Ari's Top 5
On Tuesday, December 6, I’m going to be teaching my annual Best of 2022 Tasting live and in person at the Deli at 6 pm EST. A whole lotta great flavors and the stories that go with them. There are still a few seats! The following week, on Wednesday, December 14 at 6 pm EST, we’ll be doing an online version of Best of 2022 so you can log in from all over the world!


Another right thing we must do today is to appreciate the day itself
and all that is good in it.

—Wendell Berry

a black and white photo of artwork by Patrick-Earl Barnes

Making Appreciations a Regular Part of Your Day

Marking a few minutes at the end of your meetings can make your business better

Fifty-nine years ago this week, on what still feels to me like one of the most tragic days in American history, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. A year earlier though, in November 1962, there were a host of other issues in the news. The standoff of the Cuban Missile Crisis had, after an extremely tense few months, just come to an end when the Soviet Union relented and removed its missiles from Cuba. John Kennedy was a well-regarded young president who was vital, creative, and engaged with the world in very positive ways. Earlier in November, his party, the Democrats, had done surprisingly well in the midterm elections, especially in the Senate. In late November of 1962—sixty years ago right now—an essay that Kennedy had written was being readied for publication. The cover story of Look magazine’s December 18 issue was “Washington in Crisis, 154 Hours that Shook the World: The Untold Story of Our Plan to Invade Cuba.” Inside was a more uplifting article, authored by Kennedy, entitled, “The Arts in America,” in which he wrote:

To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art—this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.

What Kennedy said back in 1962 remains true today. Building appreciation for culture is still a big cause for me. At the same time, I am equally committed to its inverse: Along with the “appreciation of culture” that Kennedy called for sixty years ago, I’d like to advocate the simultaneous creation of a culture of appreciation

The details of how we work at building a culture like that here at Zingerman’s are in Secret #13, in Part 1: “Creating a Culture of Positive Appreciation.” But let me start here with a story. It’s shared in the spirit of what I wrote recently about legacy. Part of what I realized in writing last week is that my own legacy might well be, in good part, the act of carrying on the legacy of some of the amazing people I’ve had the honor of getting to know over the years. Emma Goldman, Brenda Ueland, Robert Greenleaf, Peter Block, and a host of others whose teachings have changed my life and have played a big part in shaping the much-appreciated culture of what we know as the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. One person I left off last week’s list is Lex Alexander. Lex gave me the gift of “Appreciations.” I don’t mean he appreciated me, though over the years we have both appreciated each other back and forth, from the heart, hundreds of times. I mean that Lex gave me a gift of the process of doing Appreciations. In its own quiet way, Lex’s legacy, the ritual of doing Appreciations at the end of every Zingerman’s meeting, has been an essential element of our ecosystem for a long time now. In fact, it’s hard to imagine living and working without them. 

It was about thirty years after President Kennedy’s article had come out in Look magazine that I met Lex for the first time. It was in the early 90s, roughly the halfway point between the publication of Kennedy’s piece and today. As I remember the story at least, Lex called me and introduced himself. He and his wife Ann had a natural foods grocery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina called Wellspring Grocery. Lex was going to be coming to Ann Arbor for the first time to bring his mother, who had chronic headaches, to the Pain Clinic at U of M Hospital. Apparently, he said, the clinic was one of the best in the country. (Twenty-five years later, the Pain Clinic would become a regular ZingTrain client.) Lex had heard a bit about what we were doing at the Deli, and thought it would be good to compare notes. Always eager to learn and share, I immediately said yes. 

