Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Last Bean In The Bag


I’ve never given much thought to the last bean in the bag.  I think that’s because I don’t recall leaving one bean in the bag.  That is, until this morning.

I was grinding up some of my favorite beans from the last week and when I got ready to throw the bag in the recycle, I realized that there was one bean left.  I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t fully awake or what, but I couldn’t get the bean out of the bag.  Now, normally I would have tossed the bag with that one bean in there.  I mean how much difference could one coffee bean make in the bigger scheme of the pot of coffee?

Well, to be honest, this was some fairly expensive coffee and quite good, I might add, so I thought, “why take a chance on lessening my enjoyment of this last pot by not making a good effort to remove the last bean from the bag?"

And so, I did.  After dropping that very last bean in the grinder, I stopped and smiled and thought to myself, “What if one little bean does make a difference?”  I think there’s a deeper story here and it probably goes all the way back to the farm where the coffee was grown to the person who picked the bean to the roaster who roasted the coffee to the barista who weighed it up for me.

And if we view every pot of coffee by each single bean, we might be on to the key to better brewing or more enjoyment or at least appreciation of every last bean.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

For Tea Lovers "Le Palais des Thés" Review



As I write this post, I'm drinking a cup of coffee thinking about a cup of tea.  Hmmmm.

This past week, instead of an afternoon coffee break, I've been taking an afternoon "tea break."

The variety, aroma, texture on the tongue and flavor are perfect for calming my tummy after lunch, providing me an energy boost and cleansing the palette.

Le Palais des Thés sent me a sample of the most delicious teas.  

The first time I had this particular brand of tea was in the Tout Sweet Patisserie at Macy's in Union Square San Francisco. 

If you love tea, you'll love Le Palais des Thés!






Featured:  "The Des Alizes."  (From the "Les Creations" collection)

"A green tea enlivened by flower petals and delicately scented with pieces of white peach, kiwi and watermelon. The green tea and the juicy freshness of the fruit are wonderfully balanced. Delicious hot or iced."

Order online at:

http://us.palaisdesthes.com/en_us/





Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Re-Acquainted With An Old Friend - Starbucks House Blend


Do you ever forget how much you like a certain food or place or person until you reconnect?  That’s how I felt when I got back in touch with Starbucks House Blend.

I’ve spent so much time sampling, savoring and celebrating dark roast coffees in the past couple of years, that I truly didn’t remember how much I liked medium roast coffees.

Starbucks offered free tall House Blend coffee last Friday for one day only.  It was a marketing effort designed to re-introduce people to the one that started it all.

When I walked up to the counter and asked the barista for my free cup, she said, “It’s medium.  You like bold.”  I said, “Yes, but I think I want to try it again.  It’s been so long I can’t remember what it tastes like.”  The barista said, “We never brew it.”

That’s too bad actually because it’s really good coffee.  I think House Blend got replaced by Pike’s Place as the “standard coffee” at Starbucks.

I enjoyed it so much that I bought a pound last weekend and have brewed it every morning since.  It caused me to stop and reflect on what other old friends I might need to go back and take a look at and taste.

"Make new friends – but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.”  (author unknown)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Once Upon A Grind - Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder



Once upon a time, there was a way to grind, that didn't involve electricity.

Kind of like the way people used to dry their clothes on a clothesline.

I love modern technology, but there's a lot to be said for taking the time to actually think about and reflect on what it is that you're doing.

Using the Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder reminds me of the days when my mother used to hang clothes on the line.  In the time it took her to hang a load, she had caught up with the latest gossip from the next-door neighbor, and got a pretty good workout in the process.  Not to mention I got to play next to the clothesline, smell the clothes drying and get some fresh air.

Probably something like the feeling I get with the Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder.  I don't use it every day, but I sure like using it on weekends.  

It's great for making just the perfect amount for my Chemex (R) or the french press.  The grind is adjustable, it's fully washable, and there is a cap for storing the grinds in the jar.  

Not to mention, it's a great conversation piece.  And I think it just looks so cool sitting on my counter.

