Health Watch: Caffeine & Pregnancy – Part Two

The most often used mood-altering drug around the world, caffeine has nearly an equal amount of advocates as it does detractors — it’s even moving into the holy ‘anti-oxidant’ status, previously reserved for the likes of broccoli and pomegranate.

But up for debate is how much should be consumed by pregnant mothers, and we found this interesting article that highlights different studies and their findings, with an overall recommendation that coffee consumption be either avoided or greatly reduced while pregnant.

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.

Decaf Coffee Secrets

If you’re like us, you might regard decaffeinated coffee as a disturbingly man-made mutation on the bland side of the flavor spectrum. Not that we’ve ever actually tasted it — we’re working largely from gross assumption here — but we often get raving reviews of Lavazza’s DEK decaffeinated coffee, so our interest was piqued: How is the caffeine removed from the bean, without it losing all it’s flavor?

We found that there are three different methods for decaffeinating coffee: Organic solvents, water or carbon dioxide. The roaster often performs each method before they begin the roasting process.

Caffeinated Climate

In the hot pursuit of alternative energy sources, researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, stumbled upon coffee grounds as a possible new basis for biodiesel.

After leaving a cup of coffee on the counter top overnight, lead researcher Mano Misra noticed the oil slick that had separated and floated to the top of the coffee. He decided to examine the process necessary for turning used coffee grounds — currently just a standard waste product that many non-composters just throw away — into a viable source of biodiesel.

They collected 50 lbs. of used grounds, determined that the mass contained between 10 – 15% oil by weight, went through the process of extracting the oil and then converted it into biodiesel using standard chemistry techniques. The result? Well?it worked, but they estimate that all the used coffee grounds in the world would make up less than 1% of the annual diesel consumption of the US.

So while it’s an interesting approach (that apparently smells fabulous!), it’s not totally conceivable right now that our used up coffee will save our planet. We did love one reader suggestion, however, which was to build a coffee maker that was powered by the previous brew’s coffee grounds — now that’s something we can buy into.

Cherry-Picked with Love – Part Two

A couple of weeks ago, we posted the first part of a series on Kona coffee farmers Jim & Sharon Skibby — writer Chris Smith has spent time learning about this small coffee plantation and offers up his experiences in learning how they care for and harvest their coffee trees.

Chris’ second installment was published last week, and it goes into more detail around the nurturing and harvesting practices that Jim & Sharon employ — as well as Jim’s tips on coffee flavors. It’s a very interesting read for those looking to learn more about small scale coffee agriculture.