Make Coffee You Love!

  • Love that Espresso Shine

    Hair looking a little dull? Looking to gloss up your tresses without spending an arm and a leg on drugstore treatments or salon visits? There are tons of natural home haircare tips, and using espresso to add shine to your mane is one of our favorites.

    Simply pull a couple shots of espresso, apply it to your hair and then leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse it out and you'll have increased your hair's shine considerably. Espresso contains quite a bit of oil and these molecules can be transferred to your hair to boost its glow.

  • Hot Blog on Blog Action: Coffee Like Wine

    We spend a fair amount of time poking around the 'net to find interesting information to share with you, gentle reader, and came upon the blog Coffee Like Wine that discusses artisan coffee and wine experiences had by its San Francisco-based writer.

    Providing feedback on everything from different bay city cafes to cupping events to the flavors of single origin beans, this blog has a ton of great subjective information from an avid connoisseur. Check it out!

  • Colombian Coffee, Take 2

    For many of us, the image of Juan Valdez is synonymous with coffee beans: The seemingly humble, weather-wizened old man donning a sombrero and a coffee-filled satchel who arrives each morning in your kitchen to fill up your Mr. Coffee. But Colombia's posterchild has aged, slipping from his place as the 2nd largest producer in the world and suffering the ails of economic hiccups and hardships.

    Out-produced by Vietnam about 8 years ago, a steady decrease in new farmers and an aging agricultural tradition, the Colombian government has decided to refocus and spur growth in their largest agricultural export. Economic influences unfortunately took down a number of plantations, and many families with an agricultural history closed down their farms because of an inability to support themselves on the meager revenues their exploits produced. Some went into new careers, such as working in a bakery, while others opted to plant a much more sought-after crop: Coca, the basis for cocaine. Over the past couple of years, however, the Colombian government has begun to invest capital in a renovation of sorts, setting up younger farmers on plantations with younger coffee plants in the hope of revitalizing their participation in the international coffee community.

    They have a couple of challenges, however, that might keep them from ever playing ball at the 2nd tier again: They grow arabica, while Vietnam grows the much heartier robusta, and their sloped terrain makes it impossible for them to use machines in their harvest like the Brazilians. But with a reputation for rich bodied coffee and a growing international appreciation for the quality of handmade goods, Colombian coffee may well be on its way back to posterchild status.

  • New! Baratza PortaHolder

    Grab a few extra seconds in the morning with the Baratza PortaHolder attachment, made for Baratza Maestro, Maestro Plus or Virtuoso grinders.

    Insert the PortaHolder into the grounds bin slot and you'll be able to rest your portafilter there, set the grind time and step away while your espresso is freshly ground. We love this new modification to the Baratza grinders and think you will, too.

  • Caffeinated Green Thumbs

    Perk up your garden by adding coffee into the mix! Used coffee grounds are a great source of organic, slow-release nitrogen that can be incorporated into many everyday gardening tasks to improve results.

    We poked around to find some ways in which you could incorporate your used coffee grounds or coffee beans into everyday gardening practices and found these awesome ideas:

    • Before it rains or you water your garden, sprinkle used grounds around your plants to slowly release nitrogen into the soil
    • You can add used grounds in filters or tea bags to your compost pile to increase your nitrogen balance; they have a carbon-to-nitrogen ration of 20:1, similar to grass clippings
    • For a gentle fertilizer, dilute 1/2 pound can of wet grounds in a five gallon bucket of water, then let it sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature
    • Mix together used grounds & eggshells and then encircle the base of the plant to form a natural pest barrier
    • Caffeine is an effective slug deterrent: Concentrations as low as .01% in the soil reduces slug feeding on leaves, but won't kill them; if you're in a genocidal mood, however, a 1% solution will take out 60% of slugs and a 2% solution will eradicate 95% of all types of slugs. Keep in mind, however, that the 2% solution did damage some tender foliage, so while the idea of ridding your garden permanently of these slimy little guys might be appealing, it could have adverse effects on your plants
    • If you have a vermiculture setup, your used coffee grounds will be lovingly consumed by your tribe of worms
    • Use over-roasted beans as a mulch for your garden pathways to create an eye-catching and lovely scented walkway
    • Used grounds are an excellent mulch for tomato plants -- the increase in nitrogen make your tomatoes happy and also help suppress late blight
  • Recipe: Espresso Marinated Flank Steak

    This recipe for Espresso Marinated Flank Steak with Plantain Chutney, developed by Juan Montalvo, looks scrumptious and we can't wait to try it!

    Flank Steak
    2 pounds flank steak
    1 cup espresso
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup honey
    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tbsp. black peppercorn, crushed

    Whisk espresso, vinegar, olive oil, honey, Worcestershire sauce, garlic
    and peppercorn in bowl. Place flank steak in a resealable plastic bag
    and pour marinade into bag. Remove all the air from bag and
    refrigerate for minimum 1 hour.

    Remove steak from marinade. Place steak on medium high heat grill
    and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer steak to cutting board and
    let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Slice thinly across the grain.

    Plantain Chutney
    3 ripe plantains (they should be yellow with black spots on the outside)
    1 medium onion, diced
    1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
    2 tbsp. honey
    1/2 cup chicken stock
    1 tbsp. olive oil

    Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Peel plantain and place on
    baking dish. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until well browned. Once
    cooked, place plantain aside to cool. Cut plantain lengthwise and dice.

    Pour olive oil into a medium heat sauce pan. Add onions and cook
    until translucent. Add plantain, jalapeno, chicken stock, and honey,
    salt and pepper to taste, cook for 5-10 minutes to warm all ingredients
    together. Pour over the top of the sliced flank steak.

    Makes 6 Servings

  • Looking Lean on the Beans

    We wrote recently about the environmental factors in India that may reduce that country's crop harvest this season, and it's looking like the current economic influences are making it hard for Brazilian farmers to get the loans required to fertilize and harvest their entire plantations.

    What does this mean for us? Well, annual consumption of coffee beans per year is around 130 million pounds, but production is now estimated at around 122 million pounds of beans for the next harvest season, leaving us with a possible 8 million pound shortfall.

  • Your Daily Coffee, Courtesy of HAL

    Maybe we've painted ourselves into a corner with the whole time-is-of-the-essence ideology that seems to influence our focus on developing new and improved gadgets that will save us time, but one thing's for sure: We can't stop now.

    Enter a Windows XP powered coffee maker that will allow you to program your favorite coffee, access it over the Internet and initiate the brew so you can walk right into the kitchen and pick it up. It's almost worthy of the Jetson's...but, unfortunately, it's just a home modification at this point. At least we know it can be done -- and that's half the battle, right?

  • 4...3...2...1...Pulling Delicious Shots with the La Pavoni

    People often think that La Pavoni's manual lever espresso machines are overly complex throwbacks created just for hardcore purists, but they're actually relatively easy machines to use -- and they make amazing espresso!

    In this video, watch Gail use the La Pavoni for the first time, experimenting with different grind levels in order to get a great shot.

  • Hot Blog on Blog Action: Man Seeking Coffee

    Written by a mild caffeine addict whose only qualifications are a passion for coffee and tons of wasted money on experiencing bad coffee, Man Seeking Coffee is a blog for lovers of the bean who are looking for tips, corroboration or debate.

    The San Francisco-based writer has even come up with a rating system for beans so that you'll come to understand his perspective on a truly quantitative level, but also talks about cafes and coffee culture...you know, just to round it out. Enjoy the read!

    Ed. Note: The Man Seeking Coffee blog is currently on hiatus. You may want to try A Table in the Corner of the Cafe blog instead.

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