Coffe at Microsoft

Related entries in Coffee around the world, Coffee Experiences, Coffee Opinion, Coffee Reviews

Robert Scoble points to a new Microsoft employee talking about his experience of his first six weeks working there. What may interest you is what he says about the coffee that Microsoft provides for his employees:

First, something negative that I hadn’t expected: the coffee. It sucks, all over the Redmond campus. I would never have thought that a company managed like Microsoft would be incapable of providing decent coffee to its employees. But it’s true. This stuff is gut-wrenching bad. Coffee-addict-repulsing bad.

Read the rest at Doug's World.

Coffee in Disneyland

Related entries in Coffee around the world, Coffee Experiences, Coffee Reviews

Yep, I held true to the reviewing thing. I actually tried coffee from Disneyland. *shudder*

Oh, it was not fun, let me tell you. We went to what looked like the most "main" in terms of coffee at Disneyland, the Blue Ribbon Bakery on Mainstreet.


Now, the first clue here is that the cafe is sponsored by, and served by, Nestle. Oy. I was in for it there. Well, I decided to get an Americano, and Ianiv a plain old drip coffee. Can you tell which is which?


Well, the one on the left was the Americano. And you can see me trying below. What you don't see is the grimace on my face. Oh my. I have to say it was as bad as any coffee from a random gas station that was brewed 4 hours ago kind of thing. And it was watery. So watery. Skimping on pennies for sure. Ianiv's was a tad more horrible, and perhaps even more watery. Lovely.


Die harders

Related entries in Coffee Experiences, Fun with coffee

This is us on our way to Disneyland. We drove down, all 21 hours, just the 2 of us. Coffee, of course, was needed. As well as copious amounts of any caffeinated product we could get our hands on.

So, not wanting to get coffee at some random gas station in the middle of the night, we took all our stuff with us. This is me grinding in the car. Thank goodness for free hot water at gas stations! I think the attendant was jealous ;)

More Fuel - Coffee

We even took our new snazzy coffee canister from Pottery Barn.

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Carmen Estate coffee

Related entries in Coffee around the world, Coffee Education, Coffee Experiences, Coffee Reviews

We tried another Panama coffee, this time from the Carmen Estate and also from the Best of Panama auction lot. Our beans were roasted by Hines, and thankfully provided by Elysian Room.

Carmen Estate is located in the Paso Ancho region, above the Finca La Florentina. From Sweet Maria's:

Carmen is on a very steep hillside with southern exposure, and due to the high altitude, the coffee has greater density, better acidity, a more piquant cup. So in a way, Florentina was getting some better cup quality with Carmen in the mix. But the farm was passed down to the new generation of the Franceschi family, namely Carlos Franceschi (Carmen was his grandmother) ... and he realized that they had a better coffee on their family farm then something to blend with lower-grown coffees. He built an independant mill for the Estate down in the valley using the latest equipment, and began a program to care for the trees usign new techniques. This farm uses the de-muscilage process where the muscilage is stripped off the parchment layer using friction, rather than traditional fermentation...

This coffee won the #3 spot in the Best of Panama competition in 2003, 2004 and #2 in 2005. The entire farm is very high altitude; it starts at 1450, an altitude many farms don't even reach, meters and goes up from there! We have a special arrangement to buy the coffee each year from the 1700+ meter altitudes, a very small amount of coffee. We sold out of that lot rapidly this year, but the entire crop is so good (a testament to Carlos' innovations) we set aside this Estate lot from his later shipment to the US, based on sample approval once it got here.

I preferred the brightness of this coffee over the more floral taste of the other Panama we tried. That's just a personal taste, as each has really bold flavours, but in different ways. I want to say this one was more sweet, although I know that was not the right word.

It was really a treat to drink it and to compare the differences, which were obvious right of the bat and in the finish, between the two Panama coffees.

Oh the craziness!

Related entries in Coffee Experiences

This week has been beyond insane. If you read my other blogs, or even just Blogaholics, you know that I've just come out of a big product release (or, rather, 2 products) - Qumana and AdGenta. One a blogging editor, the other an advertising program that works with Qumana.

So, I have had my head down working like a madwoman. OMG it was insane. For example, I got up today, sat at my computer, and didn't have time to leave it except to shower, grab food and talk on the phone. I didn't get my coffee until about half an hour ago - coffee at 4pm! So off my regular 10 am schedule. If we hadn't stocked up on coffee, I don't even think I would have had time to go get it.

