Coffee Lovers · Ebikes · Sunshine Coast Trails

Coffee and Two Wheels

By Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

This blog will be about a lot of topics that will bleed together sloppily, like cheap carmine lipstick blotted on a paper napkin. Those of you who appreciate pinball machines will follow along happily waiting to see what lights and sounds are triggered as you scroll along. However, those who prefer orderliness and structure may be irritated. There will be some fast-paced action through the trees, slurping of coffee, exploring a china cabinet, sifting through family and personal history, and an ebike.

Coffee of Origin

In our house, the 1970s percolator began its watery burbs and breathing out of rich java breaths just as the sky blinked its rose gold lids towards the rising sun. Dad delivered the first cup of day from the shiny coffeemaker with the faceted glass top to Mom, who was still in bed catching the last seconds of precious sleep. My mom, Cecile, remembers as a child in the Peace River region of Alberta, drinking a splash of coffee with lots of sugar and cream. My grandfather added grounds continually to the coffeepot on their wood-stove until the pot was all grounds.

On their 40 mile drive to the city of Lethbridge, Alberta from our small acreage in Raley, Mom and Dad quaffed another cup to tide them over until they reached the eponymous antique/secondhand store, Trader Vic’s, where they started another pot going. Throughout the day they kept a coffee pot going. Much of their business was done over cups of coffee with their customers at the Lethbridge Hotel coffee shop. They lost count of how much coffee they drank on a typical work day, and they worked six days a week.

Then one day my parents read Food is Your Best Medicine by Dr. Henry G. Biehler (1987) , that said coffee was bad for you. Perhaps, that was the thinking in the 80s. Perhaps, there are some (misguided) people that still believe that, but Dr. Art Hister, a local doctor who appears on television here on Global TV says, “Coffee is a health drink.” Nevertheless, they made the decision to stop drinking coffee cold turkey.

As an adult coffee drinker, I now know how difficult that must have been. I vaguely remember them having withdrawal headaches and being uncomfortable. To go from that much caffeine to 0 must have been hell. Even though I didn’t drink much coffee, except extremely milky sugary coffee on occasion, when the coffee disappeared from our family I missed the intoxicating scent, the rituals surrounding it, and the comforting heat of the cup as I ported full steaming cups to my parents, especially on those frigid prairie days.

I usually drink just one cup of coffee in the morning and not every morning. I tend to be hyper as it is. My spirit animal is the chihuahua. One cup of coffee is enough for me if I’m going to continue to interact with other humans. I tend not to use to transitions or segues, so unless you’re a skilful and patient listener you will be hopelessly lost right after I’ve ramped up on an Americano.

These matching vintage mugs ringed in 22K gold from the parents’ china cabinet are evidence that they used to be coffee lovers.

Ecycling to Drink from the Sippy Cup

I’m a bit sad that I can’t “go for coffee” with my non coffee drinking parents, but we have tea together at home. They don’t much go for fancy teas served as a side hustle at coffee chains we all know so well, or locally-owned coffee or tea shops. They like their leaf Jasmine green tea they get in Arizona and it’s super healthy.

The other day in Gibsons one of our writing companions invited us to meet up at the coffee shop that shall remain nameless. This was the perfect opportunity to hop on my new Cannondale hybrid ebike and take the back road away from ferry traffic to the one of two pocket-sized shopping malls in our village.

I’ve had severe inflammatory arthritis for about 10 years and had to give up triathlon among other sports, but when I saw Elizabeth Rains pull up to our writer’s group on her adorable Rad ebike my interest sparked. Could the extra boost of the motor might be what I needed to avoid putting excess stress on my joints needed to negotiate the killer hills of the Sunshine Coast? Also, would it help me keep up with Hubs, who belongs to a mountain bike club and does serious cycling three times a week on trails like Sprockids? We’d just donated our 30 year-old pair of Costco mountain bikes to some teens, so there was room in the garage for a new ebike that I’d actually use.

I checked out Elphie Cycles at their Gibsons location and they carried Cannondale ebikes. Due to Covid there’s a worldwide shortage of bike parts and a dwindling supply of all bikes. However, I was lucky to have the choice from two colours of a Cannondale 2020 Quick Neo 2 SL Remixte: grey or turquoise, that suited my riding needs. Most of my riding will be short distance errands around the village.

Turquoise is my favourite colour, as demonstrated by colour of our front door, so that was a no-brainer. Elphie Cycles got the bike ready for me within an hour, so buying local was a big win. Plus, I know they will provide excellent service based on how well they’ve repaired Hubs’ bikes (a mountain bike, a spare mountain bike when he breaks his main bike, and a road bike that he rarely uses since his encounter with a mama bear and cubs).

The salesperson let me take the ebike on a trial cycle to my house and back. I could feel the motor kick in right away to give me a boost up the first hill. I flew home in about 10 minutes turned around and made it up the hills with no difficulty running through the nine gears easily. The pedal assist button blinks through colours as you ride: white for On, green for Level 1, orange for Level 2, and red for the highest assist, Level 3, for hills. Red drains the battery the fastest.

There’s an app that you can pair the ebike with your Smart phone, indicating your speed, RPM, distance, time cycled, plus a GPS. I got a silicone phone holder for the handle bars from Amazon for $5 that arrived in a couple of days, as well as a massive U-lock. Bike stores are competitive on bike prices, but really mark up those accessories.

The frame is heavy at the back due to the motor and battery, so you need the motor to be on when you’re riding hilly terrain. Especially true for mine, because I added a rack to mount a large market basket I already had on the previous bike to tote groceries and the monster lock (there’s been an outbreak of bike theft in our village). The disproportionate weight on the back makes the front wheel somewhat wobbly, so that’s something to be cautious about when steering.

You get only about 70km/charge in our hill infested area, which is further than I can imagine riding due to the narrowness of much of Highway 101 that runs the length of our coast from Langdale to Earl’s Cove. Far too dangerous with no shoulder available for much of the way. I shiver when I think of mirrors on wide RVs scraping my back as I squeeze to the right of the thinnest strip of barely there asphalt. Also, I’d run out of charge before reaching the end of the 88km journey with no juice to return. However, you can purchase an external battery/charger for the bike if you want to go further.

The external battery/charger made by Orbea adds significant weight (over 1.6 kilos), costs about a third of what the ebike does, and is hard to find in stock online due to its popularity. But if you use it for commuting (if anyone is doing that right now) or long trips it’s pretty handy. It’s the size and shape of a water bottle and mounted in a similar way to your bike with secure locks.

