No more boring coffee carafes!

By David / March 29, 2017
Yellow Caraffe. Photo Credit: Michal Parzuchowski

Image Credit: Michal Parzuchowski | unsplash.com

There are a lot of boring coffee carafes out there that look like they just trudged out corporate hell, but what you use in your home doesn't have to. A few companies in particular are creating some interesting coffee carafes that caught our eye.


BonNoces

 With a certain vintage flair, the BonNoces line provides an interesting take on the usually boring existence of a coffee carafe. Sometimes subtly beautiful, like the European Style pearl white carafe​.

pearl coffee carafe


Or the more bold look of this double-walled silver and black :


Or perhaps a hint of the Far East with this BonNoces diamond-accented piece with gilding :

 


Eva Solo

For cleaner, more contemporary lines, the Eva Solo company has put out this Danish-made ultra modern glass flask vacuum jug with an integrated heat indicator:

Also by Eva Solo is this wide-based carafe  with a minimalistic and beautiful shape:



Alfi Carafes

If you are after a little more color the Alfi Carafes company probably has something more to your liking. They have crafted a line of creative and colorful carafes like the Alfi Gusto in Apple Green:

 

On a similar note, Alfi also makes this gild-and-purple vacuum carafe that is both beautiful and unique:

Maybe it is high time to toss that ugly carafe that looks like it came straight from the set of The Office after all?  Happy sipping!

Bulk coffee deals on Amazon right now.

By David / March 26, 2017

We drink a lot of coffee. A LOT. So we know how important it is to make that coffee-to-dollar ratio work in your favor.

In the spirit of more coffee for less dinero, check out these coffee deals:

A basic cup of good joe:

If you’re in the mood for inexpensive, solid coffee without the frills, Kirkland is a go-to source of tasty coffee:

Offered in single 3 lb canisters, or in multi-packs, you can take care of your coffee supply at very affordable bulk rates. While this brew won’t win any style points, if all you’re after is a steamy cup of no-nonsense coffee, then who cares?

For a more picky palate, you may want to check out Stone Street’s Dark Organic Sumatra whole bean in 5 lb bags. This coffee, hand crafted in Brooklyn, gives you small batch quality without breaking the bank.

Stone Street’s carefully roasted coffee is fair trade and organic to boot, so what’s not to love?

For a bulk deal on a coffee that usually has a bit higher price tag, check out A delicious dark roast from Death Wish Coffee:

This brew, also organic and Fair Trade certified will wake you and put a smile on your face!

Top K-Cups for Autumn Sipping

By David / October 21, 2012
http://www.flickr.com/photos/justycinmd/

Image Credit: JustyCinMD | Creative Commons

Cooler days are here, along with the rich scents and tastes of autumn! Coffee in the fall holds a special place in our hearts and, like the changing leaves and crisp days, is something to be savored. Here are our top five K-Cups to sip as the season changes:

    1. Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice

      Lots of ‘spice’ in this light-medium brew, with tones of clover and nutmeg. Grab a 24, 50, or 80 count box here.

    2. Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Blend

      A little pricier than some K-cups, but a great way for the Dunkin fans to indulge without having to leave the kitchen: 14 count packs here 28 count packs here.

    3. Timothy’s World Perfectly Pumpkin

      Another popular pumpkin blend with smooth flavor and balanced spice. 24 count boxes can be had here.

    4. Donut House Cinnamon Roll

      Cinnamon is a ubiquitous presence in the autumn months and with mild cinnamon tones this roast embodies the delicious change of seasons. Not too sweet and just right for those who prefer lighter roasts.
      24 or 48 count boxes are found here.

    5. Green Mountain Golden French Toast

      What does french toast have to do with the changing seasons? Taste the delicious maple tones in this coffee and you will understand. It is brunch with friends, fall colors, and cool weather decadence all wrapped into a wonderful cup of coffee. Grab a box here.

Have a fall favorite not listed here? Tell us about it below and we will try it!

Now go enjoy a cup of coffee!

A Fairtrade cup of coffee that goes anywhere.

By David / October 20, 2012

It’s coffee, it’s a bag. and it’s Fairtrade. What more could your next camping trip ask for? Grower’s Cup has come up with a interesting, all-in-one brewing system that is reminiscent of the French Press, less the press. We couldn’t help think of space station food-in-a-tube technology, but the idea intrigued us enough to investigate further and here is what we found:

Really…a bag?

Yep, and to be honest we were pretty impressed. The pouch is made of paper lined with polyethylene (the same stuff you find in a lot of plastic water bottles) and is divided into a filter compartment (top) and a holding compartment (bottom), with a tear away opening for the side pour spout:

The bag itself is surprisingly sturdy and should hold up nicely if tossed into a pack for camping or hiking. We wouldn’t run over it with an ATV or anything…but it will withstand enough to tag along.

How does it work?

