Caffeine-Free Coffee Plant

Arizona State Univeristy’s International Institute for Species Exploration released their 2009 top 10 new species, including a new strain of the coffee plant that is naturally caffeine-free.

Dubbed Coffea charrieriana, this wild species was found in the diverse growing region of Cameroon and will likely be experimented with to determine if a palatable, naturally-caffeine free brew can be made from its cherries.

Given that caffeine is considered to be the primary pest-repellent in coffee plants the world over, it’s quite impressive that this little guy has developed in the wild. Caffeine is also responsible for much of the bitter flavor in coffee, and species such as Robusta, which have significantly higher caffeine quantities than Arabica species, are known to be less palatable and more harsh to the taste. Perhaps this new species will produce a coffee that is smoother and better suited to tasting the full spectrum of flavor inherent to this little bean.

Recipe: Cafe Sheccerato

It’s true, the thermometer hits about 65F in Seattle and everyone starts to strip. We also start sipping on the frozen drinks as if we’re swimming up to the side of a Acapulcan pool bar. One of our favorites in the coffee realm is the Cafe Sheccerato, which is a pretty simple drink that has the potential to be basically whatever your tastes desire.

We pull a couple of long espresso shots (run it for about 45 seconds) and then poor it over a full glass of ice. We love throwing in a little mint sometimes to add to the refreshment, but if you pull the shots just right and they’re nice and sweet, adding anything isn’t necessary at all. The shots will melt the ice a bit and it’s quite delicious. You can also combine the two in a martini shaker and shake them up to put a frothy spin on it if you’d like. Whichever way you do it, we think the Cafe Sheccerato tastes like summer.

Hot Blog on Vlog Action: TamperTantrum

In this episode of our hot action, we’re going to talk about something a little different: The video log.

A newly launched effort featuring UK roaster Steve Leighton and Dublin barista Colin Harmon, TamperTantrum is targeted towards home espresso enthusiasts that might consider themselves in the ‘prosumer’ arena — folks interested in bridging the gap between professional espresso skill and home espresso experience. The first episode is a little long, but worth the watch and we’re definitely looking forward to future videos!

Tamper Tantrum from Stephen Leighton on Vimeo.

Italian Roast vs. French Roast

We’ve found that we generally prefer medium roasted coffees because we’re able to taste a more diverse palette of flavors in a specific coffee blend. However, we know that there are die-hard devotees of dark roasted coffee and we were recently asked what the difference was between French Roast and Italian Roast.

They’re both roasted quite darkly, so that they have an oily sheen to them after the roasting process is complete. With a French Roast, the temperature of the roast is high enough that these oils are brought to the surface and will impart a roasted flavor to the produced coffee or espresso. Aromas can vary from berry to citrus. Italian Roast is much darker and oilier than a French Roast and often preferred in Italy.

If a coffee is described as being a French or Italian roast, it isn’t because they were grown or roasted in these countries, just that the roaster utilized this generalized roast level for that blend of beans. You can read more about roasting in our article It Starts with Great Coffee.

What is your preferred roast or blend and why? We’d love to hear about some of your favorites!

New! Rancilio Silvia V.3.0

Rancilio has souped up their semi-automatic espresso machine, the Silvia. Improvements are mostly aesthetic — the portafilter handle is now fashioned similar to their commercial machines and the knob for the steam/hot water has been upgraded — but the steam wand itself is a marked functional improvement with its increased range of motion and an option three-hole tip upgrade.

Watch Gail as she shows us the features of the Rancilio Silvia, version 3.