When do you drink your coffee?

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I think when you drink your coffee speaks to an interesting thought: is coffee a ritual or a necessity?

I was thinking about this because I noticed that most days we didn’t start making coffee till around 10am or so. For us, we like to wake up, eat, get the nasty email out of the way, and then go about making coffee for the rest of the day’s work.

Therefore, coffee is not just a break for us in the morning, but a ritual. We choose our coffee (walking to get it if we are out), grind it up, prepare the french press, then wait for it to brew. Since we both use travel mugs exclusively, we then drink it for a fair amount of time.

On the other hand, the days when we treat ourselves to coffee, we usually take a midmorning or early afternoon walk, go to a cafe, and really sit and enjoy our coffee. This is even more of a ritual for us.

I would hate to arrive at one day when coffee is such a necessity that we lose the ritual and stop admiring coffee for its taste and the pleasure it brings into our day.

So, I would ask all coffee drinkers out there to see if they are drinking coffee for the need only, or for something more too…

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Wicked Cafe

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We’re sitting in Wicked Cafe right now, enjoying a warm fall day with a nice cup of coffee and lunch. The sandwiches here are amazing. And the cafe has a nice atmosphere with lots of open windows, and even some great photography showcased right now from Kris Krug. We’ve been here a few times before, and have even had a nice chat with the owner, Brad.

A couple of days ago he let us know that he will be holding Intelligentsia tastings at the cafe. Brad is the new Intelligentsia rep in Vancouver, so I think that’s just great. I think he’s accomplished a lot in the coffee world in the last few years, approaching coffee with a passion and dedication, but also with a lot of fun.

So, if you want to taste a great roaster and to understand a little more about coffee, join us at Wicked Cafe on the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30. The tasting for this month has been pushed to October 4th, so come out and learn!

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Great Service

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Today we walked down to Granville Island to pick up some coffee beans from JJ Bean – we usually stick with the Ethiopian Harar. So far it’s our favourite JJ Bean brew.

I got to chatting with the employees and asked if JJ sold the chocolate covered coffee beans in bulk – it’s going to be one of the wedding favors we give away. Appropriate, yes? Well, he gave me a card to call, which will be convenient.

But the service really made my day. Both employees were very nice to talk to and were very personable. They even gave us a small coffee on the house. How’s that for service?

Little things make a bit difference. Way to go JJ Bean, you know how to hire and support great staff!

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Trying an Intelligentsia coffee

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As mentioned in my last post, Ianiv & I are trying out a coffee from Intelligentsia. Although it did smell more sharp, it was actually quite different in taste than I expected – and in a good way.

I usually express my ideas of smell/taste in very similar words, and I think this is because both senses are very strong for me. You’ll often find me saying that something smells buttery or tangy, which are not words anyone usually uses to express smell. Anyway, this time my nose was far off my taste, and that was interesting.

The coffee we are trying is from Honduras – La Tortuga

“Action-packed” only begins to describe the Tortuga experience. This is truly one of the most intriguing Central American coffees out there, dense with flavor notes that range from dark chocolate and fudge to fig, tamarind, and spiced pear cider. The body is plush and velvety, and the finish resolves itself confidently with some residual chocolate and a touch of cedar. There is a sense of intrigue with this coffee, as if one could continue peeling back layers of flavor without ever knowing the whole story. A tremendously satisfying taste experience!

I do find the coffee less full bodied than the previous one from Hines. This one sits in the mouth differently – more of a jolt than a smooth ride, if you can understand that weird description. I like it, though – it has an almost fruity taste to it. Still, when it’s out, I’ll be more preferential to coffees in the smooth, creamy flavour that I love.

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Ode to Hines

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Well, not an ode, but more a positive rant.

I love Hines Coffee. Really. One of the best. Recently they had to vacate their premises so some condos could be put up, but they will be back. And yet, they are still roasting! The batch we just bought yesterday was roasted at Stumptown. We got it from the Elysian Room. They get a lot of our coffee buying business.

