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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Some guilty part of me feels that I should be writing something patriotic as it’s the anniversary of our wonderful country – Happy Birthday, America! – but alas, I finally have a bit of time to write and I have some other rambling thoughts. Like about the nectar of the gods.

Coffee. And how it’s made.

Not everyone feels that a cup of joe is the nectar of the gods, but as far as I’m concerned, you can keep your wine, beer, aged scotch, tea and (heaven forbid) soda. I’ll take coffee.

It’s not the caffeine, it’s the flavor. I like good quality coffee, and I like making it the same way I’ve been making it since I first began brewing my own – with a Chemex coffee pot. Years ago, long before Keurig and the vast array of coffee makers that electronically brew your coffee on a timer, there were some simple coffee makers, drip coffee pots, and a few other options. At the time, Consumer Reports evaluated all the means of making coffee and ranked the Chemex number one for flavor with the French press right behind.

With special filters manufactured by Chemex, all bitterness is removed from the coffee as you pour boiling water over the measured grounds. People have commented on how good this coffee is which I credit to the Chemex method. (OK, and the fact that I’m willing to spend a bit more on well-crafted and sustainably-sourced coffee.)

But here’s what’s funny. Like so many other things in life, this method is now having a revival! Having once fallen out of favor except with its many devotees, and having been (unintentionally) kicked to the curb by Keurig, this method of brewing can now be found in restaurants all over, and it’s known as “pour-over” coffee. Uh-huh. Rewind! Welcome to my world, guys. Live long enough – and I’m not that old – and you will see everything come around again from platform shoes to tie-dye shirts to troll dolls.

But in this case, it’s a real benefit to those of us for whom our cuppa joe will always be the nectar of the gods. Cheers!

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NewmansOwnCoffee2Once vilified as being a troublemaker to your health, coffee has been getting a whole new appraisal as of late. Its health benefits are now being recognized. An article in Prevention magazine wrote up how coffee can help lower your risk for Type-2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard University looked at 28 studies with more than a million combined participants and found that people who drank six 8-ounce cups of coffee daily had a 33% lower risk of diabetes. The good news is that each cup lowered your risk by 9%, so you don’t have to go crazy with coffee consumption, but just be aware of the possibilities.

What’s even more exciting is that it’s not the caffeine responsible for the effect, so if you drink decaf, this still applies to you. Researchers suspect that it’s a naturally occurring chemical in coffee called chlorogenic acid that reduces the rate at which the intestines absorb glucose.

So that’s how you can change your personal world, but how about expanding your vision and changing the world at large?

The coffee you drink can make an actual difference to the rainforest and to saving the lives of migratory and resident birds. With the advent of agri-technology, sun-grown coffee became the new big thing, but is not without a goodly number of drawbacks. Here are a few differences between your typical coffees and shade-grown coffees in their benefits to wildlife and the environment.

Poco-Coffee2* Migratory birds and many resident birds, (such as Poco, a rescued macaw, right), find sanctuary in the forest canopy of traditional coffee plantations, while in sun-grown coffee areas, there are 90% fewer bird species.

* Shade trees protect the coffee plants from rain and sun, help maintain soil quality, and aid in natural pest control, thanks to the birds. These traditional coffee plantations also help to conserve watersheds, leading to higher water quality and quantity for local populations. Sun grown coffee requires chemical fertilizers and pesticides and year-round labor, placing financial demands on the growers. It also leads to greater soil erosion and higher amounts of toxic runoff endangering both wildlife and people.

* Shade coffee plants can produce crops of beans for up to 50 years, while sun grown plants produce for only 10 – 15.

* The higher quality beans produced by shade grown methods produce a better tasting coffee!

FairTradeLogoWhere do you find shade-grown coffee? Most coffees marked “Organic Fair Trade” will also be shade-grown. Read the labels and check out the producers’ literature and/or web sites for details. Smaller merchants, health-oriented food stores, and, increasingly, your local supermarket now carry shade grown coffee. There is one more bonus – when you see the “Fair Trade” logo on your bag of coffee, or elsewhere, it assures you that the farmers and their families who grow the coffee are being paid a sustainable living wage for their work.

While it may be a bit more expensive than sun grown coffee, it preserves the biodiversity of our planet, the rainforest, and a multitude of bird species, plus it helps humanity. A pretty good deal all in one cup of coffee.

So you can change your personal world, and spread your wings and change a whole lot more of it.

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HomesteadCoffee2Isn’t it good to have a few simple things in life that make you happy? I’ve found that one of the greatest joys in life can really come from simple things …. books, (often purchased at $1 – $2 at the library/sale), music, (streaming online while I work is wonderful), candles with scents that are just delicious, (and always available somewhere on sale or bestowed upon me as a gift), and … good coffee. OK, make that very good coffee.

Some people love wine, aged scotch, Coke … you can keep it all. My beverage of choice is coffee. And how lucky am I that excellent coffee is just on the other side of the river and a short drive away or is even available in a number of local shops? Homestead Coffee Roasters sells a variety of delicious brews, many of which are organic, Fair Trade coffee. They roast all coffee on the premises, buying all their beans green and sourced from a number of countries where the quality is outstanding. In addition to a caffeinated choice or two, I always have some decaf on hand and the last time there, I bought this Ethiopian water-processed decaf, full of flavor.

They do custom small batches and have their own signature blends like Ringing Rocks Roast, Peruvian Sunrise, Dead Man’s Brew, etc. They also make delicious seasonal flavored coffees such as Frosty Winter Morning, a blend of graham crackers, nuts and cinnamon. Yum. Pour that into one of my 4 new (different-colored) mugs, given as a gift to me from one of my animal-loving friends, and I am good to go.

So while some are out buying $300 shoes and the next and newest model classy car, I’ll curl up with my coffee and book, light a favorite candle and be perfectly content. Easy-peasy. And I have every confidence that many of you reading this post feel exactly the same way. It’s something simple that warms your heart, that speaks to you, and puts a smile on your face. Simple is good.

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