The Unusual Gourmet Coffee Gift

Top 10 Unusual coffee gifts: So you have your cousin, the heavy gourmet coffee drinker and you want to surprise them this year. But you want to keep it coffee related but not give them the usual coffee beans, or gourmet coffee gift basket or even the usual gourmet coffee accessories or coffee mugs. And they are still using last year’s coffee gift basket and the French press coffee maker only lasted a month before it wore out its differentness and became a hassle.

So what can you give the coffee drinker and keep it usual. Glad you asked?

1. Java logs – Especially for the environmentally conscious coffee-drinker. Java logs are man-made fireplace logs that are made up mostly of coffee grounds
2. Coffee flavored shampoo – for those who just can’t get enough of that coffee aroma and want to smell like coffee all day. Purposively good for the hair though I’m sure the oil is beneficial.
3. Java love lotion – rub on your partner and see if they are as hot as your morning coffee. This has to be taking the “I love coffee” concept too far. ( I’m not making this up)
4. The Barista Action Figure – You coffee superhero can wake you in the morning and save you in the afternoon and make your favorite espresso in the afternoon. ( I’m not making this up)
5. Java necklace – a necklace of roasted and urethane coffee beans and your favorite jewelry stones. What better way to declare your love of coffee to the world? Beaded necklaces and other jewelry made with beads and coffee beans. Choose your favorite roast and favorite stones. Does love get any better than this?
6. Just coffee art – fine canvas paintings completely painted with paint made from coffee oils. It’s hard to believe that these amazing paintings are done entirely in coffee. Why do they paint with coffee? Not sure but I am waiting on the body coffee paints…
7. A real live coffee tree – makes a great indoor plant though I wouldn’t count on any coffee beans. If you do happen to grow some please send to Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee. An ideal gift for any coffee-lover who also has a green thumb. These plants will actually bloom and produce coffee cherries, given the right and perfect growing conditions (they do well indoors as a plant but not a coffee producer).
8. Kopi Luwak coffee beans – don’t try this at home. Surprise someone with a gift box of the rarest coffee there is. It’s also the strangest in my opinion. The Luwak coffee beans have actually been eaten by a small animal before being collected and roasted – poop washed off.
9. Chocolate covered coffee beans – the perfect combination of chocolate and coffee beans or your perfect dose of sugar and caffeine. Give this to your children and watch them bounce off your walls – for days. I can’t imagine eating more than two of these. Take before your next 100 meter dash sprint.
10. Javapops – sweet candy that taste like coffee and is packed with 60 mg of caffeine. The perfect follow-up to the chocolate covered coffee beans. When your kids are coming off their 2 day chocolate covered bean high – give them two of these to offset the down mood. Or use these with your spouse before you lather them up with the coffee bean shampoo.

Isn’t that coffee gift basket looking better and better? If you really want any of these gifts just Google the gift idea and buy online.

Boake Moore is an IT Sales engineer by trade and founded a non profit coffee company called Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee – http://www.missiongrounds.com/ourphilosophy.php It donates all its profits and proceeds to helping orphans and impoverished children. We currently are building schools in rural China, orphanages in South America; supporting orphans in Russia and Africa. And helping homeless children in the United States.

 

Discovering Organic Coffee

Many people have turned to organic fruits and vegetables (and even meats) in recent years, striving to live healthier, longer lives. You may be one of these people. But did you know that organic coffee is now available, too? If you can’t find it at your local health food store, then you can definitely find it online.

How Organic Coffee Differs From Traditional Coffee

The coffee plant has traditionally been grown in the company of shade trees and other food and cash crops. This approach made for healthier soil and prevented water contamination. Unfortunately, many coffee growers have abandoned this approach in favor of larger crops and hence larger profits. However, synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers have become necessary to maintain these crops, and along with them the taste of the coffee has suffered, the soil has suffered, and no one knows the potential impact they may have on the future health of the coffee consumer.

In addition, the loss of the shade trees has had a direct impact on migratory song birds. While an obvious connection may not immediately come to mind, the relationship has actually been symbiotic. These birds used the shade trees as their habitat as they migrated, and as a result they provided a natural defense against many of the bugs and pests that can ruin a coffee crop. Without them, pesticides must be used to do the job.

