Monthly Archives: March 2012
Time for our second round of tastings! In this episode, Gail and Allison taste shots from Atomic Cafe's selection of espresso-oriented blends and beans.
Watch to find out their thoughts on these new coffee offerings.
It doesn't take much to amuse us 'round these parts. So even though our Irish-themed offering is a couple weeks late, we had fun with it anyway!
Watch Brandi craft a delicious drink, paired with an even more delicious batch of Kaylie's (Not Quite) Irish Blondies. Mmmmmmmmmp!
- 1 oz Monin Irish Cream syrup
- 1 oz Irish whiskey of your choice
- 16 oz brewed drip coffee (you know it's gotta be Velton's Twilight!)
- Whipped cream
- Combine syrup and whiskey together in a large mug.
- Add drip coffee and give it a stir to incorporate it well.
- Top with a carefully-placed dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Putting our noses to the grindstone and getting our hands dirty like the intrepid reporters that we are, Kaylie and I hit the streets with one question on our mind: What's all the hullabaloo with bikini barista stands?
As far as we can tell (through very informal polling of other crew mates who hail from different states in the union), this type of business is something unique to the Pacific Northwest of the US -- scantily clad ladies serving up java in drive through stands. But is it just a marketing ploy to attract the male population or do they actually serve up tasty coffee?
While these stands are hardly an anomaly in our neck of the woods, it was pretty clear that two high class ladies such as ourselves rolling up to the drive through window at the three different stands we visited definitely was. Since this was our first foray into semi-nude java, we were prepared for awkwardness on our side of the car window, but were surprised to find that the bodacious baristas felt the same way!
Read on to find out how we rated our visits -- drink making skills, efficiency, service, hospitality and the overall experience.
Businesses Java Juggs
"Some Like It Hot"
"Come get your sexy coffee BUZZ on at the Beehive Espresso!"
"Sexy. Classy. Gourmet."
Allison's Rating: Scalding hot to the point where we let it sit for almost 45 minutes before we could put the cup to our lips. We know this changes the flavor but we figured the safety of our mouths was a little more important than getting second degree burns over a cup o' joe.Kaylie's Rating: Overly hot and a little burnt. Allison's Rating: A bit watery but reached the average drinking temperature right when she served it since she had the decency to ask if we'd like ice in it.Kaylie's Rating: Closer to the correct temperature and she asked if we wanted ice in it, which was nice. Allison's Rating: By far was the strongest and at the right temp cup of coffee. She not only asked if we wanted ice but also offered to make them doubles.Kaylie's Rating: Best of them all and she offered ice -- score! Could drink immediately without saying goodbye to taste buds. Drink: Latte
Allison's Rating: Was it curdled steam milk with a tablespoon of espresso or was it just a weak shot of espresso in some milk? All I could taste was a milky concoction with maybe a hint of espresso flavoring.Kaylie's Rating: I'm not even sure there was actual espresso in there...it just tasted like steamed milk! It also took almost an hour before I could take a sip -- way too hot! Allison's Rating: A better temperature but still a little weak on the espresso, this drink was passable but not exceptional.Kaylie's Rating: Once again, closer to the correct temperature and could actually tell there was espresso in this one...we're getting closer! Allison's Rating: Looks can be deceiving because you'd think a girl with star-shaped pasties would give you a mediocre latte, but surprisingly out of all three she had the best -- strong flavor and great temperature that would rival any standard cafe.Kaylie's Rating: Once again, we have the winner here! Right temperature and could taste the espresso with my milk. Plus? Foam! Service Rating Allison's Rating:A bit peppy and nervous when she saw us, I'll give the barista credit when she said she's only been working at the stand for a month, but I think her talking and rambling got in the way of the quality of our drinks.Kaylie's Rating: She was talkative and friendly, but she was also nervous and I think her talking led to the long wait time. Allison's Rating: Still a bit hesitant but friendly, knowledgeable and more business-like, the barista had more experience and said she's worked at previous bikini barista stands (i.e. Chicka Latte). She was able to make small talk while efficiently making our drinks.Kaylie's Rating: She was definitely nervous and made friendly conversation without as much compromise to wait time. Allison's Rating: There to get the job done, there was no hesitation about asking what we'd like and how we'd like it but with a courteous smile and small conversation. We got out of there with quality drinks in an efficient timeframe.Kaylie's Rating: She was very nice. Made polite conversation while she made drinks and didn't seem too nervous. Timing 3 minutes and 50 seconds 2 minutes