Monday, July 23, 2007

Coffee, yum!

I am a hopelessly devoted coffee freak. I make no apologize. I love it. Every cup has a different flavor. All beans are not created equal and hence I do discriminate in my choosing of coffee. I will not,unless under duress, buy coffee at a gas station. There has to be no hope of finding another coffee supplier before I will, hesitantly, lay down my 59cents for a cup of the acidic brown water they tell me is coffee. I am a coffee snob.
But there really is a reason for the snobbery. Coffee beans are like grapes that are grown for wine in that the coffee beans take on the nuances of the area they are grown in. The sun, air,water, and soil play a huge roll in how the coffee not only grows, but tastes. I recently read in a magazine that coffee beans grown in Hawaii are "light, delicate, and floral with well balance acidity." The beans in Kenya are "lush with big, bold, fruitiness and complex qualities that mimic a hearty wine." I personally adore Brazilian coffee's. My favorite Brazilian Ipanema by Starbucks, is grown in a volcanic soil. The volcanic soil of Brazil gives the coffees a nutty taste with a light sweetness, and low acidity.

There is also the issue of shade grown and fair trade coffees. Shade grown is actually the traditional method of growing coffee. With coffee production at an all time high, trees have been cut down in order to plant more coffee plants. According to next to tobacco, coffee is the MOST chemical sprayed product consumed by humans. When coffee is shade grown chemicals are not used on the coffee because it is usually being grown organically. The trees that are used to shade the coffee house migratory birds that, among other things, eat bugs that threaten the coffee. Another bonus of shade grown coffee is that the coffee beans mature at a slower rate, which increases the natural sugars of bean and enhances its flavor. Yummy.

Now fair trade coffee is another great way to feel good while drinking your cup o' joe. If you come across the fair trade symbol on your coffee that means that often times is not only organic, but the farmers are paid a livable wage. A "livable wage" is not always the case with non-fair trade coffee. Often coffee farms are akin to sweatshops. The farmer is paid a price for their coffee that is less than the price of production. This makes it hard for the farmers to sustain their farms and their families. When you buy fair trade you are helping to ensure that farmer is getting paid and treated fairly. In exchange for the $1.26 minimum per pound the farmers are paid, Fair trade coffee farmers are also asked to grow their coffee in an earth friendly manor. Fair trade coffee promotes economic independence for the farmer and his family/workers and it helps them to want to farm in a more earth friendly way.
Now if all of this talk about coffee has made you a little parched I have found the yummiest iced coffee recipe.

Thai Iced Coffee
1c ground coffee
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (an Indian spice. it has a cinnamonish taste to it)
8Tbsp low fat sweetened condensed milk

1.Brew 8 c. of water with coffee grounds and cardamom to make double strength coffee. Transfer to large pitcher, and chill. ( I left the coffee grounds out during my transfer and it wasn't easy, but it was worth it.)
2.Pour 1c coffee into tall glasses filled w/ice. stir 1Tbsp sweetened condensed milk into each glass, and serve.

Last but not least here are some brewing tips from Wild Oats Market places own magazine. I found these quit helpful and I hope you will too. Happy Brewing!
Best Brew Tips:
Choose whole beans and grind at home for the freshest taste. (It really doesn't take long to do this and you will notice a difference in the taste of your coffee!)

Store coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Do not store beans in the fridge or the freezer as they will absorb smells, which translates int o off-tasting coffee. (been there, done that, yes the freezer does.)

Use whole beans within 2weeks of purchase.

Choose a coffee maker that brews between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. ( or buy a french press and broil the water yourself. Talk about yummy coffee!)

Grind according to your type of coffee maker.

Use very cold, filtered water fro the purest coffee flavor. (believe it or not it does make a noticeable difference.)

Use about 2Tbsp or ground coffee for each 6 to 8 oz of water, adjusting for taste.

If you would like more coffee info I have listed some sites below:

* is a site dedicated to "ideas for environmentally sustainable living."

* is a site dedicated to coffee education. You can even look at coffee info by region.

*Global Exchange is a website that is "devoted to social, economical, and environmental justice around the world."

* "The worlds leading coffee buying guide"


PinksandBluesGirls said...

I am a bit of an outcast in my family in that I am not a huge fan of coffee. I have my morning diet coke and am ready to go about my day!

Jane, P&B Girls

Happy Hippie said...

I will not hold your dislike of coffee against you ;)
In my opinion, Diet coke is a perfect caffeine substitute!