Search Results for “coffee ”

August 29, 2018

A Love Affair With Coffee

Are you having a love affair with coffee? I love the smell of coffee. I always have. Years before I liked drinking it, I wanted to pour it over my head every time I smelled that scrumptious aroma. Today, you can drive me up to a Starbucks® window and the instant coffee wafts past my nose, I feel my shoulders relax and my gut calm. I probably sigh out loud.

I don’t know why coffee has such a strong effect on me or why it feels comforting. No one in my family regularly drank coffee. It took me years to learn to enjoy it. From 100% freeze-dried Taster’s Choice® instant to my current favorite, whole bean Jim’s Organic Sweet Love Blend, it’s been a journey.
coffee press
Like everything else, coffee drinkers have their preferences. A few years ago, I went to a presentation on coffee at the Gilcrease Museum. During the tasting portion, I learned I am not a coffee purist. I am not willing to spend a full two minutes pouring boiling water over barely ground beans roasted so lightly they taste like…well, let’s just say they’re not to my taste.

I understand that very dark roasts can mostly taste like charred beans, but for some people that can be as delicious as the charred edges of steak cooked on a charcoal grill. One local roaster promoted a particular coffee to me by touting its high acidity. The problem with that is, I prefer a very smooth mellow flavor. If high acid comes with a bite at the end, I don’t like it.

Perhaps my favorite bag of coffee ever arrived from Costa Rica with a friend who had been traveling. Every drop I made from that bag superseded any coffee that came before or since. I’ve tried other Costa Rican coffees, but can’t seem to replicate that experience.

For the past few months I’ve been on a quest to find a new satisfying roast. I had been grabbing less expensive, already ground bags until I realized the simple pleasure of a really delicious cup of joe can set the tone for my whole day. I want every day to be the best possible, so I had to begin with better ingredients.

After experiments with several Starbucks, Peet’s, Wicked Joe, Equal Exchange, and Black Rifle flavors, I grabbed a bag of Jim’s Organic in a small health food store in my hometown. That one bag led to an online order that arrived this week. In addition to the Sweet Love Blend, I’m trying Costa Rican Hacienda La Amistad, Sumatra French Roast, and 2 Souls Dark Roast. They were all ordered as whole beans. Of course I couldn’t see the them online, but in the store I look for dark beans that glisten with aromatic oils.
coffee beans
I grind the beans for about 15 seconds and place them in a ceramic French press. I’ve owned a variety of coffee brewing machines over the years including one that shot sparks into the room when I wasn’t even using it. None of them have lasted for more than a couple of years and none of them produced a better cup of coffee than a $7 glass French press purchased from a restaurant supply store.

The ceramic press is a new purchase. So far, I like it. It keeps the coffee hot longer than my previous glass press. This press filled with Sweet Love Blend is good enough to extend my love affair with coffee.

A former boyfriend recently said he was always impressed that I could make such a good cup of coffee at home. My thought bubble was saying, “How would you know? You drink it with so much cream and sweetener, you can’t even taste the coffee”. (Former boyfriends always give me thought bubbles.)

Given the popularity of frappumacchiatocino drinks, I sometimes wonder how many people enjoy the taste of coffee. All that sugary stuff inside or on top certainly masks its flavor. On the flip side, a little cream can make a moderately bad, bitter cup palatable. Perhaps previous experience with an unpleasant aftertaste leads to a cream & sugar habit.

Then there are those who like coffee flavor, but want to fortify it as a breakfast substitute or an after workout replenisher. I have friends who swear by bullet coffee. It’s not my thing, but I recently saw a recipe for bullet coffee that looked delicious. In addition to butter, it included cacao, cinnamon, coconut oil, dates, and pink Himalayan sea salt.

I’m pretty sure health benefits are not the final consideration for most dedicated coffee drinkers. How could they be? One week, coffee causes cancer and increases the risk of heart disease. The next week, the antioxidants prevent dementia, type II diabetes, and Parkinson’s and make us live longer. The research is conflicting at best.

Recent research indicates that we need to figure out how long it takes our body to metabolize coffee to determine whether it will increase our mortality risk. And how exactly do we do that?

Since there’s no way to know the exact risk or benefit, it seems like the best thing to do is listen to my body. Obviously, it’s good to feel calmed and comforted. It’s not good to consume so much caffeine that I feel jittery. A couple of large black cups in the morning and I am set for the day. On rare occasions, I might enjoy a cup with cream in the evening if I have dessert. More than that would be too much of a good thing.

