CAP Study #7 – Karen Bates

The My Little Pony Edition

Karen is one of my best friends. We met on the internet many years ago, when I had a blog about Ambitious Hamsters.  She lives in LA, I am… inland. Even though these days I don’t get to correspond with her much, I think she’s totally rad and I’m very glad we’re friends. She still puts up with me. Yay!

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Karen: My phone wouldn’t let me post directly to you. Me: What is this? Karen’s friend Jodi: Rainbow Dash. Me: What is this rainbow dash. is this a cultural reference that i need to know about? Karen: dude. dude. RAINBOW DASH!


In the interest in full disclosure, Karen is the wife of James Bates, whom you will remember from a previous post. He works in a cave. This photo was taken on a visit to James’ cave. I hope she got out OK.

Karen has a hard time embracing Modern Technology. She apparently uses a phone that not only won’t let her post to Facebook properly, but also takes pictures with a very weird aspect ratio. No iPhone for Karen. She went for the anti-iPhone. REBEL!

Someone who loves her very much and knows her very well got her this mug. Either that or she got a really great deal on it at the dollar store. Because who else, outside of maybe 500 people in the United States, knows who Rainbow Dash is? And out of those 500 people who know, I’d guess about only 20 would really want a mug with Rainbow Dash on it. Someone in New Jersey decided to make a whole bunch of these, sold 5 online and the rest went to discount outlets. And then they created a Wikipedia page to legitimize the whole thing.

Also, please note she only admits to being “20% cooler” than the rest of us. She knows she’s superior, but she’s really nice about it.

Karen enjoys being on the cutting edge, but likes to do it from the very sideline of the cutting edge, it’s a little less…edgy. See how she has her mug on a paper towel? It’s because SHE DOESN’T WANT TO SPILL ANYTHING on the coffee table. Too risky.

Her coffee is industrial-grade strength. She can’t even manage a full mug of it herself, it’s so strong. She believes in always making a bold statement, you know. Even with her coffee.

She’s all ponies and rainbows, and paper towels. And then POW! She hits you with the strong coffee.

Karen always keeps you guessing, and she prefers it that way. So do we. It’s more fun.


Originally published 8/30/15

CAP Study #24 – Cynthia Campbell

Suck It Up, Buttercup – Coffee Edition

Cynthia is a fellow yoga enthusiast and a down-to-earth, super nice person. She moved to Tulsa from the Chicago area and we all hope she stays!

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(no caption sent)


There are basically 2 types of coffee drinkers – those who go for quantity, and those who go for quality. They aren’t mutually exclusive mind you, but it is my Expert Opinion that people naturally gravitate towards one or the other.

Cynthia is squarely in the Quantity Camp.

Do you remember how they used to describe the mullet? “Business in the front, party in the back.” Well this is kind of the mullet of coffee photos. Strong and industrial on the outside, thin and watery on the inside.

While the mug is large, made by a No Fuss No Muss manufacturer, and is probably sturdy enough to withstand any midwestern weather-related catastrophe (welcome to tornado country, Cynthia), the contents look… anemic. I don’t know what it is about it exactly. But it looks like what was left over from my watercolor painting session last week.

Cynthia! Buck up for Pete’s Sake! You’re a tough girl – at least on the outside. At least that’s not lavender tea in there, or cucumber water. Then I would really start to worry. Double the amount of coffee grounds you’re using. You got this!

CAP Study #6 – James Bates

The Coffee Mug of a Writer May Not Contain Coffee

James is the charming husband of my friend Ren. He is one of those writer types, with a few kid’s tv shows and Simpsons comic books under his belt, to name a few of his many achievements. 

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You had to know this coffee pic was coming.


Oh yeah James, we knew this was coming. We saw it coming and we know you’re trying to throw us off the trail with this photo.

James thinks, “I’ll put a cat in there!” so we’ll all go, awwwwwwcute, look, a kitty, isn’t that special…

Well I’m not falling for it, James.

This is a dark, dark, DARK photo here.

James works in a cave – a dusty, dank dark cave. A Man Cave of the most Manly Persuasion. A devout practitioner of sports superstitions, he was most likely wearing his Eagles jammies when he took this photo, in hopes some of the good juju will wear off on Tim Tebow.

I can’t actually tell if this is coffee he’s drinking. It might be Ovaltine. Or Scotch. That’s the way it goes when you are a writer who works from home – no one ever REALLY knows what you’re up to. And James likes it that way.

