Tag Archives: espresso

Can I Get a Babyccino with That?

As you walk into your local cafe and notice a 3-year-old sitting in the corner with his mother sipping on what looks like a foamy, velvety cappuccino, don’t doubt your vision: That’s exactly what it is. And because its a fad it’s gotta have a cutesy amalgam of a name, right? Yup — it’s called the Babyccino.

Beginning in Australia about a decade ago, the Babyccino craze recently headed to Great Britain and then leapt across the pond to the eastern US. According to The Brooklyn Paper, the term Babyccino is used to ‘describe a macchiato-like beverage featuring a shot of decaf espresso topped with steamed milk and froth, while others use it to describe steamed milk with foam on top and a touch of cinnamon.’

Surprisingly we haven’t seen this oh so popular trend pop up in every cafe in the west coast quite yet, but many east coast cafes have jumped on the bandwagon and put their own twist to these trendy miniature sized drinks. Running at about $2 for a cup, the price may seem a little steep until you consider the peace of mind provided to mothers everywhere, who can finally furnish their toddler with a drink just like mommy’s.

However, even though they’re cute in size and are said to be kid friendly, not everyone is a big fan of them. ‘There is no reason on earth to have these drinks and introduce caffeine to a younger population,’ said TODAY chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

While some may look at the health factors caffeine could cause in children, baristas themselves are affected by the new trend also. Many explain how the increase of children will affect the coffee shop community negatively. ‘Some baristas do not want to cater that much to kids,’ states a blog on roaste.com. ‘On the one hand, kids are good from some businesses, but if the noise becomes a factor, the home workers and students might take their laptops elsewhere.’

But other New York cafes, such as Sit and Wonder, cater to their Babyccino fans by outfitting their joints with changing stations in the bathroom and a backyard with toys for kids to play. Others, like the Tea Lounge, even offer stroller parking and designated areas for mothers to breastfeed their babies.

We say to each their own; who are we to say what’s right or wrong for a child we’re not rearing? And who’s to say that Babyccinos are only for kids? Bring out the inner child in you and enjoy a few sprinkles with your drink! Also, do you really want to deprive Ruby of her sprinkles on her Babyccino?!

Crew Review: Handpresso Wild Hybrid

If you can’t live without the hope of espresso resting squarely in your back pocket, Handpresso‘s series of portable espresso makers were developed specifically with you in mind.

Formerly, they offered the Wild version for use with ESE pods and the Domepod version for use with ground coffee. Now they’ve combined both functions in one sweet lil number — the Hybrid — for those of us who simply cannot make up our minds.

Watch Gail walk through the features and functionality, as well as pull shots using an ESE pod and ground coffee. Please note: Compak K10 Fresh not included.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Fresh Faced Filly

When Brandi selected this rather innocuous (and very delicious!) drink from Monin’s website, she had no idea that we had posted this several months back and dubbed it with such a humorous, and completely unrelated, moniker. But she’s nothing if not a good sport! So she whipped up a Fresh Faced Filly and enjoyed it with one of Kaylie’s delicious Chocolate Espresso Cookies with Walnuts.

Hold on to your insulin, people! We’re going in.

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 in  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!

Espresso vs. Coffee Beans: Is There a Difference?

When it comes to coffee, many may wonder, ‘What’s the difference between coffee and espresso beans?’ Some people think they are a specific strain of bean, while others think that it’s a particular roast. Ultimately, it’s a blend (or a single origin bean) that stands up well under the high pressure preparation that is the hallmark of espresso extraction.

According to the aficionados at Home-Barista.com, ‘Espresso is almost always a blend of beans…The most basic rule of espresso blending is that espresso must have subdued acidity, be heavy bodied, and be sweet enough to balance the bitter and acidic flavors in the blend.’

To better illustrate how different beans might have different flavors (after all, coffee beans are coffee beans, right?), we’ll discuss some general information on basic coffee plants, tastes by region, post-harvest processing and, finally, roasting.

There are two varieties of plants, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica originated in Ethiopia, is typically grown in higher altitudes and accounts for 75-80% of the world’s production. Robusta, on the other hand, is a lowland coffee species that originated in West Africa. It features greater pest resistance and a generally heartier plant, which results in higher overall yields — but its high caffeine content gives it a intensely bitter and inferior taste. Some very carefully grown and processed Robustas can be found in premium espresso blends, however, as they can improve the crema and body. Additionally, human-initiated cross-breeding of Arabica and Robusta, which attempt to blend the low caffeine content and smoother taste of C. arabica with the heartiness and disease resistance of C. canephora, have resulted in new varietals which are highly adaptable, hearty and commonly used in commercial coffee plantations.

Depending on where they originate, the weather, temperature, altitude and soil contribute to different flavors; you can get a general idea of different tastes by region here.

