Friday, February 17, 2017

Studies say naps are more powerful when there's coffee in your belly

This cool video by our friends at Vox explain why on earth sleeping on coffee might be a boost for your day. Check this out:

Friday, October 07, 2016

Coffee can be a boon to your sex life, says research

Image by Lovegrove Photography

AFP (via Star2)
We enjoy a nice cup of coffee every day, perhaps more than a cup on most days. We appreciate a good cup of kopi O or susu so much that we don’t really need the International Coffee Day (Sept 29 or last week!) to remind us of our love for the beans.
It is probably worth our knowing that coffee isn’t just a great pick-me-up in the morning or a mid-work distraction, the beverage has a whole lot of health benefits (including one that you’d love).
Here are four ways coffee can put a smile on your face.
Coffee can be good for the heart
South Korean researchers have found that coffee may boost heart health, with those who drink three to five cups of coffee a day benefiting from a lower risk of clogged arteries that could lead to serious heart problems.
After analysing data from 25,100 South Korean men and women, one in seven of whom had detectable levels of coronary artery calcium (CAC) – an early sign of coronary heart disease or potential blood clots – the team found that the level of CAC was highest among those who had less than one cup or more than five cups of coffee daily, but lowest among those who drank between three to five cups.
Coffee can help lower the risk of diabetes
A 2014 study found that those who increased their daily caffeine intake by about 1.5 cups of coffee a day over a four-year period had an 11% lower risk for adult-onset diabetes in the subsequent four years than those whose intake remained the same.
The findings also showed that those who made moderate to large decreases in intake (about two cups a day) had an 18% higher risk of developing the disease, suggesting that coffee could have an effect on a short-term basis.
Among the 120,000 health sector workers studied, those with the highest coffee consumption, three cups or more per day, also had the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes – 37% lower than those who consumed a cup or less per day.
Coffee may reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis
The findings of a US and Swedish study which compared more than 1,000 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to a similar number of healthy people suggested that individuals who drink four to six cups of coffee daily may be less likely to develop the disease.
When compared to those who drank at least four to six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS, with similar protective effects also seen among those who drank large amounts of coffee five to 10 years before symptoms appeared.
Coffee can improve erectile dysfunction
A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED).
Published back in 2015 in the journal PLOS ONE, the findings showed that men who consumed 85-170mg of caffeine a day were 42% less likely to report ED, while those who drank 171-303mg daily were 39% less likely, when compared to those who only drank 0-7 mg a day.
The researchers suggested that the positive effect comes from caffeine triggering a series of pharmacological effects that result in an increase in penile blood flow. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Three great videos on how to make perfect pour over/drip/Chemex coffee

Picture by Ty Nigh (Creative Commons via Flickr)

One of our customers' preferred way to make coffee is using a pour over device, especially the Chemex. And although many people are familiar with this method from the very early ages, a good part of us rely on word-of-mouth tradition rather than the "expert" (or "scientific") take.

Whether you believe the way you've been doing forever is the right one, it's probably worth some minutes of your caffeine-run existence to get to know what you should do - according to the scholars.

The videos below, selected from our friends at Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Barefoot, show slightly different ways of how to get your brew closer to perfection. 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some Noteworthy Coffee Tastings Across the Country (and further North) :


Counter Culture
Every friday 10 am
Counter Culture Coffee – Durham Training Center
4911 S Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713

Every 2nd and 4th Friday 3 pm
270 Seventh Street San Francisco, CA 94103

Last friday of every month 3:30pm
585 Barber Street
Athens, GA 30601

Ruby Coffee
Saturdays 8am-12pm or by appointment
9515 Water Street
Nelsonville, WI 54458

Madcap Coffee Roasters
Fridays , 10 a.m. by appointment
98 Monroe Center NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Revolver Coffee
Every Friday between 12-1PM 325 Cambie Street,
Vancouver, CN

Rocanini Roasters
Wednesday and Friday 1-2 pm
127 West Fifth Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1H9

Elysian Coffee
Every Monday at 2PM.
2301 Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC

Friday, May 22, 2015

Coffee’s Next Generation of Roasters

After the success of once-scrappy roasters, such as California’s Blue Bottle and Portland’s Stumptown, a new generation of small shops is reshaping America’s coffee obsession

Originally published WSJ Magazine
written by OLIVER STRAND May 22, 2015 10:08 a.m. ET
 photo: Allan Gastelum


ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO, a handful of small-time roasters set out to revolutionize their industry by approaching a cup of coffee with a chef’s reverence for ingredients and a bartender’s flair for presentation. They pioneered a direct-trade system, sourcing beans straight from farms around the world. Thanks to their efforts, America fell in love with flavorful, fragrant single-origin coffees and expertly crafted cappuccinos made with milk so creamy and sweet that sugar became unnecessary.

Those once-scrappy roasters—Blue Bottle, Counter Culture, Intelligentsia and Stumptown—have now grown from regional companies with cult followings to national players with global profiles.