The Verilux lamp serves a dual purpose: it helps his aging eyes locate the mouse (who uses a wired mouse anymore??) and also provides some fake sunlight for the poor cat whom he has locked in the cave with him. For, as much as James enjoys working by himself, he still enjoys company, albeit from an animal who couldn’t actually care less if he were there or not 97% of the time.

James is a straightforward, black-and-white kinda guy. On or off, yes or no, Marvel or DC. He gets down to business, and GETS SHIT DONE. Like a man. Like a boss. Like a man boss.

Originally published 8/28/15

CAP Study #23 – Landi Grego

The Never-Ending Struggle Between Light and Dark

Landi works with a friend of mine, and has been a regular at our springtime Shop Yoga classes. She’s a super-friendly, funny soul… that seems to hide some dark secrets, according to her coffee…

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I like my creamer with a little bit of coffee.


Landi is a Zen Master – in training. She is not yet a full-fledged Zen Master, but she will be soon. She’s still got a little work to do.

While the photo is quite minimalist in its approach, it still has a few near-fatal flaws and this also most likely is an accurate description for Landi’s personality.

We will award her extra points for the mastering of light and dark and the use of crisp, clear lines. This hints at a deep, soul-level yearning for order, truth, and the prevailing of all that is good. But on the upper left corner of the picture, a shadow lurks. A shadow that hints at something fundamentally dark. While Landi battles for good, she’s got a dark side too, and you’d better watch yourself. Also, there is a break in the desk top she has chosen to show us. A crack in the foundation. A flaw. She struggles to keep it together, but some days that crack gets bigger, and a few times her coffee has even fallen through, only to be lost forever to her deep, dark psyche.

The mug has a flower on it – it’s a cute design, but in truth, she is yearning for  more simplicity and a solid black mug with no design, no embellishment. Just the unending darkness of the soul. The creamer with a bit of coffee in it, inside the mug, struggles to exist in the vacuum of Landi’s heart.

That red thing in the background? It represents the fiery pit of despair that is her day job.

However there is one small sign of hope in this photo – the tiny little bubbles in the creamer. They are small, but they are there, signifying new life, hope, and effervescence. You will be OK, Landi. You will be OK.

CAP Study #5 – Breann Green

Happy Safe Cubicle Time

Breann and I used to work together. At A Place That Shall Remain Nameless. But if you’re in the know, then you can relate to what that place does to people. Breann is lucky that she still has a tiny bit of her soul left. 

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Wise coffee master, a tea for your analysis this morning.


First off, let me say how I’m noticing a disturbing trend in photos that are being submitted from employees of A Particular Company. I specifically ask for coffee photos. The name of this whole thing is The Coffee Analysis Project. Yet I get photos of energy drinks and now TEA. What part of this is unclear?  I’m seriously doubting their ability to follow directions, or  quite possibly the whole damn place has a major problem with authority.

OK so putting all that aside, let’s look at what this photo says. Breann’s motto is “go big or go home.” Or at least it should be, based on this 12-gallon tea that she’s having for breakfast. She’s a no-fuss, no-muss kinda girl, stopping at QT before work because it’s on the way. She tries to be artsy, using coasters made from either an old 1970s leather belt or someone’s old pillowcases. Bought, not made by her, because THERE’S NO TIME FOR CRAFTING.

A small child is being strangled in the photos on the right, indicating some kind of anger issues that need to be addressed (out of my scope but please contact your mental health care provider). The weird dot-chart on the left and the PRINTED, LAMINATED phone list says “I’m really tring to be organized.”  This is some kind of cry for help here, people.

Breann likes her Office Job – she feels safe and comfy and the green swooshy design on her QT cup makes her happier than she’s willing to admit in public.  All she needs is a door on her cubicle and she will be in paradise.

originallly published September 2015

CAP #22 – Darren Demetre

Take 2

I first met Darren in 1990 and then we lost touch till 2016. Funny how some things work out. You can read about that over on my blog at He’s doing some amazing stuff these days! At least one of us managed to get our shit together.

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My morning pour over.


Darren needed to send me 2 photos of his morning coffee. Not just one. Nope, he felt this endeavor needed TWO photos. Normally I’d say this is overkill but in this case, we need to cut him some slack.

You see, Darren makes movies for a living. So there’s simply no way he could tell this story in just one frame – even if it meant going over budget and technically, a little out of the project’s scope. But approaching Life like one big storyboard is just in his blood.

We can tell he’s a producer because his editing skills need some work. He managed to take both photos from almost the same point of view, however, credit lost for not matching up the lighting.

This coffee is mud! Sludge! A murky, questionable substance that leaves me with more questions about the submitter than answers. But that wouldn’t make a very interesting post, so here goes.

