Tag Archives: coffee news

Coffee: A College Student’s Life Line

Before the days — or should I say the long nights — of cramming for tests, writing papers and preparing presentations, I’d never even thought of caffeine as an essential element of balancing my life. But inĀ  my first years of college, I wanted to have fun! And a daily dose of coffee helped me get all my schoolwork done without impacting my ability to hit the dance floor.

From the beatnik vibe of the Solstice Cafe to the hustle and bustle of the University Village Starbucks (one of their busiest shops, even today), my devotion to java ensured I wouldn’t be running on empty before I hit my next lecture.

It’s not that I was before my time or anything, but since I’ve moved from over-caffeinated college student to … er, over-caffeinated working professional, I thought I’d take a look at what the kids are doing these days. Enter this blog from BestCollegesOnline.com, in which they rate the top 25 college coffee shops in the country that keep our future’s creative juices flowing.

Have you been to one of the coffee shops listed? If so, is it worth the press? What was your favorite java joint when you were in college? Please share in the comments below!

Field Trip: Green Bean Coffeehouse

Next up in our series featuring local cafes is the Green Bean Coffeehouse in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. What started out as the first physical location for a local church has evolved into an essential element of the Greenwood community — a non-profit designed to bring the neighborhood together through open space, charitable support and community events.

Find out about their history, purpose and tips that they have for anyone interested in starting their own community or coffee focused business.

Field Trip: Milstead & Co.

What does it take to open your own cafe? We hit the road with Allison in this field trip series to find out.

First up is the newly opened brainchild of Andrew Milstead, Milstead & Co., located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Featuring tons of reclaimed materials in its build design, low countertops and recessed equipment to improve engagement between baristas and customers, and a singular focus on providing uniquely brewed coffees — using everything from a La Marzocco Strada to an AeroPress — Milstead & Co.’s concept is rooted in education and producing high quality coffee for people who dig it.

Watch as Andrew talks to us about his background, concept behind the cafe, what went into opening it and tips he has for others interested in doing the same. If you’re in the Seattle area, definitely don’t skip visiting Milstead & Co. for a gorgeous, and delicious, cappuccino.

Health Watch: Say ‘Hello’ to Coffee and ‘Goodbye’ to Diabetes

For those of you who’ve been trying to find a legitimate excuse to cut down on your coffee intake for health reasons, hold that thought for a second and thank UCLA researchers who’ve given all of us another reason why we shouldn’t kick that caffeine habit quite yet.

For quite some time now, researchers have had an inkling that coffee has had a connection with preventing type 2 diabetes. And in fact they were right.

What researchers have found is that caffeine aficionados were least likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as the java works as a protective agent by increasing the plasma levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHGB). The SHGB protein regulates the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen which has been long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

As Science Daily reported, after Atsushi Goto, UCLA doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School, tested 359 new diabetes cases with 359 said to be healthy controls out of 40,000 women varying in both age and race, “they found women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day had significantly higher levels of SHBG than did non-drinkers and were 56 percent less likely to develop diabetes than were non-drinkers,” explained Mark Wheeler of the UC Newsroom.

“Early studies have consistently shown that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes,” Liu said. “That is the greater the consumption the lesser the risk of diabetes. It was thought that coffee may improve the body’s tolerance to glucose by increasing metabolism or improving its tolerance to insulin.”

Liu adds, they now know that SHBG is indeed critical as an early target for assessing the risk and prevention of the onset of diabetes. They now know the protein can be influenced by dietary factors like coffee intake in affecting diabetes risk. The lower the levels of SHBG, the greater the risk beyond any known diabetes factor.

But diabetes prevention is only the beginning of the health benefits coffee may give us. In a number of other studies, one in particular published in the Wall Street Journal and referenced by Top News, coffee has been found to possess antimicrobial agents that aid in the prevention of tooth decay. Other studies have said it decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases in women by no less than 24 percent, protects men from Parkinson’s disease while also increasing their metabolism and may also help the condition of short-term memory loss and is a helpful factor in aiding headaches.