You can remove the battery when you get to your destination and charge it at your desk, if where you park your ebike doesn’t have an outlet to charge it for your return trip. And look at you, as fresh as if you just stepped out of the shower because of pedal assist.

The external battery power is used first before the built-in battery power is drained for the first 2A and then the energy is supplied by the main battery for parallel supply.

As a Prius driver, it annoys me that my ebike doesn’t recharge as I cycle and brake. Instead, if the battery is engaged it’s continually draining. The Prius recharges the electric motor by converting the energy generated by braking into energy available for air conditioning and other functions, but this external ebike battery does just that. When you ride downhill, with no assistance, or over 25km/hour the battery is recharged. I hope in the future this technology will be built into ebikes extending the life of the main battery without the extra weight and cost of an external battery.

If you’ve lost the plot, it’s no wonder with all this digression about batteries, ebikes, and you looking fabulous, healthy, and flushed from your ride minus the sweat, when we were on our way for a socially distanced cup of over-priced mediocre coffee on a patio at a strip mall beside Highway 101.

With the ebike I’m able to keep up with Hubs and admire his bulging calves and rock-hard buttocks as we whirr along the pot-hole scarred road that only locals know about as the shortcut to the ferry lineup. Within 10 minutes, Hubs double locks the bikes, I don my mask, fumble with my phone to log in to my loyalty account where it takes 35 passwords attempts before finally unlocking it to find I still have money in the kitty. Hot chocolate for Hubs and a fruity tea drink filled with ice for me served in a sippy-style cup, as it’s far too late in the day for me to have a big whopping dose of caffeine.

Our friend arrives and we have a lovely catch up and chat about bikes. She’s inspired to get out her rusty bone-shaker for some rides before we lose our beautiful weather, but not to purchase a pricey ebike. Places like London Drugs carry ebikes for around $2000 or lower; however, the downside of entry level bikes is that their batteries will last about a year. I don’t know what your options are once the one-year warranty runs out and your battery dies? If you step up to ebikes in the over $2000 price point with a three-year warranty, you’re going to get a much better quality ebike.

For goodness sakes, don’t buy a bike pre-assembled from the Costco show floor, or anything put together unless you want to reassemble it. Their staff tries hard but bikes are complex and need experienced specialists to put them together properly. Costco prices are low for ebikes, but keep your expectations low as well. Our Costco mountain bikes were indestructible but heavy and uncomfortable, therefore, underused. However, the escooters look like at bargain and I’ve read that they’re excellent.

An Outlander at Inland Lake

One option I hadn’t considered with my cute hybrid ebike was riding on trails, but Hubs knew of a good one for me to trial on during a recent trip to Powell River (PR) that allows Class 1 ebikes (those without throttles). Inland Lake loop trail is a favourite of his for running, but it’s ideal for someone like me who doesn’t want to be injured but wants a car-free option. Mom produced a vintage percolator much like the one from her coffee drinking days and I brought out the mason jar of coffee I brought over of freshly ground beans. Mom still makes a great pot of coffee. Caffeinated up we headed out for my maiden voyage.

True confession, I’ve never tried anything akin to mountain biking, except the Seymour Demonstration Forest road; a paved trail through the woods where you might encounter bear, deer, squirrels and rollerbladers.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding bicycles, bicycle, tree, outdoor and nature
Hubs on his Trek proper mountain bike at the beginning of September 2020.

The 14km loop trail is just wide enough to ride single file through the woods where you get plenty of glimpses of the lake. We went before 9 am on a weekday and had the entire trail to ourselves. There were lots of bridges and mud puddles to negotiate. I loved the cedar chips. My ebike had no trouble on this gentle rolling forest path.

“I should’ve got the $10,000 mountain ebike from MEC after all. I’m loving this,” I called out to Hubs who was just slightly ahead of me. He mumbled something about not getting myself injured.

“I’m kidding,” I said.

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature
A perfect white ray of light.

But this zipping through the forest on a bike is seriously addicting; reminiscent of the forest chase scene on one of the Star Wars movies with the Ewoks on flying scooters. I can see why the Hubs loves it so much. I used to hike with him, but was always dragging along far behind, but at least with a motorized boost I can keep up and not hinder him. Plus, safety is a concern as we have to watch out for dogs, hikers and other cyclists on the trail, so it’s an easy-going pace where you can still appreciate your surroundings without worrying about cars and trucks.

Image may contain: sky, tree, mountain, outdoor, nature and water
There’s a bridge to this tiny island where you can camp.

Image may contain: people standing, tree, plant, shoes, outdoor and nature
What a surprise.

Thus ends my multi focused blog. Time to find some coffee in the PR townsite. Thanks for hanging in there for the full ride.

coffee education · COVID19 · micro coffee roaster · New Orleans Coffee

A Cup of Southern Hospitality

By Guest Blogger Lisa Giesler

My first memory of coffee was at my grandpa’s house. He lived next door to the oldest fire station in the city of New Orleans. His wife, Mrs. Irene, would cook the coffee on the stove in the aluminum coffee pot.  She boiled the milk in a saucepan, then skimmed it. Grandpa would have two cubes of sugar in his coffee. Today it would be called a cafe au lait. As kids, we were only permitted to have coffee milk; milk with a couple of tablespoons of coffee in it. I can still feel the smile on my face drinking “coffee”.

The coffee that I was accustomed to had chicory in it. It was pretty strong but very flavourful. The most popular brand was Café Du Mond. Cafe Du Mond’s coffee stand in the French Quarter has been around since 1862. You can still buy their coffee and chicory blend in their outdoor market in the French Quarters or from their online shop.

Cafe du Monde Coffee and Chicory

NOTE: Chicory has long been used as a coffee substitute, for example, during the French Revolution when the British refused to sell coffee to France. Also, during the Great Depression when coffee was too expensive, chicory stood in for real coffee. There are two main sources of chicory: a root from a type of dandelion and the root from endive lettuce. Both roots can be dug up, roasted, ground and brewed to make a strong dark tea free of caffeine. Those who are on the 100-Mile diet in areas that don’t grow coffee locally, use the native chicory plant to approximate coffee.

The 100-Mile diet originated from Canadians, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who wrote about restricting their diet to within 100 miles of their home in, The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating (2007), and released as Plenty in the US. They believe eating locally is a healthier alternative and more eco-friendly. Fifteen years later the couple is still mainly eating locally (https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/06/29/The-100-Mile-Diet-15-Years-Later/)


Image result for chicory
Cichorium intybus that chicory is derived from.

As I got older my parents would experiment with store-bought coffees. The kind they saw on TV commercials.

