Banshee + Cinder Interview And Giveaway!

Banshee + Cinder (wolf tea creations)3

image credit: WolfTea Creations

Some days I can barely manage to change from my pajamas into my human workday clothes before stumbling to my desk for another day of drudgery, and if that’s the best I can accomplish, I’ll call it a win. Actually it kind of feels like a win if I can even make it out of bed in the first place, and okay, if I am being honest, most days are like that for me. I’m a steady plodder and I’ll get there when I get there and I certainly can’t multitask worth a damn. But then I’ve got these fantastically brilliant friends who are always moving and shaking and hustling and making and I’m constantly marveling at not only the amazing creations they bring into the world but the regularity with which they conjure forth these wonderful things. And then! And then! There are some friends who somehow, on top of everything else they are doing, surprise you with an entirely new endeavor, and it’s like “HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS? Do you have an army of clones? It is sorcery?” How do you crazy-clever people have the time and energy and focus to keep all of these fabulous projects going at once?

The answer is probably that they get out of bed in the morning, they change out of their pajamas into their human clothes….and keep going. They don’t stop!

One such unstoppable human creator is Harlow Skalwold; you may recognize her name from her involvement as art director with Dellamorte & Co., purveyors of high drama gothic eccentricities and décor…but did you know she can now supply you with an otherworldly brew to fill that eerie, eldritch, meticulously sculpted coffee mug with?

Grounded in the most vital of mortal experiences–that first taste of a dark, steaming cup of coffee on a chilly morning– Banshee + Cinder is a small, woman-owned business offering a “bespoke roast-to-door experience.” And having tried it their coffee myself, in a roast and a grind that I picked out with some help from them (because I’m pretty clueless about both), I can speak to the fact that it is delicious! I haven’t quite learned how to talk about coffee but I will say that it tastes beautiful on it’s own–no sweeteners or milk needed. And my partner, who never likes the coffee that I make as much as he likes the coffee that he makes, exclaimed, “wow, this is good! Are you sure that you made this?”

And I do know exactly what they mean when they speak to that first magical sip of coffee in the morning; it is, they share, “the profound intimacy of this ceremonial sip so imperative to our daily ritual” that inspires their passion for coffee. And I know we are not alone in our mutual passion for coffee and that transformative first sip–which is why I thought it imperative to talk with Harlow Skalwold all about her new venture and to offer a giveaway for Unquiet Things readers!

Read below for our invigorating, highly-caffeinated (well, at least on my part–I think Harlow naturally runs on some sort of high-octane genius-juice) interview and leave a comment for the opportunity to win a bag of Banshee + Cinder coffee (medium roast, medium/coarse grind, just like mine!) as well as a Banshee + Cinder coffee mug, with art by Saint Calluna. A winner will be chosen on Christmas eve next week!

Banshee + Cinder logo

Image credit: Darby Lahger

Unquiet Things: I know you initially through your art–both in your role as art director for Dellamorte & Co., in addition to your own personal work as Saint Calluna. So the coffee connection was a bit of a surprise for me! Coffee + art? What’s the link? 

Banshee + Cinder: Interior decorating, obviously! It’s funny, at the time I was thinking about opening an online boutique with curated items for home decor. A witchy, dark lifestyle brand. I thought it would be an interesting and generally unexplored niche to fill. I started doing a lot of research into opening an e-commerce site, finding suppliers, running logistics, etc., and I randomly stumbled upon this coffee supplier. It was love at first sight, and complete happenstance. I thought, I love coffee, why couldn’t I do this? And so gears shifted and I was suddenly researching coffee. I learned everything I could about coffee varieties, growing, farming practices, roasting, brewing, even the countries the beans came from to get an idea of the social and political climates. I was able to choose some incredible coffees from around the world, with plantations committed to organic and sustainable practices, while providing fair wages to their farmers. And then I found a roaster in Chicago to partner with. Before I knew it, I was running a coffee company!

Banshee + Cinder (seven spike studio)2

image credit: Seven Spike Studio

Banshee + Cinder (seven spike studio)

image credit: Seven Spike Studio

What’s the inspiration behind the name Banshee + Cinder?

Banshee and Cinder are my cats- tortoiseshell sisters from the same litter. I adopted them when they were three years old, and Banshee claimed me right away. We were inseparable for a decade until her death last year. Losing her was devastating… Naming the company after her is just one of the little ways I continue to honor her. Thankfully Cinder is still going strong.

Banshee + Cinder (wolf tea creations)4

image credit: WolfTea Creations

Tell me about your first experience/s with coffee. What’s your earliest coffee memory?

When I was very young I hated coffee, and through much of high school I just drank tea. I remember exactly when I started drinking coffee. I was out late at a diner with my friends. I ordered tea and poured in some creamer and it curdled. It was disgusting… and sad because I really only had pocket change to buy anything with! Someone offered me their coffee after getting it refilled, and I discovered quickly how to make it more palatable with milk and sugar. I’ve been a fan since, and I adulterate it much less now.

image credit: WolfTea Creations

image credit: WolfTea Creations

Banshee + Cinder (wolf tea creations)2

image credit: WolfTea Creations

What’s your coffee drink of choice? What do you pair with your coffee?

I like the American style, regular coffee (as opposed to espresso drinks) that I make at home. Either drip or pour over, as long as it’s brewed with a paper filter. Paper filters produce a brighter, sweeter cup of coffee with little or no sediment or oils. I primarily drink my Brazilian blend, roasted dark to bring out the chocolate earthiness. I have come very far since I was a child! My favorite way to take it is with whole goat milk and raw alfalfa honey, sometimes with a dash of organic pumpkin pie spice.

