I’m not going to get into a big thing about
the nutritional value or food ethics here, but the fact that people in
my community go to the insane amount of work involved in planting,
growing, harvesting and delivering breathtakingly beautiful spinach,
delicate berries and other eye-popping produce absolutely blows my
mind. The care and respect with which they raise animals for milk, eggs
and meat is completely exceptional in today’s food-production world. It
often involves insane hours and backbreaking labor, and is typically at
best a breakeven proposition for them. And sometimes, if you get the
fruits of their labors through a CSA or farmers’ market, they cost the
same or less than conventional stuff. Even when it costs more, it’s
generally nowhere near as much as it deserves to be. www.localharvest.org

OK, I could go on and on, so I’ll just keep adding stuff as I
think of it. Meantime, if you have healthy bargains of your own you’d
like to share, bring ‘em on at community.experiencelifemag.com/2010/02/healthy-bargains.html.