At the time, Lex’s Wellspring was at roughly the same level of sales and staff as the Deli, so it seemed likely we’d be able to help each other. Lex and I had—and still have—a comparably deep commitment to high-quality food, a passion for sharing the stories of the people who work so hard to craft it, a love for the folks we work with, and also a propensity for decorating our stores with handmade signs. I quickly felt like I’d found a kindred spirit. Thirty years later, we remain good friends. Many good things have come from our friendship. One of the most significant has been the idea of Appreciations. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about them in Secret #13:

[Appreciations are] one of the best things we’ve ever done here. … The idea is simply that each and every meeting we hold always ends with a few minutes of “Appreciations.” Appreciations can be of anything or anyone: someone in the room or not in the room; something work-related or not; accomplishments past, present, or future. No one is required to say anything, but people usually do. And this one small exercise has made a huge impact over the years. Think of it like ending a meal with a good cup of coffee: the people in the meeting almost always go back out into the organizational world with positive feelings. And because we do it at every meeting, it really disciplines us to devote time and mental energy to positive recognition.

When I first heard the idea from Lex all those years ago, I loved it. In part, I was drawn to doing Appreciations because it immediately seemed like a creative and gentle way that I could work on one of my own leadership weaknesses and enhance our organizational culture at the same time. Like many people who have been raised to pursue perfection and have long-term mindsets, I grew up having learned how to criticize quickly. It was done in the interest of improvement, but others certainly didn’t always take it that way. Active appreciation, on the other hand, felt awkward. Although I felt grateful, I rarely shared my feelings out loud. Over the years, I came to understand that people perceived my not complimenting their good work as criticism. (Add this to my then critical inner voice, and it’s not hard in hindsight to see how far off I was.) Appreciations were a wonderfully systemic way for me to help correct my course. Just like the sun rising reminds me to get up in the morning, I loved the idea that every meeting would automatically end with Appreciations. It was a gentle, perpetual, and professional prompt to push me in the more positive direction I believed was right, but didn’t yet have the habit of doing. 

Over time, it worked remarkably well. What had been elusive and awkward gradually became easy and “natural.” And, I’m happy to say, Lex’s legacy is now an integral part of systems and culture here in the ZCoB. It’s very much what Brian Eno expressed recently, saying that caring creativity can be encouraged by “making space for a kind of attention that you’re not normally offered by entertainment media.” Appreciations are just that. A clear, open, space systemically set aside to remind us all to practice expressing gratitude for all the good things that are, even when we’re working through hard times, still happening all around us. 

You might well be wondering: what’s the difference between gratitude and appreciation? As I have understood it, and as I’m using it here, the former is a feeling. I wrote a bunch about it last year, in which I metaphorically matched gratitude in the organizational ecosystem with beauty. Appreciation is an action. Gratitude feels like a prerequisite, but one can feel gratitude and still keep quiet about it. Appreciations are one, though certainly not the only, way to push ourselves to speak aloud the gratitude that’s so essential to living a good life. While sending good thoughts is a nice gesture (and sometimes I don’t know what else to do), we need to actually speak—or share in writing—our appreciation for our gratitude to have any big meaningful impact on others. As musician Cahalen Morrison says, “You can’t tell a story without making a sound."

bell hooks, whose teaching about love we are also working to live out, writes that “Public art can be a vehicle for the sharing of life-affirming thoughts.” Because they are spoken aloud—or written for publication—Appreciations are then an act of public art. Each time an Appreciation is shared, we are adding a bit more beauty to our ecosystem. John O’Donohue once said that the world was suffering from a crisis of ugliness. The kind of beauty created through Appreciations is one small, but highly significant, way to overcome that crisis. The cost is essentially nil, and the upside is huge.

There’s always, I’ve come to understand, beauty present, but we need to train ourselves to notice it. As John O’Donohue wrote,

The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.

Appreciation is the expression to others of what that graced eye is experiencing. I certainly did not grow up with the kind of “graced eye” that O’Donohue was talking about. Thanks to the learning I gleaned from people like Barbara Frederickson, Martin Seligman, and others, I came to see how important it was to take a pause to see the positive things that were all around me. Appreciations are one of the most powerful ways I’ve ever experienced to make that happen. It is not the only thing we’ve done here to create a culture of appreciation in the ZCoB (imperfectly of course), but it has, I believe, been a huge piece of the work. Every time we end a meeting with Appreciations—which now might be five or ten times a day across the entire ZCoB—we are keeping Lex’s legacy alive, and making our own lives, and our business, better in the process. In fact, I would suggest that our entire ecosystem is quietly enhanced by their impact. It definitely helps keep us aligned with Natural Law #12: “Great organizations are appreciative, and the people in them have more fun.”

