Why Do We Need Coffee Blends?

Coffee blends… what’s so great about them? With the sheer number of tasty single-origin coffees on the market, you would think there would be no need to blend coffees. Is it a marketing ploy or is there a reason for coffee roasters to make blends?

 

coffee blends

 

Why

We’ll start with price. Blending coffees is a great way to make more affordable choices. For example, a large number of commercially available coffees in your local grocery store are blends. Many are blends of arabica and robusta. The addition of arabica gives robusta (a less expensive species) better flavor by dampening the bitterness. Other blends may take an expensive arabica bean, say Jamaica Blue Mountain, and mix it with a less expensive arabica bean of similar flavor profile to make a JBM that is more wallet-friendly.

 

The next reason for blending is to develop a desirable flavor profile or how it feels in your mouth by adjusting certain aspects of the coffees in the blend. For example, if you have a coffee with rich body and great flavor but it doesn’t have a great mouthfeel, you can blend in a bean that has a similar flavor profile that has a smooth or silky mouthfeel to create a delicious coffee with an ideal finish. Or a blend might bring out a sweet and fruity flavor.

 

Consistency is another reason for blending. Coffee beans can vary from harvest to harvest with inconsistent flavors or textures. Blending beans can help ensure each batch has the same flavor profile and mouthfeel every time. This is extremely important since consumers expect each batch of a certain coffee they purchase to be the same as the last.

 

As for marketing, sure, blends can be a way for a coffee house or roaster to market itself. These coffee blends are typically exclusive to the venue and often include the word “signature” in the name. This isn’t to say that these blends aren’t also delicious and designed to adjust the flavor or for the price, but at its core, this particular type of blend is to give the café or roaster a name for itself.

 

A fear of some consumers is that cafes or roasters blend coffees just to use up whatever is left over. This is extremely rare, however. We won’t say it never happens, but it not the usual reason for creating a blend.

 

 

How

Now we know the why of blending, let’s take a look at the how. Coffee roasters will have a cupping of the coffees they purchase to get a baseline for what each one tastes like. They try different roast profiles to see which one give the bean its best taste. They then begin the blending process. Using their knowledge of the flavor of each of the coffees, the roaster begins to combine different beans, tasting and adjusting along the way, until they find just the right mix.

 

This is a big job as blending coffees can backfire causing a blended coffee to be flavorless or bland. The purpose of blending is to make the coffee delicious and perk up your taste buds, not put them to sleep.

 

Types of Blends

Though each roaster or café may have different blends from other roasters or cafes, but there are some that are common. You will typically see a Breakfast Blend or an After Dinner Blend. Other usual blends combine regional beans. One of the most well-known and oldest coffee blends is the Mocca-Java.

 

If you are looking for a new coffee experience, check out a blend. You just may be pleasantly surprised.

Coffee Trends in 2018

Like entertainment and clothing, food and beverage go through trends. Coffee doesn’t escape this phenomenon and every year different trends grow or die off. In 2018 there are quite a few trends that are floating around in the coffee arena. Here’s what to watch for.

 

trends in coffee

 

Youth

Age

Without consideration for “how young is too young,” (we’re just looking at the actual trends) it’s amazing to see how young people are when they start drinking coffee. Today, kids as young as 13 are already drinking coffee. This age group is the Post-millennial or Gen Z (the age group which follows the Millennials) and is the fastest growing group in the coffee drinking world. The Millennial demographic is currently the largest age group at 44% of coffee consumption in the US. Gen Z is poised to over run this. Millennials born closer to 1982 started drinking coffee at around 17.1 years old while those born closer to 1995 started at around 14.7 years old. (citation)

 

Sweet

Americans’ palates run much sweeter than those from other countries. And youth palates run much sweeter than those of adults. In order to garner sales from these younger palates, more and more sweet and creamy coffee beverages are showing up on menus. Think coffee shakes, syrups, affogato, and more.

 

RTD

Our youth are also always on the run with all the activities they have been raised with (football, skating, music, etc.) so their drinks need to be able to keep up with them. Ready-to-drink coffees are grab and go and are typically pre-sweetened. Speed of service is necessary to keep these kids going.

 

Gourmet Coffee

Direct Trade

As we become more global, we want to know about our coffee and we want to know that those who are providing our coffee–meaning those who grow, harvest, and processing it, not just selling it–are being taken care of while they are providing high-quality coffee that is the freshest and best tasting. Check out our Direct Trade coffees here.

 

Fair Trade

Different from Direct Trade, Fair Trade is not necessarily obtaining the best coffee but does focus on the improvement of the businesses, areas/farms, and lives of those who produce the coffee. We also have Fair Trade coffees here.

 

Third Wave

Coffee is in its “Third Wave” now. What exactly is third wave? Well, first wave was coffee as a necessity and second wave was coffee as a luxury. Third wave is coffee as an artisanal type of drink… like wine. Like it was mentioned in the direct trade section above, people want to know more about the growing conditions, the farms, the people, the types of beans, how they are processed, how they are roasted, and more. In other words, people want the origin story of their coffee, and they’re willing to pay for it.

