Words What if god were a barista? 

Blend tops your cuppa with a little spirituality

click to enlarge arts_speaker_0710_220jpg
Poet Devyn Gonzales (front) and DJ Ernest Gonzales host Speaker, a night of poetry and music at Blend coffee house on South Flores. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

To merge is a virtue at Blend, a new coffeehouse located at 1502 S. Flores Street that mixes poetry, artwork, music, and video with an eclectic array of caffeinated drinks. Take Amanda Lopez, a friendly barista with eyes like turquoise ice. Today she is brewing beverages behind the counter, but in her spare time she merges jazz with electronic music in an adjoining loft that serves as a recording studio, video lab, and meeting place for a Christian ministry. Lopez established Blend with four members of the ministry using funds they raised from their work.

"Everybody that works here has the same biblical values, but we keep that on the down-low," explains Lopez, who volunteers. "We just want to have a place where people can experience creativity and be creative themselves."

Tonight patrons will experience a presentation called "poet and beats," a blend of open-mic poetry and house music scheduled to recur on the first and third Saturday of every month. The poets wait on comfortable chairs that populate the spacious room, quietly nursing their notebooks or watching the psychedelic visuals that swirl on the elevated video screen. Despite Lopez' claim of inconspicuous piety, a spiritual air permeates Blend. The place is dimly illumined by candlelight; Persian rugs and cushions adorn the floor. And judging from Devyn Gonzales' greeting to the poets, artists who patronize Blend are encouraged to keep their morals intact.

Speaker open mic
7-11pm Sat, Apr 16
1502 S. Flores
"We have a little disclaimer," she says over the microphone. "We're not discouraging you to write however you want to write, but when you're reading here, be a little clean. My brother's here, and he's a little kid..."

"You're a little kid!" bellows Gonzales' kid brother from the audience.

At least one poet here tonight appreciates the virtuous atmosphere. She claims to have tired of the hedonistic environment of other less restrictive poetry venues, where "sex and drugs" are a palpable presence. Tonight, there will be no echoes of fornication or sin. The poets who brave the mic speak of things such as truth and God's weary hands, and one poet who embarrassingly bungles her lines is met with unmitigated goodwill from the audience.

Such expansive benevolence seems to blend well with Lopez's aim. "We're just a small group," she says, "with a vision to reach our peers."

By Brian Chasnoff



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