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.