In 2014, Google Ventures, Morgan Stanley and other investors raised $26 million for Blue Bottle.
When the company opened in Tokyo earlier this year, there was a three-hour, Apple Store–like wait to get in the door. Stumptown, meanwhile, is now sold at the Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

In Miami—a place not especially known for its coffee geekery—hipsters line up at Panther Coffee, founded in 2010 by Leticia and Joel Pollock (a Stumptown alum), for a taste of beans sourced from Finca Kilimanjaro, an experimental farm in El Salvador run by Aida Batlle, a fifth-generation farmer acclaimed for her ecologically aware practices.

Kathleen Pratt, co-founder of Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine, started as a barista at Blue Bottle in San Francisco and eventually opened the company’s large roasting facility and coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 2012, Pratt and her husband, Will (who had been a Blue Bottle roaster), decamped to Maine; they launched Tandem five months later in the former office of a scrap-metal yard. “We wanted it to feel like you’re walking into our home,” says Pratt, who learned at Blue Bottle “how important it is to create an overall experience.” In addition to beans sourced from Rutsiro, Rwanda, Nyeri, Kenya, and Caldono, Colombia, Tandem offers free tasting sessions each Friday to demystify its coffees’ flavors and scents and allow customers to watch the roasting process.

Last year, the Pratts opened a second shop in a converted mid-century gas station, adding a bakery. Now Tandem sells about 900 pounds of coffee per week. A return to intimate spaces and individualized attention is a distinguishing feature of coffee’s newest all-stars.

In Williamsburg, Dillon Edwards—formerly of Blue Bottle and Stumptown—opened Parlor Coffee in 2012 in the back of a barbershop. It was one of the tiniest coffee bars in the city at the time, just a single barista behind a Speedster espresso machine, and its quaint atmosphere stood in stark contrast to the jam-packed rush-hour scenes at the city’s Stumptown and Blue Bottle outposts.

Last year, Edwards became a fully operational roaster, and Parlor is now selling beans to larger destinations like Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel and Greenpoint’s Propeller cafe. One factor driving the proliferation of independent cafes and roasters is that it’s never been easier to source obscure, overlooked coffees. The supply chains that established coffee importers spent years creating—and, in many cases, jealously guarding—are now accessible to small buyers with good taste. And a group of influential wholesale roasters is supplying high-end beans to neighborhood cafes (and even selling directly to customers online).

At various coffee shops in Portage County, Wisconsin, you can now find beans hailing from Gitesi—a well-respected washing station in Rwanda, where the coffee seed is removed from its skin and dried—by way of Ruby Coffee Roasters, a local outfit started by former Intelligentsia roaster Jared Linzmeier.

But the past year’s most anticipated opening was Supersonic Coffee in Berkeley, California. The first roasting company in the U.S. to buy from Nordic Approach, a renowned Norway-based importer that sources only high-quality “green” coffees, Supersonic will light-roast in the so-called Scandinavian style used by groundbreaking roasters in Northern Europe. “We wanted to look five years ahead,” says John Laird, one of Supersonic’s founders, “and do something that would feel fresh down the line.”

PANTHER COFFEE Panther has two locations in Miami: an airy shop in Wynwood (2390 NW 2nd Ave.) and one in a converted garage in Sunset Harbour (1875 Purdy Ave.), which feels more like a local bar.

PARLOR COFFEE The coffee bar in the back of Brooklyn barbershop Persons of Interest (84 Havemeyer St.) is one of the most stylish in the city; the roastery and tasting room are open to the public on Sundays.

SUPERSONIC COFFEE Supersonic will soon open a shop adjacent to its roasting facility in Berkeley, California (2322 Fifth St.); until then, they’re serving out of a 1965 Airstream trailer in the parking lot.

TANDEM COFFEE The Portland, Maine–based company has a tiny coffee bar at its roasting facility (122 Anderson St.) and a new bakery (742 Congress St.) in a 1960s gas station in West End.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Exactly Is A Coffee Bloom, Anyway? ----way to go Huntington post!

The Huffington Post | By Alison Spiegel

Posted: 03/19/2015 9:17 am EDT Updated: 03/19/2015 2:59 pm EDT

Whether you're a coffee addict or just a casual drinker, you've probably heard the term "coffee bloom" at some point. Most likely, if you were in the presence of a holier-than-thou barista or a serious coffee snob, you weren't only subjected to this jargon. You were expected to understand what it meant. For all of you bloom newbies out there who don't want to ask for an explanation, we at HuffPost Taste want to clear things up. In our latest installment of "what in the world is that food thing you've heard of a thousand times but actually know very little about," we're putting on our coffee snob hats.

