Category Archives: Weblogs

Back to the Roots: Putting coffee grounds to work

What do you do with your coffee grounds?  Compost them, toss them in the garbage, leave them in your knock box and forget about them until you get yelled at by your house mate? Don’t do the latter, mold is a serious health concern, people. ;)

Co-founders Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora put recycled coffee grounds to work every day at their company Back to the Roots. The pair met at UC Berkley, and were inspired by a lecture that discussed the potential to grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Sparked by this fun fact and a little entrepreneurial spirit, they started growing mushrooms in a bucket of used grounds, and eventually developed mushroom growing kits that you can use in the comfort of your home.

The kit comes with a cardboard carrier, bag of recycled coffee grounds, mushroom spores and a water mister.  With a little TLC (mist the bag twice a day) and in as few as 10 days, you can harvest your first batch of oyster mushrooms and most kits yield at least two crops.

Check out my first batch after 14 days. These mushrooms ended up on my plate sautéed with garlic, olive oil, chili flakes and tossed with angel hair pasta. Delicious!

Back to the Roots is on track to recycle 3.6 million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee and Tea in 2012, and help families grow over 135,000 pounds of fresh food in their own homes. Sustainability + yummy mushrooms = many happy tummies. I bet you’re going to think twice before tossing out your coffee grounds now – am I right?

Giving New Meaning to the Phrase ‘Empty Calories’

This infographic from awhile back laid out the different caloric intake of foods and drinks and the required energy output to balance their input, but we recently ran across this blog entry over at World of Mysteries that evaluated and named what they think are the 20 most harmful drinks in the US. Comparing each drink’s sugar content to another not-so-healthy food, they list several drinks that you’d expect to find on there — and painfully outline some coffee drinks as well.

Ever thought about what sucking down 68 strips of bacon would be like? Stop into your local Cold Stone Creamery to find out. Ijole!

Yeah, we’ll stick with our straight espresso shots, thanks.

Recipe: Amanda’s Espresso Chocolate Pie

If you don’t know by now that we have a little bit of a sweet tooth, then you haven’t been paying attention, baby. In the world of delish desserts, however, we carry a torch for rich chocolate pies with a little bit o’ kick of espresso.

This amazing recipe from Amanda is well worth the work and highly recommended. We’re adding it to our summer picnic menu rotation — and you should, too! Check out the play-by-play on her blog for in depth recipe info and prep photos.

Latte Art Madness

We don’t pretend to be latte artists by any stretch of the imagination, although Gail has pulled off an abstract Snoopy on occasion and Velton can rock a mean rosetta if the moon is in the right phase.

So the art featured in WebUrbanist’s post on 50 Incredible Works of Coffee & Latte Art really blew us away! We love the natural artistry of some of the abstract designs, but we also appreciate a little bit of (assumed) re-working that is apparent in the animals and faces also presented. Really gorgeous — and inspiring!

Hot Blog on Blog Action: The Other Black Stuff

Since spending a nice chunk of time in its rolling hills in our youth (St. Mullins reprazent), we have always had a soft little spot for Ireland. While the coffee scene in the rural areas was non existent, we didn’t really see much of anything going on in the major cities we visited, either, but that was 15 years ago and a lot has changed since then.

There are a few people holding it down for the bean in Ireland, making great strides to bring quality, experimentation and true gastronomic appreciation for coffee to their communities. We love reading the work folks like Colin Harmon (2009 Irish Barista champ) are doing and we stumbled upon the musings of David Walsh via Twitter. His blog, The Other Black Stuff, provides excellent tips, opinion, perspective and experience on a variety of coffee and equipment related subjects — a great read for anyone interested in how coffee is changing in Ireland, but also interesting from a general coffee perspective as well.

Hot Blog on Blog Action: Dark Roasted Blend

We were recently pointed to this blog because of an entry on strange and beautiful espresso machine designs. The entry features models of our beloved Pavoni, highlights the multiple group options of the Elektra (yummy!) and shows off some cool designs from a contest by Nespresso.

Oh, and it also introduces us to a peculiar curvy wood grinder that is specially shaped for your loving embrace. Yeah, we don’t know, either…but whatever works, baby.

Hot Blog on Blog Action: Dublin Barista

Written by the 2009 Irish Barista Champion, Colin Harmon, Dublin Barista is a great read — covering details on events he attends, training and education he takes part in, the process of starting up his own cafe and more.

We love checking in on it every now and again to see how the ‘other half’ live — you know, the highly skilled professional baristas who work with each other on an international level to explore and push the limits of what people define as specialty coffee. It’s not our corner of the coffee industry, but we learn a lot by watching from the sidelines, and you might, too.

Hot Blog on Blog Action: God Shot

One of the things we love most about coffee is all the different perspectives folks can have on it — and, like anything that can engage some level of connoisseurship, those that enjoy it range from Folgers enthusiasts to those who love to analyze all the elements that go into a great cup. God Shot is a blog created by the latter, someone who has worked as a pro barista and really digs perfecting espresso as an art.

While we have a deep and enduring love for coffee and all that it entails, we know we’re not the place to turn to if you’re looking for the defining principles of balance in espresso or a comprehensive analysis (parts one, two and three) of the state of coffee in San Francisco, but God Shot is. We appreciate the passion, the detailed assessment and the truly geeky nature of this blog — and we think you will, too.

It Looks as Good as it Smells

There really is no end to the inventive uses of caffeine and its related delivery devices. We won’t even get into some of the freakier experiments starring caffeine, and instead we’ll focus on its artistic elements: Beautiful paintings crafted solely with espresso!

Caffeinated Creations is the artistic brainchild of Karen, who was inspired to create the warm, rich pieces while drinking and serving up espresso in cafes from New Orleans to Tulsa. Described as a slow and detailed process, we loved the meditative and Zen-like description of how she works to build up the different hues slowly, layering espresso to create depth and texture.

You can purchase her one-of-a-kind pieces, but if that’s too rich for your blood, you can pick up postcards or prints of many of them as well.