Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

Health Watch: Coffee & Liver Disease

Good news for all you coffee lovers out there:multiple studies indicate coffee has liver protective benefits.

Dr. Sanjiv Chopra regularly quizzes his patients about their coffee intake and, if it’s not contraindicated due to other conditions, he recommends they incorporate about 2 cups of coffee per day as a preventative therapy. The evidence which swayed Dr. Chopra’s practice includes:

  • People who drink 2 cups of coffee each day had a 50% reduction in hospitalization and mortality from chronic liver disease
  • Two cups of coffee per day decreases the incidence of primary liver cancer by 43%
  • 1 cup of coffee per day can equal a 20% reduction in their risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver — and two cups will reduce that risk by 40%

Similar effects weren’t found in tea or decaf coffee, so the metabolic cause of this protective behavior is still being studied. And no, this doesn’t give you license to down numerous coffee-and-alcohol bombs, seemingly yet another example of the sage advice to do everything in moderation.

Recipe: Poolside Sangria

We don’t know about you, but after months of on-and-off snow storms and icy winds belting our neck of the woods, we’re more than ready for a little faux-summer. What better way to channel the warm summer months than into your wine glass?

Ingredients
1/4 oz. Strawberry Monin Syrup
1 oz. Coconut Monin Syrup
4 oz. White Zinfandel wine
3/4 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix
Lemon-Lime Soda to taste
Ice
Fresh Strawberry (optional garnish)

Directions
Pour white zinfandel, Monin Coconut, Monin Strawberry, ruby red grapefruit juice and sweet & sour mix into a mixing tin. Spindle mix for a two count. Pour over ice. Top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with a strawberry.

Crew Review: Lavazze Blue Superautomatic Capsule Espresso Machine

If that stained Mr. Coffee from 1987 is spending more time baking coffee than brewing it and you find that visitors to your business are less than impressed by the caffeinated offerings from your office kitchen, it might be time to upgrade. We vote for eschewing the world of drip coffee for the exceptional flavor, performance and per-cup customization that is the Lavazza Blue superautomatic capsule espresso machine.

Featuring several styles of espresso, tea and even chicken soup, this machine is a perfect fit for a small business’ kitchen, and can even be configured for coin operation to help balance the cost of the capsules. Watch Gail as she talks about the features of this machine and brews up some delicious espresso.

That’s One Talented Tongue

Bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘silver-tongued,’ professional coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia recently made headlines because Costa Coffee took out an insurance policy on his talented tastebuds worth nearly $14 million.

Backed by Lloyd’s of London, the policy is similar to those taken out on Betty Grable’s legs, Jimmy Durante’s nose and ballerina Vera Zorina’s toes — basically, if one of your appendages is making you and/or someone else a lot of money, they want to make sure that if anything happens to said appendage, they won’t be up a creek. This policy, however, is one of the single biggest policies ever taken out on an individual, which goes to show just how essential Pelliccia’s tongue is to how Costa does business.

We’re assuming Gene Simmons is making an appointment with Lloyd’s as we type.

US Barista Champion: Michael Phillips

As we wrote about last week, the US Barista Championship took place this past weekend in Portland, Oregon, and the winner is: Michael Phillips of Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago.

Each barista is responsible for creating three drinks for the judges — a simple espresso shot, a cappuccino and a signature drink — and are evaluated on the quality of product, overall technique, speed and cleanliness. Michael Phillips’ custom drink sounds quite lovely: A companion affair featuring a hot concoction of dark chocolate, brown sugar, sea salt and diced almonds balanced by a cool combination of freshly pressed blackberries, simple syrup and iced coffee.

Michael will join National Barista Champions from around the world at the SCAA’s annual exposition, which will be hosting the World Barista Championship this year, and battle it out to determine who will reign as the world’s most accomplished coffee slinger for the next year.

Coffee, From Dusk ’til Dawn

One of the aspects of coffee that we dig the most is the interconnectedness across cultures and nations. As the second highest traded commodity, the buying and selling of this little bean is serious business for both farmers and connoisseurs — and being on the consuming end of the spectrum, learning about the life and experiences of the folks who grow coffee has definitely deepened our appreciation for the brew.

To that end, we found Zach Dyer’s Java Enabled: Portrait of a Coffee Farmer very illuminating. Zach spent time working on a Mexican coffee farm and randomly found beans from that specific field in a DC coffee shop about a year later. The discovery inspired rumination on his experiences working with Braulia Lopez, a coffee farmer who supplements her income by driving a taxi in town. It’s a wonderful snapshot of the life of a coffee farmer and a great read for java lovers everywhere.

Java & Jollies

Over the past several months, we have been seeing story after story filter across the wire regarding the proposed topless coffee shop in a small Maine town. Many of the stories were about zoning, town feedback, determining if it could be licensed, etc. — until last week when the business passed all the muster and opened its doors.

Now we love a nice piece of tail just as much as the next person, but when we read this article by CNN we couldn’t help but be a little bit disturbed by the underlying exploitation inherent in this business. We particularly liked it when the owner references that they didn’t ‘hire any 10’s’ or the fact that the shop was inundated with applications primarily because of the poor job market in that area (and, really, everywhere around the country right now).

Also, they mention that most of the customers right now are couples and women — maybe the men don’t want to do a lot of ‘splaining about their newly increased espresso budget.

The Grind – March 2009

Our monthly newsletter, The Grind, shipped out today! Covering a special St. Patrick’s Day recipe (Paddy’s Mint Latte), a synopsis of the heat exchange vs. double boiler debate, a compendium of the YouTube videos that we have posted in the last month and tips on removable brew group maintenance, March’s edition is chock full o’ fun facts.

It also features a special March Grind Special — 10% off orders over $99, good through 3/31/09. Check it out!

Spanish Coffee

Coffee holds a special place in the hearts of most of the planet’s population and Spain is no exception. This great synopsis of coffee in Spain provides a detailed description of all the ways in which Spaniards enjoy their brew.

From the cafe con leche (half coffee, half steamed milk) to cafe bombon (half coffee, half condensed milk), this guide will teach you the tips you’ll need to know to satisfy your java fix from Andalucia to Valencia.

Get the Extinguisher Ready

From music to gadgets, we’re hearty supporters of the lo-fi movement — we love the simplicity and classic elements often employed in its design. We’re also fans of DIY projects and figuring out how to do seemingly complex activities easily at home, so when we ran across this article on home roasting, it tickled our lo-fi/DIY fancy and we just had to share.

Utilizing the sophisticated Heat Gun/Dog Bowl method, this step-by-step guide will lead you through roasting your beans at home without investing in a roasting machine. All you’ll need is a heat gun (available at any hardware store — basically, the tool version of a hair dryer that can cost between $15 – $100), a stainless steel bowl (the aforementioned dog bowl is quite popular, but the guide’s author prefers mixing bowls with a little more of an egg shape) and some green coffee beans.

Now, we haven’t tried out this method and did read some critical reviews of the technique, namely that it doesn’t provide uniform results and is kind of a headache to manage. Also, you’ll need to make sure you do this activity in a fire-resistant environment, as hot coffee beans could fly out of the bowl and ignite any flammable materials. So, clear the oily rags and the open jugs of paint thinner out of the garage before you start.

Let us know if you’re brave enough to take this project on — we’d love to hear about your results.