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Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Coffee is far more than simply the brew that wakes people up in the morning. Coffee shops dot the city streets around the world with specialty coffee drinks drawing lines of customers. We will share the nuances of coffee from how to select the roast that suits your palate, to secret recipes of your favorite specialty drinks. We even have some marvelous recipes using coffee as a flavoring or spice to add a very special touch. If you love coffee, you will love these secrets. affiliate

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The Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Double Dutch Cappuccino Martini

1 oz Van Gogh Espresso Vodka
1 oz Java Queen International Espresso Coffee
1 oz Coffee Liqueur
1 oz Half And Half

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker and add crushed ice.
Let stand for five seconds.
Shake vigorously for five seconds.
Strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a small whipped cream drop.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Choosing The Right Bean; What's In A Name?

The names of the beans normally do not refer to the kind of coffee plant they come from; instead, the name can refer to any of the following:

Origin: Quite simply, a name may designate where the bean was grown (Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya, Yemen).

Sometimes the name of the plantation is included in the coffee's name as well. Coffees can be designated as "single-origin" coffees -- that is, originating from one country only -- or "blends," a combination of beans from a variety of geographical areas. Generally, blended coffees produce more complex brews than single-origin coffees.

Roasting Style:
Once at their destination, the green coffee beans are roasted (that is, heated in a large roasting drum to develop a desired flavor and color). Generally, the longer the beans roast, the darker their color -- and the stronger their flavor. Knowing how strong you prefer your brew will help you decide which roasting style you prefer.

Roaster's Preferences:

Often, coffee roasters will put their own mark on a batch of beans, blending and roasting the beans according to the roaster's preferences. Often, names such as "House Blend" will tell you little; but the names sometimes give clues as to how the roaster envisioned the coffee to be enjoyed, such as "Eye-Opener Roast" or "Dessert Blend."

Coffee-Roasting Styles

French and Italian Roasts: Dark, heavy-roasted beans that are almost black in color and produce a strongly flavored coffee.
American Roast: A medium-roasted coffee, which produces a coffee that's neither characteristically light nor heavy.
European Roast: Two-thirds heavy-roasted beans combined with one-third medium-roasted beans.
Viennese Roast: One-third heavy-roasted beans combined with two-thirds medium-roasted beans.

Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee beans do not grow on trees! They're simply regular coffee beans that have had the caffeine extracted from them, either through a chemical process that uses a solvent to extract the caffeine, or by a Swiss water method, wherein the beans are steamed and the caffeine-rich outer layers removed. Most coffee lovers agree that a good-quality decaffeination process will not take away from the pleasure, aroma, or flavor of coffee.

Choosing the Right Bean

So, how does all this translate into what's best for your cup? Because coffees grown in the same parts of the world can have similar characteristics, knowing your coffee's origins can help you decide if it will be one you like. Coffees from Africa are often imbued with the aromas and flavors of berries, citrus fruits, cocoa, and spices, while coffees from Latin America are known for their lighter body and cleaner flavors. Coffees from Southeast Asia are often full-bodied and smooth. Once you've got this overall picture of origins and roasting styles in your mind, honing your personal likes and dislikes involves the enjoyable task of trying a little of this and a little of that when you have a chance.

For Your Perfect Cup Of Coffee

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Knowing Beans About Beans

For the coffee aficionado, understanding all the subtleties that make a great cup can be as captivating as knowledge of good wines is to the wine lover. Fortunately for all of us, however, achieving the perfect cup is easy once you're familiar with a few basic coffee-making concepts.

Know Your Beans

When you walk into a specialty coffee shop, a coffeehouse that sells coffee beans—or even a grocery store with a wide variety of whole-bean coffees—you'll probably spot an enticing display of coffee beans. Usually, they'll range in color from light to dark brown, with names like French roast, Ethiopian, espresso roast, and even designations such as "house blend" and "Christmas blend." Knowing a little bit about the origins of coffee beans and how they're harvested, roasted and named can help you choose the bean that's right for your cup.

What's a Bean?

A coffee bean is actually the seed found in the red fruit (called a "coffee cherry") of a tropical evergreen shrub. This shrub can grow up to 30 feet in height. Coffee plantations thrive near the equator (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn), primarily in Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia. As with most plants used for food and drink, the growing environment—amount of sunshine, type of soil, climate and water—contributes much to the flavor. Once coffee is harvested (a painstaking process that involves picking the coffee cherries by hand as they ripen) and processed, the beans—which are at this point green in color—are shipped off to their destinations to be roasted.

