PR: Making Espresso at Home can Save Consumers Nearly $2,000 per Year

The team recently got together to analyze the cost and benefit of making your espresso at home and we released this study last week that details relative savings associated with each drink.

It’s kind of surprising, but we found data to support the fact that the average American coffee drinker can spend about $2800 each year on their daily coffee. This is based on the average cost of a latte at $2.45 and the average number of coffee drinks consumed per day of 3.2. Obviously, lattes can be significantly more expensive (we often shell out nearly $4.50 for a grande soy latte) and your daily consumption can vary, but we figured the averages balance each other out.

If you’re looking for ways to cut your expense budget but don’t want to give up your daily joe, strike a compromise between your hedonism and pragmatism by investing in a home espresso machine.

Health Watch: Aluminum Boilers & Alzheimers

One of the more controversial topics within the discussion of Alzheimer’s is whether or not aluminum has a causal relationship to the development of the disease. Since the first study in the 1960′s that found higher concentrations of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s than in the brains of people without the disease, scientist have been exploring the influences and attempting to correlate the two, with contradictory results. To this day, there is not conclusive evidence one way or the other, and the medical community is still very uncertain about whether or not the aluminum found at the center of the plaques which they believe to be the cause of the disease are the cause of the plaques or simply a harmless secondary association.

What does a discussion of neuroscience and disease have to do with coffee? Well, many people are concerned about the uncertain and contradictory information on this topic — one that might be close to home to any of you with an espresso machine or stovetop espresso brewer with an aluminum boiler. Since aluminum is part of the earth’s crust and used in tons of products, from toothpastes to antacids to cookware, it’s difficult to avoid it altogether. But the amount of aluminum that might leach into your espresso during the brewing process is relatively minimal, if any, than you would intake normally, so it’s likely not much of a concern.

While the jury is still out on whether or not aluminum is a contributing factor to developing Alzheimer’s, or just coincidentally happens to be along for the ride, you’re probably pretty safe to continue enjoying your delicious espresso — aluminum boiler or not.

Recipe: New Orleans Cafe Brulot

Who doesn’t love a little voodoo in their coffee cup every now and again? We were thumbing through Betty Rosbottom’s book Coffee: Scrumptious Drinks and Treats, looking for a yummy concoction to spice up these darkening autumn days, when we happened upon this recipe for Cafe Brulot that we just had to try — and share.

Ingredients:

  • 3 thin orange slices, quartered
  • 3 thin lemon slices, quartered
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 20 cloves
  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup brandy

Directions:

  1. Prepare 6 warm demitasse cups and saucers
  2. Put the orange and lemon slices, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a medium, non-reactive saucepan.
  3. Add the coffee and set pan over very low heat, just to keep the coffee warm while you flame the brandy.
  4. Put the brandy in a small saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. When the brandy just starts to boil, avert your face and flame the brandy with a lit, wooden match.
  5. Turn off the heat and when the flame in the brandy goes out after a few seconds, add the brandy to the coffee.
  6. To serve, ladle the coffee, brandy, fruit and spice mixture into the demitasse cups.

Makes 6 4-5 oz. servings.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Crew Review: Keurig Mini Gourmet Single Cup Brewing System

We love drip coffee just as much as we adore espresso and just recently tried out Keurig’s Mini Gourmet Single Cup Brewing System. We’ve tested Keurig’s other models and while they feature larger water tanks, the Mini is wonderfully compact and a great option for kitchens (or offices!) that have limited counter space.

The single cup system features a very simple-to-use one-touch design: Press to open, insert your favorite K-Cup capsule, close the capsule portion and the back pops open to prompt you to fill with water for your 8 oz. cup. It brews in 3 minutes and is great for offices because it allows you to brew different kinds of coffees, teas and even hot cocoas, instead of sticking everyone with the same old pot of coffee.

The Keurig comes with a variety pack of 10 K-Cups to get you started, so it makes a great gift. Additionally, if you have a special favorite coffee, tea or cocoa blend, the reusable My K-Cup allows you to turn it into a compatible capsule.

Overall, we think the Keurig Mini is easy-to-use, has tasty options, leaves a lot of open counterspace and is a great value.

Brew Tip: Got Two Turntables and Microfoam

If you’re looking to rock like a pro barista, you need to perfect the art of microfoam — that glossy smooth steamed milk that makes latte art possible. It’s really not that difficult to pull off once you know the step-by-step process:

  1. Keep your steaming pitcher in the refrigerator/chilled
  2. Start with icy cold milk (about 34F degrees)
  3. Begin steaming by getting the milk to spin rapidly clockwise, then
    work the surface of the milk for about 15 – 20 seconds in one of the
    following ways:

    • Standard Steam Wand: Bring the tip of the steam wand to the top, so that it just barely breaks the surface to suck in air and milk
      simultaneously
    • Panarello Steam Wand: Submerge the wand so that the top of the
      milk and the air intake slot or hole are even, allowing milk and air to
      be drawn in evenly — if you submerged it above the air intake, you’ll
      just steam the milk; if you submerge it well below the intake, you’ll
      end up with fluffy, bubbly foam
  4. Plunge the steam wand all the way into the milk and then roll the milk for the remainder of the steam
  5. Temperature-wise, your milk should measure between 140F – 180F
    degrees — if it’s too cold, it will be chalky; if it’s too hot, it
    will be scalded
  6. Tap the pitcher on the counter to settle the milk and force any air bubbles to the top
  7. Prior to pouring, roll the milk slightly around the pitcher to
    incorporate the foam and the milk. The milk should have a shiny, glassy
    smooth surface that is free of any bubbles
  8. Pour to make your favorite latte art

More visually inclined? Check out our video.

Lavazza Whole Bean Blends Go Toe to Toe

Lavazza is renowned around the world for some of the best coffee available, and we’re often asked about the differences between their six main whole bean blends. So, we took these guys to the tasting lab and came back with a comparison chart that should help you pick the blend that’s going to taste best to you.

Some of the highlights are the smoky chocolate and loam undertones of Grand Espresso and Super Crema‘s sweet & earthy fruitiness. Our descriptions might not do them full justice, however, so why not have a tasting party yourself? You’re sure to find a favorite among them.