 

To Your Health

We’ve all seen the posts, articles, and studies about how healthy coffee is for us. In addition, there are people who swear by what they put in their coffee to make it even healthier. One well known healthy version is Bulletproof Coffee. Made with butter and MCT oil, this coffee is purported to be low carb, filling, and gives you lots of energy. Other healthy add-ins people are using – protein powder and collagen powder, a SCOBY (think kombucha tea), and beneficial herbs and spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Expect to see more healthy coffee recipes coming along.

 

Specialty Drinks

We’ve already talked about cold brew coffee, but did you know there are other interesting ways of preparing coffee? Bubbles are hot right now with nitro coffee being a big hit. But if you’re looking for a different kind of bubble or want to make it yourself, making coffee drinks by combining espresso with tonic water is now a thing. And those Gen Z focused shakes are considered specialty but did you know coffee cocktails are as well? Cheers!

 

Oddities

Going a step, or maybe a leap, beyond specialty drinks are these coffee items.

Mushroom coffee – this is coffee with a specific type of mushroom mixed in to help lessen the caffeine crash.

 

Coffee making equipment – whether it’s a beautiful espresso machine, a fancy cold brewer, or a sexy steampunk machine, what makes your coffee can be an interesting piece.

 

Foods made with coffee – beyond your usual chocolate covered coffee beans, we are now looking at chocolate bars, gummies, and other candies made with coffee.

 

Speed of Service

Also mentioned in the Gen Z section, we appear to be moving away from the slow coffee methods, like pour overs, and looking for ease and speed. Batching of coffee and coffee drinks is coming back into fashion. Because getting your coffee and going about your day is more important than waiting around for water to be painstakingly drizzled over coffee grounds.

 

‘Gram It

Those sweet drinks from the Gen Z section? Regardless of who they’re being made for they better look good because they will likely end up on someone’s Instagram or Snapchat feed. Don’t be surprised by glitter coffee, rainbow lattes, or bright pink cappuccinos. Remember the Unicorn Frappuccino?

Not only are the actual coffees of interest, vessels are starting to get attention as well. Coffee cups or mugs are being pushed aside for cappuccino bowls in interesting colors and finishes.

 

Experience

Last, but certainly not least, one of the most interesting trends is the experience of coffee. Like wine and whiskey, coffee is seeing an uptick in tastings. Learning to pick out aromas and tastes between varying coffees from different countries makes for a fun afternoon. Touring a roastery is interesting as you learn what different roast levels are and watch a batch of coffee spinning around. And coffee festivals are popping up across the country allowing coffee lovers to get together to learn and experience everything they can about their favorite brew.

 

Which of these trends is your favorite? Did we miss something you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments!

Light to Dark – What You Get From Each Coffee Roast Profile

If you’ve been drinking coffee for any length of time you’ve probably tried coffee roasted at different levels and have found just what you like. But in case you haven’t tried other roast levels or haven’t found that coffee flavor you love, here is some information about roast profiles and what to expect from each.

 

coffee roast profiles

 

Why Different Roasts?

Coffee is roasted to different levels to highlight or bring out flavors in the beans. At CoffeeAM, our Roast Master has determined the level at which each of our coffees tastes the best. Generally, lighter roasts are for coffees that already have a good flavor that prolonged roasting can have a detrimental effect on. Darker roasts add complexity, allow oils in the coffee to come out, and can change the flavor immensely.

 

What About Caffeine Content?

Contrary to popular belief, darker roasted coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasted coffees. A darker roast will have a stronger, more robust flavor, but the jolt of caffeine in espressos or espresso-based drinks comes more from the coffee to water ratio. When making espresso, the coffee beans are ground very fine and those grounds are packed tightly into the filter basket. The tiny grind makes for a lot of surface area for water to pull flavor and caffeine from. Also, the larger your espresso-based drink, the more shots of espresso. Long story short, when you’re looking for a caffeine boost, you can have a large latte or cappuccino, or you can have a smaller lighter roast coffee.

 

Light Roast

So now we have determined why the difference in roasts and how the caffeine process works, let’s start with light roasts and see what we might expect. A light roast is best when working with high quality and flavorful beans. This roast allows the natural flavors to come out. Delicate and fruity tend to be terms used to describe coffees that have a light roast. As coffee is being roasted, the beans will make a cracking noise at different temperatures. Light roast happens just before the “first crack” stage. The beans will be at to about 355℉ and 400℉. The beans will be a light brown color, about the color of a cinnamon stick. Names for this roast are Light City, Half City New England Roast, or Cinnamon Roast. The coffee will be completely dry at this point. No oils will have been secreted. For light roasted coffees, check out this link.

 

Medium Light Roast

At medium light, the coffee beans start getting a little darker. We are now into the first crack stage at around 405℉ to 415℉. The beans will be slightly darker, and the flavor will be a little brighter and though the flavor of the bean is still prominent, you will start getting flavors from the roasting. These new flavors are reminiscent of brown sugar, baking spices, and toasted nuts. This roast level still sees no oil on the bean. Find our medium light roast coffees here.

 

Medium Roast

Now we’re getting into some darker colors and more interesting flavors. Medium roast is the favorite roast level for most coffee houses. We are now firmly in the first crack stage and the temperature of the beans is between 410℉ and 445℉. Flavors added by a medium roast are getting into the caramels and chocolates. This roast level can start to mask flavors that are less desirable in the beans. A medium roast also tends to add more body and balances out the coffee. Still no oil on the surface of the beans. Also known as City, Regular, Breakfast, and American Roast. Here is where you can get your medium roasted coffees.