When I was 31 years-old a friend fixed me a cup of Kona coffee from Hawaii. It was amazing but I couldn’t find it in the stores. Five years later, a neighbour fixed me a cup of coffee that was fresh from Columbia. It was delicious but again I couldn’t find it in the stores. Fast forward to age 51, I was in a local antique shop and the owner, Lisa, asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. It was so delicious. I asked her, “Where did you get this coffee from?”

“This is my coffee line,” she said. I didn’t even have to travel to find a great cup of coffee.

I became friends with her, Lisa Anhaiser, owner of Southern Hospitality Coffee Company, Lisa. She taught me what it meant for coffee to be locally roasted and fresh. Her line has two signature flavours: Texas Sunrise and Holiday Blend. My favourite coffee is their Costa Rican, La Minita Tarrazu.  I was hooked and would never again have to rely on store-bought coffee.


Most coffees that are in the store are old and usually not locally roasted.

– Lisa Anhaiser

Many local businesses have closed due to Covid19 in my current city of Chicago, but online shopping provides options. I am pleased to say that this locally-owned coffee company’s wares can be purchased online and shipped all over. So next time you want a great cup of coffee, look to a small business owner, they usually have the best.

Lisa Giesler, Professional Organizer, Life Coach, Author, Coffee Lover

conversationswithlisa.com

Uncategorized

Cold Brew Coffee Taste Tests: Store vs. Home

By Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

Before another day of konmaring the house, the Japanese process of tidying your house popularized by the adorable Marie Kondo, Stephen and I did a taste test of cold brewed black coffee available at SuperValu; one of two grocery store chains in our village.

We required that low acid, high caffeine boost that cold brew provides to face another summer’s day of folding socks, underpants, tees and jeans, so they stand up like soldiers in the drawer. Also, there’s gouging out overstuffed closets and drawers, and separating items that don’t “spark joy” into the following categories:

  • KEEP – the smallest number of items.
  • DONATE – rationed out into two small bags a day because everyone else is watching MK on Netflix and flooding the thrift stores with joyless items.
  • RETURN – to those who left it here.
  • FOIST – in guise of a gift.
  • RECYCLE – the depot is a clutterer’s best friend.
  • LEAVE – on absentee neighbours’ driveways on garbage day.

Ms. K. wouldn’t approve of some of my custom categories, but it’s not like I’ll become one of her disciples at $2000 USD for her online certification course.

For the taste test, I found only two brands to stand up against my home cold brew:

  • President’s Choice Cold Brew Coffee .9L $4.99 = $5.54/L = $.66 for 1/2 cup
  • Califia Cold Brew Unsweetened 1.4L $7.99 = $5.71/L = $.69 for 1/2 cup

The PC coffee carton says it uses 100% Columbian arabica beans with a strong bold roast from a single origin plantation. The grounds were steeped in filtered water for 20 hours. It suggests the coffee can be served hot or cold with milk or cream. If you like mochas, try it with hot chocolate with or without milk.

The Califia brand uses 100% arabica beans with a medium roast. Its cupping notes listed on the carton are apple, caramel and cocoa. The beans were obtained from direct and ethical trade.

I had on hand Nicaraguan organic beans purchased online from U-Roast-it Coffee based in Vancouver. I roasted the green beans at home to a medium roast. I ground the beans to a medium grind and used 3 tablespoons of grounds in 3.5 cups of filtered water. (I previously blogged on how to make cold brew coffee at home, so refer to that blog if you want full instructions.)

I usually wait 24 hours before drinking the cold brew, but only left it overnight this time to do the taste test in the morning. Hubby calculated the cost to make it from the $16.99/lb of green beans at $.35 for the whole mason jar of cold brew. For the 1/2 cup taster sampler, it costs only $.05 per 1/2 cup.

For comparison, I logged onto Starbucks, where it’s $3.41 for the smallest size (354 ml), a tall cold brew coffee, that’s approximately 1.5 cups, so about $.96 for a 1/2 cup serving. However, you can’t buy a 1/2 cup, so you have to spend $3.41 for the tall cold brew.

For the blind taste test, I prepared three glasses for Stephen to try. Each glass contained one ice cube (he doesn’t like ice much), 1/2 cup of cold brew coffee, and one teaspoon of cream.

Let the tasting begin. Homemade cold brew filtering on the right.

The PC cold brew was first. He enjoyed it quite a bit but found it on the weak side. I took a couple of sips and found it to be on the bold side, but quite moreish. Hard to beat Columbian coffee.

The second brew was the Califia, that Stephen pronounced to be “bitter” and told me to try it. I found it quite sweet, even though it’s unsweetened; not bitter at all, but I preferred the PC coffee over this one.

Now it was time for the home brew. Fingers crossed that the hubs would prefer my offering. However, one sip and he said it was “funny tasting”. I gave it a sip and I agreed that it was under-brewed and tasted raw. Best to go back to it later.

We both preferred the PC store brand, but the story doesn’t stop here. I read in other blogs about some unique additions to cold brew coffee, so here we go with the experimentation:

Gingerale and Cold Brew Coffee

I came upon a few blogs that suggested adding ginger beer or club soda to cold brew coffee. However, being Canadian only Canada Dry gingerale would do. Actually, I enjoy the bite and spiciness of ginger beer, but the import is too pricey for mix at up to $12.99 for four bottles as compared to $2.99 for a six-pack of gingerale. For that price, you can buy fancy alcoholic ginger beer.

You can use club soda or low sodium club soda, but I prefer the taste of ginger and a bit of sweetness. To 1/4 cup of PC cold brew coffee with a generous portion of ice I add 1/4 cup of Canada Dry.

Gingerale is the first experimental mix.

The mix is refreshing but I need more ginger taste and add another 1/4 cup to my glass. Yummy. Hubby thinks it has too much gingerale in it, but he was raised properly without fizzy drinks and has no cavities.

I love Italian cream sodas. The first one I had was at a hotel in Seattle. It was lime Italian syrup with soda water and cream; it tasted like Key Lime Pie. So I add more than a splash of cream to the glass. The cream and gingerale react and bubble much like an ice–cream float.

Bailey’s and Cold Brew Awesomeness

Ooooo, ice-cream in the cold brew coffee with a shot of Bailey’s or coffee liquor would be a decadent treat. But it’s not yet 8:00 am and I don’t usually even eat breakfast, let alone liquor.

“But it’s not hard liquor, it’s just Bailey’s,” chimes in hubby. How did he hear me whisper to myself from across the room, when he misses out on so much that I say looking directly into his eyes, toe to toe, breathing all over him without the benefit of a mask?

