Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Four Dollar Cup of Coffee - Is It Worth It?



I don't believe a higher price necessarily means a better cup of coffee.  

However, I do respect fair trade, quality beans, micro-roasts and artisan products.

I wrote a few months ago that I refused to pay four bucks for a cup of coffee just because the shop is the newest thing on the block.  

I'm not talking about a four dollar latte or a four dollar mocha or double-shot espresso or cappuccino.  I'm talking about a four dollar cup of brewed coffee.  Or, in this particular case, "pour over" coffee.

But, this morning I wanted a little excitement.  So, when my co-worker (who has no problem dropping five bucks for a latte every day) invited me along, I decided to go for it.

The shop is, of course, another "hipster" place.  Which usually intimidates me.  However, for some reason, the experience today, wasn't intimidating at all.  In fact, it was downright welcoming.  The guy at the counter didn't even seem upset about having to answer questions about coffee origin, etc.  You know how sometimes they can make you feel downright silly for asking a question?  Truth is, half the time, I don't think they know the answers themselves.

Instead of just taking a coffee break, it was a coffee experience.  Watching the barista prepare the drinks was absolutely relaxing.  It wasn't particularly crowded and there wasn't that pushing, shoving, "you're in my space" kind of vibe that can sometimes go along with handcrafted coffee and hipster joints.

The final product was a delicious cup of Ethiopian coffee that put a smile on my face.

Would I go back and drop another four bucks (minimum) for the hand-crafted coffee bar, premium cup of eight ounce coffee?  Yes.  But it definitely won't be an every day thing.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sent from "Coffee Heaven" - Starbucks Casi Cielo is Back (But, Not For Long)!




I'm always excited when Starbucks breaks out the Casi.  Casi Cielo, that is.

There was an awful rumor stirring about six months ago, that they were going to discontinue it.

I'm glad it wasn't true.

This is one of the first gourmet coffees that I truly fell in love with.  Like a favorite cousin.  You're very happy when they come to visit, always enjoy your time, understand when they have to leave and look forward to their return.

It is so wonderful and satisfying with a rich flavor and chocolate undertones.  I, personally, think they should develop a truffle flavored with this stuff.

As with all good things, it will come to an end.  So, don't delay - get yours today!

Also available in K-Cup and Verismo pods.

I'll take mine freshly brewed in my automatic Capresso with one brown sugar cube and a tiny splash of low fat milk.

"Almost Heaven."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ooo-La-La Oolong Peach Tea from Infuze Tea Company




Last night, I wound up the day with a  cup of tea, rather than my usual mug of coffee.

My selection - Oolong Peach from Infuze Tea Company.

The minute you open the pouch, the aroma of fresh peaches hits you.  This is not a subtle taste, but a full-on cup of peaches.  I enjoyed mine hot.  If you're like me, you can appreciate a flavored tea that really brings the flavor.  It's not over-powering, but it's definitely there.

Next time I'm going to drink it cold, over ice for a more "Southern experience."

I also think there are some neat recipes you could create with this high-quality tea (I'm thinking cookies).


About Infuze Tea and Teaware

http://infuzetea.com/about/

(Disclosure:  Infuze provided me with a sample of the Peach Oolong for the purposes of preparing this review)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's YOUR Coffee Thing, Do What You Want to Do!




If you read this blog regularly, you know that I don't purport to be a "coffee expert."  

I haven't been to "coffee school," or taken any special classes that would place me in a rank above your average coffee drinker.  I'm not a barista.

I pride myself on being just a regular old "Joe-sephine" who enjoys trying different coffees from the inexpensive to the very expensive.

But just this week alone, I've run across one too many people who seem to think that they should tell the rest of us how to enjoy our coffee.  

You may know one of these self-righteous types.  They say "Coffee is best enjoyed black," or "artificial flavoring ruins the coffee," or "true coffee should be only pure coffee."

Well, you know what I say to them?  "You do you and I'll do me."

I've admitted here before that I often enjoy a tiny bit of powdered creamer in my coffee.  I didn't say that it's the "perfect" way to drink it, or that it's good for you.  I'm saying that yes, sometimes, I want a little powdered creamer.  That's how I first learned to drink it and old habits die hard.  