So before you back away from that latte, just remember that one cup of espresso can provide you with loads of health benefits, so you might as well ask your barista for that double shot.

The ABCs of BPA

Do you find yourself slowly backing away from your drip coffee maker or espresso machine because of all the hullabaloo about BPA (Biosphenol A) in plastics? As you have no doubt heard by now, there have been a wide range of reports regarding BPA — an organic compound found in polycarbonate plastics — examining how safe it is to have in containers from which we eat, drink, etc.

A chemical that’s been historically used to make a variety of items (from children’s toys to food containers to water bottles to coffee makers), researchers have recently found that BPA emits toxins over time — especially when it’s heated. The long term affects of such leaching can cause health problems like cancer, reproductive abnormalities and neurological problems, just to name a (very nasty) few.

But don’t fret! Many coffee equipment manufacturers, such as Technivorm, AeroPress and Hourglass, have made a point to notify their customers or state on their products that they are BPA-free or that they’ve decided to switch to a safer alternative. As for Rancilio, Rocket, Delonghi, Saeco and Jura, we’ve searched high and low for some BPA-free facts, but have only received a verbal guarantee that they are BPA-free and FDA approved.

HereĀ  are a few tips on how you can make sure your java gear is safe and free of any dangerous toxins you don’t want floating around in your cup o’ joe:

  • Hard, Clear & Unbreakable: Plastics that are hard and clear are usually made from polycarbonate. Unless the manufacturer states that it is BPA-free, it’s the BPA chemical additive that makes plastics clear instead of cloudy or opaque. Check on the manufacturing packaging for an explicit statement, otherwise skip it.
  • Too Hot to Handle: Heat accelerates the possibility of BPA leaching into beverages stored in plastics. Make sure your to go cups are stainless steel where your coffee touches it.
  • Unlucky #7: Take a look at your plastics and find the triangle stamp on or near the bottom of your product. Products consisting of polycarbonate should have the number 7 or sometimes the letters PC.

However, not all plastics with the number 7 mean they contain BPA. The number 7 can also mean that that certain plastic is in the ‘other’ category. These plastics are usually soft and pliable, and are not made with BPA. Because some of their products contain components with the number 7 on them, Technivorm has tried to clarify this, also specifically listing which materials are utilized in those products:

Although judged safe by most testing agencies and reports, a few misleading negative studies have identified plastics marked with recycling no. 7 as unsafe. Some — but not all — plastics with the recycling no. 7 are polycarbonate. — Technivorm

While a few of their components are a mixture of polycarbonate, they do meet FDA requirements. Technivorm hopes to get closer to being a totally BPA-free manufacturer by getting rid of the use of any polycarbonate in their current and future products.

But if you’re still worried about BPA in your coffee maker, just know that most coffee maker brew baskets are made of ABS plastic and polypropylene for their water tanks — both of which are BPA-free plastics.

Free 3-Day Shipping Today & Friday!

If there is a better antidote to the drowsy effects of tryptophan than espresso, we refuse to hear it! Those who agree (and also want to show off how excellently they can whip up a cup of coffee for friends and family this coming Thanksgiving) will love our free 3-day shipping special.

Here’s the fine print: Applies to orders of $400 or more placed between 11/18 and 11/19 and shipped to continental US addresses only. Does not apply to refurbished, commercial or out of stock items.

Simply fill up your cart, enter in your info and select 3-day shipping at no additional cost to you!

SCG Store Opening Shindig: This Sunday

We’re (almost) totally settled in and ready to show off our new digs! Please join us this Sunday, November 14th, from 12pm – 4pm at our new location (6911 216th St SW, Lynnwood WA 98036) and help us celebrate a new chapter in our story!

Gail, Kat, Jessica and Allison will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about equipment, demonstrate gear and provide any buying advice you may need — plus we’ll have a few special guest stars:

La Marzocco
Andy & Scott from La Marzocco will be on hand, pulling shots on the GS/3 and talking about the machine. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about La Marzocco and the GS/3.