Cold brew coffee cream soda.

Oh, heck, it’s the weekend.

“What about half a shot?” I suggest. The bottle only has about one shot left anyways.

“Maybe there’s more in the trailer?” He checks out the trailer cupboards under the guise of changing the drying crystals. We keep some Bailey’s in the trailer to dip giant roasted marshmallows into. One dripping Guilliver-sized caramelized/charcoal marshmallow is enough for dessert, but we tend to eat a couple or three.

“None in the trailer,” he announces. I hand him his cold brew and half shot of Bailey’s. I pour the other half shot in my cold brew cream soda. Oh, yeah, that’s what it was missing. Perfect way to start another long hot MK day.

Just a half-shot of Bailey’s for a wee taste.

“Lots of people have alcoholic drinks at brunch,” says hubby as we clink glasses. Probably not before 8 am, but whatever it’s only half a shot before we walk the dogs. There are two freezers to clean out, many metres of fabric to fold, craft supplies to segregate into little boxes, and labels to make.

MK’s series should come with a warning label. May cause uncontrollable urges to tidy and eventually lead to OCD levels of cleanliness. I read a bit of her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, but it didn’t get me going like watching the before and after results of her gentle but firm guidance of families mired in clutter. It was a scared straightening experience. Her clients are one trinket and three dust bunnies away from being on Hoarders: Buried Alive. So out of sheer terror of becoming like them, we decided it was an optimum to tidy whilst we have minimal reasons to leave the house.

Stephen is reading MK’s ebook and updating me on what we should be doing. Honestly, I think I bought it years ago. It could be on the bookshelf I have yet to go through, perhaps I gifted it or donated it away.

I guess we could empty the bottle of Scottish liquor, therefore, tidying up the liquor cart and recycling the bottle, or. . .

“Honey, can you pick up more Bailey’s on your way back from your socially distanced coffee, please?” I ask Stephen. He’s scheduled to leave a few hours later to meet up with his HAM radio club (Sunshine Coast Amateur Radio Society.) We seem to have a lot of cold brew coffee on our hands and a friend is coming on Monday. We haven’t had company since November.

Stephen brought back a giant bottle of Bailey’s, plus Kahlua, and beer at the annual 20% off sale at the indie liquor store, Blackfish. (BTW: We have eight places in Gibsons you can buy liquor, but only two grocery stores in our village of under 5,000 people. Although, we do have an Asian grocery store, the beloved Fong’s, and a market with an marine education centre to visit.) Without space on the liquor cart or buffet, the extra booze has to go on top of the buffet. So we either MK the buffet, store extra booze in the trailer, drink faster, or all three. What a konmari conundrum I’ve caused so early in the day.

Next time I will use Columbian beans to make a batch of homemade and leave it for the full 24 hours. Otherwise it’s just not a fair comparison. I’ll keep an eye out for other brands. As you can see, you can save a lot. At only $.15 for the equivalent of a Starbucks’ size serving of your own cold brew, you can treat all of those in your bubble. Add a shot of liquor and it’s still probably less than a tall Starbucks’ cold brew. Not that I’m advocating that you do that. Cheers.

Cafe Review · Coffee Shop Wifi · Mobile Writer · Sunshine Coast Cafes · Wifi

Get Your Charge at the Ferry Cafe


Overall : (I reduced this by 50% because of the frustrating long lineups lately to get on the ferry)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Coffee:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Place:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

By Elizabeth Rains

I live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and sometimes travel to Vancouver for editing work. The only way to get there with a car is by ferry. The more prohibitively expensive options are taking a water taxi, or float plane to the city, but then you have no car on the other side.

The Queen of Surrey leaves from Langdale, crosses Howe Sound, and docks at the Horseshoe Bay terminal in 40 minutes. That’s just enough time for me to work on my novel or write for my blog. A great place to write on the boat is at the Coast Cafe Express.

The cafe’s many plug-ins are a bonus for writers. Photo credit E. Rains.

Since mid-March the coffee shop was closed because of COVID-19, but that made it an even better writing spot than it was pre-virus. It was quieter than ever.

Lynn Perez was the lone occupant of the cafe’s ocean-facing counter. Perez lives in Hopkins Landing, which is walking distance from the Langdale ferry dock. She was drinking coffee and tapping into her phone. “I’m not a writer,” she said. “The only writing I do is email.”

So that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again.

Virginia Woolf

During the height of the pandemic Perez is the lone passenger at the Coast Express Cafe. Photo Credit E. Rains.

In a major refit of the ferry last year, the cafe changed its seating scheme. Short round stools and small, round tables, which I found uncomfortable for writing, were replaced by tall stools and writer-friendly counters with ample electrical outlets. The plug-ins are the biggest plus for me as a writer because my aging laptop often runs out of juice.

Writer’s Prompt:

Write about swimming in the ocean.

Speaking of juice, the drinking kind is available, along with coffee, tea, and munchies in the ferry’s main food outlet. The wifi is strongest at each end of the journey and weakest at the midpoint around Gambier where there is neither cell phone coverage or wifi for about 10 to 15 minutes, so you can’t even use your phone as a hotspot. During that time you can work offline or stroll to the ferry’s main food outlet.

Getting coffee at the main cafeteria. The self-serve cappuccino machine is not in service, nor is the soft-serve ice-cream.

The Coastal Cafe cafeteria remains open during the pandemic with extra distancing and sanitizing. There you can purchase a coffee, tea, and munchies and take them to the Express area, your car, or the seating area on the upper car deck to enjoy the ocean view through the port holes.

Al Hyland took his coffee to the upper car deck. It’s a pleasant alternative to the cafe, if you don’t mind the engine noise and wind.

Elizabeth Rains has been a reporter for the Vancouver Sun and an editor for several consumer and trade magazines. She is the author of two nonfiction books, including Demon in My Blood (Greystone Books, 2017). She was editorial director and publisher of Pacific Rim Magazine for 14 years. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of The Capilano Review. She has twice been president of the Magazine Association of B.C. She is active in Editors Canada and speaks frequently at industry events. She also freelances as an editor and publishing consultant through her company, Cove Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University, as well as certificates in graphic design and web publishing. 

Elizabeth Rains
Elizabeth Rains

Website address: www.rains.ca

Blog: www.rainscoast.wordpress.com


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Coffee Bean Giveaway. Subscribe to be entered into draw. CDNs only.

