In follow-up to our test video that we posted yesterday, we thought we’d break down and compare the different cold brew options we have — including the Sowden / Hario / Bodum variety and more!
|Dual purpose for hot and cool drinks, making cold brew in your french press will give you that kick in your pants all summer long. Whether you make it as a coffee concentrate to dilute or if you drink it STRONG like the SCG crew, all it takes is your desired amount of coffee, cold water and 12 hours in the fridge. This is great for making a big batch and stocking it up so it’s available whenever you need a cup o’ cold joe.|
Sowden Soft Brew Coffee Maker
|While you can use it to make cold coffee similar to that from a french press, the Sowden Soft Brew gives you more flexibility in that you can use different grind consistencies. The microfilter features over a million tiny holes that enable you to brew with even the finest grind, producing a richer cup or more concentrated coffee in a similar amount of time. This can also be used for make hot coffee, as well.|
|It may look like a science experiment, but the science of the Chemex is easier than it looks. Unlike the french press and Sowden, you’re going to start your coffee out hot and as it brews it’ll cool down in the second chamber. All it takes is placing a good amount of ice in the bottom chamber, placing a paper filter in the top chamber, filling it up with your desired amount of coffee, pouring hot water over the coffee and watch as the coffee is extracted on to the ice giving you a smooth, cold and refreshing cup o’ java.|
Hario Cold Brew/Mini Pot
|Made specially for cold brewing, the Hario Cold Brew and Mini Pots come in a sleek glass pitcher that will guarantee you will extract the most flavor out of your coffee. No need to heat up your water, whether it be cold or room temperature, fill up your pot’s nylon filter basket with coarse grounds, pour the water and brew it in the fridge for about 12 to 24 hours. You won’t need to finish your brew all in one sitting as it can keep for up to one month in a sealed container.|
Hario Cold Brew Dripper
|If you’re fancy and have a lot of time on your hands, the the Hario Cold Water Dripper is what you need. A unique way of making your average cup of coffee or coffee concentrate, this dripper uses the classic cold-drip method. With every drop of water per second it saturates your coffee and drip by drip it will extract 26 oz. of coffee concentrate in about 5 hours. With a little more patience and learning curve, once you get the hang of it you’ll be sipping on some non-oily and acidic-free java.|
The sun’s finally out, the weather’s getting warmer and it’s that time of year to trek up the mountain to enjoy good ol’ Mother Nature. But make sure you fill up that pack with all the essentials — map, water, compass and … CAFFEINE! Yes, it’s possible to keep yourself buzzing with java as you hike through the forest. Check out some of our favorite on-the-go coffee makers that we throw in our packs before we hit the open trail.
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker
|As long as you have your whisper light, some water and your favorite coffee, you’ll be brewing up a strong cup o’ java in no time. Made of aluminum, this indestructible pot allows you to diffuse heat and get that same aromatic smell out of your coffee in the great outdoors. Simple and easy to use, just fill the lower chamber with water, add ground coffee to the filter and then place it on your whisper light until the water boils your espresso to perfection.|
|AeroPress||Light and easy to pack, the AeroPress is the next best thing to bringing the actual coffee maker on a hike. Made of BPA-free plastic, the AeroPress mixes grounds and water for ten second and then uses a micro-filter, leaving your coffee silt and grit free. Smooth!|
|Handpresso Wild/Domepod||Bike pump or espresso maker? The Handpresso may look like a bike pump but rather than pumping up your tire it’ll pump you up with caffeine. This hand held tool barely takes up any space and gives you an even easier option of using E.S.E. pods or your favorite ground coffee. All you need is hot water and your favorite coffee grounds or pods, then pump up the Handpresso and it’ll extract away.|
|Bodum Brazil French Press – 8 Cup – Polycarbonate||Nearly indestructible, the polycarbonate version of Bodum’s popular French press is going to stick around for the long haul. Carry your favorite coarsely ground coffee, add hot water and let it hang out for a few minutes. Then serve up a rich brew for yourself and your favorite hiking partner — while watching the sunrise or set over the mountain side.|
Studies have shown that men and women who are drinking six or more cups of coffee a day have a 10 (for men) and 15 (for women) percent lower risk of dying at an earlier age.
