Monthly Archives: November 2013

Caffeine Trivia 11.27.13

THE PLUNGER or CAFETIERE METHOD: The plunger method, thought to have been invented in 1933, extracts the most flavour from the ground beans. Coarsely ground coffee is placed in the warmed pot and hot water added to the grounds.  After stirring the brew is allowed to steep for three to five minutes, before the plunger is pushed down to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee infusion. This method is only slightly less convenient than the filter method and is today one of the two fastest growing ways to make fresh ground coffee.


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Caffeine Trivia 11.26.13

THE FILTER METHOD – The drip or filter method is possibly the most widely used method today. Finely-ground coffee is placed in a paper or reusable cone-shaped unit and nearly boiling water poured on top. For best results, a small quantity of water should be poured on first to wet the grounds and speed up the release of caffeol. The resulting brew filters through the unit into a pot or mug and is ready to drink, while the coffee grounds remain in the cone. There are electric versions which automate this process, including heating the water, and in general make a better or more consistent cup of coffee than the manual version. The filter method is especially popular in Germany and the USA.

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Caffeine Trivia 11.25.13

Ever wonder what all the different coffee drinks are that you see on coffee house menus?  Here are some explanations I have gathered:

Americano: A single shot of espresso with about 7 ounces of hot water added to the mix. The name for this coffee drink stemmed from an insult to ‘uncouth’ Americans who weren’t up to drinking full espressos.

Black coffee: A drip brew, percolated or French press style coffee served straight, with no milk.

Cafe au Lait: Similar to Caffe Latte, except that an au lait is made with brewed coffee instead of espresso. Additionally, the ratio of milk to coffee is 1:1, making for a much less intense taste.

Cafe Breva: A cappuccino made with half and half milk, instead of whole milk. The theory is that the mix gives a richer, creamier flavor. You should be aware, before trying this for yourself, that half and half is much harder to foam.

Caffe Latte: Essentially, a single shot of espresso in steamed (not frothed) milk. The ratio of milk to coffee should be about 3:1, but you should be aware that latte in Italian means ‘milk’, so be careful ordering one when in Rome.

Cafe Macchiato: A shot of espresso with steamed milk added. The ratio of coffee to milk is approximately 4:1.

Cappuccino: Usually equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, often with cinnamon or flaked chocolate sprinkled on top. Some coffee shops will add more milk than that so that the customer will get a bigger drink out of the deal, but that makes the coffee itself far weaker.

Double, or Double Shot: Just as it sounds, this is two shots of espresso mixed in with the regular amount of additional ingredients. So, for example, if you were going to make a double hammerhead, you would put two shots of espresso into a coffee cup, and fill it with the drip blend, rather than the usual single espresso shot.

Dry Cappuccino: A regular cappuccino, only with a smaller amount of foam, and no steamed milk at all.

Espresso Con Panna: Your basic standard espresso with a shot of whipped cream on top.

Flavored coffee: A very much ethnic tradition, syrups, flavorings, and/or spices are added to give the coffee a tinge of something else. Chocolate is the most common additive, either sprinkled on top or added in syrup form, while other favorites include cinnamon, nutmeg, and Italian syrups.

Frappe: A big favorite in parts of Europe and Latin America, especially during the summer months. Originally a cold espresso, it has more recently been prepared putting 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee with sugar, water and ice. The brew is placed in a long glass with ice, and milk if you like, turning it into a big coffee milkshake.

Hammerhead: A real caffeine fix, this drink consists of a shot of espresso in a regular-sized coffee cup, which is then filled with drip coffee. Also known as a Shot in the Dark, although many cafes rename the drink further to suit their own needs.

Iced coffee: A regular coffee served with ice, and sometimes milk and sugar.

Indian (Madras) filter coffee: A common brew in the south of India, Indian filter coffee is made from rough ground, dark-roasted coffee Arabica or Peaberry beans. It’s drip-brewed for several hours in a traditional metal coffee filter before being served. The ratio of coffee to milk is usually 3:1.

Instant coffee (or soluble coffee): These grounds have usually been freeze-dried and turned into soluble powder or coffee granules. Basically, instant coffee is for those that prefer speed and convenience over quality. Though some prefer instant coffee to the real thing, there’s just no accounting for taste.

Irish coffee: A coffee spiked with Irish whiskey, with cream on top. An alcoholic beverage that’s best kept clear of the kids, but warms you up plenty on a cold winter night.

Kopi Tubruk: An Indonesian-style coffee that is very similar to Turkish and Greek in that it’s very thick, but the coarse coffee grounds are actually boiled together with a solid piece of sugar. The islands of Java and Bali tend to drink this brew.

Lungo: One for the aficionados, this is an extra long pull that allows somewhere around twice as much water as normal to pass through the coffee grounds usually used for a single shot of espresso. In technical terms, it’s a 2-3 ounce shot.

Melya: A coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon of unsweetened powdered cocoa and drizzled honey. Sometimes served with cream.

Mocha: This popular drink is basically a Cappuccino or Latte with chocolate syrup added to the mix. Sweeter, not as intense in coffee flavor, and a good ‘gateway’ coffee for those who don’t usually do the caffeine thing.

Oliang/Oleng: A stronger version of Thai coffee, Oliang is a blend of coffee and other ingredients such as corn, soy beans, and sesame seeds. Traditionally brewed with a “tung tom kah fe”, or a metal ring with a handle and a muslin-like cloth bag attached.

Ristretto: The opposite of a Lungo, the name of this variety of coffee means ‘restricted’, which means less water is pushed through the coffee grounds than normal, even though the shot would take the same amount of time as normal for the coffee maker to pull. If you want to get technical, it’s about a 0.75 ounce pull.

