not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Main Entry: cof·fee           Listen to the pronunciation of coffee
Pronunciation: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Italian & Turkish; Italian caffè, from Turkish kahve, from Arabic qahwa
Date: 1598
1 a: a beverage made by percolation, infusion, or decoction from the roasted and ground seeds of a coffee plant b: any of several Old World tropical plants (genus Coffea and especially C. arabica and C. canephora) of the madder family that are widely cultivated in warm regions for their seeds from which coffee is prepared c: coffee seeds especially roasted and often ground — compare arabica , robusta d: a dehydrated product made from brewed coffee coffee> ; also : a beverage made from this2: a cup of coffee coffees>

I'm sitting here, drinking my morning cup-o-joe knowing that it's going to be a good day, because this is a GREAT cup. Brewed to perfection with just the right amount of sugar and a splash of cream {some coffee-purists may hate me for 'ruining' the coffee with cream and sugar, but what can I say, it's my style}.

Coffee is the second most traded product in the world after petroleum - around 6.7 million tons. The coffee tree takes 5 years to reach maturity and you will get about one roasted pound of coffee from that tree -- so we are talking a lot of coffee trees, people!! Brazil has to most of these coffee trees, exporting 30% to 40% of the total world's beans, though Ethiopia is considered coffee's birthplace.

The evolution of the bean to your cup: Coffee berries {yes, they are fleshy berries} are picked, processed {the flesh is removed from around the coffee bean}, then they are dried. Beans don't start out brown, they are usually green. Next, the seeds are roasted at very high temperatures. The roasting causes the sugars in the bean to caramelize which brings out the flavor and that is how we get the rich brown color of the bean.

This is Harry & Bean's coffee roaster

Four single roaster companies buy more than 50% of all of the annual coffee production: Kraft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Sara Lee. This is what you are getting at the supermarket. Let me think about how to put this in perspective to you....If you buy a peach at your local farmers market, that was grown in your town, and picked while it was ripe just a day ago - it's going to be FAR more delicious than say a peach that was grown half way around the world, picked before it was ripe so that it could be shipped (it could be traveling for over a week), and then sit in a supermarket for an additional week or two. It's like buying some $3 earrings at Joyce Leslie, that will surely break in the next week, as opposed to buying from a jewelry maker who really takes pride in her craft {ps: check out its the jewelry designer i worked for in brooklyn, she has some AMAZING pieces and she was recently featured in People StyleWatch}. Bringing it full circle, there is such thing as "gourmet coffee", or even just better coffee than that Folgers you are drinking every morning. Check out Harry & Beans {}, a LOCAL roaster, who gets his beans, roasts them, and then they are for sale to you just days later. That is FRESH coffee. Folger's was roasted a month ago, ground (so it's gonna be stale), packaged, shipped, and then sitting in the supermarket for god-kn0ws-how-long.

Let's talk about Fair-Trade, and why you should buy it.
Being "Fair Trade" guarantees coffee growers a negotiated pre-harvest price. "A number of studies have shown that fair trade coffee has a positive impact on the communities which grow it. A study in 2002 found that fair trade strengthened producer organizations, improved returns to small producers, and positively affected their quality of life and the health of the organizations that represent. A 2005 study concluded that fair trade has "greatly improved the well-being of small-scale coffee farmers and their families" by providing access to credit and external development funding and greater access to training, giving them the ability to improve the quality of their coffee. The families of fair trade producers were also more stable than those who were not involved in fair trade, and their children had better access to education." Need I say more? Buy Fair Trade. <<

Harry and his beans

Harry's Shop: Clean Coffee

Coffee's flavor is affected by so very many things, but now that I've found the bean and the roast that I like, I've been focusing on the brewing process. Percolator, Auto-Drip, French Press, Moka, Espresso,vacuum brewer, cup filter, ‘cowboy coffee’, Turkish coffee (ibrik), etc. My favorite is the Moka coffee maker, the "poor man's espresso" - this is the Bialetti contraption that I was raving about during my time in Seattle. While doing some research, a man summed up my exact feelings about the Moka coffee "...the coffee it produces is heavenly with its thick, aromatic, full-bodied flavor and is similar in these details to espresso, minus the crema."

The Bialetti "moka espresso" Maker

  • Acidic: Very desirable coffee quality, sharpness detected towards front of mouth; denotes quality and altitudel can be fruity (citrusy, lemony, berry-like. etc) or a pure tongue-tip numbing sensation.
  • Bitter: Basic flavor sensation detected at the back of the mouth and soft-palate, often as after-taste, sometimes desirable to a limited degree (as in dark-roast, espresso). Not to be confused with acidity.
  • Fruity: Flavor / aroma often found in good arabica coffees, reminiscent of a wide range of fruits: citrus, berries, currants, etc, always accompanied by some degree of acidity; this is usually positive, but can indicate over ripeness or over-fermentation.
  • Clean: Pure coffee flavor, no twists or changes in the mouth, no different after-taste (Costa Rica sometimes provides good examples).
  • Dry: A certain type of acidity and / or mouth feel, but not, as in wine, the opposite of sweet; often accompanies light, or even delicate coffees, such as Mexican, Ethiopian and Yemeni.
  • Earthy: Aroma / flavor reminiscent of damp black earth, organic, mushroomy, cellar-like
  • Neutral: Bland coffee, very low acidity, not derogatory, as implies no off-tastes; good for blending (often describes many ordinary Brazilian arabicas).
  • Rancid / Rotten: The flavor of a spoiled oily product, as in rancid nuts or rancid olive oil; fairly disgusting; can cause involuntary gagging.

Studies have suggested that the consumption of coffee is beneficial to health in some ways. Coffee appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout. So drink up!!

"Coffee" around the world: Gehve, Qahwa, Koohii, Kalawa, Kafe, Kape, Kawa, Gafae, Kahwa, Sourj, Kafei, Kaffee, Masbout, Buna, Kahvi, Cafe, Kaffee, Kafes, Kope, Koffie, Kave, Kopi.

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