Historically, doctors have noted a correlation between caffeine and an increase in bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease; however, a recent study has revealed an interesting pattern: Drinking coffee may extend the overall lifespan in already healthy individuals.
A study held from 1995 to 2008 involving the National Institutes of Health and AARP members between the ages of 50 to 71 from all over the US has given researchers a better look at the possible health benefits of coffee. They made sure to exclude people who already had heart disease, a stroke or cancer or had too many or too few calories a day.
‘By 2008 about 52,000 had died. Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent,’ revealed the study.
Since previous studies have suggested that coffee may have a part in heart disease, this study inspired Neal Freedman, nutritional epidemiology researcher at the National Cancer Institute, to consider another contributing factor. He noted that many who were at higher risk of death were coffee drinkers and tobacco smokers, too. ‘It was only after we took into account people’s smoking that the association, the inverse association, revealed itself,’ he said. ‘Smoking has a really strong association with death.’
In the end, Freedman’s study showed that those with healthy habits who drink six or more cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee did cut the risk of dying but not to the extreme. Freedman couldn’t calculate the exact amount of extra life each cup can give you. However, he admits coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents and infections. No effect was seen on cancer death risk, though.
So we’ll admit that we’ll grab that extra cup of java to increase the longevity of our lives, even if it’s only by a few percentage points, but a word of advice: More coffee does not mean you should pack on the sugar and cream.
As Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health advises, ‘Watch the sugar and cream. Extra calories and fat could negate any benefits from coffee.’
But wait, did you ever think a bag of potato chips could give you the same amount of energy?
Arma Energy Snx and NRG have done the what many may consider to be the unthinkable: Created a crunchy + salty + caffeinated snack with a dash of taurine (an ingredient often found in energy drinks) to boost our mood.
Given that we often associate potato chips with being a couch potato, a high energy version definitely borders on ironic. But Arma claims that each 2-ounce bag comes with about 70 milligrams of caffeine while NRG says that every 3.5-ounce bag is ‘equivalent to 3 and a half cups of coffee, 350 mg of caffeine.’
However, with each bag also comes 290 calories. Compare that to an energy drink that has 80 mg of caffeine and 110 calories and a shot of espresso with only 5 calories and 75 mg of caffeine.
Coffee was what kept me up during those late nights of studying in college; for expecting and new mothers, you’d think it would be their lifeline too! I figured caffeine was the fuel that helped them during long, sleepless nights with their newborns.
But to my surprise, drinking caffeine has been a concern for many mothers. It’s been believed that mothers should cut down on their coffee habit because of adverse affects that could affect the sleeping patterns of their bundles of joy. However, researches have found that coffee does not affect your child’s sleeping habits.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you can keep drinking that Grande Double Mocha you crave each morning, but studies have failed to show any heightened risk correlating between a mother’s caffeine intake and sleeplessness in her child.
Heavy coffee drinkers are defined as consuming about 300 milligrams or more of caffeine per day via coffee or any caffeinated beverage. “In 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said that 200 milligrams of caffeine a day – about the amount in a 12-ounce cup of coffee — probably did not carry pregnancy risks.”
In an article in HealthDay, Brazilian researchers conducted an analysis of sleeping patterns of more than 4,200 infants until the age of 3 months. The mothers of these infants had light caffeine consumption before and after delivery. Led by Dr. Ina Santos of the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, the study was designed to analyze the possibility that caffeine linked to disrupted sleeping patterns in newborns and babies. Of the 4,200 babies, 885 mothers were interviewed after delivery and three months later to gauge their caffeine-drinking habits. Each baby was then examined after delivery and had follow-up exams three months later. Santos and her colleagues stated that all but one mother consumed caffeinated beverages.
Twenty percent of the mothers were considered to be heavy consumers and 14 percent had heavier caffeine consumption three months after giving birth. About 14 percent of the babies frequently woke up during the night. There was some indication that nighttime wake-ups were more prevalent with babies whose mothers were heavy caffeine drinkers during pregnancy and nursing, but Santos claims these numbers were still not significant.