This is not just coffee. It is the ominous, physical manifestation of Darren’s deep, dark soul. He doesn’t even use a coffee maker – that’s for less self-actualized people. He made this coffee, this deepdark soulspace, ALL BY HIMSELF. That place inside where you can’t see 2 inches in front of your face and everything tastes burned (those grounds might as well be a charred tree branch he put into a blade grinder and then added warm water). That place deep down that can only be expressed by consuming tree-branch sludge, searching for music in “sulk in your depressed/shit moods” playlists, and then sweating it all out in a Bikram yoga class.

Darren is a process-oriented person. He feels deeply but doesn’t want anyone to see it. He likes fine things, strong muscles, and stout coffee. And at the bottom of that deep dark cup o’ loam is a big heart and a quick mind.


CAP Study #4 – Clarissa Hoover

Not Your Father’s Coffee…

I used to work with Clarissa at The Bank That Shall Remain Nameless. I managed to escape; she is still imprisoned there, I’m assuming against her will. She’s a good egg – and a funny one too.

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Good morning, beautiful. Oh! Um, good morning to you too, Ace!


Clarissa thinks her coffee is “beautiful.” We know she definitely wasn’t talking to the table, but that coffee? Beautiful? I suppose beauty is subjective, but still. It is very obvious that I am way cuter than that coffee. Now, the coffee may be hotter than me, but Clarissa may have some unresolved feelings for caffeinated products.
I see what appears to be a re-usable cup, masquerading as a disposable cup, around which you have wrapped a necktie. Why are you trying to substitute this coffee for a man? ALERT! ALERT! RELATIONSHIP ISSUES! Clearly this needs some additional analysis but is out of the scope of this project.
The fact that you’re using a reusable cup that looks like a disposable cup is intriguing. A fake disposable cup?!? Who fakes fake stuff? That’s pretty meta, actually.
And what else about you isn’t exactly as it seems?
Your desire to save natural resources is admirable, as is your minimalist approach to table decoration. This shows an evolved consciousness and love for your fellow humans. PM me about the necktie thing though.

Originally published August 2015

CAP Study #21 – Lale Samara

The Analyzation of Delightion

Lale and I know each other from yoga teacher training. We went through 200 hours of learning yoga together and discovered we have some cool things in common. For example, we both subscribe to the philosophy of “Vans For Life.” But when she sent me this photo, I realized that she has hidden depths that extend far beyond her awesomeness on a yoga mat.

Photo With Submitter’s Comments

For your analyzation. Can’t wait to see what you say about the side coffee drips

The Analysis

Oh Lale, the coffee drips are the least of your worries. In fact, I’m not even going to discuss the coffee drips. We have Bigger Issues here.

ANALYZATION?!?! Who on earth uses that word? Oh yeah, someone in marketing. I once heard someone on NPR talk about his brief stint at a tech startup, and how the company internally used the word “delightion” to refer to making their customers happy. So it’s not surprising that Lale is finding weird, hipster words to throw at me to try to distract me from the blah desk and wall. Because that is what Marketing People do.

Is she a glass half empty kind of girl, or a glass half full? Why send a photo of a mostly consumed coffee? Either way, the poor thing is having some memory problems since she forgot to take a photo until she was practically done. Perhaps more vitamins, Lale – and more veggies. One cannot live on coffee and chocolate covered almonds alone. However I suspect that those “almonds” are actually gigantic espresso beans covered in espresso.

We can read the rings on the inside of the coffee like archaeologists read the layers of sediment at a dinosaur dig. The top layer hints at a level of uncertainty – in walking steadily and therefore in Life Purpose. Get clear on where you’re going, Lale! GET! CLEAR! (And of course this would explain the “side coffee drips” but I said I wouldn’t talk about those so that’s that).

The next inch or so reflects anxiety from reading too many emails or inability to handle coffee. This is followed by a period of rapid consumption (pre-meeting? pre-compnay cheer in the hallway?) and then – nothing. The fact that there’s a thin layer of toxic materials on top of the coffee means it’s probably time to call it quits anyway.

The drab desk and lack of any “pieces of flare” on the wall would bring down even the most optimistic Desk Hamster. And she needs to keep her laptop very far away from her body, most likely due to her freakishly long arms, so kudos to her for overcoming this unusual obstacle and remaining a productive member of Office America.

She has tattoos. She says she likes Vans. But I suspect at work she covers up the tattoos and wears sensible flats. Lale knows how to play the game and when to stop drinking the coffee.

But Wait, There’s More! (Or: New And Improved!)