Anywho, we tried a new Hines yesterday. Oh my. Heaven in a cup. No kidding. We’ve had other blBlog Ads by Chitikaends before and considered them our faves, and were really partial to Ethiopian coffees from various roasters, but this new one we have is a Nicaraguan. Unspeakably good. Smooth. Strong but not in your face flavour. Something complex in the flavour. Settles nicely in your mouth. Needs hardly any milk (yes, I put milk and sugar in most coffees – unless it’s a really well done Americano). Makes my mouth tingle, I love it so much. I’ll have to try more from Nicaragua to compare.

So, I am very happy Hines is still roasting. Though we still continue to try other blends and other roasters so we can fully understand coffee in all its different options, we are always coming back to Hines.

Yesterday we also bought another coffee from Intelligentsia – will try it tomorrow. From my initial smell and chew of a bean (a habit I got into, probably not a good one), it seems more acidic. Anyway, won’t venture too far out there, but will comment tomorrow.

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Turning chocolate cake into mocha cake

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I bet everyone out there has a favourite chocolate cake recipe. We have a few on Baking Low Fat so far (though feel free to add your own).

So, why not add something more punchy to that cake? Make it mocha!

How?

Instead of the water in the recipe, add in cold coffee. The stronger, the more flavour your cake will have.

That’s it! Enjoy.

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The tea market

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Apparently, the tea market has been booming. Population growth aside, the numbers are going up at a startling rate. Does this have something to do with the new trends of coffee shops as a place to work, meet or hang out? Who knows.

Prepared for the Intergovernmental Group on Tea meeting in Bali (July 20-22, 2005):

1990 US tea market valued at 1.84 billion

2003 US tea market valued at $5.4 billion

Tea imports to the US went up 5.3% to 99,000 tons in 2004.

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Black Tea reduces cavities

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So, black tea could reduce cavities. The study focused on the use of black tea for mouth rinsings, but the same effect could be expected from simply drinking the tea. The recommended tea is a Ceylon or Orange Pekoe – loose leaf, of course.

A recent Chicago College of Dentistry study showed that people who rinsed their mouths with black tea multiple times a day had less plaque buildup than those who rinsed with water. “Polyphenols in tea suppress the bacterial enzyme that triggers plaque accumulation,” says Christine D. Wu, Ph.D., the lead study author. “Drinking tea a few times a day could have the same effect.”…

Medical research has shown that drinking black tea offers protection against heart disease and blood-vessel disease, some types of cancer, and also reduces bacterial infections. New studies show black tea contains compounds known as theaflavins and thearubigens, which offer health benefits originally attributed solely to green tea.

Consider this more traditional healthy Ceylon Tea as a relaxing daily treat that offers healthy qualities without the cavity-causing sweetener of the frozen blended drinks at coffee houses. Black tea is especially enjoyable with the available Muggatea tea mug sold by Tastes Of The World.

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2 weeks without good coffee

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Oh, did I suffer! Two whole weeks without good coffee. Not to say I didn’t try to find some! I spent the last two weeks in Ontario, and a few of those days in Montreal. I felt sure to find a good cup of coffee in Montreal, but was sorely disappointed. I stuck my head into I don’t know how many cafes before giving up early one afternoon and going to Van Houtte. Blah. Don’t even need to review that, now do I?

The second attempt at good coffee was in a more French part of Montreal on a street whose name I’ve forgotten at the moment but that starts with an L. I am on the plane right now, so I don’t have my references. I will, however, fully review this cafe. Not because it was good, but because I actually believed it would be. Oh, it even smelled horrid after I got the cup. Don’t be misled by a good smelling cafe – it doesn’t always mean a good cup of coffee!

Anyway, after exhausting myself trying to find a good cafe, I even reduced myself twice to get Tim Hortons, which I abhor, out of sheer necessity when driving. So bad.

Perhaps I should have remembered to take my beans with me! And I totally need a travel french press for one person, I think. This whole searching for cafes thing is not working out so well! And I don’t consider Starbucks a viable alternative, either!