If I were to wax philosophical, I’m following the tenet that moderation is best in coffee as in all things…other than love. You can never have, or give, too much love!

https://gilcrease.org/

https://newsok.com/article/5340388/gilcrease-museum-preview-celebrates-debut-of-helmerich-center-for-american-research

https://www.jimsorganiccoffee.com/shop/

https://www.blackriflecoffee.com/

https://dceg.cancer.gov/news-events/research-news-highlights/2018/coffee-mortality-genetic-variation

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=coffee+


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

July 26, 2016

Gluten Intolerant? Beware Dandelion Coffee.

coffeeGluten Intolerant? Beware Dandelion Coffee. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but my dad believed dandelions were an absolute scourge. I grew up bewaring them. Like all kids, I wanted to grab a stem topped with a fluffy seed ball and blow. If I did, I’d better do it in someone else’s lawn or there would be hell to pay.

Dandelion coffee sounds as appealing as those fluffy seed balls. It’s herbal. It has no caffeine. It’s popular where all the cool people live. Some would even say it has liver cleansing properties. Roasted dandelion root tastes a bit like coffee and when brewed with chicory has a pleasant sweetness rather than an acidic or bitter aftertaste. What’s not to like?
ball
Sometimes there’s everything to like, but for those of us with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, sometimes there are just too many goodies included. Dandelion coffee is often brewed with barley and rye in addition to chicory root and sugar beets. If you order a dandelion latte in a restaurant, it’s worth checking the ingredients before beginning to sip. If you buy a packaged blend, be sure to read the label.

If you can’t find the perfect blend, you can make your own dandelion coffee. Dandelion roots are best harvested in late fall, winter, or early spring and will produce a more coffee-like flavor when cleaned, chopped, dried, roasted and ground. If you don’t want to dig your own when you’re maintaining the lawn, you can also order the roots from sites like this: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/dandelion-root-roasted/profile. You can add anything you want to your brew. Some popular ingredients are chicory root, cinnamon sticks, and cacao nibs.

While there’s no caffeine in dandelion coffee, the large dose of vitamin B it provides has been reported to perk you up much like a shot of espresso. While I haven’t experienced this, I once accidentally drank too much passion tea in one day and had to take a 5 hour nap. I wasn’t thinking of it as herbal medicine. I just drank it because it tasted refreshing in the summer served over ice. When I started feeling really tired and grumpy and weird, I discovered passionflower had once been approved as an OTC sedative and sleep aid in the US. Hmmm, who knew?

Anyway, I’m willing to believe that dandelion coffee may perk you up when you least expect it. I know those dandelions. They’re sneaky. One day they look like a pretty yellow flower, the next a dangerous ball of seeds that will ruin your father’s yard.
bloom
Eat the greens, pickle the buds, fry the blooms, make some wine if you dare. Just keep in mind when it comes to the coffee, sometimes it’s best to beware.

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/herbal-coffee/profile

https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/dandelion-root-coffee-recipe

http://www.almanac.com/content/dandelion-recipes-wonderful-edible-weed

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-871-passionflower.aspx?activeingredientid=871

December 9, 2012

Coffee – The Good, The Bad, and The Unusual

coffeeGood morning coffee lovers. If you’re awake and reading this, I’m sure you have your favorite vessel in hand and steam on your face as you read. I prefer to drink my coffee piping hot and black out of a pottery mug with no handle that fits perfectly in my hand.  Ben prefers to drink his from fine china with a razor-thin lip. This visual always strikes me as funny. Not to be missed are the great coffee related stories that abound. I have a client whose stepfather left never to return after finding a small dried-up tree frog in the china mug he insisted upon when visiting the family farm.

Anyway, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, I’m sure you have your own favorite blend, cup, mug, coffee shop, routine, or garnish. I’m also sure you love reading each new report citing the health benefits of consuming coffee: Longer Lives, Reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s, Less Skin Cancer, Increased Heart Health (before the 4th cup), and Decreased Risk of Stroke.(1) You may even feel the immediate calm I feel when the first waft of coffee aroma reaches me from the drive-through window at Starbucks.

Most mornings, I make coffee at home. I like to start with dark roasted coffee beans gleaming with oil. I want them to produce a taste that’s well balanced and not bitter. I have the press-a-lever coffee dispenser in which I fill the reservoir to 7 cups. I don’t how 7 came to be the magic number or why it persists since I usually have coffee left over and wont to land tepidly in my cup the following morning because I’ve forgotten to drain out the excess when I’m fully saturated. Nonetheless, 7 cups it is.