Unlike the large, commercial coffee plantations, organic coffees are generally grown on small farms with plenty of shade cover. There are plenty of migratory birds to control insects, and pesticides are unnecessary. In fact, the United States requires that organic coffees be grown on shaded land and be completely chemical free for three consecutive years.

Tips For A Great Cup of Organic Coffee

Whole beans should be used within a week of purchase in order to enjoy the full flavor of the coffee.

Avoid vacuum-packed coffee, even organic vacuum-packed coffee. The process of vacuum packing cannot be done immediately after roasting. The coffee must sit for nearly a week before it can be vacuum-packed. This degrades much of the flavor.

Coffee beans should be stored in an airtight container, not on the shelf in the paper bag you brought them home with from the store. And in order to enjoy the full flavor of the coffee, you should grind only the amount you intend to use just before brewing.

Whole coffee beans that will be stored longer than a week should be placed in an airtight glass container that’s kept in the freezer.

As with any coffee blend, organic or not, grind the beans according to the brewing method you intend to use. Keep in mind that if you grind your beans too fine your coffee may end up bitter and muddy; if you don’t grind them enough, your coffee may end up flavorless.

Often overlooked, many people consider the most important step toward a good cup of coffee to be the proportion of water to coffee. Experts recommend 2 tablespoons for every 6 ounces of water.

History of Coffee: Part IV – Commercialisation of Coffee

For many connoisseurs, the period from the mid-19th Century to the late 20th Century is the ‘Dark Age’ of coffee. During this era, coffee lost its Middle-Eastern mystical charm and became commercialised and, quite frankly, ordinary.

When coffee was first introduced into Britain during the 17th Century, it was a drink enjoyed by every social class. While the rich would enjoy coffee almost ceremonially in their social clubs, the poor saw coffee as an essential nutrient, a hot drink to replace a hot meal, or hunger suppressant. It was only a matter of time, with the advancement of technology, that large companies would form to take advantage of the coffee commodity.

Traditionally coffee was roasted in the home or in the coffeehouse. A practice imported from the Middle-East was to simply stir-fry green beans in an iron pan over a fire till brown. Some coffeehouses used a more sophisticated method of a cylindrical unit hung above a fire with a handle to rotate the beans inside. Both these methods were only capable of roasting small batches of coffee, a couple of kilos or several pounds at most, which ensured that the coffee was always fresh.

However, with the onset of the industrial revolution and mechanisation, coffee roasting technology soon improved. Commercial coffee roasters were being invented which were capable of roasting much larger batches of coffee. It was now possible for the few to meet the coffee needs of the masses.

It was in the United States where coffee initially started to be commercialised. In 1865, John Arbuckle marketed the first commercially available packages of ground, roasted coffee. His brand, ‘Ariosa’, was sold over a far larger area then any other coffee roaster. Instead of being confined to a small area close to his roasting factory, Arbuckle was able to establish his coffee as a regional brand. Others soon followed suit and, by World War I, there were a number of regional roasters including companies such as Folgers, Hill Brothers, and Maxwell House. These companies offered customers consistent quality and convenient packaging for use in the home, but at a price: freshness. It could be several weeks, or even months, before the end product would reach the customer.

One approach to prolonging the freshness of roasted coffee was to glaze it with a glutinous or gelatinous matter. After the coffee beans had been roasted, a glaze would be poured over them, which would form a hard, protective barrier around the bean. Once such glaze patented by John Arbuckle in 1868, consisted of using: a quart of water, one ounce of Irish moss, half an ounce of isinglass, half an ounce of gelatine, one ounce of white sugar, and twenty-four eggs, per hundred pounds of coffee. Arbuckle experimented with many different glazes over the years, eventually settling on a sugar based glaze. In fact, Arbuckle became such a prolific user of sugar that he entered into the sugar business rather then give a profit to others for the huge quantities he required.

So why were customers willing to buy this coffee? Once ground, coffee quickly loses its flavour and therefore should be consumed as soon as possible (at the very latest within 48 hours). But this was the age of the brand, where consistency ruled king over quality. Local roasters would often produce excellent coffee, but they could also produce foul coffee, occasionally containing a number of adulterations. Customers wanted to trust what they were buying. They wanted their coffee to taste exactly the same, time and time again.

