Cafe del Star, Marseille

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Bad coffee. Very good crepes. Totally need to have the Nutella version.

Also amusing: the locals playing poker and settling their bets.

Coffee in Nice

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One of the specialties in Nice is a food called Socca, which is made from chickpea flour and oil, and is fried. Very tasty and filling.

At Chez Rene Socca, I had a hot chocolate (made from a strong dark chocolate, but in powder), and Ianiv had an espresso. Decent. Socca was better than the coffee ;)

Buy Kopi Luwak Online

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You can now buy "Kopi Luwak" coffee online.

What is Kopi Luwak?

Kopi Luwak coffee, also known as Civet coffee or Kape Alamid, is coffee made from the poop of a Palm Civet. Kopi = coffee, Luwak = Palm Civet.

Yep, that’s right, it’s coffee that has passed through the digestive tract of the cat-sized mammal common in the Philippines & Vietnam. The Palm Civet will eat the coffee berries, and the beans pass through undigested.

The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but it is believed that enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee’s flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are excreted still covered in some inner layers of the cherry, and locals then gather them and sell them to dealers. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors which develop through the whole process. - Wikipedia

Why would anyone drink Kopi Luwak?

That I cannot answer. And yet, it is the single most expensive coffee in the world, selling at $75 USD per quarter pound.

The coffee is popular in the US and Japan, and is now available online. I’ve no personal interest in trying it, but if you do - go for it.

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Win Blenz Coffee - Canada Day Contest

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I won’t claim to like Blenz coffee, but I am not one to pass up the chance for others to win anything for free, even bad coffee.

So, if you’re a Canadian, here is a contest for you:

Simply write to Blenz what Canada means to you, and you could win 139 days of free coffee to celebrate Canada’s 139th birthday.

I entered with some snippets from my post/essay on being Canadian, although I don’t know what I’d drink if I won. Tea? Latte?

Thanks to Bill for sending in the tip. And good luck to all those who enter!

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Cappuccino Art

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Cappuccino Art, brought to you by the Elysian Room

Coffee to reduce soil acidity

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Well, that was an educational wikipedia entry. I got my fact for the day from it, to be sure.

Today I learned that coffee is used to reduce soil acidity. Apparently farmers will dilute coffee four times its volume in water, a dilution which is very common to reduce soil acidity when growing tomatoes, chili peppers, blueberries and other plants prone to high acidity.

Spent coffee grounds are a good fertilizer in gardens because of their high nitrogen content. Starbucks, and some other coffee shops, have a specific policy of giving away their used coffee grounds to gardeners. While they tend to be only slightly acidic, they also tend to improve the acidity of garden soil through the same chemical processes which cause sawdust to do the same thing. Coffee grounds raise soil acidity more immediately if they are added fresh, instead of after brewing.

Can you define coffee?

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I’ve been playing around a lot in Wikipedia lately. Using it to give me inspiration to learn and share oddball facts.

Today I wondered: "is there a definition for coffee?"

I mean, I knew there would be, because it’s a word, but I was really curious about what it would say. Would it talk about the chemical properties of coffee? Starbucks?

Well, here is what Wikipedia has to say about coffee:

Coffee is a beverage, served hot or with ice, prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. These seeds are almost always called coffee beans. Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world (measured by monetary volume), trailing only petroleum, and the most consumed beverage. In total, 6.7 million tonnes of coffee were produced annually in 1998-2000, forecast to rise to 7 million tonnes annually by 2010. [1] Coffee is a chief source of caffeine, a stimulant.

Expected: it’s a plant, business of coffee, consumption, caffeine.

Unexpected: putting "served hot or with ice" rather than "with milk or sugar". ;)

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Direct Trade Coffee

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Direct Trade Coffee - a step up from Fair Trade. And something Intelligentsia is taking quite seriously.

What is Direct Trade?

Working closely with the growers to offer a good price for good quality. This includes paying more than fair trade (25% more), with transparent pricing along the entire line, and giving the recognition due for an amazing coffee. Additionally, coffee must be produced by economically, socially and environmentally sustainable methods

Intelligentsia has formed a commitment to these things, and to visiting these farms and villages each harvest to ensure coffee is grown well, harvested well and celebrated.

To read more of the Intelligentsia Direct Trade, go here.

I am very happy to hear of these practices, since Intelligentsia coffee is high on my list of favorites.

Thanks to Brad of Wicked Cafe for the pointer and the coffee. Great as always. My first iced coffee of the season - if only the weather would catch up to my cravings!

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Ran out of coffee, Arieanna had a meeting in 15 minutes, Starbucks is just 2 blocks away… and I like those pumpkin scones.

Stomach-Friendly Coffee

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If the thought of Folgers alone doesn’t make your stomach churn, then perhaps you’ll be interested in the Stomach-Friendly Coffee they recently released called Simply Smooth.

This new stomach-friendly coffee from Folgers is made from specially selected beans that are roasted to reduce certain irritants that may affect a sensitive stomach.

They say that careful control of the exact roast will prevent the gastric irritants in the coffee. Perhaps the problem is not coffee in general, but Folgers? Ew.

Really, if you are looking for quality and careful roasting why not go to your local cafe or local micro-roaster instead?

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Coffee in Holland

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This is the coffee we had at a bakery in Holland, specifically in Gouda. The coffee was decent and satisfying, as it was quite a cold day. We found that coffee in Holland was more consistent of a certain level. And, as a bonus, a great deal of places in Holland serve you a little cookie with your coffee. With tea too. We ate a lot of cookies.

This is the only picture of coffee we took in Holland, but we did have others - at another lovely bakery in Gouda (where they also make stroopwaffels) we enjoyed also a good cup. Now, good is not great, but after a month of bad, it was quite refreshing.

An interesting thing to note: the Dutch enjoy more coffee per capita than any other country in Europe. My family, with whom we stay, have about 3 cups a day (and note that this is ‘not as much as others’) - the national average is at 3 cups per day.

Trattoria Bar il Baretto

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We had coffee at the Trattoria Bar il Baretto in Manarola, which is part of the Cinque Terra region in Italy. Manarola is a tiny place, with not too many options for coffee.

Well, apparently we did make the wrong choice.

The coffee was quite horrible, but aside from that we can confidently say it was made by the most inept person of our entire trip. Aside from bad coffee, the milk is the topper. Imagine for yourself the steamer, caked with milk, and there you have this situation. It’s called a cloth. Concept.

Perhaps I should have just refused to drink anything made with that frother, but truth be told this was one morning where I wanted coffee not just to try coffee, but because I really needed a cup of coffee. The things we do in desperation!

Bon Cafe

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This espresso was made in a small bakery in Arles. The coffee is Bon Cafe (, which is kinda Starbucks or Nescafe-ish in size. I would not say it was the best nor the worst coffee we had in Europe. It was, actually, prepared with care (which was rare).

I do admit to adding the sugar, however, since it was not good enough (IMO) to be had on its own.

Luxembourg Cafe Amsterdam

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Our first coffee in Europe. Ok, not mind blowing, but actually good compared to many we had. It was a cappuccino, with the nice addition of chocolate on top.