A coffee bloom is the fast release of gas that occurs when hot water hits coffee grounds. It looks like this:


When coffee beans are roasted, CO2 gets trapped inside. From then on, the beans will slowly emit the gas over time -- a process known as "degassing." When ground, the beans will emit gas more quickly, and when met with hot water, all of the remaining gas will escape rapidly. This is the bloom, and the more gas that's escaping, the bigger the bloom will be.

All of this matters to you and your friendly coffee freaks for two reasons. One, "the majority of a coffee bean's flavor compounds are trapped in the CO2 gases," MentalFloss says. So, more gas = more flavor. Two, the amount of gas can indicate how fresh the beans are.

Beans that have been sitting out for a long time will have more time to release gas. (Stop laughing. It's going to be okay.) Thus older beans will produce less gas and a weaker bloom. Age isn't the only factor that determines how much gas escapes from beans. Storage is important, too. Beans kept in hotter temperatures will release gas more quickly. This is one reason to keep your beans in cool temperatures. Beans should also be kept in sealed bags with one-way valves that don't let oxygen in, but allow for CO2 to escape.

Of course, it gets more complicated than the simple equation that more gas signifies fresher beans and more flavorful coffee. The type of roast is a key factor, as well. Darker, more oily beans won't release gas as quickly. They've also endured a longer roasting process, which means they contain more CO2 in the first place. Thus, darker roasts tend to have bigger blooms than lighter ones. When comparing blooms, you need to also keep the type of roast in mind.

Finally, to confuse matters, "bloom" can also be a verb. You can create a bloom by blooming -- or adding hot water to coffee grounds. There are different techniques for different coffee-making methods. If you use a pour over, you should pour water over the grounds in a circular motion. If you use an automatic coffee machine, you should pour just enough water to wet the grounds, let them rest for a couple minutes and then use the machine as you otherwise would have.

Need a cup of coffee yet? To summarize:

More gas = more flavor and fresher coffee.
More gas = a bigger bloom.
So a bigger bloom = more flavor and fresher coffee. And now when your snobby coffee friends are fawning over a bloom, you can remind them that it's just gas.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Civil Eats Named James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Publication of the Year

By Naomi Starkman originally published on May 2, 2014 Civil Eats Here’s some good food news: Civil Eats was just named the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Publication of the Year! The Foundation’s Journalism Committee, said: In judging its Publication of the Year, the Journalism Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation recognizes a publication that demonstrates fresh direction, worthy ambition, and a forward-looking approach to food journalism. Civil Eats, through its declared passion for “promoting critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems,” practices the kind of thorough and fair journalism that helps us make sense of the increasingly complex matter of getting food to our tables. It’s an incredible honor to receive this award, which acknowledges the spirit and soul of the collective work of our edgy, funky, community supported blog. On behalf of our hundreds of contributors, I am so grateful to the Foundation and the Journalism Committee for this remarkable recognition amongst our esteemed peers. It is especially meaningful that the Foundation chose to elevate sustainability in food journalism and is placing high value on our unique vision of food reporting through a wider lens. Having made this site my labor of love for many years, and a true passion project, it is truly rewarding to know that we’ve reached a critical mass. Six years ago, I was brought on to head up communications for Slow Food Nation (SFN), an event that was considered by many to be a watershed moment in the food movement. While crafting the SFN website, we placed a blog front and center, in order to garner more discussion and interest in the event. And it worked. By inviting and curating voices from across the food movement, we attracted nearly one million unique visitors to the site in just a few months. Slow Food Nation was attended by upwards of 80,000 people and included a victory garden in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, a marketplace, and multiple discussion panels including luminaries such as Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Wes Jackson, Vandana Shiva, and Alice Waters. It planted a seed that has grown into today’s food movement, a full-fledged garden. When the event ended, a few of us decided to keep the momentum going, including Editor-at-Large Paula Crossfield, who joined me to accept the award in New York City today. Thus sprang Civil Eats, which has produced thousands of stories by hundreds of contributors since 2009. Our goal was simple: Create a platform to publish unreported stories from the voices on the frontlines of food politics; be inclusive and support the leading NGOs in the space and help them tell their stories; and stay ahead of and often break news. We did all that and much more for many years, without pay, and without being able to pay our contributors. All of that changed when we launched our Kickstarter campaign last October. As our readers and supporters know, we successfully raised $100,000, the highest amount to date for content for an online daily news site via Kickstarter. With our new funds, we’ve since been able to bring on a new managing editor, Twilight Greenaway (who’s kicking ass) and have begun to pay our writers and contributors. Our goal is to be able to pay a full staff (including me!) and hire a Washington D.C.-based reporter to cover food policy on the ground. The James Beard Foundation award for publication of the year proves that content-driven, in-depth dialogue on food systems issues matter. Civil Eats is a spark that ignited the food movement and this award is for everyone who believes that storytelling can transform the world. Thank you all for being such powerful advocates for critical thought and positive change in the food system. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and sign up for our new weekly newsletter (coming soon!). Continue to expect big things from us at Civil Eats. - See more at:

Your Choice In Utensils Can Change How Food Tastes

 by Maria Goody
 The Salt PBS originally published June 30, 2013

Being "born with a silver spoon in your mouth" has long been known to have advantages. Apparently, eating off a silver spoon also has its perks — it seems to make your food taste better.
That's the word from a group of researchers who've been studying how cutlery, dishes and other inedible accoutrements to a meal can alter our perceptions of taste. Their , published in the journal Flavour, looks at how spoons, knives and other utensils we put in our mouths can provide their own kind of "mental seasoning" for a meal.
"Some of my wine-drinking colleagues would have me believe that flavor is really out there on the bottle, in the glass or on the plate," says , a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University. "But I think it is much more something that we ... understand better through looking at what's happening inside the brain, and not just the mouth of the person eating or drinking."
Alterations in taste perceptions aren't necessarily the result of the cutlery itself, he says, but of the mental associations we bring to a meal. "Silver spoons and other silver cutlery, I'm guessing, are more commonly associated with high-quality food in our prior eating experiences," Spence says.
In recent years, psychologists have found that the color and shape of plates and other dishes can have an impact on the eating experience. Studies have found, for example, that people tend to eat less when their dishes are in sharp , that the can alter a drinker's perception of how sweet and aromatic hot cocoa is, and that drinks can when consumed from a glass with a "cold" color like blue.
So why study cutlery? For starters, there wasn't any real scientific literature on the topic, Spence tells Linda Wertheimer on Weekend Edition Sunday.

Or, as he put it to The Salt, cutlery is "one of the few things we stick in our mouth that others have stuck in their mouths. So it's a peculiar thing."
Among Spence's findings so far:
  • People will rate the very same yogurt 15 percent tastier and more expensive when sampled with a silver spoon rather than a plastic spoon or a lighter (by weight) option.
  • Combining a heavier bowl with a heavier spoon will tend to make yogurt taste better.
  • Plastic packaging or plate ware that's more rounded will tend to emphasize sweetness.
  • Angular plates tend to bring out the bitterness in food, which works well for dishes like dark chocolate or coffee-based desserts, Spence says.
  • People will rate cheeses as tasting saltier when eaten off a knife, compared to a toothpick, spoon or fork.
  • In general, foods tend to be perceived as more enjoyable when eaten off heavier plates and with heavier cutlery – perhaps because heft is equated with expense.
Such research isn't merely academic, Spence says. Food companies use these kinds of studies to inform how they package their products. And in a world where modernist chefs already pay lots of attention to how foods are arranged visually on the plate, cutlery, he suggests, presents a new frontier for fine dining.
Spence has already teamed up with some of the world's top modernist chefs, using their restaurants as real-world settings to test findings from the lab. Working with Ferran Adria, the culinary superstar behind Barcelona's now-shuttered El Bulli, Spence tells us, he learned that strawberry mousse tastes "10 percent sweeter and 15 percent more flavorful on a white plate than on a black plate."

And this summer, Spence says, he'll explore how ridged spoons impact the dining experience at , the restaurant run by British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. A previous collaboration between the two resulted in , in which diners eat oysters and other seafood while listening to an iPod playing the sounds of crashing waves. It's become a signature dish on Fat Duck's tasting menu.
"Maybe in a year or two," Spence tells The Salt, "we will have signature cutlery associated with this chef or that."

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Do Me a Favor. Stop Buying Bad Coffee.

Originally Posted: 01/29/2013 9:12 am on Huffington Post
by Nicholas Thompson

Sound simple? It sure can be. But I'm willing to bet that most of you still need to be shown what bad coffee looks like before you can identify the good stuff.

I've been in the coffee industry for quite some time, and I'm not one of those baristas who holds his hard-earned coffee knowledge close to the chest. A lot of the time, I hear these folks referred to as "snobs," but I generally try to avoid that word. Most of the time, they're just burnt-out baristas, my brothers-in-arms too broken down by years of double-shifts and crazy bosses to spread the gospel of good coffee. I'm sure you've come across some of these poor baristas in your favorite cafe: the dude with sunken eyes and beanie who smirks when you order espresso in a to-go cup. Or the tattooed college grad who snaps back when you ask to modify an order. These guys mean no disrespect. But too often they have looked on in horror as their handcrafted beverages are ravaged at the condiment counter: a delicate cup of Ethiopian coffee one instant, a cream-and-sugar-freighted abomination the next. All they really want is for you to be aware of a few key facts about the stuff they prepare for you. Ironically, these guys are sometimes the least likely to offer them up. That's where I come in, if you don't mind.

Any self-respecting barista should be concerned primarily with quality. It's the cornerstone of the industry. Each shift is a battle against inferior drinks and inferior product. But if there is one notion, one overarching fallacy about coffee that the consumer must come to understand, it is that dark roast coffee is not only bad, but it is disrespectful.

