Latte Art Album

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Flickr user tonx has a great collection of latte art photos in one of his photosets. Some of them he created, the others were made by his coworkers. He also has other very good coffee related photos.

And if that is not enough coffee porn for you, go check out the Espresso Flickr pool.

Easy easy to clean your coffee grinder: rice!

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Yeah I know, sounds nuts.  I don’t know where I picked it up but it does work.  This trick is intended for the blade-type grinders.  I also just did this so I know it works great.  So, you simply put a scant 1/4 of dry rice (use cheap rice, not your exotic jasmine rice) in the grinder and grinder away.  The dry rice scours the grinding area and picks up stray coffee too.  You wouldn’t believe how shiny and clean my grinder is right now.  I dump the remnants into the compost pail (the rice is now basically seed meal) and wipe out the grinding area and lid (which doesn’t get all that clean) with a paper towel or cloth.
 
This cleaning trick works great if you have to use your grinder to grind spices.  You keep the coffee out of the spice and the spice out of your coffee.  It also is good to do once and a while to get old rancid gunk out as well.
 
Give it a shot!

Tris Hussey is the Chief Blogging Officer for Qumana Software and Managing Director of Qumana Services.  He can be reached at tris AT qumana DOT com or tris AT trishussey DOT com.
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Coffee Review – Salt Spring Coffee Co.

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Salt Spring Coffee Co. is a micro roaster over on Salt Spring, obviously. Salt Spring serves Fair Trade and Organic coffee:

Salt Spring Coffee Co.â„¢ is dedicated to the art of fresh roasting top-grade specialty arabica coffee beans. These beans are specifically sourced from smaller farms and farmer run co-ops in the world’s finest organic and shade grown coffee producing regions

Presently, we have one café on Salt Spring Island and roast all our coffee at our main roasting facility, also located on the island. Our fresh roasted coffee is distributed off island to Victoria, Vancouver Island, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, across Canada and internationally.

It’s not too far distant from that of Ethical Beans. The quality is definitely on par. They are perhaps more settled in their business model, but that has no effect on the coffee beans themselves. There was no espresso-based beverages to try, but I was impressed with the quality of the drip. It’s hard to have a good drip and to keep it fresh tasting while stored.

Their website is nicely done, and includes a great little e-commerce module. When I visit Salt Spring this summer, I hope to set up a visit to the roasting house.

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I love those tiny little cups. So adorable. Once again, a display that just blew my mind. I love that they took so much time on the details and really set it out like a mini cafe. Tons of branding going on. Way to go!

Green Coffee

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Green Coffee sells, direct, green beans for you to roast at home.

Here are the 5 suggested methods of roasting:

1. with a home coffee roaster (they recommend Freshroast Plus)
2. in a popcorn popper
3. with a heat gun in a stainless steel bowl
4. on the stovetop in a wok or cast iron pan
5. in the oven

If you want further instructions, email me and I will supply.

Freshroast Plus:

Here is Roland’s podcast with Green Coffee.

Coffee Review – Ethical Bean

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Ethical Bean serves Fair Trade (TransFair) and Organic coffee. The company was created after the couple decided to adopt a child in Guatemala – as a part of the learning process about their new daughter’s culture, they discovered coffee and the plight of coffee growers. The business is the development of a desire to have an ethical business as well as a desire to stay connected with their daughter’s roots.

All blends are single origin, roasted in small batches. Although mostly available in retail locations, they are slowly entering the cafe market. The names of the coffee types are all really creative: Guatemalan aaah, Ethiopian yum, Espresso buzz… Quite funny.

The barista on hand made me a really fabulous Americano. I have to say it was THE best coffee of the day. Really great. So bold, so smooth. Mmm. No cream or sugar needed. They are right in their copy “full-bodied velvet slipper for your tongue.”

I think they had the most impressive showing in terms of having both drip and espresso based options, as well as tea, and a talented barista for the serving.

Ianiv had both an espresso shot and a cup of assam tea. Both were really great.

I know it’s an aesthetic response, but I really quite like the branding. Clean, simple, effective. Great work! I bet it’s the work of Kim Schachte, who previously worked in graphic design.

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The owners have invited us to a cupping, and I must say I am quite excited about the prospect.

Chai tea – so so yummy

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I love the full bodied complexity of Chai tea. I’ve had it made in so many different ways, but am rarely disappointed. Although I neglected to take a picture of this particular brand, I was quite impressed with the lovely cinnamon sticks.

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Coffee Review: Level Ground Trading

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Level Ground Trading was formed to make sure that coffee farmers received a consistent, fair return for their work. They also support sugar cane growers with their Panela sugar brand. The founder of the company had grandparent coffee farmers in San Miguel – enough experience to spur the creation of the company. Other support offered back includes education, school improvements, jobs for women and health benefits.

Our mission is to trade fairly and directly with small-scale producers in developing countries, and to market their products offering our customers ethical consumer choices.[Level Ground]

Unfortunately, it was not an espresso-based drink being served. And the drip variety was stored in the large canisters. Aside from those drawbacks, I think the coffee was decent. I added sugar, but did not need milk. I like my coffee a tad bolder, but I think this was a case of the aforementioned serving issues.