As coffee beans have become increasingly expensive, I have become increasingly conscious of a desire not to waste the excess. When I remember, I remove the excess dispenser contents before I leave for work. I place the coffee in a plastic container on the counter or in the refrigerator. Once I have the coffee sitting there, I need some creative ways to make use of it. Here are a few of the things I’ve successfully tried:

Using coffee to replace part of the liquid in brownies or chocolate cake. The coffee enhances and deepens the richness of the chocolate flavor.

Using as an ingredient in molasses cookies.

Deglazing a pan in which I’m cooking beef. The coffee makes a savory broth even darker and bolder.

Thinking about making Red Eye Gravy, but I rarely have ham and I don’t like gravy that much so thinking is as far as I get on this one.  On the other hand, I have used coffee as part of the liquid in a more standard brown gravy.

Using the steam and warmth of mug full of coffee to relieve sinus pain back in the days when I had allergies. (Yes, I said, “had”. Thanks to zero-gluten and Oregano Oil, this is no longer an issue.) Breathe the steam and then apply the side of the mug directly to the sinuses.

Reheating to drink as “emergency” coffee when I’ve run out of beans.

Mixing with a spice reduction, then applying to my hair to reduce the gray.

Watering herbs or houseplants that need more acid in the soil. I don’t know if this is really helpful, but it hasn’t hurt them yet and it makes me feel less wasteful.

Some of you are probably excited about a new idea that was sparked by reading these options.  Others of you may be wondering why I don’t just make less coffee. That’s a valid question, but here’s the thing – some days, I drink that much coffee. Sometimes, work unexpectedly beckons early leaving me with too little time to savor this pleasure. Another issue is that in my groggy pre-coffee state on any given morning, I can’t seem to muster the presence to determine how much I will want.

Rather than fight what feels natural, I’ve learned to expand the possibilities, make myself feel good about my decisions, and give you a few new options to consider be they good, bad, or just unusual.

 

 

(1)Brice, Mikini. “Seven Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee.” Medical Daily RSS. Medical Daily, 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2012.

September 17, 2018

Everything Old is New Again

Just like the song says…everything old is new again. I suppose every generation thinks it at some point and often with an eye roll attached. That’s not to say there’s no innovation or new discovery, but some new ideas are really just repackaged innovations of a previous era.

If there’s a popular buzzword floating about, the concept may fall into this category. Think of the terms EcoFriendly, Free Range Parenting, Unschooling, Optics, Sourcing, Clean Eating, and Plant-Based Diet. I saw Michael Phelps on TV this morning telling me to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth to conserve water. My first thought was, who doesn’t do that? I also turn off the lights when I leave a room (or never turn them on during the day), keep the thermostat set below 68 in the winter, take warm rather than hot showers, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Conservation is just how I was raised.
corn
One of the buzzwords in food right now is Upcycling. You may have heard the term in relation to old furniture and household goods that have been transformed and repurposed to make them relevant. In food, the term means cooking with food that would otherwise be discarded. That could mean “ugly” vegetables, fruit pulp, produce left in the field, food that ends up in dumpsters behind food distributors because use by dates are nearing, the woody tips of asparagus and mushrooms, broccoli or cauliflower stems, prepared coffee, the green tops of beets and carrots, etc.

While this concept has been popularized by chefs such as Massimo Bottura and Dan Barber, it’s not a new practice. In my family wasting edible food was a sacrilege. We would never have thought to draw attention to repurposing leftovers, using all parts of a vegetable, saving pot likker, or making preserves or pies out of bruised fruit. We never threw away the neck, liver, or gizzards from a chicken. Ugly tomatoes went in tomato juice.

Not only would we have felt bad about the money we were throwing away wasting food, we worked too hard on the farm and in the garden to throw away our sense of accomplishment. Even now I feel bad when I fail to water the mint soon enough and the plant dies. Mint is a luxury herb I can live without, but I still feel the loss as a personal failing.

If a new buzzword brings attention to food waste and helps people think differently, that’s a good thing. It’s just not a new thing. If food waste is an old thing that bothers you, I’d still recommend the movie “Just Eat It”. That recommendation is old too, I’m just upcycling the link for purposes of this post.

Soooo, I’m all for reducing, reusing, recycling, conserving, repurposing, and upcycling in an ecofriendly way. I’m not all that concerned how the choices I make look from the outside. Optics don’t tell the whole story; you can’t judge a book by its cover; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors; they killed the electric car and now it’s back.

All I know is everything old is new again!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2017/07/31/foodbuzz/#add7af919922

http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

https://www.marthastewart.com/1516365/what-is-upcycled-food-plus-our-favorites

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/man-live-bread-aloneor-heres-learned-last-week/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”