Velton’s Coffee
Velton will be here with an arsenal of Hario V60 pour overs, serving up tastings of three of his favorite single origins as well as his limited edition Holiday Blend.

If you needed more of an incentive to come party with us, we’re also holding a trivia drawing with a grand prize of a $100 Seattle Coffee Gear gift certificate! Show off how much you know about our videos and you may be richly rewarded.

Should be a fun, casual and tasty get together — hope to see you Sunday!

Fast Coffee vs. Fast Food

Over the past few years, Starbucks has been laying off employees and closing down storefronts to make up for lost revenue during the recession, but they’re also now operating in a more crowded competitive space. Where they once dominated the market for quickly prepped gourmet espresso drinks, larger players are coming to the table and upping the ante.

Competing against fast-food chains, like McDonalds, who’s playing hardball by providing their customers with coffee drinks with all the frills but at a lower cost, Starbucks is trying to lure back their coffee connoisseurs who’ve been bedazzled by fast-food prices by offering free internet and access to e-books and sites that usually come at a cost. They’ve also begun mandating a slow down in service that would limit a barista’s drink prep to just one drink at a time — clearly in an effort to show customers some level of artisan skill in the face of the fast-food, assembly-line approach they used before (and from which they are more actively trying to differentiate themselves). This comes into play even more when you consider the ‘third wave’ coffee movement’s focus on the culinary rather than commodity attributes of the mighty bean.

Another way they’re trying to compete is by making their food options more healthy, reinventing their menu by ‘raising the bar on food to be tastier’ with ‘healthier and lighter options.’ Making baked goods that are healthy but without the cardboard taste, Starbucks has incorporated organic blueberries, a higher percentage of real bananas and has made marshmallow squares less of a guilty pleasure at only 210 calories. But other than slimming down their treats, they’ve also added healthier drinks and lunch alternatives by taking a queue from local farmer’s markets. With basic yet natural options, they now have smoothies and salads (i.e. Strawberry Banana Vivanno and Farmer’s Market Salad) made from real produce, which, again, carry less of a calorie count.

Is this what a Starbucks customer really wants, though? If the company grew to become a competitor in the international food market that is on par with McDonald’s by implementing many of the same operational techniques, can they roll these back in a sufficiently effective way to court customers back to their cafes? And how healthy has Starbucks really gotten when you see statistics comparing a 483-calorie Mocha Frappe Latte with semi-skimmed milk almost on par with a 492-calorie Big Mac?


What do you get when you have balloons, coffee grounds and a vacuum cleaner? No, it’s not the aftermath of an all-night party, but a fingerless hand called the ‘gripper’ that gives robots the ability to pick-up any object with ease.

An idea led by Eric Brown of the University of Chicago, who teamed up with Cornell University and US firm iRobot, they created the innovative hand with the classic ‘claw’ arcade game in mind — you know the one where you maneuver the claw to pick up a stuffed animal, candy or that one prized Faux-lex watch.

Watch this video and be amazed at how a coffee ground-filled balloon and the suction from a vacuum cleaner can make picking up something as small as a pin or pour a glass of water look like a piece o’ cake.

What will they think of next? Maybe one of these guys will be as common as having a vacuum cleaner in your house to do all the dirty work in a few years.

Nespresso Batteries

Proving that caffeine can get more than just your body going, designers Mischer*Traxler created batteries utilizing old Nespresso aluminum capsules, coffee grounds, strips of copper and salt water. As part of Vienna Design week, the batteries were setup to power clocks displayed in Nespresso Austria’s display window.

In addition to questions of flavor/quality, one of the common concerns folks have about Nespresso machines is the capsules — specifically, are they eco-friendly? They are definitely recyclable, but you need to clean them out beforehand (often more work than some folks want to do) so here’s another option instead. Crush ‘em up and use them to power your alarm clock! We assume no liability when you arrive late to work, however.