Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

How Green is Your Coffee?

As the national obsession with greening our lives grows, examining how the things we love impact the environment has become a common topic of discussion. Up now: How green are different coffee beans?

The folks over at Greenopia devised a Leaf Awards rating system that is used to evaluate a coffee company’s overall greenness by gauging its percentage of organic, ethically sourced, naturally decaffeinated, eco-friendly packaged and efficiently produced and transported  beans. They also looked for sustainability and environmental impact reporting. They then assessed 25 different brands from all over the US to determine how they measure up.

We can’t help but feel the findings a bit disheartening: Of the brands they evaluated, nearly half of them didn’t rank at all! Coffee that we love by the likes of Illy or Lavazza didn’t get a single leaf, while large American brands like Starbucks or Stumptown got just a couple of leaves.

One ranking that shined was Bellevue-based Kalani Organica, coming in at 3 leaves! We have a personal connection to this truly lovely coffee: In the mid-to-late ’90’s, we cut our barista teeth slinging java at the Speakeasy Cafe in Seattle’s Belltown district. The cafe was a devout supporter and server of Kalani Organica until the cafe was closed by a fire in 2002 — despite the fact that we regularly had small competitive roasters try to convince us to switch. We stuck with Kalani because of the founder Karen’s commitment to organic, ethically-sourced coffee — something that is talked about a lot these days but wasn’t seen as particularly important 15 years ago. We’re thrilled that her work is getting recognized and hope that a rating like this will help expand Kalani’s availability around the country.

Hot Blog on Blog Action: Coffee Nomad

Coffee Nomad records the experiments, excursions and experiences of one coffee-lovin’ Phoenician!

Chock full of reviews for coffee shops in the Phoenix area and some thoughts on different caffeine-included products that are on the market (including one hilarious record of using the terrifying substance known as 5-Hour Energy — a.k.a. Trucker Crack), this blog is fun, casual and worth a regular check in.

Recipe: Chocolate Espresso Cake

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll probably sense the theme that we dig the delicious combination of chocolate and coffee. So this latest recipe is another in a long line of cakes that incorporate fresh espresso into the mix. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces (180g) fine dark chocolate, chopped
  • a small espresso (about 3 tablespoons very strong coffee)
  • 10 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour

Directions
Line the base of a 8-9 inch shallow springform cake pan with silicone baking parchment paper, buttering the pan lightly to hold it in place.

Melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. As soon as it starts to soften, add the coffee and leave it for two or three minutes. Stir very gently, then when the chocolate has melted add the butter. Stir until it has melted.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer till stiff, then fold in the sugar. Mix the baking powder with the cocoa powder and flour. Remove the chocolate from the heat, quickly stir in the egg yolks, then slowly, firmly, and gently fold the melted chocolate into the egg whites. Lastly sift in the flour and cocoa mixture.

Stir the mixture tenderly with a large metal spoon, taking care not to knock out any air. It should feel light and wobbly. do not overmix – just enough to fold in the flour. Scoop into the lined pan and bake in an oven preheated to 350ºF for thirty-five minutes. Leave to cool in its pan, then turn out.

Recipe Source: Almerimarlife

Velton’s Bonsai Blend Gets an A!

We don’t know about you, but a 94 means a big ol’ A where we come from! The seminal coffee connoisseur and touted founder of the gourmet coffee movement in the US, Kenneth Davids, recently reviewed local roaster Velton’s Bonsai Blend and gave it a 94 out of 100!

This is an excellent rating and speaks to the artisan skill with which Velton hand roasts every small batch in his Everett, WA, location. We’ve been fans for a long time and were thrilled to learn about this excellent rating. The tasters noted the chocolatey and lemony notes in the coffee, and praised its ‘suave presence’ in milk. If you haven’t had a chance to try this delicious, medium-roasted and bodied blend, we definitely recommend you pick up a bag and treat yourself to its handcrafted sweetness.

The Grind – May 2009

The May issue of our monthly newsletter, The Grind, has hit the bricks! Including the Turkish Dee-Lite recipe, our process for making excellent french press coffee, tips on how to brew a strong shot in a superautomatic espresso machine and a directory of all the recent YouTube videos we’ve done over the last month, May’s news is a sweet little compendium of a lot of the content we’ve shared with you here.

But what you won’t find here is The Grind Special — this month: $10 off the Hourglass Cold Brew Coffee Maker! Get this special and all future specials by signing up.

New! Hourglass Cold Brew Coffee Maker

We have been waiting for this for weeks! The new Hourglass cold brew coffee maker has finally hit the shelves and we are digging it. Simple to use and probably the greenest coffee preparation available, the coffee is smooth and rich — perfect for adding hot water for a straight up cup of coffee or blending up with some ice and milk for a delicious chilled coffee drink.

Watch as Gail brews up and tastes the delicious flavor the Hourglass has to offer!

New! Vita-Mix Professional Series Blenders

There’s not much that we covet — okay, yeah, we’re a little head-over-heels for the Rocket Cellini — but we have been watching the Vita-Mix Professional Series blenders from afar for awhile now and finally had to make our move.