Bakery Review · Cafe Review · Coffee Roastery · Coffee Shop Wifi · Coronavirus · Coronavirus Precautions · COVID19 · micro coffee roaster · Mobile Writer · Sunshine Coast Cafes · Wifi · Wired Writer

Black Bean Cafe: Cheerful Sunshine Coast Roastery

Overall ☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5 Coffee ☕️☕️☕️☕️ Place ☕️☕️☕️☕️

467 Marine Drive, Gibsons BC.
604-886-1716 * https://www.blackbeancafe.ca/
Email – blackbean100@gmail.com

By Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith © July 2020

It would be hard to name a more popular coffee shop in Gibsons, if not the entire Sunshine Coast, than the spacious and cheerful Black Bean. Established 12 years ago in the lower village, the iconic cafe was taken over by the Brisbeaus three years ago. Charles, a retired Property Manager, and his wife, Monica, a retired Math teacher, took over the cafe three years ago. Becca, their daughter, who lives in Gibsons says that her father always dreamed of owning a cafe, so they snapped up the shop when it came up for sale, including the roastery.

Their own organic fair trade roasted coffee beans are branded as Sunshine Coast Coffee.
Becca, second generation Black Bean family member, holds down the fort during the pandemic along with her brother.

They roast their own Columbia and Brazilian coffee beans in their micro-roastery near the coffee shop. They sell their beans in the shop only.

For the first five weeks of the pandemic, they limited service to take-out. They then only offered patio seating. However, the dog-friendly patio seats 25, has umbrellas over two of the tables, bar seating, and a pleasant view. They now have two of their indoor tables open again.

A sunny nook with a view to write in

When they were fully open with seating for 30, they had trestle tables making it perfect for my writers’ group and every other group in the village.


As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?

Cassandra Clare

In fact, that’s one of my few complaints about “The Bean” is its success. It is often too crowded at peak times to find seating, because of its popularity.


Writer’s Challenge

Write a piece containing the following:
1. A twisted old tree.
2. A sandcastle.
3. Camping with friends.


Coasters are so fond of Black Bean that they have a new policy for laptop users to limit their Internet usage to 45 minutes. This eliminated them from being a venue for my writers’ group, as we stay two hours and there can be up to six of us sitting together with our laptops humming away. Plus, they don’t have electrical outlets for the aging laptops with weak batteries amongst the group.

The laptop rules and an outlet if your cord be long enough.

On this July morning, we have a mission. We’re meeting up with a social club for coffee at Black Bean. We score parking closer to the coffee shop than ever on Marine Drive. Hubby ate his cinnamon bun in record time before I could get a picture of it. He reports it was really good.

Carrot cake temptingly at eye level.

He likes that when you order a sandwich or wrap, they make it to order. You won’t see pre-made anything lingering in their glass cabinet.

Home-baked tasting goodies and sandwiches and wraps made to order.

Hubby comments that his cappuccino, that he sips as eagerly as the hummingbirds on our patio empty the sugar water from the feeder, is excellent and on par with any high quality coffee he’s ever tasted. I linger over my iced Americano, enjoying their house blend of Columbian and Brazilian beans–extremely refreshing on a hot morning.

Stephen Smith (Hubby), enjoying the flower-filled patio under the shade of the patio umbrella.

The friendly staff is working extra hard keeping the tables clean between customers with their spray bottles and wipes. They have a plexiglass shield up and one-way red tape arrows to guide customers in and out of the shop.

The Black Bean is well-run, clean, it has warm welcoming staff, and excellent coffee and eats. While it has that dated wood and chalkboard farmhouse decor found in 99% of the cafes on the Coast, it’s a great location for browsing the lower village shops and galleries after your coffee or tea.

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Cafe Review · Coffee Shop Wifi · Sunshine Coast Cafes

Golden Gourmet Girls

Overall ☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5 Coffee ☕️☕️☕️☕️ Place ☕️☕️☕️☕️

#6 – 4720 Sunshine Coast Hwy, Sechelt, BC. V0N3A0 
Phone: (604)-885-9721 * Email: info@gourmetgirl.ca

By Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

From the Langdale ferry terminal, the Gourmet Girls in Davis Bay, owned by Nicole and Paolo for the past three years, is about a 25 minute drive on Highway 101 flanked by forest. Suddenly, the trees fall away and you see the open ocean and Davis Bay Pier on the left jutting out into the sea for fishing and swimming.

Gourmet Girl Davis Bay Sunshine Coast BC
Paolo and Nicole, owners of Gourmet Girls. Photo sourced from their website.

So directed are your eyes to the stunning view on your left, you will likely miss Pier 17 on your right. That would be a shame, because you’d miss the opportunity for ice-cream, coffee, delicious meals and baked goods, as well as card and gifts from local makers at Gourmet Girls.

Davis Bay Pier

It’s an ideal spot to sit on one of their patios and enjoy the superlative beach views with your family or small group, including your pooch.

Incomparable view just on the other side of the beach.

The patio by the shop is undercover and heated for those chilly July days we’ve been having. They have wifi but no outlets on the patio. There’s no indoor seating at this time and only two customers are allowed in at a time, as per COVID-19 restrictions. They have curbside service, online ordering and delivery, also their catering business is still operating.

To find the shop watch for their large banner on the right and you’ll be rewarded with coffee made expertly from Salt Spring Island Coffee from their serious espresso machine. There’s a beautifully rendered map of the Coast to admire and get your bearings from.

Gourmet Girls serve Blume tea and Saltspring Island Coffee
Beautiful map of the Coast to ponder.
Pilot enjoying being out with his humans.

Hubby loves their breakfasts, especially the Hang Over Cure that is two poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce over hash-browns with chopped peppers with melted cheese curds, poutine-style. He also recommends the Fisherman’s Breakfast from their All-Day breakfast men, with three Eggs (any style), hash-browns, three slices of bacon, two gluten free breakfast sausages, and toast. For those with a smaller appetite, they have regular Benny’s, wraps and smoothies. For lunch they have burgers, including a veggie burger and my personal go-to meal out–fish and chips.

Hang-over Cure can be eaten sober.

I order my usual breakfast, an Americano–over ice today because it’s actually hot already. It doesn’t disappoint. The coffee is consistently good as gold here. They also have an intriguing selection of Blume teas with flavours like Matcha Coconut, Chili Turmeric and Beetroot.

It’s only 9 am but already warm enough for a cold Americano.

After coffee and a meal, you can grab something to-go for dinner from the Gourmet Girl’s glass case and browse the shop. I’ve purchased some wooden wick candles there that were a big hit. Before the pandemic I enjoyed meet ups there. The gift shop has grown to take up more of the seating area. I miss the cozy chairs with electrical outlets in the corner perfect for writing, that disappeared to display more merchandise.