 

Medium Dark Roast

The medium dark roast finally starts seeing a sheen of oil on the bean surface. We are at the beginning of the second crack stage at 435℉ to 445℉. The flavors are much more toward the roasting process and no flavors of the bean are left. At this level, you will notice the bittersweet flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and even porter beer. This roast is also known as Vienna, After Dinner, and Full City Roast. Medium dark roasted coffees can be found on this page.

 

Dark Roast

Ah, with the dark roast we’re now looking at espresso-type coffees. At this level of roast, the coffee is a deep brown and can be almost black. We are well into, and sometimes even past, the second crack stage and the temperature inside the beans is around 465℉ to 485℉. Flavors of smoke, bitter black tea, extremely dark chocolate, and burnt toast prevail and there is no longer any natural flavor of the bean left. The beans will have a shiny look to them due to the oils inside the beans being released. These coffees are ideal for your cappuccinos, mochas, and lattes. Other names for this roast include New Orleans, Italian, Espresso, French, and Continental. Get your dark roasted coffees here.

 

Explaining what each of these coffees looks and tastes like is one thing, but we highly suggest you try different roasts yourself and find what you like best. You may be surprised by some of them!

It’s Spring! Time to Throw a Tea Party!

It’s springtime! The ideal time for tea parties—bridal shower, engagement parties, baby showers, or just a fancy get-together. Whatever the occasion, a tea party is a great way to celebrate. But where do you start and what do you need? Here’s a quick guide to get you going.

 

tea party

Time and Location

When and where should you hold your tea party? You can have a tea party just about any time and anywhere. The typical tea parties take place on Saturday or Sunday in the mid- to late-afternoon. You can hold your tea party wherever you have room for the number of guests you have invited and have RSVP’d. A nice living room or sitting room with access to a dining room and kitchen will do nicely. If the weather permits, consider setting up seats outdoors.

 

Invitations and Décor

Here is where you can make your tea party super fancy or super chill. It’s all entirely up to you. We’ll start with the invitations. Yes, you can certainly use a service like Punchbowl, Evite, or Paperless Post to make your invitations, and that will save on the cost, but isn’t it nice to receive snail mail? Especially when it’s an invitation to a fun afternoon event!

 

As for décor, keep it fresh and simple. If you don’t have a decent tablecloth, a simple piece of material from the local cloth or craft store (JoAnn’s or even Walmart) will do. Ribbons and bows are nice. Flowers, simple bud vases or groupings of hydrangea or a bowl of water with a magnolia bloom are all easy and classic looks. If the event is for a specific reason, i.e. a baby shower or bridal shower, consider using the colors the bride or the mom-to-be have chosen for their wedding or nursery.

 

Dress

One of the things people love about tea parties is getting to dress up. But it is entirely up to you what the dress code will be for your party. Do you want to go with the high tea with semi-formal dress (with hats, of course!)? Or would you rather be more relaxed with sundresses (and hats!)? No, hats aren’t a requirement, but how often do you get to wear hats? Make it fun!

 

Serving

This is your chance to bring out that fancy china and the unused serving pieces you’ve had put away at the back of the cabinets. Tiered hors d’oeuvre plates, pretty teapots, mismatched floral teacups… it all works. If you don’t have enough serving pieces, reach out to family and friends or hit up consignment or thrift stores for extra pieces.

 

Food

Tea parties are the quintessential finger food events. Outside of cookies, cupcakes, and scones you will see sliced cakes, brownies, and bar cookies. Fresh fruit, with citrus, berries, melons, and even tropical with pineapple and mango, is a great and easy dish. Fresh veggies, carrot sticks, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli with a dip, is also easy and healthy. For savory finger foods, go with finger sandwiches. Watercress, cucumber, pimiento cheese, egg or chicken salad are all typical, but what about sliders? Try a BBQ pork slider or a hamburger slider. The more variety the better. There are no hard and fast rules. The sky is the limit.

 

And speaking of the sky being the limit, have a showstopper piece. Usually a cake, it could be a watermelon basket or a tray of beautifully decorated petit fours.

 

Drinks

It’s a tea party, of course, there will be tea. But not everyone likes tea, so make sure you have options. Depending on the type of party, you can even include simple and light cocktails. But also include coffee, lemonade, soft drinks, and/or punch. Your tea should include options as well. Black tea is a given, but also consider having a green tea, an herbal tea, or a tisane. Be sure to include an iced version of tea, too!

 

As for modifiers for your beverages, milk and sugar are the usual. Honey, cream, and sweeteners (the pink, blue, and yellow packets) are also appreciated. Even flavored syrups are nice, but only if it makes sense.

 

For cocktails, make them easy and light. Mimosas and Bellinis are the obvious choices. Even Bloody Marys make sense. Punches are super simple and can be made up before people arrive.

 

For your cold beverages, add a little splash with your ice cubes. Use ice cube trays and put edible flowers and herbs in them before adding your water. For clear ice cubes (all the better to see the flowers and herbs), boil your water, allow it too cool, then boil it again. Once the water has cooled the second time, carefully pour it into the ice cube trays, cover the trays with plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer. For your punch, use a round gelatin mold and follow the same instructions.