The first coffee brand to come to Britain was Kenco. In 1923, a co-operative of Kenyan Coffee farmers set up a coffee shop in Sloan Square (London), called the Kenyan Coffee Company, to distribute high quality coffee beans around Britain. Their shop proved very popular and their brand of coffee (renamed Kenco in 1962) soon spread throughout the UK.

Worse was to come to the brew known as coffee. As regional roasters grew into national roasters and then into international roasters, their pursuit of profit intensified. Traditionally coffee came from the ‘arabica’ variety of coffee bush. But in the 1850s, the French and Portuguese began to cultivate a different variety of coffee bush, known as ‘robusta’, on the west coast of Africa between Gabon and Angola. Robusta beans were (and still are) cheaper then arabica beans as they are easier to grow and have an inferior flavour. Coffee roasters looking to minimise their production costs started blending robusta beans with arabica beans in increasing quantities. They also used shorter roast times, to reduce weight loss stopping the coffee from fully developing its complex flavour.

However the lowest point for coffee comes with the introduction of instant coffee – a drink bearing little resemblance in taste to actual coffee. Although the first commercially produced instant coffee, called ‘Red E Coffee’, invented by George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, was marketed in 1909, it is Nestlé who are generally attributed with the invention of instant coffee. In 1930, Nestlé were approached by the Instituto do Café (Brazilian Coffee Institute) to help find a solution to their coffee surpluses. They believed that a new coffee product that was soluble in hot water, yet retained its flavour, would help stimulate World coffee sales. After seven years of research and frequent tasting, scientist Max Mortgenthaler finally achieved the desired results and, on 1st April 1938, Nescafé was launched, first in Switzerland and then later in Britain.

Some claim that it was the introduction of commercial television in 1956 that acted as a catalyst to the success of instant coffee in Britain. The commercial breaks were too short a time in which to brew a cup of tea, but time enough for an instant coffee. There is probably some truth to this claim as, by the 1960s, the majority of the tea industry started producing tea bags, an invention by Thomas Sullivan over half a century earlier (1904). Tea bags were seen as more convenient, simpler and quicker to use then traditional loose leaf tea and so could compete against instant coffee.

The coffee industry soon realised the association between commercial breaks and coffee drinking and started investing heavily in television advertising. Probably the most famous series of coffee advertisements were made for Nescafé Gold Blend. First aired in 1987, these advertisements focused on the sexual chemistry between a couple, played by Anthony Head and Sharon Maughan, acted out in a mini soap opera. The advertisements gripped the whole nation, featuring as frequently as Eastenders or Coronation Street as topics of conversation. This original series of advertisements ran for ten years, increasing sales of Gold Blend by 40% in the first five years (there were two further, less successful, sets of advertisements with different actors). Such was the profile of these advertisements, that they even featured as a news article on the ‘News at Ten’.

With the coffee industry focused on price rather then quality, it was little wonder that coffee sales became stagnant. Coffee drinking was now more about a caffeine fix rather then about savouring the taste, to be drunk in a break from work, rather then to be enjoyed over conversation or while reading the newspaper. Unsurprisingly the younger generations born in the 70s and 80s turned their back on bitter coffee, preferring sugary soft drinks such as Coca Cola and Pepsi for their caffeine kicks.

Choosing a Personal Fitness and Nutrition

A personal fitness and nutrition trainer can help you enter a race where there’s no engraved cup or money award at the finish line. Unlike the Thoroughbreds racing at the local park, you will be running for your very life instead. Fitness and nutrition are the keys to a quality long life.

Racing for Fitness

Almost 60% of people in the United States are overweight or obese. The consequences of having too much fat on your body can be severe. Obesity is a major cause of many serious illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and even certain forms of cancer. Continue reading

The Names of Different Coffee Drinks

Coffee drinks have many different names that come from many sources. Coffee houses have 64 drink selections they agree have the same basic recipe. Some of these drinks have different names or have a number of variations. A good barista is one who knows how to make them all.

Affogato is Italian for drowned. This can be a drink or served as a dessert a drink or dessert with espresso that may also incorporate caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.