Lots of high quality local gift items.

I recommend you take a walk to the pier to see what the fishers have caught, or watch the kids jump into the water. Just beyond the enormous fruit stand is the Mosaic Emporium. Mosaic is stocked with gift items and art supplies to keep you busy throughout these social distancing days.


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Mobile Writer

5 Best Word Processors for Writers

By Jeff Hortobagyi, Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith,  Elizabeth Rains & Stephen Smith 

Introduction

The market has remained fairly static for word-processors since MS Word was released as Multi-Tool Word Version 1.0 in 1983, it’s dominated the word-processing market. Its main competitor became WordPerfect, but that program soon fizzled out and became a minor player. Although, there are loyal WordPerfect users out there and there’s a WordPerfect Office Professional 2020 suite available, but at over $500 it’s out-priced itself out of the market. MS Word remains the heavy hitter in the word-processing world and it’s affordable for $6.40/month for the entire MS Office package, but an increasing number of free apps keep driving down its price. 

In 2006, Google Docs came along and changed the way people worked. No longer did authors need to print out and make paper copies to make redlines. No longer did they need to attach large files to emails and hope they made it to the recipients. Now they could share and update documents in real-time. That same year, Scrivener 1.0 by Literature & Latte arrived and gave writers an alternative to MS Word with its Dark Mode screen on the Mac and sophisticated outlining features. Scrivener is now at version 3.0 and seems here to stay.

There are valuable add-on tools like Grammarly, or Scapple (from Literature & Latte), worth mentioning in future blogs, but they aren’t fully-fledged word-processors, thus not within the scope of this blog. 

Nothing terribly ground-breaking has happened since 2006 to word-processors, except that they keep copy-catting each other’s best features to the benefit of users, like saving to the Cloud and collaboration tools.  However, each is particularly strong in some areas over the others. Here’s our attempt to round up the top five best word-processors. However, if you’ve come across better tools feel free to educate us in the comments so we can explore them for future blogs.

MS Word

Too full featured.

Stephen Smith

MS Word is the word processor of the business world and most publishers want you to submit your work in MS Word format. My publisher provides a MS Word style sheet that they want me to use. Although other programs can import this style sheet, they change it and when I save back to Word format it’s changed. This means I have to use MS Word for submitting my work to my publisher. The funny thing is that they don’t want me to do much formatting, since they redo most of it when typesetting the book, but that’s the world we live in.

MS Word is full featured, in fact, for me it’s too full featured. Finding simple common functions can be difficult and I waste a lot of time looking for features. I find working in Word not as productive as other programs and I tend to write first in Google Docs and then transfer to Word for formatting and submission.

MS Word added online collaborative functionality to try and match Google Docs some time ago, but I find it doesn’t work very well. It adds a lot of blocks that you have to remove later. It would be nice if they made the functionality as transparent as Google Docs. Also, since Google Docs is free, everyone can use it, whereas other people have older versions of Word that don’t support the online editing and can’t use it.

Another problem I have with Word is that the Apps for iOS for the iPad and iPhone and Android have extremely limited functionality and I find them unusable. Similarly, there is a web version of Word, but again I find the lack of functionality frustrating. I wish they would look at what Apple Pages has done here, which is excellent.

Stephen Smith is the author of the Apress title, Raspberry Pi Assembly Language Programming and Programming with 64-Bit ARM Assembly Language. He is a retired Software Architect, located in Gibsons, BC, Canada. He’s been developing software since high-school, or way too many years to record. He was the Chief Architect for the Sage 300 line of accounting products for 23 years. Since retiring he has pursued Artificial Intelligence, earned his Advanced HAM Radio License, and enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and nature photography. He continues to write his popular technology blog at smist08.wordpress.com and has written two Science Fiction novels in a series, Influence available on Amazon.com.

.A person sitting at a table with wine glasses and smiling at the camera

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I find it the best tool for my use.

Jeff Hortobagyi

MS Word is feature-rich and I have eventually learned to find all the features over the years I have used it. Yes, I am saying that it can be difficult to find the features, and everyone has probably cursed the odd things it sometimes does to formatting. Still, I feel that I can do pretty much what I want to do in MS Word, and I continue to be surprised by some good features. In particular, I like the flexibility of the Styles feature and find track changes and other editing features to be useful. MS Word allows me to easily and quickly create a professional-looking document to my specifications. 

I also use Google Docs but it doesn’t have anything near to the functionality of MS Word. It’s also not easy to use, beyond the basic features, and I find myself giving up and accepting the limited formatting options it provides. Google Docs is a good tool when you are trying to collaborate with other writers. But, similar to Gmail, it feels like Google didn’t put a lot of thought into the tool.

I have played with FrameMaker and was impressed with the tool. It had a wide array of features and was more reliable than MS Word in its formatting. I would consider it for a large documentation project.

As much as I like to curse MS Word, I find it the best tool for my use, primarily, articles, letters, and business documents. I know its features and I can pretty much format documents how I want. 

Jeff Hortobagyi is a Vancouver writer and blogger. His article Telecommunications in Disasters: An Evidence-Based Approach was recently published in the international journal, Disaster Recovery Journal, Summer 2020.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_4893-1.jpg
Jeff Hortobagyi

MS Word 365 has an impressive list of file conversion formats.

Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

I started using MS Word when it was in its DOS infancy years on monochrome green or amber screens. The only competition I recall was WordPerfect. There are likely still some hardcore WP users out there who memorized all the key codes opening up DOS windows on their computers and continuing to use it. I reviewed the first version that got ported to Windows and it was okay. It was really just like MS Word, because Windows programs are pretty standardized and all word-processors have the same basic functions: enter, format, save, print.

I also reviewed the first version of MS Word for Windows and continued to be a loyal user of the program, because it was straightforward and reliable. When I became a professional technical writer I learned more powerful document processors, like FrameMaker and Interleaf that are now virtually obsolete swallowed up by the Megalodon that is MS Word. (Interleaf was taken over by Broadvision and became QuickSilver in 2000.)

Word went through a phase of being bloated with features that slowed it down to a crawl, making me wince at every crash and blue screen of death. But at some point, MS Word got its act together again. 

My system of backing up files started with using USB (aka thumb) drives, or emailing myself works-in-progress at the end of each session. But about four years ago Steve introduced me to Google Docs. It’s a new way of working online saving to GDrive, plus working collaboratively.

