Put Your Face On It

Don’t care to learn the finer points of steaming milk with microfoam or pouring the latte art favorites of hearts and leaves? Now you don’t have to! Just hack together an 80′s era Kodak inkjet printer and a flatbed scanner, load it up with caramelized sugar and you’re in! At least, that’s what these guys think — hope, actually — and they’ve built a prototype to sell to your neighborhood Sbux.

Just think of all the fun variations you could have with this. Sure, you don’t need a logo on your latte, but if you’re feeling a little bit vain, how about a cameo-style portrait of yourself? Get hardcore with your inner crazy cat lover by imprinting your feline companion’s visage on your latte. Or, if you’re hoping to smooth out some family ties, put your mother-in-law’s smiling face on there as a ‘tribute’. Really, the options just might be endless.

Recipe: Mayan Spice Sundae


Add a little kick to your holiday desserts! We created this sundae because we love the Mayan treat of orange slices coated in cayenne pepper that is found all over the Yucatan peninsula — and if you love a little spice with your sugar, we think you’ll definitely dig this!

Ingredients


Directions

Mix the orange, chocolate and cayenne together in a small bowl. Pull a double shot of espresso directly into it and then incorporate all three until well blended. Spoon a little bit of the sauce into the bottom of two serving bowls, put a scoop of ice cream into each of the serving bowls and then drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with orange slices or, if you’re looking for something muy caliente, more cayenne.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Skin Cancer

Sun exposure and skin damage may not be a concern for those of us in more northern climes right now, but if you’re wintering in Rio or snowbirding in Santa Fe, you might be interested in this interesting study on the positive effects caffeine may have on post-sun exposure skin.

Based on a study conducted a few years ago that indicated women who drank more than 6 cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a lower incidence of skin cancer than those who drank less, researchers at the University of Washington exposed mice to UV rays and then rubbed them down with a caffeine solution.

The result? Well, preliminarily, it appears that the mice who received the caffeine solution on their skin had a lower incidence of damaged skin cells than the mice that did not and they’re hypothesizing that the caffeine helps the body eliminate the damaged cells more easily.

While more testing is needed to determine how caffeine can help with skin cancer prevention, you might think about adding a little extra protection to your sunblock by cooling off with an iced latte while you’re relaxing on the beach.

Holiday Fund Drive: Lavazza Tierra! & Coffee Kids

Tierra_coffee
We love working with you and we love coffee, so it’s important to us that what we love doing helps others do what they love as well. Sustainability in the coffee industry will keep us all in delicious cups of coffee for years to come, and while we’ve written before about our support of the non-profit organization Coffee Kids, as well as about Lavazza’s Tierra! coffee, we decided to put our money where our mouth is this holiday season and launch a fund drive!

Now through 1/15/09, we’re donating 5% of all sales of Lavazza’s Tierra! coffee to Coffee Kids! Featuring smoky molasses aromas and flavor undertones of floral and bittersweet chocolate, Tierra! is a tasty gift for anyone you love that loves coffee — and, yes, that includes you!

Space Joe

If the inability to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in space has kept you from pursuing your cosmonaut dreams, last week’s invention of the zero-G coffee cup by NASA astronaut Dave Pettit is sure to make you tingle.

Pettit is known for funky space inventions, but when he arrived at the International Space Station, he had one goal in mind: Find a way to enjoy his beloved joe from a cup, rather than a bag & straw. Liquids in space can be a messy proposition, and hot coffee introduces an element of risk as well, but that wasn’t going to stop Pettit from devising a method of enjoying his java from a cup.

Using a piece of his mission book, he formed a vessel with a tear-drop shape that is closed at one end. The surface tension within the cup keeps the coffee inside instead of floating about the station. He suggested that his invention could apply to more than just coffee — future space colonists could utilize this kind of cup for celebratory toasts.

So now that the coffee cup question has been answered and you’re back on track to becoming an astronaut, you’d better hit the books — time to learn Russian.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Alertness

You drink it to wake up, to focus more, to get you through the day — heck, even to sober up. But has the effect of caffeine on your central nervous system been overstated? A group of researchers from the National University of Ireland in Galway think so. In fact, they think that the only benefit you see from your caffeine consumption is to further your caffeine consumption.

Through their study, they were unable to find a measurable difference in alertness and cognitive ability in participants, and found that the only difference was the abatement of caffeine withdrawal symptoms regular caffeine consumers felt in the morning after their body had metabolized caffeine overnight.

For at least a month, they gave a participants either a placebo or a caffeine pill equal to one cup of coffee to take three times a day. They then tested their ability to concentrate, resulting in no discernible difference between the control group and the caffeine consumers. They also tested the control group’s reaction to caffeine after having not had the drug in their system for quite some time and were also unable to track a noticeable difference in their level of concentration between their placebo state and caffeinated state.

So if it’s not really waking us up, helping us focus and getting us through our day….why are we drinking it? Well, despite the position that drinking it may essentially be a self-fulfilling prophecy, we’ll keep drinking it for the taste! Yeah, that’s right — for the taste.