Honestly, I couldn't believe how well it worked.  And it used no electricity!  

It takes a little extra time, and I don't know about you, but I've got more time than money.




"This ceramic coffee mill features a ceramic grinding mechanism that will never alter the flavor of the grinds, resulting in fresh, flavorful, and pure coffee. The grinding mechanism is made from an advanced ceramic close in hardness to diamond that will never rust providing ultra long-life performance. The grind adjustment allows for fine to coarse grinds and the non-slip base ensures stability. The glass container is reusable and dishwasher safe. *Great for Turkish coffee, salt, pepper, green tea & sesame seeds too!
Features:
• Ceramic grinding mechanism: Since ceramic is chemically inert, it can’t alter the taste of the coffee, resulting in fresh, flavorful and pure results.
• Adjustable grind: Tighten or loosen for fine to coarse grinds
• A conical burr design, so it can do a range of grinds from espresso to a passable French press grind even Turkish coffee!
• Rustproof: The advanced ceramic mechanism is non-reactive & will never rust.
• Non-slip base: The anti-slip cover ensures stable grinding
• Re-usable container: The glass container can store coffee grinds (100 g) and is dishwasher safe.
Available Colors:
• Black Handle"



Fine Print:  Kyocera provided me with a free Advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder for the purposes of preparing this review.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reservations Required: Starbucks Reserve(R) Perú Aladino



I'm getting spoiled.  Lately, the only coffee I want to drink from Starbucks is the Reserved (R).  

Another winner.  Starbucks Reserve(R) Perú Aladino.  

I would categorize it as a medium roast.  I don't drink a lot of Peruvian coffee, but I think I will be drinking more after trying this.  It's really good.

The Perú Aladino is a lot milder than most coffees I've been drinking lately, which is a really nice change.  I brewed the cup I'm drinking in the automatic brewer but I'm looking forward to an afternoon cup of pour-over.   

If I'd known it was this good, I would have baked a cake to go with it.  Actually, I think I will.  This coffee would be great with a slice of my famous pound cake.  Well, it may not be "famous" but it is pretty good cake, if I say so myself.

12.00 for an 8 ounce bag of Starbucks Reserve (R) Perú Aladino beans.  Available only at certain Starbucks locations or purchase online.


Starbucks says:


"Citrusy with soft florals, sweet toffee notes and a cocoa mouthfeel.
We bring you coffee from Peru's Chontali district for the first time. Featuring Bourbon and Typica varietals, it wows us with bright, citrusy flavors - unusual for beans from Peru.
Some of the processing techniques used by farmer Aladino Delgado are also unique. Harvested beans are fermented above ground in earthenware tanks and then placed in greenhouses to create a controlled microclimate for drying. All part of Aladino's efforts to produce coffees this exquisite for years to come.
This special Starbucks Reserve® coffee is in very limited supply and only available at select stores."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

K-Cup of the Day: Barista Prima Italian Roast K-Cup



I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but single-serve cups have come a long way since their beginning.  

The Barista Prima Italian Roast is an exceptional single-serve K-Cup(R).  It's not for those who don't like strong coffee.  This coffee is for grown-ups.

Bold, smoky, intense.  

Bellisimo!

Available online at Cross Country Cafe.*

Barista Prima Italian Roast K-Cup:

"This rich, heavy-bodied cup with its ripe fruit and berry notes epitomizes the time-honored Italian tradition of dark-roasted coffeehouse brews. Bold yet ideally balanced, with a subtle hint of smokiness and a sweet, clean finish, Barista Prima Italian Roast is a hearty and flavorful testament to the art of dark roasting. Its uniquely potent flavor profile has been masterfully crafted to occupy a special niche in your coffee collection. A discriminatingly versatile cup; the ideal accompaniment to sunrise or the perfect ending to an unforgettable meal."