Ironically, when I brought the idea of Appreciations to our management team thirty years ago, it was met, much to my surprise, with cynicism. My enthusiasm was quickly dashed by resistance. Stuff like: “This is silly!” “Do we have to say something?” “It could be awkward—what if you don’t have anything to say and then you’ll look bad?” etc., etc., etc. I was so discouraged, I dropped it. Thankfully, a few weeks later I was talking to Geri Larkin, a very wise woman who at the time was a consultant for Deloitte-Touche, and who’s written some great books on leadership and life. I described what had happened and how down I was about it. Geri chuckled into the phone and said succinctly, “Don’t let the skepticism stop you. You just need to do it anyway.” That statement, too, was a great gift. I went back and said to the group that we were going to go ahead and add “Appreciations” at the end of every meeting agenda. No one was required to say anything, but we were going to mark out a few minutes to do them. Thirty years later, I doubt anyone in the ZCoB who’s been here more than a month could even imagine living without them. 

Why would something so positive get so much pushback? Tony Schwartz, writing in the Harvard Business Review, says:

The obvious answer is that we’re not fluent in the language of positive emotions in the workplace. We’re so unaccustomed to sharing them that we don’t feel comfortable doing so. Heartfelt appreciation is a muscle we’ve not spent much time building, or felt encouraged to build.

Oddly, we’re often more experienced at expressing negative emotions—reactively and defensively, and often without recognizing their corrosive impact on others until much later, if we do at all.

That’s unfortunate. The impact of negative emotions—and more specifically the feeling of being devalued—is incredibly toxic.

In one well-known study, workers who felt unfairly criticized by a boss or felt they had a boss who didn’t listen to their concerns had a 30 percent higher rate of coronary disease than those who felt treated fairly and with care.

It seems clear to me all these years later that appreciation, like health care, is needed for human beings to thrive. William James writes, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” In our own era, Stephen Covey says, “The greatest need of a human being is to be understood, validated, and appreciated.” Actively expressing appreciation, I’ve realized, is not just a “soft skill” that should be blown off by more serious leaders. Its impact is enormous and very tangible. Our well-being—both as individuals and as organizations—depends on it. Tony Schwartz says,

The single highest driver of engagement … is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged. … Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.

It’s pretty clear that—repeated regularly over a period of years—Appreciations will literally alter our health and our lives. And, I remind myself, the positive impact of doing them regularly at work will carry over into people’s home lives and the community around as well. Writing for Wharton, Linda Roszak Burton describes the very real physiological impact of active appreciation:

A Shot of Dopamine—whether expressing gratitude for what’s good in life or showing gratitude to someone who has helped us at work, neural circuitry in our brain (stem) releases dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good! And, because it feels good, we want more. It triggers positive emotions, we feel optimistic, and it fosters camaraderie. It also drives prosocial behaviors. Ah-ha! Put that under how to enhance performance, because dopamine has been linked to intrinsic motivation in goal accomplishment, whether academic, personal, or professional.

A Swig of Serotonin—when we reflect on or write down the positives in life and at work, our brain (anterior cingulate cortex) releases serotonin. Serotonin enhances our mood, (think anti-depressant), our willpower, and motivation. And yes, serotonin has also been called the happy molecule. So what’s so bad about happy employees???

Not only that, but the repeated practice of Appreciations—scientists, like Norman Doidge who study neuroplasticity, have made clear—will literally change our brains. Which means that, if we could simply come together and agree to implement the practice of Appreciations across the country (or community or, thinking even more locally, company) we would have, a lot more of both the “appreciation of culture” that President Kennedy was appropriately calling for, and, at the same time, the “culture of appreciation” that I believe to be so important. Appreciations, it’s clear, are an incredibly inexpensive way to make everything better. All it requires is implementation, which, as you can tell from our experience here, may be awkward at first and met with cynicism. As bell hooks writes, “Cynicism is the great maker of the disappointed and betrayed heart.” We hide behind it (I’ve done it) rather than let ourselves be vulnerable, humble, and emotionally open (yes, tears often, though certainly not always, accompany Appreciations) in the way that this process calls on us to do. You may just need a little “Geri Larkin” in your head to encourage you to go ahead and do it anyway. 