Here’s how my coffee starts out. No latte art expert over here, but I got the foam part down

3 days after she sends me the first photo, I receive the above picture. Oh well, THIS makes all the difference… Since Lale is in marketing and advertising, she therefore refuses to show me her story with just one picture. More is better! Here is what was missing! More information! Let’s have a meeting and talk about the process, people. “Here’s how my coffee starts out.” Any day now, she will be sending me a Project Management Timeline of making and drinking the coffee along with a proposed budget, and a few mock ups of possible sales sheets. I got everything I needed from the first photo, Lale, but thanks for sending this. You do your job, and I’ll do mine.

CAP Study #20 – Cynthia Frenette

Tiny Bubbles…

Cynthia and I became good friends about two years ago, but we’ve known each other online for close to 10 years. We have never met, as she lives Up North in Canada. She is an amazing artist – she sews, she designs, she draws, paints, and is great at it ALL. One day, we will both rule the world, and we plan to have our Executive Awesomeness Meeting in Hawaii. Hopefully later this year.

Photo With Submitter’s Comments

cuppa bubbles for your review!

The Analysis

Cynthia is an amazingly efficient human being. There is no other possible explanation for this photo. See all those bubbles in her cuppa? That is dish soap. She figures, why not just clean the cup while she drinks her coffee? This way, clean-up is a snap and leaves her more time for painting. This is a woman that squeezes every last ounce of detergenty goodness out of her life.


There are some real issues that are glaringly obvious in Cynthia’s morning cuppa.

Let’s start with the cup. Yes, sure, it says “CREATE” on it so we all know that she is CREATIVE. And Cynthia, we all know that you are like twelve billion times more creative than most of us but do you really have to make us feel bad about it?!?? I mean personally I could live without the attitude.

And check out the shape of the mug – it’s not round. It’s actually pretty wonky. Oddly shaped. Well, aren’t we all? Nice shout-out to humanity, Cynthia, nice try at a rebound after the “I am waaaaaay more creative than you” attitude. But the color of the mug – so blah. Just… blah. BLAH!

Now draw your attention to the coaster. It’s huuuuuge! She’s an optimist. Deep down, she’s hoping for a giant cup of coffee. She’s a grab the gusto kinda gal. And look at all those bright colors! Fabulous!
However, when we take a closer look at the coaster and the odd fabric backdrop, this is where we run into serious trouble. Here is where we find true conflict.

The coaster is a battleground. The colors are bright and pretty, wheeeeee! But the shape is symmetrical and austere. NO FUN. Is this a cry for help, is this one woman’s desperate plea for balance between fun and seriousness? Or is it possibly a marker for some OCD issues? Like, did she measure that fabric 20 times before she cut it, and did she sew it using a ruler and straight edge?She may need to lighten up a bit.

And what’s the deal with that grey fabric? Again, so blah. Not even a weird 60’s pattern can brighten that stuff up. Cynthia’s unconscious is clearly crying out for help. It is sad and lonely. Or possibly wishing for a cubicle job.

Life is all about balance, friends, and never before have I seen this quest – nay, battle – for balance displayed so obviously in one woman’s cuppa dish soap. Brava, Cynthia – keep on creating and good luck finding your happy.

CAP Study #3 – Jodi Kurland

When The World Never Seems To Be Living Up To Your Dreams…

Jodi is a friend I’ve known for years – online. I think we’ve met in person once. She likes animals of all kinds, and leads a life so full of events I often wonder when she has time to eat.

Photo With Submitter’s Comments

I don’t always drink coffee in the morning, but when I do I take a photo and post it for Andrea to analyze. Tempted to describe as there is more, and less, than appears to be going on here.

The Analysis

Some people are open books, so to speak, but just like Jodi’s coffee, which apparently has “more, and less, than appears to be going on here,” this person has, how can I put this, obvious hidden depths. Sadly, it appears that those depths are forever clouded by poorly poured milk foam.

Jodi has a propensity to stage events and photos and most likely large chunks of her life. While she likes a little spice, too much obscures the essential flavors. She also believes that life just isn’t LIFE until you’ve spilled something (see the foam spilling over on the right side) but then she feels guilty and needs to clean up the spill right away because MESS.

This coffee is Starbucks coffee, but was not purchased at Starbucks. Poser. Such an 80’s word! And I use it with good reason. Because, as is indicated by the background color, Jodi longs for happier times, obviously from her childhood in the 1980s. She often wonders why no one has done a remake of “Facts of Life” yet.

Also, here is the Facts of Life song. I bet Jodi has it memorized.

Originally published August, 2015