 

Tea

Now that you have an idea about planning out your tea party, here are some ideas for some teas to serve at your little shindig.

 

English Breakfast – Of course, English Breakfast should be one of your choices! Well, no, it’s not a necessity, but it totally makes sense.

 

Earl Grey – With its floral scent, Earl Grey is a fragrant choice and very popular.

 

Herbal – A lovely Peppermint or Chamomile are great choices for those who prefer no caffeine.

 

Tisane – Add a fruit tea to the mix for a beautiful cup of deliciousness. Any of our tisanes would be a refreshing choice.

 

Remember to add a coffee to your drink choices. Our Organic Dominican Republic ‘Santo Domingo’ is a full flavored yet mild cup that your guests would enjoy.

 

Enjoy spending time with your family and friends with this time-honored tradition. Cheers!

No, It’s Not Iced Coffee! The Cold Brew Coffee Craze

Cold brew coffee is all the rage these days. Starting around the summer of 2013, cold brew has been lurking on the periphery of coffee trends and it has been growing in popularity ever since. In 2017, cold brew even surpassed iced coffee as a search term on the internet.

 

But what exactly is cold brew coffee? Is it just a way to make iced coffee? No, not exactly. Let’s take a look.

cold brew coffee makers

What is Cold Brew?

First, let’s start with what it is… cold brew coffee is made by combining coffee grounds and water in a vessel and allowing it to steep for 12 to 24 hours. After filtering out the coffee grounds, you’re left with a highly concentrated—both in taste and caffeine—coffee. This is then cut 50/50 with water, or some combination of water and milk/creamer, to make your coffee drink.

 

Typically, cold brew coffee is extremely smooth and lacks any bitterness or acidic flavor. Of course, this depends on the time you let the coffee brew and the type of bean you use. You may need to play with the time you let the coffee sit in the water as well as the coffee to water ratio to get the taste you like.

 

Making Cold Brew

The process for making cold brew coffee is fairly simple and straightforward. The beauty of cold brew is that you don’t need any special equipment to make it. All you need is:

 

– Ground coffee – any kind, but NOT flavored

– Fresh, filtered water

– A vessel to hold the water and coffee grounds

– A place to keep the vessel (either a cool countertop or the refrigerator)

– A way to filter the coffee

 

We’ll begin with the coffee. You do not need to use super expensive coffee beans for this process. This is actually a great way to use up some coffee beans that have been around for a few weeks. In other words, it isn’t necessary to purchase freshly roasted beans specifically for making your cold brew. If you are grinding your own beans, do not grind them too finely. A coarse grind will give you better flavor and makes it less likely to end up with any bitterness (which finely ground coffee could give you, even in a cold brew).

 

To make a large batch of cold brew, the ratio is one pound of coffee grounds to one gallon of water. But for most homebrewers, a quarter pound of coffee to four cups of water will be sufficient. The temperature of the water is the next option to think about. Room temperature is the standard, but if you need to speed up the process or you want to try to extract some extra flavors, you can start with hot water.

 

What do you put your coffee and water in? Anything that will fit the amount you are making and has a lid. A large Mason jar is perfect. A pitcher you can fit a lid onto works well, too. Again, no need to be fancy about it. If you want a dedicated cold brew coffee maker, check out this simple version. Of course, you can also get some elaborate cold brew coffee makers. But getting started can truly be as simple as a large jar, some coffee grounds, some water, and your storage space.

 

Now, let’s talk about time. The range is 12 to 24 hours, but some people may only brew for 6 to 10 hours. This is all dependent on taste. The longer the brew time, the more flavor that is extracted. You may want to play with this a little.

 

That’s it. At the end of the time period you choose, you will have a strong coffee concentrate that can be diluted for iced coffees or, if you use hot water to dilute, any number of coffee drinks. Add in your modifiers—milk, cream, sugar, really whatever your heart desires.

 

See? Simple!

 

What Else Do You Need to Know?

As you can see, making cold brew can be very easy. Just remember you may need to play with timing, the coffee/water ratio, and the type of coffee bean you use. Another thing to keep in mind… depending on how quickly you drink coffee this may be a non-issue. Unlike your usual brewed coffee which can lose its taste within a few hours, cold brew coffee concentrate can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you pre-dilute the coffee it will greatly reduce the keeping time to two or three days. If you want to keep your cold brew for a while, don’t dilute it until you’re ready to drink it.

 

Like I said earlier, you don’t need to have some super expensive coffee grounds to make good cold brew. However, there may be some coffees that are more suitable than others. Again, it all depends on taste, but some of the African coffees like our Ethiopia Longberry or Tanzania Peaberry might be a good place to start.

 

If you already make cold brew, let us know in the comments your recipe. With a hot summer just around the corner, we look forward to trying out this cool coffee.

Earth Day 2018 – Ways to Cut Back on Your Plastic Usage

Earth Day 2018

 

Next Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day 2018. Regardless of your views on global warming, I think we can all agree that we need to take care of our planet. It’s the only one we’ve got! To that end, the Earth Day Network has announced, “Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics.” In other words, let’s all work together to end plastic pollution.