No matter how mature you are, no matter your job title, pay rate, race, religion, age, or anything else, almost everyone likes to be appreciated. (There are, I will say, a very small number of folks I’ve worked with who don’t. I simply stopped appreciating them in public.) I can only imagine what it’s like to start a new job, working in a business in your first week, feeling completely unsure of yourself, overwhelmed, and anxious. Being appreciated out loud by one of your coworkers does not solve all problems, but it sure does help. If the idea of this feels uncomfortable to you, I can certainly relate. As an awkward introvert, it’s almost always hard for me to break the silence and speak aloud. If you feel that way too, I’ll make an appeal back to JFK’s inaugural speech on January 20, 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” 

The positive impact of appreciation is, by the way, just as true for the person who’s doing the appreciating as for the one who’s being appreciated. My good friend Danny Meyer, who I have appreciated here in writing, in person directly when we’re talking, and in many of our meetings even when he’s not present, says, “Expressing appreciation is like giving a good hug. You get as good as you give!” I agree! I think of appreciation a bit like one of our pups, Chance. Chance is one of the snuggliest sleepers around, certainly the most of our dogs. If you move over a bit in the middle of the night, within a few minutes Chance will likely work his way closer to keep giving—and getting—warmth and affection. As with appreciation, everyone comes out ahead in the process. A sense of safety, support, and comfort ensue. As Lynne Twist says, “What we appreciate truly does appreciate.” 

What or who would one appreciate at the end of a meeting? Whatever or whomever you want. When we get near the end of the meeting I start making a list of people to appreciate. Sometimes it’s folks who are in the meeting, but it might also include others who don’t even work here. I have, regularly over the years, appreciated Lex for teaching me about Appreciations. I work hard to appreciate:

- Anyone who I feel has gone unappreciated for longer than I’d like

- New folks who I want to help understand that they really do matter

- Long-term colleagues who would be easy to take for granted

- People who do work that rarely gets positive attention, like payroll, accounting, and IT

- Folks I don’t see that often 

- Anyone who’s done small, sometimes easily missed, things that really matter

- Folks who’ve done something that really helped me personally

- People (or pets) from outside our workplace that have been of help 

Doing Appreciations so regularly—probably ten to twenty times a week for nearly thirty years now—I have gotten reasonably good at it. If you’re willing to work past the initial awkwardness, I will guarantee that good things will emerge. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you may find years later that it has shifted your outlook on life. Almost everything we encounter, I’ve come to see, has someone or something positive to be appreciated in it. In this way, as my friend Gareth Higgins says: 

Nothing that has gone before is wasted; your own mistakes all those made by others, the wounds that have yet to become scars and the ones that have already turned to superpowers, the agonized prayers and celebratory dances, the night terrors, the daytime anxiety, the desire to help, the hope for a better world, and the commitment to play your part in it. All of these blessings can be harvested, for the good, through the stories we tell. The makings of a better story are already within us. All we need to do is befriend them. So let’s begin.

Thanksgiving has become an annual invitation in the U.S. for people to pause to give thanks. While doing it once a year is nice, the impact is not unlike working out one day a year. Appreciations, by contrast, are a way to make every day into the emotional equivalent of Thanksgiving. By all means, appreciate and thank your family and friends this week. They will, I guarantee, appreciate it. And at the same time, consider making this an everyday activity in the way that I learned all those years ago from Lex.