Powerful and sleek, the Professional Series blenders are endorsed and used by The Culinary Institute of America for a reason: Moving seamlessly between chopping and pureeing, every sauce, smoothie or frozen coffee drink you whip up will come out velvety and perfect. When we saw them in action at the CIA campus in Napa Valley, we couldn’t believe our eyes — they actually adapt to the consistency of the food in the blender and change the speed and rotation in order to produce the desired consistency! Plus, they come with a 7-year, fully supported manufacturer warranty, which just speaks to their excellent construction and build quality.

We’re thrilled to offer these awesome commercial-grade blenders in our store and can’t wait until our own Ruby model comes in so we can get to making some seriously delicious summer drinks!

Global Coffee Habit

From the creamy depths of a French Cafe au Lait to the sugary tar of a Cuban Coffee, the little brown bean is reinterpreted time and again all over the world. If you’ve ever wondered what coffee is like beyond your neck of the woods, this cool little synopsis by Sebastian Rotella for the LA Times is a great primer on what you’ll find from Buenos Aires to Baghdad.

What’s your favorite coffee preparation? We have been digging on a long shot mixed with Monin’s incredibly delicious Cinnamon Syrup — it’s an awesome little afternoon pick-me-up that gives us a sense of the exotic.

Beyond Kona: Hawaiian Coffee

The Big Island of Hawaii is the home of the world famous Kona coffee region, which has long been touted as producing some of the tastiest coffee in the world. But it’s not the only source of delicious Hawaiian coffee — as we wrote about last month, Maui is undergoing a renaissance in coffee agriculture, and there is also a pretty serious emergence of another coffee growing region on the Big Island itself: Ka’u.

Big Island Video News has an interview with a Ka’u farmer that is quite interesting and they also show the recent Coffee Festival held in the area to promote the coffees from this region. Also, if you live in the islands or are planning on traveling there sometime soon, this great guide gives you a run down of the expansion of coffee agriculture throughout the islands, as well as some tips for visiting different plantations.

We’re hoping to get to the Big Island later this year and look forward to sampling some of these emerging beans. Aloha!

Recipe: Diva Tofu-Chino Parfaits

We all try to cut caloric corners every now and again, and this dessert has the potential to deliver on the flavor without taking a toll at our waistline!

Diva Tofu-Chino Parfaits
vegan, makes 4-8 servings, depending on cup serving size.

Cinnamon Vanilla Mousse

  • 1 box vegan vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups soy milk
  • 8 oz. firm tofu (1/2 pack of tofu)
  • 2 Tbsp Veganaise
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (my substitute for cornstarch)

Spicy Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 8 oz. firm tofu (1/2 pack of tofu)
  • 2 Tbsp tofu
  • 1 Tbsp Veganaise
  • 4 Tbsp sweetened high quality cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (my substitute for cornstarch)

(for a richer chocolate flavor melt 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips into the pan when heating pudding mixture)

Other:

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1/2 cup crushed almonds
  • 1 cup crushed organic graham crackers or vanilla cookies


Equipment: blender, lidded pan, cappuccino or parfait serving cups.

To make:

  1. Add add vanilla ingredients, except tofu to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add in tofu and blend again until smooth.
  4. Add blender contents to pan.
  5. Turn stove on med-high.
  6. Stir constantly until mixture begins to bubble.
  7. Continue heating on medium and stirring until mixture thickens a bit and large bubbles break through.
  8. Heat can be turned to medium-low if you are worried about burning the pudding.
  9. When pudding has thickened, remove from heat and pour back into blender.
  10. Re-blend until smooth.
  11. Be
    careful, make sure to vent blender and a heated blender can easily
    build up pressure to explode. Be careful. Never point blender towards
    face.
  12. Repeat entire process with chocolate pudding.
  13. Set puddings aside, but no need to refrigerate yet. A thin, still-warm pour will be better for presentation anyways.
  14. Prepare 2 shots of espresso.
  15. Crush the almonds and crust crackers.

Assembly of cups:

  1. Fill serving cups with a 1/2 inch layer of ‘crust’. (crushed cookie or cracker.)
  2. Pour in a nice layer of chocolate pudding.
  3. Add a thin layer of almonds.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp of espresso to each cup. Use more or less depending on your tastes.
  5. You can even substitute de-caf, coffee or chai tea instead of espresso.
  6. Add a layer of vanilla pudding.
  7. You can add more chocolate than vanilla or more
    vanilla than chocolate. Or equal amounts of both. It looks more like a
    cappuccino if you use more vanilla as top layer.
  8. pouring the pudding while it is still warm will allow for a more even line-pretty presentation. Cooled pudding can clump more.
  9. The top garnish layer is a sprinkle of cinnamon and a tsp of espresso. A few almonds also looks nice. You can garnish with whatever filling you decide to use.

Filling
subs: If you don’t eat nuts, or would like a different center layer,
try these: peanut butter, dried blueberries, fresh fruit, goji berries,
more crushed crackers/cookies, soy cream, sponge cake, pan fried
bananas, another type of crushed nut.

Notes: Chill cups until firm before serving. Adding
more tofu will make a thicker, milder pudding. I actually like this
with a bit more tofu-the thicker the better to my taste.If you do not have Veganaise, you can sub with a Tbsp of white or apple cider vinegar.