 

According to the Earth Day Network, the growth of plastics is threatening the survival of our planet. And they aren’t the only ones talking about the danger of this highly convenient yet potentially harmful manufacturing material. Recently there has been a movement to remove plastic straws from use. Since plastic straws (and plastic bags and bottles) can take as long as 500 years to forever to break down, there is concern that these, often one-time-use, items will affect the earth for centuries to come.

 

Did you know that there are 500 million straws used in the United States every single day? Between fast-food restaurants, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and even private homes, we use a LOT of straws. Enough to wrap around the Earth’s circumference 2½ times! Unfortunately, these straws end up littering our planet and have even been found in the nostrils of sea turtles.

 

There’s no denying that plastic straws are extremely convenient. Fast food restaurants in particular use quite a few straws. Restaurants and bars not only use plastic drinking straws but plastic cocktail straws or stir sticks. And coffee shops use both straws and stir sticks as well. With their prevalence, what can you do instead of using plastic straws?

 

At restaurants and bars, it should be easy to cut back on straw usage. In many cases, straws are a convenience and not a necessity. Drinks can be quaffed by simply holding the glass or cup up to the lip. And cocktails or sodas aren’t any less unsanitary than a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, so that argument is frankly a little silly. In fact, many restaurants, bars, and cafes have already gone to a “straws available upon request” strategy.

 

But what if you really want a straw or a stir stick? Never fear. There are paper straws and now reusable straws for those who still want to sip their drinks daintily or for thick shakes that are difficult to drink without a straw. For stirring your cocktails? A wooden stir stick or a metal cocktail stirrer does the trick. And for coffee, the wooden stir stick or a spoon (gasp) would work just fine.

 

So back to Earth Day. How can you get involved and help the planet? Check out the official Earth Day 2018 Campaign. Through this page, you can learn about events that are happening across the US and around the world to help lessen the impact of plastic on the environment. There is also a link to a Plastic Pollution Footprint Calculator so you can see how much of an impact your plastic use makes. In addition to cutting back on your plastic use, consider recycling as well. One sure way to keep these plastic pieces from getting into our oceans and littering our beautiful planet is by making sure they are disposed of properly and not necessarily in our landfills.

How are you observing Earth Day this year? Let us know in the comments.

The Life of a Coffee Bean

That eye-opening cup of coffee that helps wake you up and power through your day has a long story to tell. There’s so much more to coffee than just brewing it. Here’s a look at the life of a coffee bean.

 

life cycle of a coffee bean

Sprout

Just like most plants, coffee trees grow from the seed inside the fruit of the tree. In this case, the “beans” used to make coffee are actually the seeds in the coffee “cherry”. The seeds should be planted with at least the parchment skin, though some say to plant the entire cherry. Fresh beans are better than dried beans. And, no, you can’t grow coffee trees from roasted beans.

 

It takes roughly sixty to ninety days for coffee to sprout. It may take a little less time if the seeds are germinated by soaking them for a day and placing them between two damp coffee sacks. Once the seeds sprout roots and stems, they are transferred to a loosely packed, well-draining soil. When the plants are large enough, they will be transplanted to the field or plantation where they will continue to grow.

 

Flower and Fruit

Once the coffee plant has been transplanted, it can take from three to five years for the plant to flower and fruit. Coffea arabica plants are able to self-pollinate, meaning a single plant can produce fruit on its own. By contrast, Coffea canephora (robusta) is cross-pollinated, needing multiple plants in order to fruit.

 

The flowers of the coffee plant are small and white with a short lifetime of only a few days. The blooms are extremely fragrant and have a scent similar to jasmine. Once these flowers are pollinated, the fruit begins to grow. There will be a small green bump left after the flower browns and falls off. This bump, known as the carpel, will grow over the next six to nine months.

 

As the fruit ages, it will change color from green to yellow to pale pink, then on to bright red, dark red, and finally purple. The best time to harvest the coffee cherries is when they are dark red. Only choosing the ripe fruit means the beans are fully grown and have derived the best flavor from the pulp of the fruit.

 

Harvesting and Processing

Depending on where the coffee is being grown, the fruit will be harvested by machine or by hand. When picked by hand, the fruit is more likely to be properly allowed to ripen. After the initial harvest, the fruit is washed and checked further for ripeness and quality. Once the cherries have been sorted, the ripe fruit is sent to processing. There are a few different methods of processing coffee cherries—dry, semi-dry, and wet. Each process affects the flavor of the beans and ultimately the flavor of the coffee.

 

The dry method is likely the most natural and possibly the oldest. Depending on where the coffee is grown and being processed, the climate will determine whether the fruit can be sun-dried on raised patios or if they must be machine dried. Often, even if the cherries can be patio dried, to speed the process, which can take upwards of four weeks, the cherries are machine dried after a few days in the sun. Once the cherries are dry, the fruit is husked away to leave behind the beans.

 

The wet method or washed process uses water to remove the fruit from the beans. The cherries are stripped of the skin and most of the pulp. The coffee is then put into a vat or tank of clean water and allowed to sit and ferment which loosens and removes most of the remaining pulp. A final rinse removes any pulp that was not removed during the fermentation process. After the beans have been cleaned, they are dried on raised patios or drying tables.

 

The semi-dry method is the newest of the processes and is a hybrid of the wet and dry processes. The fruit is stripped of the skin and most of the pulp. The beans are then dried on raised patios or tables in order to allow the remaining pulp to fall away.