Consequently, I haven’t used MS Word in years. With Google Docs, I like how I can work on my files from anywhere that has wifi and that’s everywhere I’ve been. I also like how I can get comments from editors in the margins and incorporate or dismiss them easily into my documents.

However, I recently loaded MS Word 365 into the Mac to do some file conversions on one of my books to submit it for final layout to my publisher. Word’s not changed so much that I can’t immediately start working on it, but it’s added more functions like the ability to do collaboration online like Google Docs does.

MS Word with style sheets can’t be beat when it comes to text and layout formatting outside of technical document processing programs, like FrameMaker or desktop publishing programs, like Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher. Also, being the grandfather of word-processing, the file conversions available in MS Word are extensive. So the conversion from the Google Docs manuscript to the required MS Word 97 went much better than I expected.

I imported the Google Docs file into MS Word 365. There was a swapping of fonts and if I’d spend a little time on mapping the fonts with the style sheet it probably would’ve been a quick fix, but it didn’t take that long to tidy it up. I then saved it as the MS Word 97 file required by the publisher. I also saved the file from Google Docs as a PDF and sent them both along to the publisher. No complaints from my publisher.

MS Word 365 has an impressive list of file conversion formats.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2020-07-09-at-2.16.49-pm.png
File formats that MS Word 365 can convert to.

I appreciate the Autosave feature that it has to OneDrive, like Google Docs goes to GDrive. I’m impressed but not enough to go back to MS Word and leave Google Docs behind. If you don’t want to spend the $79 on the full version, there’s a free online version of MS Word. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t attest to its stability, so if any readers have tried it, please let us know in the comments.

Elizabeth edited my book, The Woman Who Learned How to Fly, that’s part of her curriculum for her online editing course at Simon Fraser University using the collaborative features of MS Word. She used Word because she lost her work trying to do them in Google Docs. So I opened her version in MS Word and had my Google Docs version open in another window to incorporate her suggested changes. Hopping back and forth between the two apps definitely slowed me down, but it was still more efficient than trying to pass redlines or emails between each other. Especially, considering that we were in Phase 1 of the pandemic. 

Google Docs

Google Docs is my go-to word-processor.

Stephen Smith

Google Docs is my go-to word-processor. It is a simple program, but has everything I need for my writing. It is free to use for non commercial users and seamlessly stores your programs in the cloud, so you don’t need to worry about your computer being stolen or your harddisk crashing.

The online collaboration is unmatched, where multiple people can work on a document at once seeing each other’s changes in real time. Google Docs also works offline, so you can still work on your documents when you are disconnected from the Internet and then it resyncs as soon as you reconnect.

I like that Google Docs being a web app works the same across laptops, tablets and phones so you don’t need to learn different ways of doing things. I prefer Google Docs for writing my blog, because I can just cut and paste the work from Goggle Docs into WordPress and all the formatting and links are preserved so I just need to publish it. I don’t like the WordPress editor, so I find this a productive way to blog.

What Google Docs does really well is collaborative writing.

Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

What Google Docs does really well is collaborative writing, editing and commenting, as well as saving and backing up your work to GDrive; Google’s version of the Cloud. 

Example of the Google Docs screen.

The Format toolbars are similar to the ones you’d find on other word-processors, like MS Word, but quite limited. The red J on the upper right-hand screen, shows me that Jeff is online and working on the document. The blue Share button allows me to share the document with others. The right-hand column has document functions. While a collaborator, in this case, Jeff, is online a chat window opens, so we can discuss the document, or where we’re going to meet for coffee.

Google Docs formatting options are sparse if you’re used to all the bells and whistles of MS Word, but it’s less distracting. You have what you need and don’t spend a lot of time on fussing around formatting like you do in MS Word. 

Google Docs is a good basic editor that you can then export to other formats, including an EPub document. I use it regularly to compose blogs, then copy and paste them into WordPress, which is flaky as it doesn’t have reliable AutoSave or version backups. Backing up to the Cloud and collaboration are Google Docs best features. In fact, this article was composed in Google Docs with writers working in parallel or independently on the document, before it was copied into WordPress to be prepared for publication. 

Scrivener

I love the many types of notes to myself, footnotes, and endnotes.

Elizabeth Rains

When working on a book, I always use Scrivener. The software from Literature & Latte, contains scads of writing and organizational tools for writers. These include a side panel where you can easily store website URLs and documents related to your book. I usually write nonfiction and love the many types of notes to myself, footnotes, and endnotes I can easily place in or alongside a document. For fiction writers, there are character and setting templates. 

Scrivener has two outlining features: a regular outline and a Corkboard, which looks like a board full of sticky notes. You can write your manuscript in the Editor, which shows all the tools, or in full-screen mode, which strips away all on-screen distractions. Literature & Latte came out with a new version of Scrivener for the Mac in 2017. An update for the PC is due this year. I can’t wait to try it. Bonus feature: you can download your manuscript as text, MS Word document or an EPub. 

Elizabeth Rains has been a reporter for the Vancouver Sun and an editor for several consumer and trade magazines. She is the author of two nonfiction books, including Demon in My Blood (Greystone Books, 2017). She was editorial director and publisher of Pacific Rim Magazine for 14 years. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of The Capilano Review. She has twice been president of the Magazine Association of B.C. She is active in Editors Canada and speaks frequently at industry events. She also freelances as an editor and publishing consultant through her company, Cove Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University, as well as certificates in graphic design and web publishing. 

Elizabeth Rains
Elizabeth Rains

Website address: www.rains.ca

Blog: www.rainscoast.wordpress.com


Scrivener in Dark Mode in Typewriter Scroll mode is badass and easy on the eyes.

Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

‘What’s that?” I ask Bruce Wheatley at our Saturday writer’s group. I was in awe at the black screen with white text. 

“It’s Scrivener,” he says. Bruce shows me how it can be used in Dark Mode and that it was easier on his eyes.

Scrivener in Dark Mode in Typewriter Scroll mode. It’s badass and easy on the eyes.

The nice thing about its Typewriter Scroll mode is that it’s free from the distractions of menu bars or other apps, that can increase your focus and productivity.

For this article I downloaded the free 30-Day trial version. If I committed to the full version, it would cost $69, which seems reasonable because of all the features it offers. For example, it has the outlining features of Scrapple, the document processing features of FrameMaker, plus the word-processing features of MS Word. It could get a pantser like me to actually finish an online, which would please Jeff and other editors and publishers greatly. 

If you’re writing a novel, a nonfiction book or a short-story, the templates are impressive. You start a new project and the title, front matter, outline and back matter are ready to go versus every other word-processor where you have to put all the tedious content in yourself. When you’re done with your manuscript in Scrivener, it outputs a paperback book and/or an EPub.  