Yep. Dark roast is terrible in more ways than one. Sorry folks. Your oily, burnt French and Italian roasts are the antithesis of what today's coffee should be. It's not your fault that you've been told to enjoy this stuff for so long. The Big Guys, in the early 2000's (and well before, in fact), redefined the cafe scene by utilizing this greasy roasting profile for a couple of reasons. For one, coffee roasted darker and longer is easier to produce consistently on a mass scale. Plus, roasting it for as long as they do reduces its mass. That makes it cheaper to ship all over the world.

Because coffee is a sensitive, fragile plant, a good farm devotes an unspeakable amount of manpower and resources in order to produce a quality lot. Farmers must pay specialized processing facilities to prepare the raw fruit before it even leaves the country of origin. Superior quality Arabica strain only grows at higher altitudes, so often times these hand-picked cherry are hauled down the sides of mountains upon the backs of mules and the heads of laborers. We as baristas, roasters and consumers must honor that. It is the very least we can do. When these valuable beans are roasted into dark, smokey blends, we begin to lose sight of how this product is supposed to taste -- what it is supposed to be in the first place.

By the time the coffee reaches the shores of the United States (or elsewhere, certainly) an importing company has already bought and sold the beans to a roasting company. And at this point, things can go horribly wrong, very quickly. For example, these precious, expensive little beans may be ruined straight away if they are not stored in a dry, climate-controlled facility. Worse, they could end up in a batch of dark roast somewhere. All of that effort spent preserving the integrity of the coffee can be erased in a matter of seconds.

There are dozens of amazing micro-roasters across the United States these days. Many of them offer online ordering, and can deliver coffee to your door within 48 hours of its roast time. Look for an organization with a dedicated "green buyer," a person whose job it is to travel the equator and build relationships with the farmers from whom they buy. These companies generally won't even offer anything like French roast coffee; they know too much about where the product is from and how far it has traveled. In short, they respect it too much to roast it poorly.

Obviously, not all coffee companies decide to spend the necessary effort to ensure quality. Macro-roasting companies, ones even bulkier than the aforementioned Big Guys and who dominate the grocery store aisles, roast millions of pounds per year. They know that their costumers won't (can't?) demand a higher quality bean, so they are more likely to blend the pricy Arabica with lower-quality robusta coffee. They buy just about anything. They grind it up and put a "best if used by" date on the container. Ouch.

Henceforth, dear reader, you shall seek bags of whole-bean coffee upon which the following pieces of information are readily available: where the product was grown, when it was harvested, and most importantly, when it was roasted. Fresh drip coffee, the stuff you may use in your press pot or Cuisanart coffee machine, should be no more than a week "off roast." Once you grind up a coffee bean, its volatile oils and aromas will begin to dissipate immediately. And so after even a few minutes, ground coffee is compromised beyond recognition. That is why, along with your first bag of Good Coffee, you shall invest in a quality burr grinder for your kitchen. Your days of purchasing pre-ground coffee are over.

You're going to want to give that Mr. Coffee a really solid cleaning, while you're at it. A great bag of fresh coffee can come out tasting like mud and sticks if you've used a coffee machine layered in months of cooked-on, French-roasty oils. And I'm confident that after a few bags of Good Coffee, you'll be posting your auto-drip machine in the "free" listings on Cragslist. Soon, you may buy yourself some snazzy manual-brewing equipment in order to fully harness the awesome flavor of your new favorite beans.

You are alive during a time when the demand for superior coffee is at an all-time high, and its supply is at an all time low. Remember, the best coffee in the world grows around the equator, at altitudes of more than 5,000 feet. Climate change has already damaged these ecosystems beyond repair; there will never be as much coffee in the world as there is today. While the cafe scene teeters on the brink of mainstream, a veritable gold-rush of information threatens to inundate the consuming populace. Suddenly, everyone wants to be a barista. Suddenly, everyone wants access to coffee know-how. By all means, go out and seek answers to your questions. But first and foremost, you must discover your source for bags of fresh, lightly roasted coffee.

Buy whole beans in a heat-sealed bag. This is your new mantra. This is The Way.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ownership of Blue Bottle Coffee Changes Hands

Photo by Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times 

Diner Journal

originally posted October 17, 2012 and updated October 18, 2012

Blue Bottle Coffee, the respected California coffee micro-roaster that introduced the Japanese-style siphon bar to San Francisco before opening shops in Chelsea, TriBeCa, Rockefeller Center and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has a new owner.

According to a filing made with the Securities Exchange Commission, Bryan Meehan is the new president and chief executive of Blue Bottle Coffee Inc., heading a group of investors who purchased a controlling stake in Blue Bottle Coffee LLC for more than $19.6 million. Kohlberg Ventures, which invested in Blue Bottle Coffee in 2008, no longer has a stake in the company.

 The news was reported in TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal and other news-media outlets.