So, unless I can scour reviews of cities before I go to see a) what is good, and b) if I can get there, I had better be prepared to travel with coffee!

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Starbucks into music

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Boy, I’m writing about Starbucks a lot. Sorry. But they really do get a lot of news coverage:

They’re moving more than just macchiatos at Starbucks. Come Aug. 30, Dylan’s “Live at the Gaslight,” a previously unreleased 1962 live recording, will be available exclusively at the java joints for 18 days. And Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill Acoustic” has just ended a six-week Starbucks-only run during which it sold 170,000 copies.

The Seattle-based coffee merchant, which sold its first Blue Note Records jazz compilation in 1995, is flexing its marketing muscle by providing the very thing that the beleaguered music industry has been so desperate to find: a new outlet where music fans will eagerly spend their money on full-length, full-price CDs.

With “Genius Loves Company,” the posthumous Ray Charles duets album that won eight Grammys, Starbucks made it clear it has become more powerful than a triple-shot venti cappuccino. Of the three million copies sold in the United States, a staggering 775,000 – more than a quarter – were sold in Starbucks stores.

“Genius’” success gave Starbucks “permission from our customers” to go deeper into the music business, says Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. He says the music industry’s problems – sales are down 2.5 percent the first half of this year – make Starbucks an ideal place to reach older, disaffected music fans who don’t know what to buy or where to buy it. He says the company’s strategy is to move from “a niche player” into “a destination when it comes to discovering new music.”

Starbucks isn’t only hawking brand-name artists. By playing the artists’ music in its 4,400 U.S. stores and on its XM satellite radio “lifestyle” Hear Music channel – “the Voice of Starbucks” – the coffeeshop tastemaker is breaking new ones.

Among them are Antigone Rising, the female folk-rock band that is a Starbucks-exclusive artist, and Amos Lee, the soulful Philadelphia singer-songwriter who has sold more than 26,000 copies – out of 129,000 – of his self-titled debut at Starbucks.

Starbucks has led the way when it comes to selling what corporate types call “branded premium” music CDs. That practice is so prevalent that you can pick up a customized mix disc at Stephen Starr restaurants such as Continental and Buddakan, or prolong the down-home experience at Cracker Barrel by buying its exclusive Alison Krauss album, “Home on the Highways,” which has sold 125,000 copies…

And in 1999, the coffee giant bought retailer Hear Music – which targets the same over-30, upper-income consumers who frequent Starbucks and listen to adult alternative, or Triple A, radio stations.

In 2002, the company launched the Artist’s Choice series of mix CDs selected by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Yo-Yo Ma and Norah Jones. Some of those, like this year’s Elvis Costello collection, which features Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin and Rilo Kiley, are excellent.

Now the stores sell as many as 12 titles at a time. The new Coldplay and Dave Matthews albums are on the racks, plus Sly and the Family Stone tribute and greatest-hits albums. Lombard says the company is “careful to make sure our customers don’t feel we’ve turned their coffee shop into a music store.”…

The exclusive deals with Morissette and Dylan have peeved music retailers already pinched by digital downloading and by big-box stores such as Best Buy, which deeply discount CDs…

Over the last decade, consumers over 30 have become the largest segment of music buyers, accounting for nearly 58 percent of sales in 2003, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. But attracting adults “disaffected from the traditional record market,” says Barros, is a tricky business, involving media exposure, word of mouth, or extraordinary circumstance, such as the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” whose blockbuster soundtrack sold six million copies.

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Thai Iced Coffee Recipe

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3 cardamom pods

1/3 cup whole dark coffee beans or 1/4 cup dark ground coffee

2 cups hot water

1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup, or to taste

Ice

1/4 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half

Grind cardamom pods with coffee beans (or mix together ground cardamom with ground coffee) and brew with 2 cups hot water to make very strong coffee. Add sugar or maple syrup and let cool. Pour into two glasses filled with ice. Add evaporated milk or half-and-half and serve. Makes 2 servings.

From Badgett’s Coffee eJournal

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