The Baltimore is an equal mix of decaffeinated and caffeinated brewed coffee while the Black Eye is dripped coffee with a double shot of espresso creating a strong taste.

The Black Tie is a traditional Thai Iced Tea, which is a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar and condensed milk or cream, with a double shot of espresso.

The Breven is made with steamed half and half cream while the Caffè Americano or simply Americano is prepared by adding hot water to espresso, giving a similar strength, but different flavor from regular drip coffee. The strength of an Americano varies with the number of shots of espresso added. Variations include the Long Black, Lungo and Red eye.

The European Café au Lait is a continental tradition known by different names, but is the most popular drink in European coffee houses. It is made using strong or bold coffee as well as espresso that is mixed with scalded milk in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Cafe Bombon was made popular in Valencia, Spain and modified to suit European tastes and many parts of Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The basic European recipe uses espresso served with sweetened condensed milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. The Asian version uses coffee and sweetened condensed milk at the same ratio. For visual effect, a glass is used, to create two separate bands of contrasting color.

In America, the Caffe Latte is a portion of espresso and steamed milk, generally in a 2 to 1 ratio of milk to espresso, with a little foam on top. This beverage was popularized by large coffee chains such as Starbucks.

The Cafe Medici starts with a double shot of espresso extracted using a double filter basket in a portafilter that is poured over chocolate syrup and orange or lemon peel, which is usually topped with whipped cream. This drink originated at Seattle’s historic Last Exit on Brooklyn coffeehouse.

A Cafe Melange is a black coffee mixed or covered with whipped cream. This drink is most popular in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

A Cafe Miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey. Miel is honey in Spanish.

Coffee milk is similar to chocolate milk; but coffee syrup is used instead. It is the official state drink of Rhode Island in the United States.

A Cafe mocha or Mocha is a variant of a caffe latte, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of chocolate syrup. When bought from a vending system, instant chocolate powder is used. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.

Moccaccino is a term used in some regions of Europe and the Middle East to describe caffe latte with cocoa or chocolate. In the U.S., it usually refers to a cappuccino made with chocolate.

Cafe Zorro is a double espresso added to hot water in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ca phe sua da is a unique Vietnamese coffee recipe that means iced milk coffee. Mix black coffee with about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk, pour over ice. Phe sua nong means hot milk coffee, which excludes ice. In Spain, a similar drink is called Cafe del Tiempo, hot, or Cafe con Hielo, ice.

Cappuccino is a coffee-based drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. It is served in a porcelain cup, which has far better heat retention. The foam on top of the cappuccino acts as an insulator to help retain the heat, allowing it to stay hotter longer.

The Caramel Machiatto or C-Mac is a vanilla latte with foam and gooey caramel drizzled on top, while Chai Latte notes that the steamed milk of a normal cafè latte is being flavored with a spiced tea concentrate.

A Chocolate Dalmatian is a white chocolate mocha topped with java chip and chocolate chip while Cinnamon Spice Mocha is mixed cinnamon syrup, topped with foam and cinnamon powder.

A Cortado, Pingo or Garoto is an espresso with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The ratio of milk or steamed milk to coffee is between 1 to 1 to 1 to 2. Milk is added after the espresso is made.

Decaf is a beverage made with decaffeinated beans while a Dirty Chai is Chai tea made with a single shot of espresso.

An Eggnog Latte is a seasonal blend of steamed 2% milk and eggnog, espresso and a pinch of nutmeg. In Germany, the Eiskaffee, ice cream cof

Fresh Roasted Coffee Facts

Depending on the day, coffee is either the number one or two most consumed beverage in the world. It is enjoyed daily by hundreds of millions of people in virtually every country around the globe.

Many fresh roasted coffee lovers have no idea how their favorite morning cup of coffee is ‘made’. This article briefly explains the process of roasting gourmet coffee beans and how those wonderful flavors and aromas’ get into your morning cup!

It takes around fifteen to twenty minutes to roast gourmet coffee beans using a typical small commercial gas roaster. The usual rule-of-thumb is the quicker the roast, the better the coffee.

Short roasting retains the largest percentage of the gourmet coffee bean’s aromatic properties. Slow roasting gourmet coffee beans results in the beans baking and usually prevents them from developing fully. Also slow roasting normally won’t produce bright roasts and typically makes the beans hard instead of brittle even after the color standard has been attained.