There are also days that I want to have low fat milk, and on those days when I really want to treat myself, I will add real cream.  I don't really drink flavored coffee, but I can respect those who do.  So, if you take pleasure in hazelnut or vanilla or some other artificial flavoring in your cup, I won't judge you.

And I almost always have a packet of raw sugar or a brown sugar cube in my coffee.  

Doesn’t matter how you take it, as long as it makes you happy!

Otherwise, what's the point?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guatemala Santa Rosa Roast from 7-Eleven - For Those Who Don't Need a Label



I am so enjoying my "special delivery" from 7-Eleven.

Guatemala Santa Rosa Roast.  It's a limited offering from  7-Eleven.

I've said here more than once that I "cut my coffee teeth" on 7-Eleven coffee.  They've always brewed fresh, hot, delicious coffee without pretense.  And they sell some pretty decent donuts.  It's also convenient.

What you may not know is that they're offering gourmet coffee that can hold its own against the "designer labels."  This latest full-bodied roast is further proof.

If you're just catching the "third-wave" of coffee, unlike some of us who were drinking coffee before it was described in "waves," don't dismiss 7-Eleven.

It's not about the label.  We coffee lovers have one common goal.  Discovering and enjoying great coffee.

Thank you 7-Eleven.  You've made me a happy coffee camper this Sunday morning.

(The Guatemala Santa Rosa Roast is available now through February at participating 7-Eleven stores nationwide)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why Wait for a Chai Tea Latte-r? Tipu's "Chai Now" Chai Tea Latte Blend

Tipu's(R) Chai Now - Chai Tea Latte Blend


No time?  No problem.

The folks at Tipu's (R) Chai have developed a way for you to enjoy their delicious chai tea without heavy bottles or packaging.  

They sent me a package of the Chai Tea Latte Blend to try (it's actually pretty amazing).  

The texture reminds me of the old "Tang" orange drink mix you may have had as a kid.  Do they even make Tang anymore?  

Seriously, Tipu's has somehow managed to create the perfect blend of tea and spices with a foolproof method (I would recommend actually using a measured tablespoon) to create a delicious drink at home or at the office or anywhere, for that matter.

I'm sort of special this week because I was nice and shared with my co-workers.  The response was actually quite good.  Most chai lovers in the office liked it, and said they would definitely buy it.

Pros:  Easy to prepare

Cons:  Tends to leave crystals or "sediment" like powder at the bottom of the cup.  I think this could be lessened by playing with the balance of water to powder to make sure you get the right mixture.  Also, stirring while drinking helps.


Read Tipu's(R) Story at:

www.tipuschai.com

And, for a list of stores that carry Tipu's nationwide:





(Full Disclosure:  Tipu's sent me a free bag of their "Chai Now" for the purposes of preparing this review)



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Game Day Snack - Coffee and Cheese - Think Outside the Pretzel

Apple Walnut, Habanero and Barely Buzzed

"Barely Buzzed" with hand rubbed with espresso and lavender


I don't know when I became a fan of football, but I think it was around the time I realized that the big screen belonged to sports only.  So, if you can't beat them - join them!

And your football snacks are not limited to the usual suspects (i.e. beer and pretzels).  

Here's my idea of the perfect pairing  - "Coffee and Cheese."

And this isn't just any old cheese.  It's Beehive Artisan Cheese.  I love the way they "fuse" flavors that I wouldn't even imagine.  

Take for example, their "Barely Buzzed" which is hand rubbed with espresso and lavender.  This time I ordered, I also purchased the Habanero and Apple Walnut.  Add an assortment of gourmet crackers and you've got yourself a party.

Game on!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? Not When It's Community Coffee



Last week there was a great sale from one of my favorite roasters, Community Coffee.  So, I ordered a bag of Whole Bean Louisiana Blend from their "Private Reserve" Collection.

When I was thinking about what my first coffee post of 2014 should be, I thought, "Maybe it should be from a brand new roaster that I've never tried."  But then I thought, "Just because it's a New Year, doesn't mean, I can't revisit an old favorite.  And since I have never actually had this particular roast before, in the Whole Bean variety, that makes it new, right?

"Louisiana Blend" Medium-Dark Roast coffee is the perfect balance of, well, medium and dark roasted beans.  I could immediately smell the freshness when I opened the bag.  

So good, I'm going back for seconds.

Happy New Year!!