Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Don't Mess With Texas" or My Texas Coffee Mug!

Isn't it funny how the things that we think about the least often mean the most to us? Such is the case with my "Texas Coffee Mug." I bought this mug at the airport in Houston so many years ago - well, actually, I know exactly how many years ago, but don't want to give away anything having to do with age ;0

The point is, when I'm driving and drinking coffee, which is way more often than I should, I find a certain comfort in the feel of this particular mug.

It reminds me of a time long ago, when my cares were much less, and hopes were high. Memories of people and places that make me smile and make me feel "right at home." My mug makes me want to use Coffeemate instead of 2 percent. :)

And whenever I bring my mug into a coffee shop and say, "Yes, coffee in this mug please," without fail, whoever is pouring will look at my mug and say, "Wow, that's a neat mug!"

It wasn't until this past Saturday when I realized that part of the attraction of this mug is that it's just plain old corny. And retro. And homey. And comfortable. And simple. And sometimes that's as good as it gets.

Do you have a favorite cup? I'd love to hear from you.

Happy trails!

Monday, September 28, 2009

INSTANT GRATIFICATION - Starbucks Via Ready Brew Countdown - One Day To Go

Starbucks debuts its new Via Ready Brew Instant Coffee tomorrow. I've tried two varieties (Columbia and Italian) and it's very good for instant coffee. Perfect for travel or when you don't want a whole pot. It's not cheap (seems to average about a buck a cup), but it is worth it.

How many times have you been on the road or visiting relatives and been offered a cup of coffee, only to find out they're brewing something other than "gourmet?" Just bring along a box of "Via Ready Brew" the next time you visit Aunt Rose in Olympia and you're sure to be remembered as a thoughtful houseguest.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Do Fries Go With That Shake?" *

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when my barista offered me a sample packet of Starbucks Via Ready Brew Columbia to go with my Greek Yogurt and Honey Parfait.

Even though this product will not be available until September 29, it's already created quite a "buzz" (pardon the pun).

This is my second sample - the first was an Italian Roast (rich, bold, excellent) and the Columbia is milder but still surprisingly good for "instant coffee."

This is what Starbucks says about their new product:

This is not instant coffee as you know it. This is rich, flavorful Starbucks® coffee in an instant.
Starbucks has found a way to offer a truly great cup of coffee that you can prepare by just adding water. Other instant coffees taste flat and lifeless. Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew is different – it’s full-bodied and flavorful, just like the Starbucks® coffee you know and love.

It’s made with the highest-quality, ethically sourced 100% arabica beans. The magic is in a proprietary, all-natural process that we spent years perfecting. We microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and
flavor. No other coffee company takes this step, and it makes all the difference.



* ("Do Fries Go With That Shake?" George Clinton and Vanessa Williams (1986))

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Coffee From Paradise" - San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, September 23, 2009

I've always considered good coffee to be like "Paradise In A Cup," and I guess I'm not alone.

Check out the release below from the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers regarding their event this coming Wednesday evening.

What a wonderful "coffee break" from the work-week. It's like taking a vacation without leaving the City!

Coffee from Paradise
Wednesday, September 23rd, 6 – 7:30pm
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers - Golden Gate Park
(415) 666-7001

Join Pualani, Kaipo, and Maile Daniels, co-owners of Triangle J’s4 Coffee on the slopes of Hualalai in Kona, Hawaii for a quick (and very affordable) trip to Aloha land. The Daniels grow, harvest and roast pure organic Kona coffee. Pualani will take you through the growing cycle of the coffee, explain the various stages of preparing and roasting the beans, and of course, you will sample the luscious rich pure organic Kona coffee.

Pualani, Maile and Kaipo will also entertain you with traditional Hawaiian song and hula accompanied by ukulele and guitar.

Sister Maile, an adored hula competitor, will mesmerize you with her dancing to songs which have won her many competitions. Maile has danced all of her life and, while she loves competition, most of all she loves the gracious art of the Hawaiian culture.

Please come and enjoy this festive “evening in paradise” and the Daniels family will captivate you with song and Aloha.

Luau wear encouraged. Our tropical jungle is calling.

To register for An Evening in Paradise, visit and click on Events or call 415-831-2093 for more information. Space is limited. $20 per person or $15 per person for Jungle Pass members.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Adult" Cupcakes to Go With Your Coffee

The recipe below is from Martha Stewart's "Cupcakes." I have not tried it, so please let me know how it turns out!

Prep time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes 18 cupcakes

Mascarpone frosting blankets sponge cake in this adaptation of a famous Italian dessert. Freshly brewed coffee or espresso would be a natural accompaniment, as would little glasses of marsala, a fortified Italian wine.

Note: The prep time does not include the 30 minutes needed for the cupcakes to absorb the syrup.


1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup milk

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature

1 cup sugar

Coffee-marsala syrup (recipe follows)

Mascarpone frosting (recipe follows)

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.

Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir a cup of batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.

Coffee-marsala syrup

Makes enough for 18 cupcakes


1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)

1 ounce marsala

1/4 cup sugar


Stir together coffee, marsala and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Mascarpone frosting

Makes about 2 cups

Made with mascarpone cheese, this frosting is similar to cream cheese frosting but with a slightly richer flavor.


1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted


With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.

Per frosted cupcake: 242 cal.; 3 g pro.; 23 g carb.; 15 g fat (9 sat., 3 monounsat., 1 polyunsat., 2 other); 113 mg chol.; 101 mg sod.; 0 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 55 percent calories from fat.

I'm pretty sure that just one of these guys and a cup o' joe would do the trick to wake you up on any given morning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"X" No More Coffee Pots!

Okay, so my day started out with a bit of a twist. And, as these things go, I was late for work. Sometimes it can't be avoided.

However, I am pretty strict about my coffee regimen. So, after my cup at home and my cup in the car, I always tottle over to Starbucks on my way into the office, for my cup of the morning brew. But, now I'm on a budget - argh - so I'm not buying coffee every day. Only when I can't pass it up - like if it's Starbucks Anniversary Blend. But, I do buy oatmeal every day at Starbucks - oatmeal with everything - hot, stirred not shaken.

So, today when my barista said, "Do you want coffee today or just yogurt?" ('cuz for weeks I was buying the Greek Honey Yogurt - but that's another blog for another day), and I answered "Just oatmeal," the manager, Adam at the Drumm Street Store(who rocks by the way), chimed in, "Hold on a second, I have something I want you to try."

Well, I'll try anything even remotely related to coffee. I was pleasantly surprised with two packets of the new Starbucks Via Ready Brew. . .this stuff has not even been released to the general public yet - so, I feel uber special.

I tried it and it's really good! This was the Italian Roast. And while there's nothing like freshly brewed coffee, for those on the go, traveling, etc., this is a wonderful alternative.

So, in closing, I would like to dedicate this blog to my late mother. A woman who loved her instant coffee. Unfortunately, her options were limited to Maxwell House, Folgers and Hills Brothers. Mama, you would have loved Starbucks Via Ready Brew.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whatever "LOLA" Wants, Lola Gets - My Favorite Catahoula Coffee Blend

I have yet to have a bad cup of coffee from Catahoula Coffee Company in Richmond, California.

This has become one of my very favorite coffees in the whole world!

The owner, Timber, microroasts only the finest beans and his specialty blends are bellissimo!

Yemen is pictured in the photo above.

Your favorite blends are now available for web order. Paste the link below into your browser for details.

Happy Cupping!!