There are a couple showstoppers with Scrivener; however, the first being the steep learning curve. There’s a new language to learn, Scrivenerese,projects are called “binders” and chapters are “folders” within the binders and you write “scenes” within the folders. It was a lot of drilling down to get to an actual editor to start writing. Now that I’m not on a company clock and can choose the way I write, I have no patience for detailed outlining past the 2nd level. 

The Help was useless, so I had to use Google to find out how to do basic functions, like how to create a new chapter and start composing. The program’s not intuitive as I’d like it to be. However, its main deficit is that it’s not a collaborative or online tool and Literature & Latte doesn’t have a plan to make it so.  I’m actually disappointed because it’s quite unique. So for those two reasons, I won’t be purchasing the full license. I think it’s good to be open-minded and try out new tools and at least have some awareness of them, even if they don’t end up being one you embrace. 

But if you work completely alone, and are planning to self-publish, like outlining, are willing to put in the time to learn the quirks of this program, Scrivener is probably a lot of fun to use. Otherwise, you will have to plan on doing file conversions.

Dark Mode only works on the Mac and not in the Editor mode in this view. The Edit menu has lots of items to explore.

Pages

Fewer features than MS Word, but more power than Google Docs.

Stephen Smith

If you live in the Apple world then Apple Pages might be for you. The program has fewer features than Microsoft Word, but more power than Google Docs. The collaboration features are better than Microsoft, but not quite as good as Google Docs. If you like doing your writing on an iPad, then my feeling is that the Pages iPad App is the best tool for writing on this device. Unlike the Microsoft products, you don’t lose any functionality running on the iPad. Pages integrates with iCloud transparently and is very good at keeping you in the same place as you edit from different devices.

Many authors want to distribute their work in iBook format. One of the most popular of these is the Apple iPub format that is used by the iOS Book App. Pages is one of the few programs that can easily save to this format. If you create your work here, creating a ePub version is very easy. Just remember that your document has to be formatted for different screen sizes so ensure your document is “flowy” and doesn’t contain positional formatting elements.

For instance, Cathalynn had me generate an ePub version of her book, but she had a lot of images with complicated formatting to wrap text around them, further she often didn’t use the style sheet. This caused the pages to render incorrectly on different sized devices and was a lot of work to remedy. A good rule would be to only use style sheet formatting so things can be changed globally. Avoid selecting text and applying one-off formatting.


I wouldn’t recommend using Pages.

Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith

Once upon a time I wrote a book in Pages, the built in word-processor that comes with the Mac OS. Why would anyone do that, you ask? Well, my dogs were playing on the bed and bounced my laptop off the bed onto the concrete floor. My foot softened its blow before it bounced to the unforgiving floor, nevertheless the hard drive was destroyed. 

Steve gave me this ancient MacBook Air to use that I’m still trying to adapt to years later. This Mac had no MS Word installed on it at the time. I found Pages on it and wrote my book. It was a disaster when it came time to turn it into an Epub, as you read above Steve had to do the clean up.

I don’t know how he managed to present the file as both an EPub, KDP and in Google Docs after that dumpster fire. Since then I stripped out all the graphics, saved it as a PDF and an MS Word 97 file, so that file’s been through a lot of electronic changes, but the content managed to make it through unscathed. Until I sliced and diced it, of course.

That’s all there is, folks. The Pages interface is barebones.

I wouldn’t recommend using Pages, when you can use Google Docs, LibreOffice, or MS Office online for free.

LibreWriter

Instead of upgrading your ancient version of Word, use this free tool.

Stephen Smith

LibreOffice is an open source alternative to Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and Powerpoint along with a diagramming tool, a math formula editor and a database program. LibreOffice isn’t as powerful as the current Office 365, but is a competitive alternative if you want a free upgrade from an older version of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint or Office. LibreOffice comes pre-installed on nearly all distributions of Linux, such as Ubuntu, Raspbian, Redhat or Linux Mint, and it runs fine on Windows and Mac computers as well. 

Using LibreWriter to write my blog. Looks a lot like MS Word.

LibreOffice is a locally installed tool and stores all your files locally. It’s not a Cloud product and although you can use it with DropBox, iCloud or GDrive, most people don’t due to privacy concerns. LibreOffice is pretty full featured and a bit like running a version of MS Office that is a couple of versions behind, which is all most people need.

One cool thing about LibreOffice is that it comes pre-installed on the Raspberry Pi ($35-$75 depending on how much memory you purchase) and works really well there. That means you can put together a computer with full office functionality for under $100, versus an MS Office 365 subscription for $99/year and the cheapest crappiest Windows laptops at $300 or $400.

If you don’t like the Cloud, you like open source, you have locally installed programs and files, you’re price-sensitive, and don’t need the newest MS Office features, then LibreOffice might be for you. For instance, students often learn on Raspberry Pis and LibreWriter is what they do their word-processing on.

Results

So which word-processor reigns supreme with our writers? It’s more like, you need to use several tools depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish.

#1. MS Word

Despite the difficulties we encounter with formatting, we all know MS Word because publishers and clients are highly likely to insist on files in that format. The built-in grammar and spell-checker are superb, as are the formatting and file transfer capabilities. Also, it’s keeping up with Google Docs by adding collaboration and Cloud capabilities. It’s Jeff’s go-to word-processor and while it’s not what I like I can live with it when I have to, since I’ve used it since the beginning. Steve finds it overkill for what he needs to do, as do I and many users. 

#2. Google Docs

Next is Google Docs because of its ability to collaborate seamlessly between writers. Although, it’s not as feature rich as other word-processors and can be frustrating and limited. It’s my tool of choice because most of my work is collaborative currently and I can easily transfer whatever I compose in Google Docs into another format if needed. Given a choice I’d be using FrameMaker if it’s evolved to work collaboratively on the Cloud, but it’s just not practical for the kinds of documents I write now. Steve finds Google Docs to be his number 1 choice too. 

#3. Scrivener, Pages, LibreWriter

These three apps are tied for third place. We’re split on Scrivener as Eizabeth is a long time user and loves all the writer-centered tools. Cathalynn gave it a test run and found it lacking in ease of use and collaborative tools. 

Steve likes Pages and Cathalynn used it out of desperation and found it deplorable. 

Steve is the only one with experience with LibreWriter. He confirms that this is a tool for younger or more techy authors, but that may change.

If you want to see other tools reviewed, let us know in your comments. 

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