If appreciation and gratitude are like beauty, I’m reminded of it right now as I write, looking at the painting that’s across from our kitchen table. It’s one that Patrick-Earl Barnes did as a gift for Tammie on his visit in late August to unveil the new “Blacks in Culinary” art piece that’s now hanging at the Roadhouse. (See below for how to get part of that painting on terrific T-shirt!) The piece Patrick-Earl did for Tammie has a light blue background, with a male figure, maybe Patrick-Earl in self-portrait, maybe not, with arms forward holding out a bouquet of colorful flowers, collaged onto the piece, as a gift. There’s no expectation of getting anything back, but the recipient’s day will definitely be brightened. My day is made each morning when I sit across from it. It reminds me, as Henri Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

Lex regularly signs his letters, “And a beauty to you.” He says, “What I’m intending is that your day might contain lots of beauties, and that seeing you is a beauty to me. It’s a toast to people, friends, and strangers alike.” If gratitude is the metaphorical equivalent of beauty in the organizational ecosystem, then the metaphor and what we’ve been able to make happen from the legacy of Appreciations that Lex has given us fits together in a wonderfully beautiful and holistic way. They have helped to both increase our appreciation of culture, as President Kennedy called on us to do sixty years ago this week, and, at the same time, lead our work in creating a culture of appreciation. 

Thanks to Lex, appreciation is wholly integrated into every single day of my life. And for that, I am deeply grateful. In the moment, I will say, from the heart, that I appreciate you—coworkers, customers, community, people I’ve been friends with for decades like Lex, and others who I’ve not yet met but who are giving of their time to read this anyway. Anne Lamott says, “Gratitude is seeing how someone changed your heart and quality of life, helped you become the good parts of the person you are.” Appreciation is then the act of expressing that. Lex, my longtime friend, thank you. You changed my life, and a whole lot of other peoples’ in the process as well.

Create a culture of appreciation

P.S. Want to work on creating an appreciative culture in your company? Buy a bunch of copies of Secret #13 and use the code APPRECIATE for 13% off.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about appreciative culture?  Come to ZingTrain’s Intentional Leadership Symposium. It’s on Wednesday, December 7 on Zoom. ZingTrain offered a special discount if you get this enews: use the code ARI20 to get 20% off. 

P.P.P.S. Appreciations and a whole lot more will be covered in ZingTrain’s Managing Ourselves seminar on December 5 and 6!

Two stacks of advent calendars, one with caramels and one with licorice, with the top one of each tipped up on its end
An overhead view of a Spice Route Advent Calendar with chocolates

A Trio of Confectionery Advent Calendars
Around the ’CoB

Counting down the days to Christmas
with candy in hand

Looking for a great early gift to brighten someone’s day? The Candy Store, Deli, and Mail Order have literally hundreds of awesome options right now. I wanted to highlight these three, limited-edition, Advent calendars before we sell out (which will happen soon I’m pretty sure).

Although I had unknowingly imagined that Advent calendars would date to the early years of Christian practice, they are actually a relatively modern creation. In the early years of the 19th century, Protestants in Germany began to more ceremoniously track the days of Advent by making a chalk mark on their wall, or, in some cases burning a candle. In 1851, someone had the idea to make a wooden “Advent calendar” with which one could more easily mark the passing of the days. In 1902, the same year the Deli’s building was built, the first printed paper Advent calendar came out. In the early 1920s, as the Spanish Flu pandemic was in its final days and John Kennedy was an Irish-Catholic kid growing up in Massachusetts, a German named Gerhard Lang had the idea to add small “doors” to make Advent calendars more engaging. Each day you could open another door and find a surprise behind it. Originally it was Bible verses, but that later evolved into other sorts of treats. The printing of the calendars came to a halt during WWII when paper was hard to come by, but resumed shortly afterward. Chocolate-filled calendars started showing up in the 1950s. President Eisenhower, who preceded Kennedy in office, was apparently a big fan. 

Today, Advent calendars are easy to find, but the quality of what’s behind the “doors” differs significantly. Happily, some of our favorite suppliers make them with world-class confectionery inside! Right now we have three awesome Advent calendars: 

McCrea’s Candies 2022 Advent Calendar from Massachusetts

I wrote about the amazing McCrea’s caramels not long ago. Their hand-crafted, all-butter caramels are simply delicious and have a lovely, flavorful chew. It’s a twenty-four-day calendar with two pieces each of Black Lava Sea Salt, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Peppermint, Cape Cod Sea Salt, Tapped Maple, Deep Chocolate, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Ginger Fusion, Dark Roasted Mocha, Cafe Noir, Cinnamon Clove, and Anisette.