Mr. Meehan is the Dublin-born entrepreneur behind Fresh & Wild, a London chain of organic markets sold to Whole Foods in 2004, and Nude Skincare, a line of natural beauty products. He now lives in Marin County, Calif., and the Blue Bottle Coffee investment group he leads draws from the Bay Area’s high-tech executives. It includes Tony Conrad, a founding member of True Ventures and the founder of; Kevin Systrom, the co-founder and chief executive of Instagram; Kevin Rose, a general partner at Google Ventures and the founder of Digg; and Mike Volpi, a partner in Index Ventures, formerly of Cisco Systems.

But not all of Blue Bottle’s new investors made their fortunes with keyboards: the skateboarder Tony Hawk is listed in a post published on the True Ventures blog last week.

Reached on the phone in Dublin, Mr. Meehan said that James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, would continue to occupy a central position in the company. “James promised to me that he’s going to spend the rest of his life growing his business,” Mr. Meehan said. “He’s the founder, and he’s still running things. My role will be chairman of the board.”

Ownership and management can be a touchy question in the coffee industry. Many respected roasters were started by coffee enthusiasts who spent years pulling shots and working long shifts. For some, selling a stake in a company is seen as an act of disloyalty.

What happens after the papers are signed depends on the company, of course. Last year, Stumptown Coffee Roasters reached a deal with TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm, and the company has steadily expanded since then. Then again, after Doug Zell, the founder of Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, announced last year that he would become a co-C.E.O. with a former real estate developer, Robert Buono, the company shed most of its senior staff.

Mr. Freeman, who is in New York to promote his new book, “The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee,” said the company he founded would remain the same, only with deeper pockets. “I’m still going to make decisions about where or if we open new shops, what the new shops look like, what the new shops feel like,” he said. “I’m still going to be in charge of what kind of coffee we should buy, how much should we buy.” Mr. Freeman said that he structured a deal that encourages him to remain with Blue Bottle Coffee. Every year, his stake in the company will increase. “It’s an incentive to stay,” he said. “I gave myself a really good job.”

Oct. 18| Updated The board of directors of Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. announced that James Freeman is now President and CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. Bryan Meehan is now Executive Chairman. “We want to clarify any misunderstanding about who runs the company,” Mr. Freeman said. “I’m going to be the one showing up to Webster Street every day and answer emails, cup coffee, talk to the troops and do everything I’ve been doing, only hopefully better.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In praise of awesome ads - the newest from a local upstart

your parents make lousy coffee.
posted by and if you are into a single roaster's approach, this might be something to look at.

Your parents coffee probably sucks. Maybe it’s that their generation was raised on canned coffee and the false promises of dubious plug-in kitchen appliances or perhaps raising you and your siblings to adulthood drained them of any zest for life or belief in pleasure – but many parents-of-a-certain-age seem incapable of providing us good coffee when we visit for the holidays. So you need to plan accordingly.

I’ll suggest outfitting yourself with a travel rig. My personal set up consists of my Hario mini mill and a simple Hario V60 cone filter. They are light, reasonably compact, and make you a superhero when you bust them out at opportune moments (aka most mornings). But more important than gear and gizmos by far is fresh roasted, top quality coffee. Might I suggest a particularly awesome option…(insert his website)

Getting your parents to upgrade their morning brew is a noble pursuit that even many seasoned coffee professionals will admit can be a hopeless struggle. I know very few coffee nerds that have succeeded in rescuing their parents from bad coffee but you hear many war stories. Buy them a fancy new coffeemaker and grinder only to find them still fooling around with Folgers a year later or stockpiling criminally crappy k-cups from Costco to plunk into some $200+ abomination of ridiculously chromed plastic festooned with blue LEDs. I think my mom still has a pound of coffee I roasted almost a decade ago back in my Seattle Victrola days that she is saving for some special occasion*.

But if you do undertake saving your family from coffee hell, heed my (admittedly self serving) advice and start with great beans. Regardless of what brew method they’ve got going or that you want to steer them toward, it will all come to naught if they lack a fresh sack. The first bag will arrive in time for the holidays with a nifty customized gift card and you won’t have to suffer stale starbucks when you’re groggily opening presents or trying to avoid unpleasant conversations.

Great writing TonX!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tastebud Training: How To Become A Better Coffee Taster

Posted by Erin Meister on Serious Eats,
November 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Coffee at a cupping, or professional style tasting.

Tasting is hard. No, really—think about it. We put stuff in our mouths all day every day, and sure, hopefully we enjoy most of it. But how much do you actually think about what you're tasting? Tasting different coffees side by side can be as daunting as going to a wine tasting. How on earth is a new taster supposed to identify and name all the seemingly zillions of flavors and aromatics emanating from that hot black cup of joe?