Types of Beans

With all the different monikers on the beans you buy at the store, you may think they are from different species of coffee plants. However, most of the beans you can purchase today come from only two species of coffee plants: coffea robusta and coffea arabica. The coffee most Americans grew up with (the kind most often found in cans in supermarket aisles) is generally made from coffea robusta, as are most instant coffees. While the robusta plant's hardiness and high yield make this a less expensive coffee to produce, coffee experts have described its flavor as "harsh" and "one-dimensional." On the other hand, coffea arabica, which grows at higher altitudes than robusta, produces coffee that connoisseurs often describe as "rich" and "complex." Specialty coffees—those served at coffeehouses and sold at specialty coffee shops—are generally made from coffea arabica.

To Be Continued....

Monday, September 12, 2005

Battle Is Brewing Over Ethics of the Coffee Trade

Battle is brewing over ethics of the coffee trade
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor

A battle for coffee drinkers' consciences is about to begin with the launch of a rival to the Fairtrade label.

Now that nearly half of shoppers consider the ethical dimension of goods, competition for the moral high ground is big business.

Fairtrade coffee's big selling point is that it offers small coffee farmers in the developing world a guaranteed price for their beans if commodity prices fall below $1.26 (68p) a pound.

Its competitor, Rainforest Alliance Certified, guarantees that coffee is produced in a way that preserves the forest and its wildlife and ensures that workers, who are often temporary, enjoy good working conditions, housing and pay. It pays a premium of a few pence a pound.

Kenco, which sells 76 per cent of the coffee bought in Britain, has chosen to work with the Rainforest scheme, whose label will appear on Kenco jars. The Rainforest Alliance has achieved a major conservation victory by "greening" Chiquita, the world's largest banana supplier, once notorious for low pay and deforestation.

Chris Wille, of the Rainforest Alliance, based in Costa Rica, said its standards on wildlife conservation and workers' conditions were higher than Fairtrade's.

Fairtrade, which brought sustainable coffee to the mass market, can claim that it started to address the same social problems even earlier.

Ian Bretman, of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "We don't see it as a competition. They are not doing what we do. We are a certification scheme that addresses small-scale farmers.

"If your primary concern is the environment, check out the Rainforest Alliance. If you accept that the environment is just one of a package of issues to do with sustainability, check out Fairtrade.

"If the world's vast number of small-scale farmers can't put food on the table and send their kids to school it is hard to see how they can invest in the environment."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Drink To Your Health: Coffee Is Main Source of Antioxidants

Drink To Your Health
Study: Coffee is main source of antioxidants
HealthDay News

Gannett News Service
A recent study shows Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from other sources.

Americans' love affair with coffee means they get more antioxidants from this drink than from any other source in their diet, a new study reports.

By measuring the amount of antioxidants contained in the most common foods and beverages, and comparing them to U.S. government data on food consumption, researchers found coffee far outpaced any other beverage or food as the main source of antioxidants in the American diet.

"When you look at the quantity of antioxidants in coffee and how much is consumed, it really shines either way," said Joe Vinson, a chemist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. He presented the study recently at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, in Washington.

More than half of Americans drink coffee every day, making it the most popular beverage in the country, Vinson said.

Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help prevent oxidation, a process that can cause damage to cells and may contribute to aging. The compounds may help boost immune function and possibly cut your risk of infection, heart disease and cancer, according to the American Dietetic Association.

For his study, which was partially funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute, Vinson and his colleagues analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 food items, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, oils and common beverages. The analysis included tracking antioxidants that are hidden in sugar molecules, which increased the number of antioxidants measured, Vinson said.

In coffee, most of the antioxidants are hidden in sugar molecules, he said.

The antioxidant data was then compared to a U.S. Department of Agriculture database to measure the estimated U.S. per capita consumption of each food.

The results showed the average American received more than four times the amount of antioxidants from coffee daily than from black tea, which was second on the list. Bananas, dry beans and corn were the top three foods on the list.

Vinson said other foods, particularly dates, cranberries and red grapes, contain more antioxidants than coffee, but those foods aren't consumed in anywhere near the quantities as coffee.

He added that high antioxidant levels don't necessarily translate into levels found in the body — the health benefits ultimately depend on how the compounds are absorbed and utilized in the body, a process that is poorly understood.

Vinson said his study isn't a recommendation to begin drinking a lot of coffee — "I'm not a coffee advocate, but a tea advocate" — but it does provide more positive information about coffee than has been reported.

"Researchers have ignored coffee because of negative news linking it to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, but this might stimulate more positive research into coffee," he added.

A number of recent studies have linked coffee to health benefits, including protection against liver and colon disease, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease, according to Vinson.

Catherine Jen, a nutrition professor and chairwoman of Wayne State University's Department of Nutrition and Food Science in Detroit, said previous research has shown that about one-third of people's antioxidants come from coffee, because it's such a popular drink.

"It's true about coffee, but it's better to get antioxidants from fruit and vegetables because you are not only getting antioxidants but other nutrients like dietary fiber and B vitamins like folate," she said.

On the Web

To learn more about antioxidants from the National Library of Medicine:

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