and 50 seconds 2 minutes and 30 seconds Comfort Rating Allison's Rating: As nervous as the barista was, since this was our first stop we didn't know what to expect. But once the drinks were ordered, and barista started rambling from nervousness we realized she was just as uncomfortable about serving ladies as we were being there.Kaylie's Rating: I don't know if it was because it was the first bikini barista stand we hit or if it was because she had her leg out the window as we drove up, but this stand made me super uncomfortable. Allison's Rating: A little more comfortable since we got the first one out of the way, it wasn't until I saw the Penthouse Posters plastered inside of the espresso stand where I once again wasn't sure what to expect from my drinks. However, after chatting with the barista she was a little more confident than the last and acted more like how a barista should treat their customers, even with a bit of nervousness in her voice.Kaylie's Rating: Was less uncomfortable on approach than Java Juggs, but the Penthouse posters on the wall didn't do my uncomfortableness any favors. Allison's Rating: What do we find but a barista with star-shaped pasties and those same yellow hot pants. Let's say uncomfortable much? Once you start chatting up the barista with your drink order and she responds back with drink-specific questions, you forget about the pasties and are just impressed by the quality of her drinks and how efficiently she got them to us.Kaylie's Rating: I really wasn't that uncomfortable going to this one. Which is surprising, considering she was the only one wearing pasties while the others wore full bikini or bra tops. Final Thoughts Allison: What I expected was basically what I saw: A girl dressed in lingerie (mind you not a bikini), with no real training except for what she was given when she was hired along with telling us that as long as you apply, be naughty and make customers drinks, you'll get pretty good tips. Definitely quantity vs. quality of their product.Kaylie: She said this wasn't their busiest stand, but she still makes $100 per 5-hour day in tips. When she works at the busier ones, in Everett, she gets $300-$400 a day in tips. She told us that she'd never been a barista before and they train you if you get hired, which has the only requirement of being 'pretty'. Also, she said that when you are hired they instruct you to 'be naughty.' Allison: This time we actually rolled up to a barista who I believe was actually in a bikini. I couldn't help but ask if she had been a barista before, she responded by saying she had previously at a Chicka Latte. With a little more knowledge in making drinks, it made me give the business a little more credit for hiring people with experience.Kaylie: This barista made mention of being in school and said she previously worked for Chicka Latte. She seemed generally sweeter and more 'put together' than the barista at Java Juggs. Allison: Once again, the pasties were deceiving but I found that this business used the sex-appeal to their advantage, while still hiring baristas that can slang an ideal Americano and Latte. With themed days, such as Tini-Bikini Tuesday or Fantasy Friday, you can either find this pure entertainment or just wrong. I'll let you decide.Kaylie: This was by far the best in terms of actual quality and the barista was like a normal girl (pretty but not stick thin). Plus they get extra points for themed days!
Okay, so I know these Irish Coffee Blondies are a week late. To be fair, though, you can eat booze infused treats anytime, right? That’s what I thought, too!
Also, the purist in you may cringe when you see what I used in place of Irish whiskey (hey, my liquor cabinet isn’t that well stocked!), but I guarantee that they were still delicious.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons freshly ground coffee (I used Caffe Umbria’s Terra Sana Blend)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey (or, in my case, scotch!)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Spray a 9”x13” pan with the nonstick cooking spray
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda
- Melt the butter and pour into a bowl with the brown sugar, ground coffee and salt
- Stir to combine, then stir in eggs and vanilla
- Stir in flour mixture until combined
- Pour into pan and bake 25-30 minutes
- Remove from oven when toothpick inserted comes out clean and let cool in pan
- When blondies are cool, make glaze by combining butter, whiskey and sugar (*Note: The glaze should be thick but pourable, so you may not need all the sugar that is called for)
- Drizzle glaze over blondies and let dry for 1 hour
Now, I wouldn’t recommend eating them right away. The whiskey taste lingers strongly for several hours, which some may not enjoy. However, if you store them overnight, the whiskey taste dissipates, leaving a deliciously sweet and slightly smoky flavor behind.
It's tasting time, again! We recently added Atomic Cafe's coffees to our selection and so we asked Allison & Gail to perform one of their tasting sprees.
In this episode, watch as prepare pour overs of a few different drip-oriented coffees.