 

After the de-pulping and drying, the coffee beans are allowed to rest, usually in tall silos, for a couple of months. Then they are hulled to remove any leftover fruit as well as the parchment, a protective layer of skin which covers the beans. Finally, the beans are graded, sorted, and bagged for export.

 

Shipping

Due to the unwieldy cost of air freight as well as the detrimental effects on our environment, coffee is shipped via boat. The quality coffee is weighed into jute or burlap (sometimes synthetic) bags which are then stacked inside freight containers and loaded onto large ships. Occasionally you will see high-quality coffee loaded into wooden barrels for shipping. The lower quality coffee will be poured into a large, lined freight container, mixing beans from different growers into the same container.

 

When coming to the US, coffee can be on board a shipping vessel for almost a month. When it gets to port, it can wait, sometimes for days, before paperwork releases it to the distribution warehouse which purchased it. The distributors then ship coffee to roasters and coffee shops nationwide.

 

Roasting

Depending on the roaster, once the coffee beans are delivered they may be roasted right away or they may be stored for roasting later. Most high-quality coffee roasters, like CoffeeAM, will store the coffee and roast it to order. Roastmasters will test the coffee at different roast levels to determine which gives it the best taste and mouthfeel.

 

When the coffee is ordered, it will be roasted and then ground, unless it is to stay whole bean, of course. At CoffeeAM, we then package the coffee into a one-way valve bag and seal it. The one-way valve allows the extra CO2 which naturally comes off the beans to vent, keeping any air from getting in and degrading the flavor of the coffee. The bags are then boxed up and shipped out the same day, delivering the freshest roasted coffee to customers.

 

Grinding and Brewing

The penultimate step in the coffee process is brewing. Depending on how the beans are delivered, I’ve included grinding in this section. Whole beans will need to be ground first, obviously. Grind will be determined by how the coffee is to be brewed. If using a drip machine, a percolator, a pour-over, or a single-serve drip grind or medium grind is the best. For metal/permanent filters and vacuum coffee makers, a medium-coarse grind is preferred. French presses and some finicky single-serve refillable coffee filters do best with a coarse or French press grind. Finely ground coffee is reserved for espresso machines and is called espresso grind.

 

Some people are extremely particular about their coffee and weigh their coffee and water, making sure the water is the perfect temperature and is in contact with the grounds for just the right amount of time. Most of us just measure a few tablespoons of grounds into a filter, fill the reservoir with water, and hit a button. Brewing coffee can be very personal and is the last step in making an enjoyable cup.

 

Sometimes your coffee can end up being bitter. Often the cause of bitter coffee is over-extraction, meaning the water was in contact with the grounds for too long. This can be due to a couple of reasons—the coffee steeps for too long, the grind size is wrong, the water is too hot, or your coffee machine is dirty. On the other hand, your coffee may end up being sour. In this case, the coffee is under extracted and not enough of the good flavors have been given the chance to come out of the coffee. When making your coffee, if you are still looking for the perfect taste, try a few things and keep a journal of your efforts. With a little experimentation, you’re sure to find your Goldilocks brew.

 

Drinking

Ah, finally we come to the best step of the coffee process. Whether you prefer your coffee black or with lots of additional syrups and flavorings, there is no wrong way to drink it. Add milk, chocolate, spices, sugar, honey, or nothing. It is entirely up to you and your individualized taste. But no matter how you take your coffee, enjoy it. We may need the caffeine from time to time, but there is no reason not to like the taste of that life-giving brew.

Add Tea To Your Beauty Routine With These Tips

Tea is a wonderful way to wake up in the morning and energize in the afternoon. It’s also good for relaxing at the end of a long day or catching up with friends and family. But did you know it can be used for your beauty regimen? Here are a few ways you can use tea for looking your best.

 

Add tea to your beauty routine

 

Hair

Tea is a good way to make your hair shinier and even freshen up the color. Giving your hair a final rinse after shampooing can make your hair shine and can add a little moisture and control to dry hair. Use a quart of warm tea, either freshly brewed or instant (unsweetened).

 

For a natural way to get the grey out, you can use strongly brewed tea (three tea bags to one cup of water—let it steep overnight) to color your hair. Simply spray it on your damp hair after washing, making sure to completely saturate your tresses. Blot with an old towel but don’t rinse. It may take multiple applications to get the shade you are looking for. Make sure you wear old clothes as the tea can stain them.

 

Face

Not only can women benefit from the use of tea in their beauty regimes, men can as well. After your morning shave, relieve sore skin, razor burn, or any nicks with a wet tea bag applied to the skin. The tannins in the tea will soothe the pain.

 

For tired-looking eyes, use wet teabags soaked in warm water. Place one tea bag on each of your closed eyes for about 20 minutes to reduce puffiness and the dark circles from lack of sleep. Chamomile is a great choice. Not only can you use it externally, drinking a cup before bedtime may help you fall asleep.

 

To tighten up your pores and moisturize at the same time, use green tea as a toner. Either spritzing cool tea on your face or gently applying it with a cotton ball can help remove impurities from your skin and give you a healthy glow.