‘Nighttime wakening among babies that age can be due to so many different things,’ Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas said. ‘So to tease out caffeine’s role is going to be very difficult.’
Caffeine can cause sleep disruption among adults, but researchers aren’t finding any hard evidence that java consumption, at any particular level, is directly connected to the sleep pattern disruptions of babies.
Putting our noses to the grindstone and getting our hands dirty like the intrepid reporters that we are, Kaylie and I hit the streets with one question on our mind: What’s all the hullabaloo with bikini barista stands?
As far as we can tell (through very informal polling of other crew mates who hail from different states in the union), this type of business is something unique to the Pacific Northwest of the US — scantily clad ladies serving up java in drive through stands. But is it just a marketing ploy to attract the male population or do they actually serve up tasty coffee?
While these stands are hardly an anomaly in our neck of the woods, it was pretty clear that two high class ladies such as ourselves rolling up to the drive through window at the three different stands we visited definitely was. Since this was our first foray into semi-nude java, we were prepared for awkwardness on our side of the car window, but were surprised to find that the bodacious baristas felt the same way!
Read on to find out how we rated our visits — drink making skills, efficiency, service, hospitality and the overall experience.
“Some Like It Hot”
“Come get your sexy coffee BUZZ on at the Beehive Espresso!”
“Sexy. Classy. Gourmet.”
||Allison’s Rating: Scalding hot to the point where we let it sit for almost 45 minutes before we could put the cup to our lips. We know this changes the flavor but we figured the safety of our mouths was a little more important than getting second degree burns over a cup o’ joe.Kaylie’s Rating: Overly hot and a little burnt.||Allison’s Rating: A bit watery but reached the average drinking temperature right when she served it since she had the decency to ask if we’d like ice in it.Kaylie’s Rating: Closer to the correct temperature and she asked if we wanted ice in it, which was nice.||Allison’s Rating: By far was the strongest and at the right temp cup of coffee. She not only asked if we wanted ice but also offered to make them doubles.Kaylie’s Rating: Best of them all and she offered ice — score! Could drink immediately without saying goodbye to taste buds.|
||Allison’s Rating: Was it curdled steam milk with a tablespoon of espresso or was it just a weak shot of espresso in some milk? All I could taste was a milky concoction with maybe a hint of espresso flavoring.Kaylie’s Rating: I’m not even sure there was actual espresso in there…it just tasted like steamed milk! It also took almost an hour before I could take a sip — way too hot!||Allison’s Rating: A better temperature but still a little weak on the espresso, this drink was passable but not exceptional.Kaylie’s Rating: Once again, closer to the correct temperature and could actually tell there was espresso in this one…we’re getting closer!||Allison’s Rating: Looks can be deceiving because you’d think a girl with star-shaped pasties would give you a mediocre latte, but surprisingly out of all three she had the best — strong flavor and great temperature that would rival any standard cafe.Kaylie’s Rating: Once again, we have the winner here! Right temperature and could taste the espresso with my milk. Plus? Foam!|
|Service Rating||Allison’s Rating:A bit peppy and nervous when she saw us, I’ll give the barista credit when she said she’s only been working at the stand for a month, but I think her talking and rambling got in the way of the quality of our drinks.Kaylie’s Rating: She was talkative and friendly, but she was also nervous and I think her talking led to the long wait time.||Allison’s Rating: Still a bit hesitant but friendly, knowledgeable and more business-like, the barista had more experience and said she’s worked at previous bikini barista stands (i.e. Chicka Latte). She was able to make small talk while efficiently making our drinks.Kaylie’s Rating: She was definitely nervous and made friendly conversation without as much compromise to wait time.||Allison’s Rating: There to get the job done, there was no hesitation about asking what we’d like and how we’d like it but with a courteous smile and small conversation. We got out of there with quality drinks in an efficient timeframe.Kaylie’s Rating: She was very nice. Made polite conversation while she made drinks and didn’t seem too nervous.|
|Timing||3 minutes and 50 seconds||2 minutes and 50 seconds||2 minutes and 30 seconds|