Introducing Baratza's newest entry-level grinder, the Encore! Featuring their Gear Box 2.0 upgrade -- which will provide for greater strength and durability throughout the grinder's life -- it otherwise looks almost identical to their former entry-level Maestro series. But looks can be deceiving! While its predecessors worked only for espresso machines that featured pressurized baskets or portafilters, the Encore tested well even with one of the hardest to please ladies on the block: The Rancilio Silvia.
Watch as Gail takes us through features and functionality, shows off grind consistency and demonstrates extraction on the Silvia. This is a heckuva lot of grinder for a really great price!
Whether you call it Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee, the java produced through the 'natural processing' system (AKA the digestive tract) of this cat-like marsupial from Indonesia has been given high marks (and prices!) in terms of cup quality around the world.
But what many have considered an exotic yet expensive luxury bean is not just costly to the privileged coffee drinker, it recently has become costly to the lives of the producers -- the civets themselves.
For those new to 'cat poop coffee,' Kopi Luwak 'is the product in which coffee cherries, the complete fruit of the coffee plant, are eaten by the palm civet cats of the far East, typically in Indonesia. The cats digest the cherries but excrete the inner beans, which are then roasted and brewed as any other coffee bean,' describes Boughton's Coffee House.
Historically, these beans were harvested in a natural way -- foragers would search the forest floor for civet feces to find these beans. Since finding them was a lot of work and there was an arguably very small supply, it resulted in a high price -- a small cup could run between $30 - $50 and a pound of the stuff could cost upwards of $600.
With those kinds of prices and a rise in popularity, however, this novelty bean has been transformed from a happy accident, as it were, into a factory-like production model designed to increase financial gain and meet the worldwide demand. Instead of foraging for the beans in the civets' natural habitat, they are now caging them and feeding them cherries in order to increase available output.
'With the sudden rise in popularity, the far majority of legitimate Kopi Luwak coffee sold today comes from grizzly civet cat farms where rows and rows of the enslaved creatures bred specifically for coffee production are kept in small cages and force-fed coffee cherries -- ripe or otherwise -- until they die,' states coffeestrategies.com.
This ethically questionable method of harvesting Kopi Luwak has only come to light in the past few years, and there are reports that the average small farmer keeps around 102 civets and collects 550 pounds of processed coffee per month.
Is their flavor worth their high price -- in terms of both monetary and ethical concerns? If you're a fan of Kopi Luwak, it's something only you can decide ... but we think it's well worth at least a few moments of healthy consideration.
This week, I decided to take a departure from my usual chocolate and espresso combo. Well, sort of. You see, I made these really yummy candied espresso walnuts. They were good as is, they really were! But for the next batch I added some chocolate, just to up the ante. The results? Still really delicious candied espresso walnuts.
The moral of that story is twofold: 1) I am clearly obsessed with chocolate and can’t handle a week without it, and 2) With or without chocolate, you really need to try these!
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans (yep, I used Velton’s Twilight Blend again - it is that good!)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg white
- 4 cups walnut halves
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Spray baking sheet with vegetable oil
- Combine sugar, espresso, cinnamon and kosher salt in a bowl
- In another bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy
- Dip walnuts in egg mixture, then toss to coat in sugar mixture
- Spread coated walnuts on cookie sheet in a single layer
- Bake 5 minutes
- Stir walnuts, loosening from cookie sheet and rearranging back into a single layer
- Bake another 5 minutes, or until walnuts are dry to the touch
- Remove walnuts from oven, loosen with spatula and let cool on baking sheet
The recipe said they would last in an airtight container for 2 weeks, but we ate them up so fast that I really can’t verify the validity of that statement.
I can say that these were super easy to make (probably the easiest recipe I’ve made so far) and should probably become a staple in your recipe box. I mean, everyone has a recipe box, right?
Keep your Saeco superautomatic squeaky clean and well cared for with Saeco's new upgraded maintenance kit. It now includes Intenza filters, Saeco-branded liquid descaling solution, brew group lubricant and a cleaning kit that includes O-ring replacements for your brew group.
Watch as Gail walks us through all of the lovely goodies included in this kit. Joy!
Brandi's creation this week is truly, utterly dangerous. It's one of those concoctions that could be either really, really good for you ... or really, really bad.
Watch as she combines the three most important food groups -- alcohol, caffeine and sugar -- to create this lovely infused liqueur.
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