The Gift of the Year for Licorice Lovers from Lakrid’s in Denmark

Lakrids, the Danish maker of fantastic licorice, brings us a phenomenal collection of traditional flavors as well as delightful selections of chocolate-coated sweet black licorice. This calendar contains flavors unavailable to us here in the US so outside of Advent it's also just a great sampler to enjoy. I have one licorice lover in mind for this gift already! 

Mirzam’s Magical Chocolate Advent Calendar from Dubai

This one is my favorite of the three—the artwork is beautiful and it’s got a lovely Rilke poem handwritten on the inside of it. When you open the box, you’ll find nearly everything the Dubai-based, woman-owned craft chocolate maker Mirzam makes, 24 pieces in total, including two new recipes—45% Milk Chocolate with Ginger, and White Chocolate Chai! What an unforgettable way to delight any craft chocolate lover! The amazing artwork is by Rawaan Alkhatib, who writes:

A million stars flashing in the night sky... A trading dhow sailing along ancient spice routes... A little bit of secret Rilke... so excited to work with my favorite chocolate maker on this incredible project. Thank you for letting me cram as many stars into a single painting as possible, and then adding a bunch of gold foil to make it all extra sparkly.
Will you choose chocolates,
or licorice?
You won’t see these Advent calendars on the Zingerman’s Mail Order site but we’d be happy to ship them to you (if we haven’t already sold out). Email us at

A Wonderful New Way
to Stock up On
Zingerman’s T-Shirts

Great Zingerman’s gift for a T-shirt lover you love!

Given that he was born and raised in Japan and I grew up in the American Midwest, author Haruki Murakami and I seem to have a surprising number of things in common. As I wrote about last summer, we each run every day, write a lot, and got our career starts in food service. We both, I’ve learned from reading, also have prodigious piles of books and music. The thing I didn’t know until Tammie told me last year is that he and I both have a LOT of T-shirts. Murakami, much to my happy surprise, even did a book about his—Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love. He writes that:

T-shirts are one of those objects that just naturally pile up. They’re cheap, so whenever an interesting one catches my eye, I invariably buy it—plus people give me various novelty T-shirts from around the world. Which is how, before I even realized it, the number of T-shirts in my life has skyrocketed, to the point where there is no room in my drawers for them anymore. 

It sounded so familiar that I laughed out loud when I read it. Maybe you can relate. If you, like me and Haruki Murakami, have a hard time turning down a great T-shirt that you know you don't exactly need but really like—or if you know someone like me or Murakami who has a hard time resisting a good T-shirt—we now have a great way for you to have at it. 

This new option came online thanks to the creative thinking of the folks at Underground Printing here in Ann Arbor. Rishi Narayan, the co-founder, has been a big Zingerman’s fan for years and we’re very appreciative of Rishi’s work as well. As you’ll see in this piece, we have a great many shared values. I smile too when I think about Underground Printing because they originally opened up at 1114 S. University in Ann Arbor, the same building in which, back in 191l two young anarchists, Abraham Seltzer and Eugene Chatterton, ran a restaurant for a year called “Seltzer and Chatterton.” Underground moved across the street a few years ago when the building was going to be replaced by a high rise, but the positive anarchist spirit still resides in their organizational culture. 

Last year Rishi and crew came up with this creative new program: We put the T-shirts on these sites. You order. They print what you want and ship it straight to you!

There are two Zingerman’s T-shirt stores up right now, and maybe more on the way. On the Deli site, there’s the long-popular Zingerman’s Deli Rainbow Unicorn shirt, illustrated by Ian Nagy. And I’ve always loved the one from Next Door with a lovely visual listing of coffee drinks across the front, illustrated by a former Deli staffer named Kayo. Just this week, we added a special new hoodie, also beautifully done by Ian, that’s dedicated to my late, deeply appreciated, and much-missed friend Daphne Zepos. You can read about Daphne’s far too early passing in the Epilogue of Part 3. Part of her legacy is the Daphne Zepos Teaching Endowment—it was created out of a vision she dictated when she was in her final days. $10 from each shirt goes to the fund. 

