Living in a Caffeine Free World

If you read our post on Monday about the caffeine levels of different types of brew, you’ll recall that decaf coffee is not completely caffeine-free — it does have a slight content level, but considerably less than other types of coffee. If you’re sensitive to caffeine and are strictly a decaf drinker, you might be interested in these caffeine test strips.

According to the manufacturer’s website, up to 30% of the coffee you drink out in the world is not actually decaf, and their handy new strips will help you tell the difference well before you feel the heart pumping! We haven’t tried them yet — but if you do, please let us know what you think!

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Delight

You could easily skip the pies this Thanksgiving holiday by serving your friends and family this delicious coffee confection. The Chocolate Caramel Delight would be a lovely post-turkey sipper that will satisfy your sweet tooth and help you digest all that stuffing!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine sauces and espresso in 12-oz. mug.
  2. Stir until well combined. Pour steamed milk into mug; stir to combine.
  3. Top with froth from steamed milk.
  4. Sprinkle with Ghirardelli Cocoa or drizzle with Ghirardelli Sweet
    Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Flavored Sauce and/or Creamy Caramel
    Flavored Sauce.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted, chopped walnuts

Caffeination Time — Come On! (It’s Time for Caffeination)

OK, so it might not necessarily be as age-old as the chicken vs. the egg debate (wait, didn’t they solve that?), but the argument over which has more caffeine — drip coffee or a shot of espresso — is often kicked around the ol’ coffee shop. Obviously, like any good debate, the answer varies almost as widely as the number of preparations for caffeine-carrying plants around the world.

The first thing to keep in mind in this discussion is the plant: Are we talking Robusta or Arabica? Arabica has less caffeine than Robusta, so the bean blend is important to know before you guesstimate your caffeine intake. Secondly, what’s the roast look like? A super dark roast eliminates a large portion of the caffeine content, sending those molecules up in smoke. Lastly, take a look at how much you’re consuming, because quantity matters: If you’re drinking 4 oz. of espresso vs. 7 oz. cup of drip, your intake will be a lot different  than these standards:

  • Percolated (7 oz): 140mg
  • Drip (7 oz): 115 – 175mg
  • Espresso (1.5 – 2 oz): 100mg
  • Brewed (7 oz): 80 – 135mg
  • Instant (7 oz): 65 – 100mg
  • Decaf, brewed (6 oz): 5mg
  • Decaf, instant (6 oz): 3mg

In general, the longer the coffee grounds are in contact with water, the more caffeine will be extracted into your brew. Caffeine is largely responsible for coffee’s bitter taste, which was one of the motivations behind the development of espresso: The relatively short brew time results in a significantly less concentration of caffeine, allowing you to taste other flavors in the coffee.

(Caffeine concentration amounts and molecular image courtesy of Erowid)

Meet the Real Juan Valdez

On a visit to the coffee-growing hills above San Lucas, Rice cultivated what would later become the American fair trade movement. Founded in 1998 in a converted warehouse in downtown Oakland, TransFair USA began as a bare-bones operation with an unusual premise – put more money in the pockets of farmers in the developing world by persuading consumers thousands of miles away to pay a premium in the name of social justice. Modeled after organic produce and dolphin-safe tuna, Rice started the organization with the stark black and white label that told shoppers their coffee came from farmers who received a “fair price.”

The San Francisco Chronicle just wrote this very interesting profile of the man who founded the Fair Trade movement for coffee, Paul Rice. We highly recommend the read!

Rain in India Could Storm Your Wallet

“…all for the price of a cup of coffee.” The Christian Children’s Fund might have to change their pitch-line in the coming months, as India reports their Robusta coffee crops are down due to the excessive rain they’ve been experiencing — a drop which may result in an increase in coffee prices around the world.

India’s highest producing region, Karnataka, experienced intense rains during coffee’s blossom season, which will likely impact the amount of beans they are able to harvest. While this news story focuses on the fact that Robusta is primarily used in instant coffees, it is also very often used in high-end gourmet brands (such as Lavazza or Illy) in their espresso blends to create a thicker crema and a bolder body. Robusta is bitter due to it’s higher caffeine content, so it’s not used in high quantities, but the increase in prices could have an impact on the cost of your favorite coffee beans — whether or not you’ll see this passed on to you remains to be seen.

However, coffee’s global commodities pricing has dropped significantly over the past several months, due to the economic issues seen in Europe and the US, so perhaps these environmental and economic issues will balance each other out.

Tasting Event: Velton’s Coffee – 12.07.08

We’re having our first tasting event at our Lynnwood location on Sunday, 12/7/08, from 10am – 12pm. This event will feature local roaster Velton’s coffee and you’ll have the opportunity to taste four single origin beans plus the blend Velton created with them (the Bonsai Blend) in a traditional, plantation-style cupping.

At this free event, you’ll:

  • Learn about regional flavor trends
  • Have the chance to determine which kinds of beans taste best to you and why
  • Get information on coffee roasting & blending theory
  • Pitch all of your coffee and espresso machine questions at Velton & Gail
  • Be entered in a drawing for an awesome door prize!

Please join us as we taste and learn more about coffee in a fun, interactive and casual environment. Space is limited to 20 participants, so if you’re interested, please sign up here.

Hope to see you on the 7th!