I look forward to trying this coffee again. From what I can see, it’s a retail brand. It’s unfortunate, since I would love to try it in a cafe. Perhaps they will offer a cupping if they read this (hint hint).

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Coffee Review: Barbarba Caffe

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Barbarba Caffe is a micro-roaster of Italian espresso. The caffee is a part of Lilikoi Specialty Foods. They serve retail, foodservice, and have custom label blends. New to the brand is the resale of green beans to other micro roasters.

We had an espresso each. Although he claimed the coffee to be not bitter, but it was a little tart. Although this blend was to have the sweet note common to Arabica beans, I was not able to taste it. We were not overly impressed and would not seek it out. It’s not awful, but it’s not in the elite class of other Vancouver roasters.

I asked if his coffee was Fair Trade, and the owner, Giuseppe, said no. He put forth an argument that it wasn’t really that important if you work with a good broker and that the peasants still make a living. We didn’t feel like getting into a heated argument, but were not overly impressed.

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If Giuseppe happens across this post, it might also help if you redesign your collateral material. :)

Nestle Coffee-mate Caramel Flavoured Coffee

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Nestle Coffee-mate Caramel Flavoured Coffee – need I say more?

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keywords to avoid here: flavoured; caramel; coffee-mate

Number one, it’s not even dairy. Two, the flavour is artificial and far too sweet. And, seriously, flavoured coffee in general is pretty bad. The only flavour I go for is in syrup – flavoured beans are, most typically, beans so bad that flavour just masks the awful taste; in this case, the flavour is in the liquid stuff that’s Called coffee-mate. Ew.

Eat! Vancouver 2005 Coffee Reviews

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I forced myself to try each and every coffee variety served at the Eat! Vancouver 2005 convention.

The coffee available was:

Folgers coffee served in the Home Café from Black & Decker
Nestle Coffee-mate Caramel Flavoured Coffee
Barbarba Caffe
Level Ground Trading
Ethical Bean
Salt Spring Coffee Co

In all honesty, I think there might have been others that we just neglected to get brochures of or take pictures of. Overall, there were good, bad and really bad coffees available. But, you can tell I was pretty highly caffeinated after all of this.

Check out each of my above reviews to see what I think.

Coffee Machine Review: Home Café from Black & Decker

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I tried the Folgers coffee served in the Home Café from Black & Decker while at Eat! Vancouver 2005. Sigh. I did not enjoy this one.

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The machine features a pod system – water is forced through the pods at high pressure to create the coffee. The tagline for the system is “The One Cup Coffeehouse.”

If this were a coffeehouse cup of coffee, I would not return to the cafe. It was watery and completely lacked flavour (although who would want to drink Folgers anyway). So yes, bad. Very bad.

I’ve not read much about the pod system, but can’t imagine why it would make a good cup of coffee. There is a sheath of material between the water and the coffee – wouldn’t the material impede the oils from coming out?

New French Press

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Today we purchased a French Press from Bodum. Ianiv wanted something that he can take to work during the week. The coffee served there is some “Elephant” brand in those large awful machines. This way he can make a nicer cup at his desk.


Bodum Chambord 8-Cup Coffee Press

I’ve asked him to bring it home for weekends. Truth be told, we have a really crappy assortment of espresso machines at home. No plain old coffee machines. A stovetop Moka, a ‘lovely’ Mr. Coffee so crappy it’s not even on their website, and a small pot to make Turkish coffee. It’s quite sad, we know. A nicer espresso machine is high on our wish list – it will be included in our wedding registry. But, for now, we think this will be a vast improvement.

Small push for Renewable Energy from Starbucks

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Starbucks has tested the waters of Renewable energy by announcing a Renewable Energy Plan.

From Treehugger:

Starbucks has announced that it is committing to buying 5% of the electricity for US stores from renewable power sources. The press release from Starbucks states that they will be purchasing wind energy through energy certificates. The power will be generated by approximately 11 large-scale windmills, and it is estimated to cut emissions by two percent in its stores.

The change, while modest, will put the company into the current top 25 U.S. purchasers of renewable energy. However, other companies such as Whole Foods, Staples, Kinkos and BMW, are already in the top 25, and purchase 10% of their energy needs from renewable sources.

Now, let’s see them also do something to decrease the waste from their cups, sugar packets, and stir sticks.

New blog: Baking Low Fat

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We’ve officially launched our 5th blog: Baking Low Fat.

I love to bake. Don’t know if it’s the ingredients, the process, or just the satisfaction of eating the goodies, but I love baking far more than cooking. However, for health reasons, we try to be really healthy in the kitchen. I’ve found it quite hard to accomidate my love for baked goods into a healthy lifestyle. Baking is not really a low-carb diet, but I’m not a low-carb kind of person. Happen to love my carbs.

Fortunately, I have come across a couple of hard-to-get cookbooks and constantly search the web for tons of recipes and tips. So, I am able to enjoy the yummy baked goods without all the fat. Luckily, there are some easy ways to take out the oil and butter without sacrificing the flavour.

So, this blog is to share what I’ve learned. And, bonus, it’s a Drupal blog. So, you can share your recipes and ideas too. Subscribe to the blog, and join the community of healthy bakers.

Eat! Vancouver by Kris Krug

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Check out all the great photos and commentary by Kris Krug about Eat! Vancouver.