 

Another way to clear your pores and help produce a healthy glow is by using tea as a facial steam. Throw a couple of tea bags or enough loose leaf tea for a couple of cups into a steaming bowl of water. Place your face above the bowl and put a towel over your head and the bowl to hold in the steam. Relax and allow the steam to open your pores and clear out the gunk. It will take about five minutes, but you can enjoy for as long as you’d like.

 

Soothe any mouth pain with a mouthwash made with peppermint tea. Brew a hot cup of tea and add a pinch or two of salt. The natural antiseptic properties of the peppermint along with the natural pain relieving menthol works on contact to stop the discomfort.

 

Body

Use tea to help with the pain and itchiness of bug bites and stings. Chamomile is an ideal choice as it helps to reduce the bumps and discomfort. Place a cool tea bag over the inflamed area and sit back with a glass of iced tea while it works.

 

Did you overdo your sunbathing? Help soothe the redness and pain of a sunburn with cold tea bags as compresses. Tie together 10-12 tea bags and let them steep. Once they come to room temperature, fan the tea bags across the affected area and let them sit on the skin until the moisture is mostly gone. Do this up to ten times to help stop the pain. Another option is to use an old, soft t-shirt which has been soaked in a tea concentrate—6-8 tea bags in one cup of boiling water for about 5 minutes—and placed on the skin. Or, make it even easier. If you have a burn over most of your body, take a bath with some tea bags.

 

Men aren’t the only ones affected by razor burn. If your blade hasn’t been changed in a while, your legs, underarms, or other more sensitive spots may be tender, red, nicked, and/or bumpy. Soothe your aggravated skin with tea bags. If the area is small, one or two tea bags may do the trick. If it is a larger area, try the same fanning trick as we talked about for sunburns.

 

Oh, no! Did that vine have three leaves or four? Poison ivy is definitely no joke. Relieve that itchy rash with tea. Brew a strong cup of tea and let it cool to room temperature. Use a cotton ball to apply the tea to the affected area and let it dry. Repeat as necessary. This can help with either a dry or wet rash.

 

Curb your stinky feet with a foot soak using black tea. Every day after work, relax by soaking your feet for 20 minutes in a strong brew to get rid of those sweaty odors. The tannins in the tea work as an antibacterial and antifungal. Make sure the tea is cool for an extra dose of refreshment.

 

Let us know your beau-tea secrets in the comments below.

Welcome Spring With These Four Coffee, Tea, and Lemonade Recipes

This Spring up your beverage game with new recipes from Monin® Gourmet Flavorings. Whether you prefer coffee, tea, or lemonade, we have recipes for each. And for more recipes, head over to our recipe section.

 

Spring Recipes - Lavender Vanilla Latte

Lavender Vanilla Latte

 

Strawberry Almond Lemonade

This pretty pink concoction is super refreshing. Ideal for a relaxing afternoon on the back porch or for a bridal or baby shower.

 

Ingredients (12 oz. glass)

1/2 oz. Monin Strawberry Syrup

1/4 oz. Monin Almond Syrup (Orgeat)

4 oz. Lemonade

 

Directions

Fill serving glass with ice and add ingredients. Using a mixing glass or tin, roll the ingredients back and forth to mix. Garnish with a lemon wheel, basil leaf, and strawberry slice.

 

 

Iced Blackberry Mocha

Plump and juicy blackberries make this iced concoction an ideal way to power through your Spring cleaning while cooling you off.

 

Ingredients (12 oz. glass)

3/4 oz. Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce

1/4 oz. Monin Blackberry Syrup

4 oz. Cold 2% Milk

1 shot Espresso

 

Directions

Fill serving glass with ice. Add Monin products and milk. Top with espresso and stir well. Garnish with whipped cream, a drizzle of Dark Chocolate Sauce, and a blackberry.

 

 

Lavender Vanilla Latte

This floral treat is a great way to celebrate the season. On those still chilly afternoons, relax and warm up with the rich flavor of vanilla paired with the uniquely Spring-like flavor of lavender.

 

Ingredients (12 oz. cup)

3/4 oz. Monin Lavender Syrup

1/4 oz. Monin French Vanilla Syrup

1 shot Espresso

Fill with Steamed 2% Milk

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients except milk in a serving cup. Stir and set aside. In a heatproof pitcher, steam milk. Pour steamed milk into the other ingredients while stirring gently. Garnish with a lavender sprig.

 

 

Peach Tea

Brighten up your sweet tea for a refreshingly juicy tasting warm weather cooler. The flavor of ripe peaches gives this tea a sweet Southern twang.

 

Ingredients (12 oz. glass)

1/2 oz. Monin Peach Syrup

4 oz. Freshly Brewed Tea

 

Directions

Fill serving glass with ice and add ingredients. Using a mixing glass or tin, roll the ingredients back and forth to mix. Garnish with a peach slice and a mint sprig.

 

Let us know in the comments which of these tasty drinks is your favorite. Enjoy!

Intro to Coffee Tasting Part Four

How to describe your coffee

This is the final post in our series about coffee tasting. If you haven’t yet seen the previous posts, we have already covered tasting terminology and how to set up a tasting with a brief overview here.

 

This, our final post about tasting, and will be covering the terminology to describe the actual coffee. So, for practice purposes, grab a cup of your favorite coffee and see if you can discern the different aromas, flavors, body or mouthfeel, and finish as you sip.