Gourmet coffee beans have varying degrees of moisture when they are green or raw. The best fresh roasted coffee is created by first starting the roasting process with a slow fire until some of the moisture has been driven out of the bean. If too much heat is used at the beginning of the roasting process there is a high risk of “tipping” or charring the little germ at the end of the bean which is the most sensitive part of the bean.

Kissing The Cheeks” of a gourmet coffee bean is caused by loading too many beans in the roasting cylinder at one time and revolving the roasting cylinder too fast. This causes some of the beans to ride the cylinder walls for a complete revolution instead of falling off the sides into the cylinder as it revolves. As a result one face of the gourmet coffee bean gets burned or ‘kissed’.

There are no universal standards for coffee roasting. Because roasting is part ‘art’, a roaster will develop a personal blend and roast combination and establish that blend/roast combination as a sample ‘type’ to be used as the in-house standard the next time a batch of that blend/roast is roasted. Coffee drinker’s tastes run the entire gambit of roasting possibilities, from light roasted to extremely dark roasts.

Many roasters use the following roasting classifications:

  • Light
  • Cinnamon
  • Medium
  • High
  • City
  • Full City
  • French
  • Italian

A city roast is a dark roasted bean. A full city roast is a few degrees darker yet. A French roasted bean is cooked until the natural oil appears on the surface. And an Italian roasted bean is roasted until it is carbonized so it can be easily powdered.

In the United States, lighter roasted beans are favored on the west coast, the darkest roasts are enjoyed in the south and a medium-colored roast is the primary roast enjoyed on the east coast. Coffee drinkers in Boston especially enjoy cinnamon roasted coffee.

Coffee loses weight during the roasting process. The amount of weight lost varies according to the degree of roasting and the nature of the bean. Green beans, on average, loose sixteen (16%) percent of their weight during the roasting process. Typically one hundred pounds of coffee in the cherry produces twenty-five pounds in the parchment. One hundred pounds in parchment produces eighty-four pounds of cleaned coffee. And one hundred pounds of cleaned coffee produces eighty-four pounds of fresh roasted coffee.

During the roasting process the gourmet coffee bean undergoes both physical and chemical changes. After it has been in the roasting cylinder a short time the color of the bean turns a yellowish brown which gradually darkens the longer it is cooked. Likewise as the beans heat up they shrivel up until they reach the halfway point of the roasting process called the “developing” point. At this stage the beans start to swell back up and “pop open” increasing their physical size by fifty percent. When the developing point is reached the heat is turned up and the roasting is finished as quickly as possible.

“Dry” and “Wet” Roasts

A coffee roaster uses a utensil called a “trier” (it looks like an elongated spoon) to check the progress of the beans often during the roasting process. The trier is slipped into the cylinder taking a sample of the roasting beans and compared to a type sample. When the coffee has reached the desired level of roasting the heat is shut off to “check” or stop the cooking by reducing the temperature of the coffee and roasting cylinder as quickly as possible.

In the wet roast method the coffee is sprayed with water while the roasting cylinder is still revolving to cool the beans and stop the cooking.

In the dry roast method the beans are poured out of the roasting cylinder into a large colander type basket where they are stirred rapidly while air is blown through the beans to cool them down as quickly as possible to stop the cooking.

Excessive watering of coffee in and after the roasting process to reduce shrinkage is typically frowned upon. “Heading” the coffee or checking the roast before removing it from the roasting cylinder is considered a legitimate practice.

When water is used to quench the roast and stop the cooking most of the water turns to steam and does not get absorbed by the beans. However the beans do tend to swell slightly and brighten the coffee. Even though some water is used to check the roast it is still considered to be a “dry roast”.

It is doubtful that more than a handful of American coffee roasters use an absolutely “dry” roasting method – it is difficult to maintain consistent results from one batch to another and usually doesn’t provide the best possible product. The term “dry roasted” has been abused for years by coffee company marketing departments. Of course “dry roasted” coffee as described above will always make better coffee than beans that have been soaked with water but the word “dry” needs to be defined as to what exactly that means among roasters before the term can provide any real meaning or value to consumers.