|Comfort Rating||Allison’s Rating: As nervous as the barista was, since this was our first stop we didn’t know what to expect. But once the drinks were ordered, and barista started rambling from nervousness we realized she was just as uncomfortable about serving ladies as we were being there.Kaylie’s Rating: I don’t know if it was because it was the first bikini barista stand we hit or if it was because she had her leg out the window as we drove up, but this stand made me super uncomfortable.||Allison’s Rating: A little more comfortable since we got the first one out of the way, it wasn’t until I saw the Penthouse Posters plastered inside of the espresso stand where I once again wasn’t sure what to expect from my drinks. However, after chatting with the barista she was a little more confident than the last and acted more like how a barista should treat their customers, even with a bit of nervousness in her voice.Kaylie’s Rating: Was less uncomfortable on approach than Java Juggs, but the Penthouse posters on the wall didn’t do my uncomfortableness any favors.||Allison’s Rating: What do we find but a barista with star-shaped pasties and those same yellow hot pants. Let’s say uncomfortable much? Once you start chatting up the barista with your drink order and she responds back with drink-specific questions, you forget about the pasties and are just impressed by the quality of her drinks and how efficiently she got them to us.Kaylie’s Rating: I really wasn’t that uncomfortable going to this one. Which is surprising, considering she was the only one wearing pasties while the others wore full bikini or bra tops.|
|Final Thoughts||Allison: What I expected was basically what I saw: A girl dressed in lingerie (mind you not a bikini), with no real training except for what she was given when she was hired along with telling us that as long as you apply, be naughty and make customers drinks, you’ll get pretty good tips. Definitely quantity vs. quality of their product.Kaylie: She said this wasn’t their busiest stand, but she still makes $100 per 5-hour day in tips. When she works at the busier ones, in Everett, she gets $300-$400 a day in tips. She told us that she’d never been a barista before and they train you if you get hired, which has the only requirement of being ‘pretty’. Also, she said that when you are hired they instruct you to ‘be naughty.’||Allison: This time we actually rolled up to a barista who I believe was actually in a bikini. I couldn’t help but ask if she had been a barista before, she responded by saying she had previously at a Chicka Latte. With a little more knowledge in making drinks, it made me give the business a little more credit for hiring people with experience.Kaylie: This barista made mention of being in school and said she previously worked for Chicka Latte. She seemed generally sweeter and more ‘put together’ than the barista at Java Juggs.||Allison: Once again, the pasties were deceiving but I found that this business used the sex-appeal to their advantage, while still hiring baristas that can slang an ideal Americano and Latte. With themed days, such as Tini-Bikini Tuesday or Fantasy Friday, you can either find this pure entertainment or just wrong. I’ll let you decide.Kaylie: This was by far the best in terms of actual quality and the barista was like a normal girl (pretty but not stick thin). Plus they get extra points for themed days!|
There’s something you should know about me. Ready for it? I love community recipe sites. Seriously. I can spend a whole weekend browsing through them and bookmarking 100+ recipes that I want to make. Sure, I usually only cook one or two before I completely forget about them and start the process over again, but I still get an odd sense of accomplishment out of it.
That being said, I recently found a recipe for Chocolate Espresso Cookies and bookmarked it. Then I started doing these weekly blog posts and I finally had a reason to make them. I knew all that bookmarking would pay off …
- 3 (1-ounce) squares of unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided in half
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons finely ground espresso beans (I used Velton’s Twilight Blend)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
- Melt together unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chip and butter. Stir occasionally until melted. You can do this in a double boiler or in the microwave (in small time increments and keeping a close eye on it).
- In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thoroughly combined, about 2-3 minutes
- Mix in the ground espresso
- Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and mix well
- Sift together the flour and baking powder, then stir into the egg mixture
- Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and walnuts
- Drop dough by the tablespoon onto cookie sheets, leaving room for expansion during baking
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookie tops have a crackled appearance
- Cool on baking sheets
These really were amazing. Cookie on the outside and brownie on the inside, all with just enough espresso to make your taste buds happy! The Seattle Coffee Gear team gobbled them up in no time and Gail even had one with each of her two morning coffees. Yeah, they were that good.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go get your bake on!