As you can imagine, operating the brewer bag is pretty simple. Open the top, pour in about two cups of hot water, let it ‘brew’ or steep for about 5 or 6 minutes, and then (hear comes the slightly tricky part) pour the coffee from the side ‘pour spout’:



The promo video below shows the pouring process to be an effortless affair, but in reality the bag can be a bit unwieldy and it takes a little practice. That being said, you are pouring coffee from a bag, and all things considered, it really isn’t too difficult. Certainly easier than lugging your favorite brewer along on the trip, so let’s not belabor the pouring too much. If the pouring experience puts you off, you can always spring for their very inexpensive and reusable handy Bag Holder, however we feel this somewhat defeats the goal of not having to carry lots of kit along.

Most importantly…what about taste?

For coffee brewed in the equivalent of a plastic-lined lunch bag, this coffee tastes pretty good. Comprable to what you are going to get with pre-ground beans in a basic French Press, the coffee is smooth and flavorful. The two-compartment design moves coffee from the grounds to the holding area so as to not let the brew become bitter, as long as you do not let it sit with the full two cups of water for too long. The bag does not offer much in terms of insulation, so you are going to want to transfer to a thermos or get drinking pretty quickly to maintain optimal temperature. Grower’s Cup produces different Fairtrade roasts (check some of them out here) sourced from Mexico, Bolivia, and Ethiopia, among others.

Final Verdict…

The bagged brewer is a well designed idea and we like it. We love that it is Fairtrade, easy, relatively cheap, and very ideal for on-the-move uses. While it isn’t going to become your go-to brew, the taste is solid and on cold mornings outside the tent it will taste even better. Check out their promo video for a brief brewing demo and let us know if you get to try it out!

The Economics of Coffee

By David / October 16, 2012

This Mint.com infographic is a little older, but still has some great numbers. Of particular interest are the monthly transactions per individual. Seattle and San Jose in the top spots should be no surprise, however what is surprising is how underrepresented the Northeast is on this map. At the very least, we would have expected a New York or a Boston, both heavy coffee consumers:

Perking Up: The Coffee Economy Awakes




Source: Mint.com

Drink Coffee…Live Long?

By David / October 16, 2012

Image Credit: VintageGoodies | Etsy.com

At least that is what one study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found. The study examined death rates of over 400,000 thousand participants over a 13 year period, and found that when data was controlled for things like smoking and other risky behaviors, the coffee-drinking participants actually showed up to 15% less likelihood of succumbing to things like heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infections. The study even found that coffee consumers in the sample group were less likely to fall victim to accidents and injuries! Perhaps all that caffein-induced hyper attention isn’t so bad after all.

Other recent studies have found that coffee consumption may stem the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, as well as diabetes. As with any research, though, the findings need to be interpreted cautiously. These studies, researchers warn, are not conclusive and only corollary at this stage but the numbers are distinct enough to make these coffee drinkers put on another pot!

Hand Grinders: A Handy Guide

By David / October 15, 2012

Image credit: MKFI (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hand grinders are by nature simple and straightforward. They combine the best of manual coffee grinding with the benefits of more advanced grinding mechanics. Simple to use, nearly indestructible, and small enough to go anywhere, they enable you to have that freshly ground cup wherever you find yourself brewing.

Hand grinders are generally just a manual, hand-crank powered burr grinder, almost always of conical burr variety. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering a hand grinder. The first is you need to identify what kind of brew you are going to use the grinder for. Most hand grinders do a great job producing a more course grind, perfect for the french press or other manual brew methods, or even your average drip method. If your target is espresso, however, you will be harder pressed to produce fine enough grounds to properly get the job done. There are a couple of high end hand grinders out there that can achieve a particularly fine grind, but be aware that your choices are limited in this area. Hand grinders are generally cheaper than powered grinders, however be careful – as in most areas of life, you will still get what you pay for when it comes to hand grinders. Lastly, while generally small, you can find hand grinders in a range of sizes and which one you settle on really depends on your intended use. Lets look at some specific models and their optimal uses to illustrate:

For the french press enthusiast, a simple and well made model to consider is the Japanese made Hario Skerton. This little grinder is very well made, and compact enough to be stashed anywhere in the kitchen after each use. Settings can be adjusted for very fine to course grounds, and while some have used this for espresso it is probably more suited to your drip and press brew methods. Be ready to roll up the sleeves though, this takes a bit of cranking to get the grounds out, however most users find they quickly adjust and many even find the process adds an enjoyable ‘Zen’ effect to their coffee making routines.

For situations where you need maximum portability and minimum size, check out the GSI Lexan JavaGrind. This little grinder is very low profile and has a folding handle, making it ideal for camping, road trips, or stashing somewhere for coffee emergencies. It is designed to sit directly on top of the receiving container, typically a french press, and can be a little tricky to master at first. If you need small size though this is a great option, and for outdoor use you can combine it with the GSI Java Press to keep your fresh coffee warm.

No discussion about hand grinders and mills would be complete with out a mention of Zassenhaus. This brand sits among the royalty of hand grinders and for good reason, they have been producing high end grinders for generations. A Zassenhaus will definitely fall among the more expensive of hand grinders, but are also going to produce the most consistant grind and are of the highest build quality. Some Zassenhaus grinders are even capable of producing a fine enough grind to win over espresso enthusiasts, a skill most hand grinders cannot claim. There are a few varieties of Zassenhaus grinders, but our favorites are this classic cast iron and walnut grinder, and this Turkish-style mill.