 

Aromas

Most people enjoy the smell of coffee, even if they don’t like the taste. Even though most coffees smell pretty much the same, if you really concentrate you may be able to pick out other individual fragrances that make up the overall smell. The most common aromas you may be able to pick up are

 

  • Earth – damp soil, raw potatoes, or herbs like oregano. Prominent in wet-processed coffees.
  • Fruit – possible citrus or berry notes with occasional exotic fruits like mango or papaya.
  • Nut – often notes of buttery nuts like pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds can be found.
  • Chocolate – usually bittersweet dark chocolate, rarely milk chocolate
  • Floral – mimosa, honeysuckle, and jasmine are fairly common.
  • Wine – rich, ripe grape smell. Could be confused with fruit and earth.
  • Tobacco – think cigars or pipes before burning. Kind of a leathery smell.

 

When you have an idea of what aromas you may be able to pick up, you are more likely to notice them when you are drinking your coffee. See what you smell in your coffee.

 

Flavors

Much like with aroma, coffee has a general flavor everyone recognizes. There may be certain underlying tastes you can pick out, though. Two of the most obvious flavors you may notice are sweetness and bitterness. These basic tastes will set you up for more subtle flavors you can pick out. Often these flavors will mirror those you found in the aroma. Here are a few additional flavors you might notice

 

  • Caramel – rich and buttery smooth with a sweetness.
  • Bread – may taste more like toast or cereal.
  • Nut – hazelnut, almond, macadamia – really any of the buttery nuts.
  • Spice – always refers to sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice.
  • Pepper – typically this refers to a black pepper note. Never referred to as spicy.
  • Chocolate – like the aromas, most likely bittersweet but may rarely be milk chocolate
  • Fruit – notes of grapefruit, cherry, papaya are the most notable fruity flavors you’ll find

 

Now that you know what flavors you may find in coffee, what do you taste in your cup?

 

Body/Mouthfeel

As mentioned previously, the body of a coffee is how it physically feels in your mouth. Your coffee is primarily made of water, but there are also soluble elements from the ground beans that are extracted to make the aromas, flavors, and even contribute to the texture of the coffee. The natural oils and small specks of coffee bean along with proteins, caffeine, sugars, fats, and acids all end up in your cup. These combine with the water and alter its feeling to create body. Here are some things to look for

 

  • Medium – most coffee falls into this category. Not too light, not to heavy, just right. If the feel of the coffee in your mouth is mostly unremarkable, it is likely medium-bodied.
  • Heavy – often called full, with the coffees in this category you can feel the oils and fats in the coffee. Not even remotely as thick as a syrup, this particular body type is still palpable.
  • Light – even though this coffee has a great flavor to it, it does not feel like there is much there. Light coffees seem to feel easy to drink.
  • Thin – a negative version of Light, a thin-bodied coffee seems watered down. If you feel like there is something missing, your coffee is probably thin.
  • Juicy – this may fall under the heavy category for some people, though it feels somehow brighter. Think of the difference between milk and orange juice… both are heavy, but the OJ just seems brighter. This is the same type of texture.
  • Creamy – may also be considered silky, this is the milky version of a heavy coffee. *See the description for Juicy.

 

That sip you just took of your coffee, hold it in your mouth for a moment and let it swirl around. As it coats your tongue and rolls over your teeth, how does it feel?

 

Finish

As you finally swallow that delicious sip, how does your mouth feel? That is considered the finish. Different from the body, the finish is what is left behind in your mouth. The finish is more than just an aftertaste, it is also the feeling on your tongue. As this is the last thing you experience when drinking your coffee, it is just as important as all the other aspects. Look for things like

 

  • Clean – after you swallow, does your mouth feel like there isn’t anything there? This would be a clean finish. With this you would be ready to eat or drink anything afterward.
  • Alkaline – do you notice some dryness after you swallow? If so, your coffee finish may be alkaline. This could come across as a feeling like there is not moisture in your mouth.
  • Acidic – the little bit of a pucker you notice means the finish is acidic. It will feel tangy or bright.

 

So, how does your coffee finish?

 

Other Notes

There are other sensations you may notice as you taste. They will likely fall into the above categories, but you should include them wherever you feel they fit.

 

  • Bright – tangy or wine-like, this could be considered acidic, juicy, or fruity
  • Bitter – different from bittersweet, this is a harsh taste that is noticed on the back of the tongue and is undesirable.
  • Ashy – not necessarily a bad thing, ashy may be noticed in a dark roast.
  • Balanced – for many coffee drinkers, this is one of the most desirable qualities. Not too much of any one aspect, a balanced coffee will leave you satisfied. If, however, you prefer a particular note to stand out, balanced may be boring to you.
  • Complex – when the flavors, aromas, and body seem to encompass more than just one of the characteristics, your coffee is complex. Typically found with blended coffees rather than single-origin.
  • Bold – a full-flavored coffee that stands out is considered to be bold.

 

Now that we’ve gone through how to taste coffee, what to look for when tasting, and how to describe what you have tasted, you’re ready to start trying coffees. We mentioned a coffee tasting journal in Part One, but if you prefer digital, there are plenty of tasting apps in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store to help you keep track of the coffees you tried and how you liked them. Let us know in the comments how your tasting is going.