Turkish Coffee (also known as Greek Coffee): Made by boiling finely ground coffee and water together to form a muddy, thick coffee mix. In fact, the strongest Turkish coffee can almost keep a spoon standing upright. It’s often made in what’s known as an Ibrik, a long-handled, open, brass or copper pot. It is then poured, unfiltered, into tiny Demitasse cups, with the fine grounds included. It’s then left to settle for a while before serving, with sugar and spices often added to the cup.

Vietnamese style coffee: A drink made by dripping hot water though a metal mesh, with the intense brew then poured over ice and sweetened, condensed milk. This process uses a lot more coffee grounds and is thus a lot slower than most kinds of brewing.

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Caffeine Trivia 11.24.13

The history story of coffee continues: In 1720 a French naval officer named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, while on leave in Paris from his post in Martinique, acquired a coffee tree with the intention of taking it with him on the return voyage.  With the plant secured in a glass case on deck to keep it warm and prevent damage from salt water, the journey proved eventful.  As recorded in de Clieu’s own journal, the ship was threatened by Tunisian pirates. There was a violent storm, during which the plant had to be tied down.  A jealous fellow officer tried to sabotage the plant, resulting in a branch being torn off.  When the ship was becalmed and drinking water rationed, De Clieu ensured the plant’s survival by giving it most of his precious water.  Finally, the ship arrived in Martinique and the coffee tree was re-planted at Preebear.  It grew, and multiplied, and by 1726 the first harvest was ready.  It is recorded that, by 1777, there were between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and the model for a new cash crop that could be grown in the New World was in place.

Source: International Coffee Organization

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Caffeine Trivia 11.23.13

Grab your cup of coffee and enjoy some great coffee history: By the late 1600’s the Dutch were growing coffee at Malabar in India and in 1699 took some plants to Batavia in Java, in what is now Indonesia.  Within a few years the Dutch colonies had become the main suppliers of coffee to Europe, where coffee had first been brought by Venetian traders in 1615. This was a period when the two other globally significant hot beverages also appeared in Europe.  Hot chocolate was the first, brought by the Spanish from the Americas to Spain in 1528; and tea, which was first sold in Europe in 1610.  At first coffee was mainly sold by lemonade vendors and was believed to have medicinal qualities.  The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683, with the most famous, Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco, opening in 1720.  It is still open for business today. The largest insurance market in the world, Lloyd’s of London, began life as a coffeehouse.  It was started in 1688 by Edward Lloyd, who prepared lists of the ships that his customers had insured.

The first literary reference to coffee being drunk in North America is from 1668 and, soon after, coffee houses were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other towns.  The Boston Tea Party Of 1773 was planned in a coffee house, the Green Dragon.  Both the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of New York started in coffeehouses in what is today known as Wall Street.

Source: International Coffee Organization

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Caffeine Trivia 11.22.13

sizesHere’s the rundown on serving sizes at Starbucks:

Short: 8 oz. The smallest size Starbucks offers, but you’ll probably only get this size if you ask for it by name; anyone asking for a “small” will get a Tall, which is the smallest size for which the prices are actually on the menu. Only hot drinks can be served in the Short size.

Tall: 12 oz. This is what you’ll get if you ask for a “small” drink.

Grande: 16 oz. This is the “medium” size. Pronounced “GRAWN-day.”

Venti: 20 oz. hot, 24 oz. cold. For some reason the iced Venti cups hold four more ounces; for this reason, Venti espresso drinks have an extra shot of espresso in them, and cost a few cents more than their hot equivalents. Pronounced “VENN-tee,” and reportedly means twenty in Italian.

refreshersAnd as if that wasn’t enough….

Trenta: Starbucks now has the Trenta — a  31-ounce serving of coffee, iced teas, iced coffee and refreshers.  I can personally attest to this size – it’s my size of choice for Iced Coffeee and Refresher Passion….it is heavenly!!!

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Caffeine Trivia 11.21.13

Found this piece of movie trivia on Talk About Coffee:

In the 2007 film, The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson rhapsodizes over his choice of coffee, a rare kind known as Kopi Luwak, civet coffee. Kopi Luwak may be the most expensive coffee in the world, with prices ranging from $250 to $600 per pound. It’s on the menu at one London coffee shop for £50 and at an Australian coffee shop for $50 Australian. It’s been estimated that less than 1000 pounds of Kopi Luwak per year are available on the market. What makes this expensive coffee so rare and so unique that it was featured in a major motion picture release starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman?

Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian coffee that is processed in a rather unusual way – the beans run through the digestive tracts of a local species of civet cats, and are gathered when the seeds, still coated in some cherry mucilage, are eliminated in the cat’s feces. Yes, that’s right – the “rarest beverage in the world” is picked out of what is essentially cat poop.

On the small Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, all well known for high quality coffee, a small marsupial called a paradoxurus or Asian palm civet climbs coffee cherry trees to feast on its favorite treat – perfectly ripe coffee cherries. It’s a rather adorable little bit of a thing, looking a great deal like a feline raccoon. Coincidentally, ecologists often claim that the palm civet fills the same niche in the food chain that the North American raccoon fills. The little critter gobbles coffee cherries, digesting the fruit and passing the seeds, still coated with mucilage. Coffee harvesters gather the excreted beans, wash them clean and continue the processing from there, which cuts several steps and several days from the tree-to-bean process.

In other words, the civet does a big part of the work for the coffee harvesters. It climbs the trees, picks the ripest cherries, strips the fruit from the cherry stone and begins the fermentation process in its digestive tract. By the time the beans are excreted, they’re ready for the final steps to strip the mucilage and dry the beans.

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