Candice Wagener

My day job is being a writer. For the past 15 years, I’ve freelanced with Brava, Isthmus (before it shut down), Wisconsin People & Ideas and Madison Magazine. I’ve started to break out a bit more nationally. Food writing and profiles are my bread and butter and what I like to do best. I also do ghost blogging for a few clients locally and just launched Mighty Acorn Media, to create content for websites, blogs, newsletters and similar. And, if that isn’t enough to prove myself as a writer, I’m also working on a dystopian novel in my “free time.”

I’ve always loved to write and I was a prolific reader. I remember finishing a book as a kid and thinking, “I want to make people feel like I did reading this book.”

Although I majored in English and journalism at UW-Madison, I actually worked in two other fields right out of school: restaurants, then early childhood.

I’d considered teaching as a career possibility and played both teaching and administrative roles during this time. It was great when my kids were little–I worked where they went to school! But when my youngest went off to kindergarten, I decided to pursue my passion for writing and make a career of it.

My most memorable caffeine would be very hard to pick. I’ve been drinking coffee since high school—though in those days I added three creams and two sugars. Now I drink it black.

For a long time, coffee was just something I drank every day, and I drank multiple cups. But this past year I’ve been working on drinking more water and having coffee more mindfully. I’ve cut back to one or two cups a day—and I always drink water first. I notice I don’t wake up in the morning and feel I need coffee right away and the coffee I do drink is more memorable and enjoyable.

I really miss coffee dates, especially interacting with people one-on-one. I can’t wait to schedule a whole bunch when it’s ok.

My current caffeine of choice is black coffee. I like Columbia Los Naranjos from Rusty Dog.

My favorite place for caffeine is Ancora. I typically go to the Shorewood Hills cafe because it’s close to me and has a great atmosphere. The downtown spot is also fun and I’m excited to try their new Maple Bluff location. I’m also overjoyed about having Grace Coffee in downtown Middleton.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with in normal times would have been all my PBS idols. Mr. Rogers—I’d love to sit down and thank him for being a calming presence during my childhood (and adulthood!). Julia Child, because I know she’d make something excellent to go with our coffee. And Jacques Pepin because he is so sweet and I love the chemistry he had with Julia on their show.

But honestly, with this last year, I’d have to pick my mom and my sister. Even though they only live in Chicago, I haven’t gotten to see them one-on-one, in person, for a really long time. I’m looking forward to a more normal visit soon.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: the interlaced problems of world hunger and food waste.

I believe a cup of caffeine can bring some real clarity to people. We have plenty of food in this world to feed everybody, yet we waste so much of it. If we could sit down over a cup of coffee and figure out how to redistribute it, that would make a huge impact in so many ways.

I love the Cook It Forward program—it’s such a win-win-win. It’s aiding restaurants that are packaging food for those who are food insecure. It’s helping farmers who had so much overage last year. It’s utilizing delivery drivers. It’s a great distribution chain helping a circle of people in need.