So, I have notes from my reviews of 2 awesome coffees given to us by Elysian Room and I cannot wait to post them. Soon. ;)

Buying coffee is worth the rain

Related entries in Coffee Experiences

Today we ran out of coffee - oh my! Usually we purchase more before we run out, so no problem. Not today. No time this week. So, near 5pm on the dot we were out of the house and walking to Elysian Room, rain and all. Got there a bit damp, but better for the walk.

The things we'll do for coffee!

We were rewarded for our trip - not only did we buy our pound of coffee, but were graciously offered a test of a very exciting coffee (stay tuned tomorrow for the details!) and more new coffee to take home!

Thanks Elysian Room!

Watch for all the reviews...

When do you drink your coffee?

Related entries in Coffee Experiences

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

Related entries in Coffee Education, Coffee Experiences

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

Related entries in Coffee Experiences

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

Related entries in Coffee Education, Coffee Experiences, Coffee Reviews

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

Related entries in Coffee around the world, Coffee Experiences, Coffee Opinion, Coffee Reviews

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 blends 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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Starbucks into music

Related entries in Coffee Experiences, Coffee news

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.


Karma in Action

Related entries in Coffee Experiences

Watch what you say at Starbucks next time, or you could become victim of the decaf revenger.


Via Pete Quily

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The Starbucks Logo is a Mulesine

Related entries in Coffee around the world, Coffee Experiences

So, what's in a logo? Apparently, a lot. Have you ever looked at the Starbucks logo, for example? The green is, obviously, what it is now. But, the red was where it all started.


Unless you really took time to look at it, you probably didn't notice that the figure in the current Starbucks logo is not just a woman but actually something else. It's more obvious in the older logo. The figure is like a mermaid - but with 2 tails. It's called a Mulesine.

A Mulesine is a 2-tailed siren from 15th Century French mythology.


In European legends and folklore, Melusine (or Melusina) is the name of a spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers. She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish (much like a mermaid) from the waist down. She is also sometimes illustrated with wings, two tails or both...

the most famous literary version of Melusine tales, that of Jean d'Arras, compiled about 1382 - 1394 and worked into a collection of "spinning yarns" told by ladies at their spinning...

It tells how Elynas, the King of Albany (a poetical euphemism for Scotland) went hunting one day and came across a beautiful lady in the forest. She was Melusine's mother, Pressyne. He persuaded her to marry him but she agreed, only on the promise — for there is often a hard and fatal condition attached to any pairing of fay and mortal — that he must not enter her chamber when she birthed or bathed her children. She gave birth to triplets. When he violated this taboo, Pressyne left the kingdom, together with her three daughters, and traveled to the lost Isle of Avalon.

The three girls — Melusine, Melior, and Palatyne — grew up in Avalon. On their fifteenth birthday, Melusine, the eldest, asked why they had been taken to Avalon. Upon hearing of their father's broken promise, Melusine sought revenge. She and her sisters captured Elynas and locked him, with his riches, in a mountain. Pressyne became enraged when she learned what the girls had done, and punished them for their disrespect to their father. Melusine was condemned to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday.

Raymond of Poitou came across Melusine in a forest in France, and proposed marriage. Just as her mother had done, she laid a condition, that he must never enter her chamber on a Saturday. He broke the promise and saw her in the form of a part-woman part-serpent. She forgave him. Only when, during a disagreement with her, he called her a "serpent" in front of his court, did she assume the form of a dragon, provide him with two magic rings and fly off, never to return...

The tales are really quite fanciful and vary from region to region around the same theme of marriage with a contract of 'private time' as stipulation - contract broken - serpent form discovered and the wife then disappears. It's an interesting fable that is connected who-knows-how with Starbucks. Perhaps they liked fables or fables of the sea.

Over time, the Starbucks logo mutated to cover both the breasts and the navel. Quite PC now.

Via Industrial Brand Creative

Copycat Starbucks drinks

Related entries in Coffee Experiences, Recipes with Coffee

A great resource for copycat recipes to Starbucks beverages.

Includes such recipes as the Java Chip Frappucino and the Caramel Macchiato. Now, I cannot say I like all Starbucks beverages, or whether these are great reproductions, but it's an impressive compilation nonetheless.

I stumbled across this today as I was thinking about making an iced coffee of some sort. It was good. Just ice and coffee. The only change I would make would be to prechill the coffee before blending.

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