 

bc coffee 8

Tell us about the coffees and the roasts that you offer at Banshee + Cinder? Any tips for preparing and drinking your brews? How would you advise folks to best enjoy them?

All of my coffee is single-origin, meaning they come from one location in a specific country. It’s incredible how much a change in location, terrain, and climate can affect the flavor beyond bean varieties. A flavor profile is listed on each coffee’s page to help customers decide which region suits their palate best.

Now we’re called a “bespoke” coffee company because we roast in small batches, to order. This coffee is fresh. We will roast any coffee light, medium, or dark, and grind it to your specifications. Or it can be ordered whole bean, if you prefer to grind it yourself. The grind depends on your brewing method, and the roast just depends on your taste. We have guides for the roasts and grinds as well so you can pick the perfect coffee for your needs.

As far as preparing and drinking… make sure your equipment is clean, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise drink your coffee how you like it best. I suggest sipping it black first so you know what you’re getting into, and then lightening and sweetening slowly until you achieve your perfect coffee to adulterant ratio.

I also offer a decaffeinated blend. I want to drink coffee all the time, except I really need to sleep at night. I’ve never really understood the decaf taboo. I can personally attest to the quality of Banshee + Cinder’s decaf!

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Is there anything else you want people to know about Banshee + Cinder?

I have been blessed to be able to work with some incredible women in the arts. Photography by Darby “Old-Hag” Lahger, Casey Capell of WolfTea Creations, and Carla Cury of Seven Spike Studio, and illustration by Nikol King. I hope to keep featuring artists as the company grows. The next illustrator to be featured will Holly Cappello, aka Holigoil. I find it exhilarating to work with these artists and have the chance to bring the arts to the coffee game.

Do you love coffee? Have a favorite way of taking your coffee? Perhaps you maybe even have a morning ritual dedicated to this most sacred of morning beverages? Tell us all about it in the comments and be entered for a chance to win a bag of Banshee + Cinder coffee and a Banshee + Cinder mug?

Find Banshee + Cinder: website // instagram // facebook // twitter

9 Comments on Banshee + Cinder Interview And Giveaway!

  1. Kit
    December 17, 2018 at 6:03 pm (10 months ago)

    I love the ritual of brewing, both tea and coffee; it helps me ground back into my body when I’m feeling particularly anxious (which, let’s be real, is most of the time). I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, so I usually make a cup at a time with a pour-over filter (I love the Ebb cloth filters). I drink a lot of decaf, so it’s great to hear that Banshee + Cinder’s decaf is the real deal!

    Reply
    • Heather Jean
      December 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm (10 months ago)

      I was pleased with how our decaf came out that I did a little dance when I first tried it!

      Reply
      • Kit
        December 21, 2018 at 6:44 pm (10 months ago)

        That’s the mark of a great coffee, for sure!

        Reply
  2. Minna
    December 17, 2018 at 6:39 pm (10 months ago)

    The Mister has developed a particular coffee ritual for mornings (usually on the weekend, when we have more time). It involves grinding and preparing medium roast coffee *just so* in our French press – I have yet to mimic the steps exactly. There’s even a certain temperature for the water, a certain way the water must be poured over the grounds, and a particular distance that the plunger must be depressed before and then after a specific portion of time. All nuance is lost on me as I drown my coffee in cashew/almond milk and sage honey.

    Reply
  3. Aly
    December 18, 2018 at 7:53 am (10 months ago)

    Oh, this is lovely! Coffee is a dear friend to me and I’m so pleased to have found you and cinder+ banshee this morning as I’m sipping in preparation for my day. For me, coffee is comfort, the moments when Bear and I can relax together before the madness of a day and those refuges I get throughout as I pause to refill my cup. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!
    Cheers!

    Reply
  4. Allison Felus
    December 18, 2018 at 12:56 pm (10 months ago)

    I used to be strictly a pour-over gal, but I’ve recently been changing up my routine with a French press. I like that I get the benefit of the oils in my cup that way! I’ve also become an annoying butter coffee person. (Gimme all those nutritious fats!) I just…coffee makes me so happy. Sometimes when I finish the last drop in the morning, I’ll look wistfully at my empty mug and think, “I miss you so much, but at least I’ll get to see you again tomorrow.” This Banshee & Cinder coffee sounds incredible!

    Reply
  5. curatrix
    December 18, 2018 at 4:24 pm (10 months ago)

    The first cup of the morning is always the best–a comforting ritual that also readies me for the day. I get up very early, before dawn, most days, and making coffee is the first thing I do, to get the aroma going in the kitchen. No cream, no sugar, sometimes a little cinnamon or cardamom in the grounds, in the automatic coffee maker, or in the French press. I’ve been looking forward to trying Banshee + Cinder! Thanks for this interview!

    Reply
  6. Anne
    December 19, 2018 at 2:29 pm (10 months ago)

    My love of coffee started in early childhood with addictions to coffee yogurt and ice cream. Admittedly the unsophisticated versions from dannon and häagen-dazs, the scents of which still evoke childhood memories. Growing up with moomin stories and later twin peaks, coffee also anchored my entertainment with a sense of the cozy. Currently I enjoy what I make from a freecycled&restored delonghi espresso machine, sweetened with maple syrup and topped with a froth of cream. Beans occasionally purchased from the neighborhood Ethiopian market roasted in a hot-air popcorn popper…I actually like a melange of the different roasts the best!

    Congrats and much success on your coffee endeavors.RIP Banshee! Long live Cinder!

    Reply

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