Category Archives: Coffee & Tea

Perky Tampa

This year’s Super Bowl may seem far more animated than usual, considering its stadium will be chock full of Tampa residents — the highest caffeinated town in the US. The source of the caffeine for Tampans was more likely pain relievers, energy drinks or tea than it was coffee, but they’ve finally outpaced the previous over-caffeinated city of Seattle this year.

After Tampa, Seattle and Chicago rank 2nd and 3rd, with New York City and LA rounding out the top 5. The least caffeinated region is the Riverside/San Bernardino area of California, where you’ll no doubt find plenty of chilled out folks telling you to just take it easy.

Coffee in High Altitudes

It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were wondering in the store how brewing coffee or pulling espresso differs at higher altitudes. We’re basically at sea level here, but we’d been talking about the kind of coffee some of us have found in the higher elevations of Montana — more bitter and like ‘coffee water’ than what we make and drink here.

We found the answer in this interesting piece on coffee in Santa Fe, NM. A Qasimi discusses how the higher altitude affects brewing and roasting:

I don?t drink home-brewed coffee in Santa Fe. I?ve often found it sour and lacking in the depth, robustness and natural sweetness that makes great coffee great. How does high altitude affect coffee and espresso quality at home and with the use of commercial equipment? Drip coffee machines that merely boil are convenient devices but they deliver water to the grounds at below the ideal range of temperatures, leading to underextraction of the beans and a sour, dull or poorly developed brew.

Thus, the only way to compensate for altitude is pressure — and that means espresso — but pulling a proper espresso shot is not easy at this altitude either. Ironically, though the best coffee grows at higher altitudes, with water?s lower boiling point in elevated places, brewing can get tricky. Roasting, on the other hand, merely benefits from altitude: The best possible results come from roasting the beans at the same altitude as they?ll be used and particularly at high altitudes that allow for faster roast development at lower temperatures

Recipe: Grandma’s Blueberry Delight Latte

We love Monin’s Chai Tea concentrate — The deliciously spicy flavors of clove, green tea, cinnamon, ginger and orange blossom melding into a sweet and tangy brew. Not only is it delicious by itself, but it’s a great complement to other flavors — and Grandma’s Blueberry Delight Latte is a perfect example of how to use it to mix up your daily latte.

Ingredients

Directions
Combine espresso, Monin Chai, Monin Blueberry and steamed milk in mug.
Top with whipped cream. Dust with brown sugar and pie spice

Roasting Art

We found this great article on coffee roasting and it inspired us to think more about roasting beans at home. We carry three different models of roasters, and have been thinking about trying out the i-Roast 2 to get more familiar with the roasting process. Do you roast your own beans at home? Got any tips for us? We’d love to hear them!

Article reprinted here for your reading pleasure.

Continue reading Roasting Art

The Great Grind Off: Burr vs. Blade

Home espresso enthusiasts often say that if they could change one thing about the early days of their espresso equipment purchases, they would have invested in a better grinder. While there are a multitude of factors that play a part in a high quality shot extraction, the impact of the coffee ground itself cannot be overstated.

The two types of grinders on the market are Burr or Blade — so what are the differences between these two types of grinders and how do they work?

Continue reading The Great Grind Off: Burr vs. Blade

Cream, Sugar and….Salt?

We love to adulterate our favorite brew with all manner of sauces, syrups and additives — we’ve even been known to throw a little bit of cayenne into the mix. But salt isn’t something that comes readily to mind when we’re concocting a new espresso recipe.

Cut to the Taiwanese, who are going gaga over ‘Salt Coffee’ — brewed coffee topped off with two layers of milk and cream infused with sea salt. The craze was inspired by their current mass-love for all things sea salt because of its higher mineral content and improved health benefits over regular table salt. 85 Degree Bakery Cafe, Taiwan’s largest coffee chain, developed the idea and imbibers report that it’s not so much a salty brew, it’s just a heightened taste sensation…which makes sense, given salt’s uncanny ability to accentuate the positive in nearly every other flavor.

We’re heading to the testing lab to develop a salt coffee recipe of our own!

Health Watch: Caffeine & Memory

We love the taste, we love the perk — now we can love caffeine for one more reason: A memory boost. A few years ago, researchers in Austria found that caffeine improved the short-term recall in participants. Subjects were given either 100mg of caffeine or a placebo, then they were given MRIs and asked to recall a series of numbers shown to them shortly before. The scans showed more activity in the areas related to attention and short-term memory in participants who had the caffeine dose instead of the placebo.

In another study, researchers found that caffeine may assist in memory attention and cognitive ability in women over the age of 65. While it doesn’t stave off the development of dementia, it does appear to slow down the process. In fact, the improvement got significantly better with age: Coffee drinkers were 30% less likely to have a decline in memory at the age of 65 and 70% less likely over the age of 80!

Fresh n’ Puffy

We carry a diverse selection of Lavazza’s whole bean coffees, and sometimes the bags are puffier than others, so we asked our importer to give us the lowdown on bean packaging.

It’s fundamental to their freshness that they are packed in manner that will give them a long shelf life — if they’re allowed to oxidize, flavor compounds and aromatic properties will slowly degrade. To preserve freshness, Lavazza immediately packs their beans directly after roasting in high-barrier multilayer material that guarantees perfect vacuum packaging.

The roasting process, however, allows for the release of carbon dioxide and this represents 90% of the gas that forms inside of the package. To keep the bag from bursting, one-way valves are sealed into the package to allow the gas to escape without letting any air in. This one-way valve system guarantees vacuum packaging, even though the bag may sometimes be “puffy” and not compact.

Recipe: Coffee Liqueur

Perk up your favorite cocktail with a little homemade coffee liqueur! Our favorite is a recipe from A.J. Rathbun (author of Luscious Liqueurs):

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 & 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans of your choice
  • 3 cups brandy
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine instant espresso powder, sugar and water in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat; stir occasionally until mixture is almost at a boil.
  2. Lower heat & keep it at a low simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and let syrup cool completely in the pan.
  4. Put syrup, coffee beans and brandy in a glass container with a tight lid, stir well.
  5. Seal and place the container in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
  6. Let mixture sit for 2 weeks — swirling it occasionally.
  7. After 2 weeks, add vanilla, stir again and reseal. Let it sit again for 2 more weeks in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
  8. Carefully strain liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher.
  9. Strain again through two new layers of cheesecloth into one large bottle or a number of smaller bottles — your preference.

Makes about 3 pints.

New! Coffee – A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying

We just got in a batch of Kenneth Davids’ seminal coffee book, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying and we highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in an in-depth explanation of pretty much all there is to know about coffee.

Covering the entire lifecycle of your favorite bean, this book talks about history, agriculture, roasting, tasting, grinding, brewing and serving — a resource-rich compendium that will most certainly answer any coffee-related question you might have had.

Kenneth also authors the website Coffee Review, which provides detailed assessments of hundreds of different coffees from around the world. If you’re looking into trying out some new coffees, his website is definitely a place to start your research.