The Roadhouse T-Shirt shop has the new and beautiful “Blacks in Culinary” T-shirt that I and others have been wearing of late. It’s taken from a section of Patrick-Earl Barnes’ amazing art piece of the same name that’s hanging on the north wall of the Roadhouse’s “Fireplace Room.” We donate $10 from the sale of each shirt to the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County! You’ll also see the great Roadhouse “cartoon” shirts—the Biscuits, the Nashville Hot Chicken, and the New Mexico Green Chiles. Additionally, you’ll find, for the first time, a new, black and blue version of the Belief Cycle T-shirt some of you have seen me wearing. The original was created by Underground as an appreciation for me after I spoke to their leadership team about beliefs a few years ago! Many folks have asked to buy a shirt with the Belief Cycle, and now you can! 

If you’re looking for a different gift, or you just, like me and Haruki Murakami, have a hard time passing up a good T-shirt, check out these two sites and order up soon! Maybe, now that I think about it, I’ll order some to send to Mr. Murakami in appreciation of his wonderful work!

Visit the Deli T-shirt shop
Visit the Roadhouse T-shirt shop
P.S. Here’s a podcast I did with Rishi! For historical context, it was recorded in January 2020, and released two weeks after the start of the pandemic!
a bag of Zingerman's Coffee Company Holiday Blend 2022 coffee in the snow

2022 Holiday Blend
from Zingerman’s
Coffee Company

An annual favorite returns for the season

I think we’re approaching twenty years now of crafting an annual Holiday Blend at the Coffee Company. This year’s annual creative flavor-focused roasting and blending by the crew might be my favorite of the bunch. The 2022 brew begins with beans from smallholders in Guatemala and our longtime partner Daterra Estate (from whom we get all our amazing Espresso Blend #1) in Brazil. For a bit of complexity and another layer of richness, we added in some beans from the island of Timor in the Asia-Pacific. We made the 2022 Holiday Blend to be a ready-for-anything blend for holiday celebrations—whether with breakfast, dessert, or on its own, as you stay cozy wrapped in a blanket. Silky smooth with a rich, nutty flavor. 

If you come by the Coffee Company, we have it in what we have come to call “the third hopper,” which means you can order it as an espresso. I’ve been drinking it that way regularly for the last few weeks. Super smooth and really tasty. Brendan at the Coffee Company recommends it in a Press Pot and he is spot on—it is really wonderful. Smooth, gentle, and juicy. Stacy advocates the Aeropress and it was awesome too; a bit bigger and brighter, maybe slightly less sweet, and really delicious with a hint of nutmeg or clove in the background.

If you’re looking for a way to brighten the day of a coffee-drinking best friend, or to send a small taste of Zingerman’s to someone who lives far away, a bag of the 2022 Holiday Blend would be a beautiful way to go. Sip, celebrate the season, and make a well-caffeinated toast to 2023!

You can get the 2022 Holiday Blend at the Coffee Company, Deli, Roadhouse, and also at Mail Order!

Grab a bag of this blend
An overhead view of a gingerbread coffee cake on a glass stand with red berries below

Gingerbread Coffee Cake from the Bakehouse

A wonderful, sweet way to work your way
through winter

One of my all-time favorites from the Bakehouse! Apparently, I’m not alone. Amy Emberling, long-time co-managing partner at the Bakehouse, shared,

This cake was the catalyst for the most passionate disappointment expressed about a single recipe that was not included in our Zingerman’s Bakehouse book. The cake clearly has a dedicated following for its deep and satisfying flavors, along with its moist texture contrasting with the crispy, sugary exterior. The response inspired me to bring one home for our personal holiday celebrations and it was the biggest hit of all the choices. Family members literally couldn't resist going back for more. It was fun to watch. If we do another book I promise the recipe will be in it. 