Before the days — or should I say the long nights — of cramming for tests, writing papers and preparing presentations, I’d never even thought of caffeine as an essential element of balancing my life. But in my first years of college, I wanted to have fun! And a daily dose of coffee helped me get all my schoolwork done without impacting my ability to hit the dance floor.
From the beatnik vibe of the Solstice Cafe to the hustle and bustle of the University Village Starbucks (one of their busiest shops, even today), my devotion to java ensured I wouldn’t be running on empty before I hit my next lecture.
It’s not that I was before my time or anything, but since I’ve moved from over-caffeinated college student to … er, over-caffeinated working professional, I thought I’d take a look at what the kids are doing these days. Enter this blog from BestCollegesOnline.com, in which they rate the top 25 college coffee shops in the country that keep our future’s creative juices flowing.
Have you been to one of the coffee shops listed? If so, is it worth the press? What was your favorite java joint when you were in college? Please share in the comments below!
After last week’s recipe, where I semi-deliberately didn’t follow instructions and ended up with slightly less than perfect Espresso Meringues, I decided that I needed to take a step back and make something super easy.
The result? Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes, courtesy of a boxed cake mix. Like I said, super easy!
- Chocolate cake mix
- 3/4 cup brewed espresso (I used Caffe Umbria’s Terra Sana Blend)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
- Beat cake mix, espresso, water, oil and eggs on low speed with mixer for 30 seconds
- Kick the mixer up to medium for about 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally
- Spoon mix into cupcake wrappers, filling about 2/3 full
- Bake in oven 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
- Let cool on a wire rack before frosting
This time, I used 60% espresso and, while it was definitely noticeable in the batter, it seemed to lose a lot of its taste after baking. Next time I make it, I’ll use only espresso (‘Look ma, no water!’) and see what happens. I’m thinking deliciousness!
The cupcakes turned out yummy and, if I do say so myself, quite pretty! To top it off, they were frosted with Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting. I know you want the recipe, so check in on Thursday to see Brandi whip some up!
So, the first recipe I wanted to tackle was Espresso Infused Meringue Cookies from the Happy Good Times Blog. I think now would be the appropriate time to point out that these meringues didn’t turn out how I think they were supposed to. They were still good (seriously!), but I think I lack the necessary skills to create this lovechild of baked goods and candy. Also, I may or may not follow directions well…
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon finely ground espresso or coffee beans (we used Velton’s Twilight Blend)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (I used powdered, but I don’t think that’s necessary)
- Allow whites to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes)
- Clean and dry your mixing bowl
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees F
- Stir together sugar, espresso grounds and vanilla – set aside
- Using a mixer, beat whites on low speed until foamy
- Sprinkle cream of tartar and salt over foamy whites
- Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until medium peaks form
- Increase mixer speed to high, and add sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time
- When stiff, glossy peak form, spoon meringue onto your prepared baking sheet
- Bake for 60-70 minutes in the top third of your oven
- Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet
- Store in an air-tight container for about 3 days.
After reading through that, and seeing my pictures, you may have a couple of questions. Questions like: ‘Kaylie, did you use bottled egg whites instead of fresh ones?’ or ‘That sounds like a lot of meringue mixture; did you double the recipe?’ The answer to both of those questions is yes, that is exactly what I did! Remember what I said about not following directions? Well, it’s not that I don’t follow them so much as I try to take shortcuts. Shortcuts which may or may not ruin the finished product.
How so? Well, the meringues were very delicate on the outside and soft on the inside. Not fluffy soft, more like ‘too heavy to rise so it sunk to the bottom’ soft. The result? Something like hollow egg shells that were nearly impossible to keep intact while removing them from the baking sheet.
The crew here at Seattle Coffee Gear still ate them, cutting the sweetness with an iced latte (courtesy of Brandi). I just wish they had turned out pretty and delicious. If there are any readers with mad meringue-making skills, please let me know what I did wrong! I’d love to try these again and have them turn out. In the meantime, I will just need to redeem myself with next week’s recipe … Wish me luck.