Here are a few tips to help you exercise your tastebuds to better understand and appreciate your morning coffee. (Or, heck, anything you eat or drink, for that matter!) Join us to develop not only a more nuanced palate, but also the vocabulary to go along with it.
Sip Before Sugar

This might seem obvious, but if you really want to get a sense of how your coffee tastes, try it—just try it—before up-ending that packet of Domino in there. To many people, coffee is a seemingly overpowering flavor, with strong bitterness or smokiness that can seem harshly unapproachable at first. That's often our first reaction to things like beer, wine, and fine liquors, too—until, that is, we develop a taste for them.

Nobody ever developed their taste for beer by dumping sugar in it, and neither will you for coffee by doing the same. Take one sip before sweetening it up, and try to savor that sip if you can. Next time you have a coffee, take two swigs before adding your lumps, and so on. See if you can't come to enjoy the taste of black joe little by little: it will significantly improve your ability to discern nuances you may never have experienced before through the milk and sugar.
Practice Makes Perfect

In order to be a better taster, you simply have to taste more stuff. For the next few weeks, try to slow down for a second as you go about your eating life. Hold things on your tongue a bit longer than you normally would—whole foods especially—and try to think of what other tastes they remind you of. Does that bite of brown rice have a nutty quality to it, or is it more like grass? Is there something honey-like about the sweetness of a ripe melon, or is it more floral?

Even if the act of savoring each bite for the sake of storing flavor memory doesn't instantly transform you into a supertaster, it will at the very least probably help you enjoy your food more as you work through it. Win-win!

The Nose Knows

Our sense of smell deeply informs our sense of taste, so try to go in for a nice big whiff before you take your first bite or sip. Especially where coffee's concerned, the smell of both the dry grounds and the pot as it's brewing can give you a lot of insight into the flavors lurking behind that brown. And scent memory is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools in our palate-stretching arsenal: When a certain aroma conjures images of youthful camping trips, a favorite food, a fondly recalled afternoon at the beach...these things all sound hippie dippy, but they can be surprisingly telling. That camping trip might mean you're detecting a smoky or toasted note in the coffee, that favorite food might mean sweetness or spice, while a beachside afternoon could indicate savory umami in the cup.

Compare and Contrast

One easy exercise for your tongue is to taste several variations of the same thing. With coffees, we might taste a few different varieties of beans all prepared the same way, or try beans across different regions, the way we might do a wine tasting of one grape from a few different areas.

But you don't have to be a coffee guru or a wine connoisseur to taste with discrimination: Simply turn to the bounty of the season. Buy a bushel of different varieties of apples and taste slices from each in succession, making sure to note which is which, and maybe jotting down some thoughts about the flavors that strike you as you go. Think about how the texture of each feels in your mouth, think about how sweet one type of the fruit is in relation with another. If you can start to recognize these types of elements in other things you taste regularly, it will be more of a cinch the next time you face down a flight of different coffees.

Quit Smoking

I'm not trying to be preachy about it (that's your mom's job), but smoking does not only dull your sense of taste, but also your sense of smell, which is in large part what clues your tatesbuds in on what they're experiencing when you go in for the kill on that perfect slice of pizza or hand-crafted small-batch Scotch. If you want to develop a masterfully working tongue, then, unfortunately you'll have to kick that Kool habit you've been hanging on to since you were 16. (PS: Note that's "Kool," not "cool," which is probably what got you into this mess in the first place.) But hey, if you can't have your coffee without kicking up that cigarette jones, far be it from me...

What other advice would you give to a new taster? Have you found anything to be especially helpful when trying to develop your palate?

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's the Single Best Way to Make Coffee?

Published: October 2, 2011
The New York Times

Grinding beans with a burr grinder just before you prepare your coffee is the single most important step to making a better cup. Because coffee degrades rapidly when exposed to oxygen, mediocre beans just out of the grinder have much more flavor than even fantastic beans that were ground up yesterday. (As for the beans you ground last week, it's time to add them to the compost heap.) A decent burr grinder doesn't come cheap, though. The entry point is about $100, and if you want a better engine or more settings, you can easily spend $300. But like investing in a chef 's knife, it's a one-time expense you won't regret. Its beauty is that it crushes the beans into particles of a consistent size, unlike a blade grinder, which whirs some of the coffee into powder and some into chunks. And consistency is incredibly important to coffee's taste: a blade grinder is very likely to produce grinds that lead to uneven extraction, which results in bitter flavors.The beans you grind are also important, of course. You should be drinking the ones that are in season and therefore the freshest -- right now, that means the beans from South America. It's important to remember that shopping for coffee beans is like buying fish: ask for what has just come in. It makes a big difference.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coffee May Help Women Lower Depression Risk

Wall Street Journal
September 26, 2011

In what might be good news for coffee drinkers, a new study found that women who regularly consume the caffeinated beverage are less likely to suffer depression.

Four or more cups a day lowers depression risk even further, by 20%.
Women who had two to three cups of coffee a day had about a 15% lower risk of developing depression during a 10-year period than women who had only one cup of coffee or less per week. Consuming four or more cups a day reduced the risk of depression even more, by 20%.

The study, by Harvard University researchers, analyzed health data of more than 50,000 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study, a federally funded effort that has followed thousands of registered nurses for decades to assess risk factors for cancer and other diseases.

The Harvard research, published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is believed to be the first study specifically looking at depression and caffeine consumption in women. The study was primarily funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers said the study doesn't prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression, but it suggests caffeine has a "protective effect." Alberto Ascherio, one of the study's authors and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, said researchers decided to look at depression after smaller studies suggested a decreased risk of suicide among women who were regular coffee drinkers.

Depression is a chronic health problem that affects twice as many women as men. At least 20% of women develop depression at some point in their lives, the researchers said. Caffeine, most often in the form of coffee, is considered the world's most consumed central nervous system stimulant that temporarily boosts alertness and often improves people's moods.

Numerous studies previously have looked at the health effects of coffee. Scientists generally have concluded that for most adults moderate doses of caffeine, or the equivalent of about two to four cups of coffee a day, aren't considered harmful. But too much caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness, stomach upset and a rapid heartbeat.
In the latest study, researchers in 1996 identified 50,739 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study who were free of depression. The average age was 63 at the study's onset. Over a 10-year period, 2,607 of the women developed depression.
Researchers measured caffeine consumption by analyzing a series of questionnaires the women completed between May 1980 and April 2004. The surveys asked about the types of coffee, tea, soda and other liquids that were consumed over the preceding 12 months. Women were also asked about their consumption of chocolate, which also contains caffeine.

Dr. Ascherio said most of the caffeine the women consumed came from regular coffee. He said researchers also looked at total caffeine consumption, including from other sources, and found results similar to those for coffee consumption. No association was found between intake of decaffeinated coffee and depression risk, he said.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ristretto | On the Rocks

by Oliver Strand
New York Times Blog
June 10, 2011, 4:15 pm

I became hooked on cold-brew coffee after working a construction job in New Orleans more than 10 years ago. It was strictly a regional thing then, everywhere in the Big Easy and nearly impossible to find elsewhere — you could find cold-brew concentrate in the supermarket, but most of the people I knew were given mayo jars full of the dark, dense liquid by an aunt or a grandmother. In the following years, I became a proselytizer for cold-brew coffee, gaining converts for a steep-and-strain method that seemed counterintuitive until you tried it.

The coffee started to catch on in New York in 2007; by last summer, it had become regular fare at almost all of the coffee shops I frequent — it seemed everybody had fallen for the clean, clear flavors of iced coffee that wasn’t traumatized by hot water. But in coffee circles, no conversation is closed. When I mentioned cold brew to Counter Culture Coffee’s Peter Giuliano, he told me that he only used the “Japanese iced method,” in which you brew hot coffee directly onto ice. With characteristic diplomacy, Giuliano told me I had it all wrong.

George Howell, of George Howell Coffee, was more direct. Brewing onto ice is “the only way to do it,” he said. “It’s fresh! There’s none of that oxidized flavor [of cold brew]. You want to know what [cold brew] is like? Open up a bottle and pour a glass of wine and let it sit around.” Cold brew is for “simplified Merlot drinkers,” Howell said. “But the Japanese iced expresses terroir beautifully.”
Got it.

The iced method isn’t complicated. Basically, you prepare brewed coffee as you normally would, only you use half hot water, half ice you put in the bottom of the vessel. The hot, fresh coffee drips directly onto ice so that it’s cool and ready to drink right away.

My simplified instructions are below. (Coffee fanatics measure liquids by weight — these days, a digital scale is standard gear — but while most use grams, I prefer ounces because the low-scoring numbers are easier to track.) If you want to go deeper, Counter Culture’s recipe is here, George Howell’s is here, and Square Mile’s James Hoffman’s thoughtful and complicated take on it is here. Everybody’s is different, and everybody’s is right. Chances are you can make it with the coffee gear you already own, or you could get a Hario kit here.

Is it vastly superior? I’m not convinced. And I’m not giving up cold-brew coffee — opening the fridge to find a jar of concentrate is as much a part of summer as a nectarine or a Carvelanche. But I appreciate that the iced method is simple and quick, tasty, easy to master. It’s another addition to the repertory.

Iced Method Coffee
1 ounce fresh-ground coffee
7 ounces ice
8 ounces water heated to 200 degrees, plus extra for rinsing filter.

Place a filter in a Chemex (or any filter brew system) and rinse filter with at least four ounces hot water. Remove filter, discard water, place Chemex on a kitchen scale and add 7 ounces of ice.
Replace filter, add coffee and slowly add 1 ounce of water heated to 200 degrees, until the grounds are saturated. Let the grounds “bloom” then deflate, which might take up to 1 minute.
Reset scale to zero and add remaining 7 ounces of water heated to 200 degrees, in a slow, steady stream. Drink immediately.

(image taken by Oliver Strand)