True to her word, the recipe is in the working draft of the second Bakehouse cookbook, entitled Celebrate Every Day: A Year’s Worth of Favorite Recipes for Festive Occasions, Big & Small, to be released in the fall of 2023. As with everything here at Zingerman’s, the ingredients that go into the cake contribute a lot to the flavor that you and I get to enjoy every time we eat some. Amy says:

The process for making gingerbread is quite simple. It's a one-bowl quick cake. What makes ours particularly good I think is the combination of ingredients that add many layers to the flavor—brewed Zingerman's Coffee Company coffee, hot mustard, Indonesian long pepper, crystallized ginger, and orange juice. It actually takes more time to measure all of the ingredients than it does to make the cake!

Add in lots of butter, flour, and fresh eggs. They all come together to make a dark, mysterious, marvelously gingery flavor that appeals to almost all ages and taste preferences. Where did the recipe come from? Amy continues: 

We started making this cake when I realized that it was one of the last items I regularly made at home for my family because we didn't make it at the bakery. Warm gingerbread with homemade whipped cream was part of our winter menu, mostly on Sundays when we were all at home lazing around, doing homework, folding laundry, watching football. We'd make cozy food on those cold winter Sundays, things like roast chicken or beef stew. Warm gingerbread was a perfect accompaniment. It seemed to me that other people might also enjoy this winter ritual so we decided to create one at the bakery.

We don’t make the Gingerbread Cake at our house (I’m a cook, not a baker), but I do bring it home regularly. I love it. It gets this really thin sheen of a sugar crust on the outside, too—sort of like that very first bit of ice crystals that start to form on the lakes in late autumn. (Be sure to let the cake breathe for about 20 to 30 minutes after you open its plastic package.) The Gingerbread Cake ships well too—it makes for a really fine gift for a friend, relative, or business connection you’d like to impress. If I were going to pick something to send (or receive) as a corporate gift right now, the Bakehouse Gingerbread Cake would be at the top of my list!

The Gingerbread Cake is great on its own any time of the day or with Vanilla Gelato from the Creamery, or the handcrafted Cream Cheese, too! If you’re one of the world’s many fans of the combination of ginger and chocolate, drizzle some chocolate over top! You can also crumble some into your coffee or over top of a hot chocolate!

You can pick up the Gingerbread Coffee Cake at the Bakeshop, Deli, or Roadhouse, in small and large sizes, as well as by the slice. We also love to ship them around the country from Zingerman’s Mail Order!

Serve yourself up a slice

Other Things on My Mind


Cahalen Morrison is from New Mexico and is playing some great music on guitar and banjo. His new album, Wealth of Sorrow, is a marvelous mix of traditional Appalachian tunes and his own material. Musician Tim O’Brien writes, “Cahalen Morrison is making music the world needs.” I agree.

I did some podcast work with the fine folks at Buffer a few months ago. The conversation is in a six-part series of shows that you can find here.


Will Guidara’s Unreasonable Hospitality. I met Will a few years ago through the work of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. The book is very much aligned with the sort of service that we have long been so committed to here in the ZCoB. In the spirit of legacy, Will is carrying forward and building on much of what he learned from my good friend Danny Meyer at Union Square Hospitality Group. Will gladly shares his appreciation: 

The real lesson from Danny lies in how to create a culture within a company. With that comes providing hospitality to the people that work there, as well as the people that we serve, who are truly the foundation of everything I’ve accomplished. Danny was the first person that showed me that you can be just as creative in the dining room, as top chefs were being celebrated for being in the kitchen. They also taught me the power of language and articulating culture, he taught me that truly, in hospitality, investing in your people is the most scalable way to create a good experience for the guests. 
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this enews and you know someone else who might like it, please pass it along. Have questions about Zingerman’s? Write us at
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Check out the archive →
(Your friends can sign up, too!)
Zingerman's Community of Businesses
Copyright © 2022 Zing IP, LLC., All rights reserved.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp