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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

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Young Entrepreneur Looks For Dream In Her Coffee

Gannett News Service

Like millions of Americans, Heather Mantione dreamed of owning her own business. The 9-to-5 grind wasn't for her, and she was itching to be her own boss.

But like other would-be entrepreneurs, Heather faced many obstacles. She had little money, had to work full time to support herself, and her dream business was a tough one, a coffeehouse, in a tough city -- New York.

But on Oct. 8, Heather's dream came true. She opened the doors of her coffeehouse, the Blue Spoon Coffee Co., in the Tribeca area of Manhattan. Oh yes, did I mention another challenge facing Heather? She's only 26 years old.

Heather represents a new but growing breed of American entrepreneur -- the young business owner. When I started my business in 1986, the best students yearned to work for large corporations. Now they want to be entrepreneurs.

But how did Heather get the money to open a coffeehouse in New York?

"My parents took out a home equity loan," Heather explained. "They have a lot of faith in me. They're amazing people."

Marge and Charles Mantione have owned their own business, so they understand Heather's entrepreneurial drive. But they're of modest means, and the Blue Spoon Coffee Co. is a huge risk for them. Heather's staff for the time being is her brothers, who have temporarily moved from Florida. The whole family is behind her.

Heather has been involved with coffee for years. "I love coffee; I love going to a coffee shop; I love the local art on the wall and the music. It's kind of like your second home."

But loving your product isn't enough.

Heather did her homework. She developed her business over many years and wrote a thorough business plan. She took a class on how to open a coffee shop and conferred with the Small Business Administration.

"Writing a business plan was really important," Heather said. "It makes you focus . . . know what you have to do."

Heather also received help from a source many entrepreneurs overlook -- suppliers. "I've been working really closely with the company that I'm buying coffee from -- Intelligentsia. They've been supportive, guided me."

One of Heather's biggest challenges was finding the right location, especially for a business dependent on walk-in traffic.

"New York is a hard market," Heather said. "Rents are so high, and landlords don't want to look at you if you don't already have a business . . . Being young, in the beginning, people didn't take me seriously. But once they got to know me, they realized I did my research."

After months of searching, Heather found a spot across from a university. She's advertising in the school's newspaper and other newspapers serving the area.

Even with all that planning, Heather was surprised by how complicated opening a business could be. "There are so many details. Everything from your garbage cans to paint color to ordering supplies to getting permits -- everything you need to stay on top of."

Finally, after years of planning, dreaming and working, the doors to Heather's business are now open.

"It's more difficult than I thought it would be," an exhausted Heather told me after day four. "I thought just by opening my door, people would come in, but it's really hard to change people's habits. It was tough to sit in the shop and see people walk by with Dunkin' Donuts."

"Making only $130 the first day was really difficult. What if I fail? How am I going to repay all this money? . . . But every day is better than the one before. I made more money today than yesterday, and we gave away free coffee during the morning rush. We already have repeat customers, which is awesome."

If she's successful, what's next for this young entrepreneur? "Well, maybe down the road I'd like to open a few other shops. But right now, I'd like to get to know the neighborhood, the people who come in. I want to serve really good coffee in a great atmosphere . . . I'm at a crossroads in my life; anything can happen."

Over the next year, I'll keep tabs on Heather Mantione and the Blue Spoon Coffee Co.'s progress and let you know how one of America's newest entrepreneurs fares. Let's all wish her luck!

Rhonda Abrams writes Tuesdays about msall business. Her newest book, "Business Plan In A Day,' has just been published. She is president of The Planning Shop, publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Register for Rhonda's free business newsletter at

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Espresso 101: Coffee Drinks and Treats

No special equipment

Fancy coffees prepared in coffeehouses with hissing machines are doable in your kitchen without the hissing machines—or any other special equipment. All you need is a drip coffeemaker and a little savvy.

While you're at it, how about a coffee party? We've included typical coffeehouse delectable go-withs, and all can be made in advance.

The specialty cups

Espresso (left): Using a drip coffeemaker, add 1 cup cold water and 1/3 cup French roast or espresso roast, ground as directed for your coffeemaker. Brew according to manufacturer's directions. (If using an espresso maker, use manufacturer's suggested amounts of ground coffee and water.) Pour into 4 demitasse cups or small cups. Serve with sugar cubes or coarse sugar. Makes four 2-ounce servings.

Cappuccino (right): Brew 1 recipe of Espresso. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan warm 1 cup low-fat milk over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Transfer milk to a food processor bowl or blender container. Process or blend until milk is very frothy. (If you have an espresso machine with a steaming nozzle, heat and froth milk according to manufacturer's directions.) Divide espresso among four 5- to 8-ounce cups. Top each with the frothy milk. If desired, sprinkle with ground cinnamon or grated chocolate and serve with sugar. Makes 4 servings.

Caffe latte(middle): Prepare 1 recipe Cappuccino as directed, except increase the low-fat milk to 2 cups. A typical caffe latte is mostly hot milk and has just a small amount of froth on top. Serve with sugar, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

To decorate cookies, roll cookie logs in coarse sugar before baking. Or drizzle cooled biscotti with melted white baking bar, thinned with a little melted shortening if needed.


1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 oz. white baking bar, coarsely chopped

3 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped


In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder; beat until combined. Beat in eggs. Beat in as much of the flour as you can. By hand, stir in any remaining flour, chopped white baking bar, and semisweet chocolate.

Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a 9-inch-long log. Place logs about 4 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten logs slightly until about 2 inches wide.

Bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 1 hour. With a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices, cut side down, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake slices in a 325 degree F. oven for 8 minutes. Turn slices over; bake for 7 to 9 minutes more or until biscotti are dry and crisp (do not overbake). Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Store the biscotti in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze, in a freezer container, for up to 6 months. Makes about 32 slices.

Nutrition facts per slice: 95 cal., 4 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 13 mg chol., 52 mg sodium, 13 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 2 g pro. Daily Value: 2% vit. A, 0% vit. C, 3% calcium, 3% iron.

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