(*Free shipping on five or more boxes of K-Cups (TM))

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hey, I'm Only Human - I Want to Experience a Little "Bliss" Now and Then




What would you say about a coffee blogger who blogs about gourmet coffees, coffee makers, coffee equipment, apparati and all the latest stuff and has been known on occasion to use a little Coffee-Mate (R)  in her coffee?

Would you think less of her than if she only used natural products like milk or soy?

For months, I've been passing by the Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss in the supermarket dairy case.  Now, I would never consider the flavored stuff like Hazelnut, etc., but come on, are you trying to tell me the words "Sweet Cream" don't appeal to you?

Alas, I could no longer resist.  Picked up a bottle this past weekend.

Brewed up a pot of freshly ground coffee on Monday morning and said, "What the heck?  Life's short."

I did it.  Used the Natural Bliss "Sweet Cream" Coffee-Mate(R).  And, you know what?  I'm not sorry that I did.

To be completely honest, I enjoyed it.  So much so that I've used it every morning this week at home.

There, I said it.  Variety is the spice of life.

And, what's a little "Natural Bliss"TM between coffee friends?

Hey, don't judge me unless you've tried it.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

West Java Indonesia From Starbucks Reserve



Sipping and savoring a special coffee this morning from Starbucks Reserve.  Sunday is the perfect day to recharge, relax and enjoy a great cup of coffee.

Like this West Java Indonesia from Starbucks.  Starbucks bills its "Reserve" coffees as "Exotic, Rare and Exquisite."  I must say that each one I've tried has fit those three descriptions.

No exception with this one.  Dark (my favorite), delicious, smooth and freshness personified.

$14.00 for an 8 ounce bag of beans.  Pricey - but, why not, it's Sunday?

The Starbucks Reserve coffees are only available at certain locations.  In fact, I've only seen them at stores which have the Clover(TM) machines, which is where I picked up this bag in San Francisco.

If you don't live near a Starbucks Clover(TM), you can order online at Starbucks.


From Starbucks website:
Sweet, herbal complexity with a silky milk chocolate flavor and texture.
These beans flourish on Java’s west side, where abundant rainfall and cooler temperatures create a marked difference in climate from the island’s eastern half, home to the more established coffee-growing estates.
To tend to their coffee trees, cultivated high upon a remote volcanic slope, smallholder farmers must travel by foot. Once harvested, the beans are diligently carried down the rugged terrain for processing. The resulting cup is a testament to the farmers hard work and dedication.
This special Starbucks Reserve® coffee is in very limited supply and only available at select stores.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary!!!!



It just gets better with time!  

Honestly, I don't know if it's because you only get to enjoy it once a year, or because Peet's continues to perfect what is already a great coffee blend, but I am so loving the 2013 Anniversary Blend.

I brewed a pot for the last two mornings AND took a thermos with me to work.  So rich, so smooth, so bold and daring but not offensive.

And that's not all - 5%* of the proceeds from the sale of this amazing coffee goes to help change lives of the young people in Ethiopia.  Good coffee.  Good cause.  Good grief - what are you waiting for?

15.95 per pound - it's only around for a limited time - so don't miss out!  


(*up to $25,000 in sales)

Monday, April 1, 2013

BIGELOW TEA SWEEPSTAKES




Pinterest Pin It To Win It sweeps!
 
Five lucky pinners will win a Bigelow Tea shopping spree in our first-ever Pinterest sweepstakes! Use your $100 to choose from more than 120 tea varieties and lots of lovely gifts available on our website – just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s our way of celebrating the natural goodness of tea in honor of Earth Month.
 
To enter, go to the Bigelow Tea Facebook page and click on the “Pin It To Win It” tab at the top under the large cover photo. Fill out the form and “pin” one or more of the Bigelow Tea images shown to your Pinterest profile for a chance to win. Once you pin, your name will automatically be entered in the sweepstakes. And if you “share” the sweeps with your Facebook friends, another submission in your name will be added automatically!
 
The winners will be announced on the Bigelow Tea Blog (www.bigelowteablog.com). The sweeps ends on April 30. Good luck … and happy Earth Month!