Another element is how the coffee is processed post-harvest. Processes include natural or dry process, wet process and pulped natural.

Dry processing usually takes place in areas with limited rainfall and lots of sun light. This process allows the coffee cherry to air dry on patios before their skin and the fruit itself is removed from the coffee bean. The bean outcome is usually heavy-bodied, sweet and smooth with subdued acidity. It also can develop more crema during espresso extraction.

The wet process requires the cherries to be sorted in high pressure water tanks which then removes the skin but the fruit stays on the bean while it dries. These beans usually taste cleaner, brighter and fruitier.

Pulped natural uses a combination of the wet and dry processes. Beans grown in areas with low humidity allow them to dry faster without fermentation. The end result is a full bodied bean like those of the dry process, but with the acidity of a bean that has been wet processed. The bean usually is sweeter.

Once the coffee is grown, picked and processed, it’s time for the roast! Roasters create different blends with a specific flavor profile in mind. And, since coffee is an agricultural product that changes every season, they play a little mad science by swapping out different beans in the blend in order to maintain a consistent flavor over time.

Roasting occurs in a Four Stage Process: endothermic, first crack, pyrolysis and second crack. For more information on how different roasts inform the end coffee flavor, check out this handy chart, sourced from Kenneth Davids.

Hopefully, this primer provided you with some insight as you’re selecting a blend for espresso preparation. Got questions? Leave them in the comments and we’ll answer away!

Cooking with Kaylie: Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Chocolate Espresso CupcakesIt’s week two in my quest to incorporate coffee into as many foods as possible!

After last week’s recipe, where I semi-deliberately didn’t follow instructions and ended up with slightly less than perfect Espresso Meringues, I decided that I needed to take a step back and make something super easy.

The result? Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes, courtesy of a boxed cake mix. Like I said, super easy!


Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes Ingredients


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • Beat cake mix, espresso, water, oil and eggs on low speed with mixer for 30 seconds
  • Kick the mixer up to medium for about 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally
  • Spoon mix into cupcake wrappers, filling about 2/3 full
  • Bake in oven 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Let cool on a wire rack before frosting


Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Hazelnut Cream Cheese FrostingKeep in mind that the ingredients and directions will vary based on the boxed cake mix you use. To adapt the recipe to your cake mix, simply replace 50% or more of the water with brewed espresso.

This time, I used 60% espresso and, while it was definitely noticeable in the batter, it seemed to lose a lot of its taste after baking. Next time I make it, I’ll use only espresso (‘Look ma, no water!’) and see what happens. I’m thinking deliciousness!

The cupcakes turned out yummy and, if I do say so myself, quite pretty! To top it off, they were frosted with Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting. I know you want the recipe, so check in on Thursday to see Brandi whip some up!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Iced Latte a la Nespresso

We kept her on pins and needles long enough, so when we had the opportunity to pair up a non-sweetened coffee drink with a batch of Kaylie’s Espresso Meringue cookies, we let Brandi break out the Nespresso! She chose to produce an iced latte, featuring the Aeroccino‘s cold frothing functionality.

While the recipe isn’t rocket science (a couple shots of espresso and a batch of cold-frothed milk), it’s always fun to watch Brandi whip something up, isn’t it?

Three Cups a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Who would’ve thought that the fountain of youth could be found right in your very own kitchen — and right under your nose? Your morning cup of coffee provides more than just a kick in the pants to get going in the morning, it also has positive affects on your noodle!

Studies have shown that drinking at least three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife can cut Alzheimer’s risk 65 percent in late life.

A July 2011 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that ‘coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease,’ published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In early studies, USF researchers believed that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid. However, the same study also claims that it may not be the caffeine itself but a combination of the caffeine and coffee’s compounds that, when combined, increases blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Alzheimer patients are known to have low levels of GCSF.

In their studies, long term treatment with coffee enhanced levels of GCSF and memory in mice with Alzheimer’s. Three key benefits researchers found were:

  1. GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
  2. GSCF creates new connections between brain cells
  3. GCSF increases the birth of new neurons in the brain

While this has only been tested and verified on mice, it does demonstrate that coffee can have a strong impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s, to the extent that it’s worth more study. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors, said, ‘Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee.’

But who’s to say adding those extra cups of coffee won’t give you a memory like an elephant when you’re in your 90s? Better safe than sorry.

Brewin’ with Brandi: My Sinful Valentine

Everyone has a different definition of sin — that’s what gives the world all its lovely shades of gray, right? Right.

Up in these parts, we asked Brandi to revive our Valentine’s Day 2011 recipe to showcase one of our definitions of sin: Lots and lots of chocolate. This mocha incorporates a touch of strawberry and amaretto, giving it a rich, sumptuous flavor that will have you running to the nearest confessional.