Make Coffee You Love!

  • Health Watch: Caffeine & Alzheimer's

    We just read this fascinating article about a study from earlier this year that indicates regular coffee consumption can decrease the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's later in life.

    Researchers found that caffeine may cut the risk of dementia because of its ability to block the adverse effects of high cholesterol on the body's systems -- one of which may be the breakdown of the blood/brain barrier that protects our brain tissue from potentially harmful chemicals in our bloodstream. There have been previous studies to indicate that the breakdown of this barrier may contribute to the development of dementia and Alzheimer's.

    The research centered on rabbits, which were given a high cholesterol diet over a 12 week period, some of which were also given the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day. At the end of the trial, researchers found that the blood/brain barrier in the rabbits that had the coffee supplement was far less deteriorated than the rabbits with no supplement. The results of this research are a very interesting step in determining both new restoration therapies and preventative
    care.

    So sip your daily joe knowing that it's not only delicious -- it's brain food!

  • Crew Review: Rancilio Silvia

    The Rancilio Silvia is one of our best sellers and we think we know why: It's an excellent mid-range machine that balances professional quality with economy.

    To help you during your decision making process, here is our crew's review on the pros and cons of this machine:

    Pros

    • Steam Wand - Includes a traditional steam wand generally seen on higher end machines and does not have a pannarello frothing attachment
    • Case & Components - It's stainless steel with a brass boiler and brew group, connected by copper tubing, which results in less mineral (scale) build-up and a
      consistently maintained temperature throughout extraction
    • 3-Way Pressure Release Valve - After you pull your shot, this valve will release the steam and dry the espresso in the portafilter, resulting in a dry 'puck' that is less messy to dispose
    Cons
    • Requires a Quality Burr Grinder - As with all non-pressurized espresso machines, consistently ground
      espresso is required; some low-end grinders can't grind evenly enough, which can result in frustration when first using a Rancilio Silvia
    • Single Boiler - Since brew temperature and steaming temperature are different, using a single boiler means you'll have to switch back and forth between these temperatures
    • Poor Pod Adapter - We have received many returns of the Rancilio's pod adapter with reports that it doesn't work very well and doesn't allow you to switch easily between grounds and pods without uninstalling the adapter
  • Get Involved with Sustainable Coffee

    Have you ever thought about taking a volunteer vacation? You know the kind, where you give a little while you get a little? Earthwatch has some of the most amazing working vacations available, all concentrated on working with scientists and researchers to measure, examine, explore and understand nature and our place within it.

    If you're a coffee connoisseur, planning a trip to learn about how you can help in the development of sustainable coffee agriculture could bring more meaning -- and adventure! -- to your daily mug. Earthwatch offers a 15-day expedition in Costa Rica where you assist in field experiments to improve the ecological sustainability of shade-grown coffee. The research station is located in one of our favorite spots on earth -- the breathtaking Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve -- and involves hiking to different coffee plantations and collecting data for the experiment. They currently have stints planned for the first half of this December, or a few next year in March, July and November.

    Please let us know if you choose to go -- we'd love to hear all about your experience!

  • New! Coffee: Scrumptious Drinks & Treats

    Irish Coffee Tart or Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream & Warm Chocolate Sauce? Who can choose? We certainly can't -- and now, we don't have to!

    We love Betty Rosbottom's elegant and treat-filled book Coffee: Scrumptious Drinks & Treats so much, we just had to offer it in the shop. We highly recommend adding this book to your kitchen's library; it's chock full of wonderful espresso-inspired recipes that will keep you, your friends and family sufficiently sweetened.

  • How To: Boiler Draining

    If you're planning on transporting or storing your machine, it's important that you drain the boiler of any residual water from the last use. The main reason is so that it doesn't freeze, expand and damage the internal components.

    Here's a guide on how you can drain your boiler before you store or ship it. This care tip is essential to the longevity of your machine, so don't skip it!

  • Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Cappuccino

    Oh, my.

    Drink your dessert first with the delicious Chocolate Raspberry Cappuccino! This delightful cuppa joe is sumptuous, sweet and seriously stimulating.

    Featuring two kinds of chocolate sauce, raspberry syrup, espresso and your favorite frothy milk, this cappuccino turns an afternoon pick-me-up into a celebration.

    Ingredients

    Directions

    1. Combine sauces, syrup and espresso in 12oz mug. Stir until well combined.
    2. Pour steamed milk into mug; stir to combine.
    3. Top with froth from steamed milk.
    4. Garnish with Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce.
  • New! DeLonghi Alicia Moka Espresso Maker

    We love DeLonghi's Alicia Moka Espresso Maker because it's very portable and easy to use. Utilizing the Italian Moka method for espresso extraction, this compact unit makes a rich, tasty brew anywhere near an outlet.

    Great for the home or office, the Alicia also has a detachable base, which makes it very easy to clean and serving espresso is a snap.

  • Health Watch: Caffeine & Breast Cancer

    A new joint study out of Harvard and Tokyo indicates that caffeine consumption may not be a strict carcinogen. It found no statistically reliable evidence that drinking coffee increases overall breast cancer risk, but it did find data regarding how it effects pre-existing breast tissue conditions, requiring further study.

    The researchers reviewed the medical and dietary records of nearly 40,000 women since a baseline taken between 1992 - 1995, and examined the commonalities between their dietary intake and the development of breast cancer. They were unable to find any statistical  proof that caffeine did in fact increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, but they did notice that those with higher caffeine intake (more than 4 cups per day) did experience adverse effects in the state of pre-existing benign breast disease and tumors.

    While it appears that minimal intake my not increase your risk -- if you're a coffee lover with a history of breast cancer in your family, it might be a good idea to switch to decaf (just to be on the safe side!).

  • Brew Tip: Anatomy of an Over-Extraction

    We have written about the shot pulling/extraction process before, and thought it would be a good idea to show you an easy way of evaluating whether or not your shot extractions are ideal.

    The secret is in your basket. Once you pull your shot, discard the coffee puck and examine the portafilter basket: If you see a caramelized residue sticking to the bottom of the basket, it's highly likely that your shot was over extracted and may taste bitter or burnt.

    So if your shot is looking a little bit on the long side and you're not sure of your extraction, save yourself a taste test and check out the basket for clues instead.

  • Lavazza Tierra! - Sweet Beans with a Conscience

    Agricultural sustainability is a global challenge -- from biodiversity to non-toxic farming practices, there are significant issues that we face in regard to ensuring our food supply is healthy, scalable and, most importantly, fair to everyone involved.

    To that end, Lavazza launched the Tierra! Project in 2004, which supports sustainable economic, social and agricultural development in three coffee growing communities located in Honduras, Peru and Colombia. The Tierra! beans are 100% Arabica, completely traceable and you'll know your money goes toward supporting an overall increase in the standard of living in these communities.

    While coffee is regaled the world over and is the 2nd highest traded commodity, the farmers that grow these delicious beans receive very little of the economic boon you'd expect given the place their product has in the market. Supporting fair trade and economically sustainable coffee outfits is one step that you can take to help change this global dynamic. Sure, it's small -- but will likely make more of an impact than you can imagine.

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