While hand grinders are not for everyone, they can be a very affordable and long-lasting alternative to many grinders on the market. An added side benefit of the hand grinder is how quiet they are – if you are an early riser in small quarters, the hand grinder is a great alternative to noisy electric grinders. The only thing waking up the rest of the household will be the delicious smell of fresh brewed coffee – happy sipping!

The Grind: Converting Coffee Beans Into Happiness

By David / October 6, 2012
Image credit: Pen Waggener/Creative Commons

Image credit: Pen Waggener/Creative Commons

Much has been said about the proper way to grind coffee. The most obvious debate is, of course, to grind or not to grind. Purists will scoff at the idea of pre-ground coffee, opting for freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee each time. More casual coffee drinkers have their favorite pre-ground blends and are perfectly happy with each cup. Like wine, it really comes down to taste, experience, and expectations.

For the sake of the Grounds 101 series, we are going to assume you are getting fairly serious about your coffee drinking, and want to understand a little more about how to grind your beans properly. First, though, you will need to settle on a method of grinding.

Through history there have been quite a few utensils employed in the grinding of coffee – from rock wielding bedouins to belt-driven contraptions – the whole coffee bean has met its fate in a multitude of ways. Today, however, we generally have one of four avenues to effectively reduce coffee beans to grounds: blunt force methods, hand grinders, blade grinders, and burr grinders. In this first of several posts, we will be looking specifically at the blunt force methods.

While we have heard of blunt force coffee grinding taking many forms including hammers, rolling pins, and meat mincers, we would recommend taking a slightly more traditional (and safer?) approach by using a simple mortar and pestle. These sturdy kitchen classics come in a number of forms, including wood, ceramic, metal, granite, and marble. If you already have one, no need to purchase another, with one significant caveat. The pungent aroma of coffee that we all love can be a bane when it shows up in the wrong place. Your mortar and pestle may very well take on some coffee flavor that could surface later in your favorite dinner recipes. While some may not view this as a negative, we are guessing most will. Likewise, coffee beans and grounds tend to absorb the flavors around them. If you’ve just crushed garlic in your mortar, you will be brewing coffee potent enough to ward off the cast of Twilight.

To avoid this problem, consider a separate mortar and pestle for coffee crushing, particularly one made of metal or dense stone (like marble or hight quality granite). These materials are less porous than others and will be more resistant to absorption. In addition, they are durable and long lasting and should be a good investment. To help maintain your mortar and pestle, it should be cleaned after each use When properly cared for in this way, you should be able to minimize flavor transfer between uses. In addition to the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations, try crushing some uncooked rice to really scour the mortar surface. This, followed by a scrub with a stiff brush, will help keep the mortar surface clean and flavor-free. If using soap and water, try to use unscented soap to avoid any flavor tainting that way as well. Your cup of coffee at dawn doesn’t need to taste like a cup of sudsy Dawn as well.

So, for those who are short on time and want the basic facts, here they are:

The Metal or Stone Mortar and Pestle

Pros:

  • Relatively cheap
  • Not prone to mechanical failure, long lasting
  • Very green, sustainable option
  • A mini-workout and toned arms each time you crush coffee beans
  • Leave it out on the counter to look like a real foodie

Cons:

  • Carving out the time to manually crush beans, when all you want is a quick cup of coffee (consider one of these as your back up for coffee emergencies)
  • A little trickier to create consistently sized, fine grounds. This makes the mortar and pestle more attractive for the French Press, but less so for an espresso machine.

If you are ready to look at a high quality mortar and pestle, we would recommend one of these options:

ImportFood’s Granite Mortar and Pestle. This one is made with very dense (7+ on the Mohs Scale) granite and comes in 1.5, 2, or 3-cup mortar sizes.

The StainlessLUX Brushed Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle. A very nice metal option that is easy to clean and nearly indestructible.

And, if you are looking for style and luxury, you won’t find better than a La Cornue Large Mortar & Pestle. At that price, though, it should come with someone to crush the beans for you.

Stay tuned as we continue the Grounds 101 series and next take a look at hand grinders – happy sipping!

Amazon Coffee Sale!

By David / October 1, 2012

Image by VectorArts.net, Creative Commons

Just saw these deals and had to post them! One of our favorite coffees is currently on sale in k-cup form: Wolfgang Puck’s Breakfast In Bed. This is a Amazon Warehouse deal, which means the product is nearing its ‘must sell by’ date and they are discounting the normal price. Grab a box (or two) before they are gone!

Wolfgang Puck Coffee, Breakfast in Bed (Medium Roast), 24-Count K-Cups for Keurig Brewers

Another tempting deal is this sampler, which includes Donut House flavored k-cups like Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Glazed Donut. Yum!

Crazy Cups Donut Sampler, K-Cup Portion Pack for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, Gift pack (Pack of 20)

If you want to check out their other current deals to see if anything strikes your fancy, swing by the Amazon Warehouse Deals page here:

Coffee Deals at Amazon Warehouse Deals

Happy sipping!

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