Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Art of Painting with Coffee

Coffee painting is not a new art form by any means, but has recently been increasing in popularity. Not only is it appealing to the eye and smells great, it is a great medium for any artist who is looking to try new things.

The art of painting with coffee is known as arfé, which is a combination of the words "art" and "café". Coffee artist from all around are being featured in galleries and on TV, making appearances on shows like Martha stewart, and even sponsored by big names like Nescafe.

Paintings by these artists go for hundreds of dollars and are the focus of a lot of international attention. Though there are many people who encounter coffee painting and think that it is nice but dismiss it as a passing fad, painting with coffee is more than just a novelty, to many people it is a genuine art form.

So if you are intrigued by this branch of coffee culture and are aching to give it a try, it is simple and easy to do at home. Coffee paint is created simply by adding coffee (usually instant) to water and varying the strength to get different tones. Some even boil the coffee to get the darkest colors possible. From that point all you need is a bit of talent and some watercolor paper to create your own aromatic works of art.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blossoming Tea

This is a great gift for any tea lover as well as someone who just appreciates a unique gift.

As you add hot water, watch the delicate teaposy slowly unfurl, revealing a flower that blossoms from within the tea leaves creating flavorful tea. Each teaposy is made from premium Silver Needle White Tea leaves and whole dried flowers that are hand-crafted with natural cotton thread. Flavors include jasmine, magnolia, amaranth, lily, camellia and rose.

The delicate and complex tea is a treat for your taste buds as well.

Visit to find one of these extraordinary gift ideas.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea is an herb that comes from Japan, China, and other Asian countries, known officially as “Camellia sinesis”. The leaves of the plant are harvested and then steamed. When consumed as a beverage or through powder made from dried leaves, green tea has shown to provide tremendous health benefits. An active ingredient found in green tea is called epigallocatechin Gallate, more commonly referred to as EGCG.

How green tea is used varies slightly from one part of Asia to another, as well as within other countries. For examples, green tea is usually consumed as a hot tea in Japan and China, often enjoyed in formal settings of a teahouse. However, when asked, “How is green tea used” referring to the United States, you will find that the powder is used for baking, to make fruit smoothies, as a cold beverage, and more.

How green tea is used is not as important as making sure it is used. Whether steaming, boiling, or using the powder form of green tea will provide antioxidants that have been proven through many studies to boost health. For instance, is has been shown that green tea helps fight cancer, lowers LDL or bad cholesterol, prevents tooth decay, and even serves as a dietary supplement for people wanting to lose weight.

As Americans continue to eat worse and exercise less, many of us are walking around with excessive weight. As a result, we see a significant increase in heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, boosted blood pressure, joint pain, and more. By using green tea, appetite is often suppressed, which means less food consumption.

Green tea can also be used to benefit children. When taken in the right quantity, green tea is harmless to adults and to children. You can provide food rich in nutrients by introducing green tea into your child’s diet. For example, instead of sending your child to school with chocolate chip cookies, why not make carob and green tea cookies. The flavor is delicious and your child will be thrilled.

How green tea is used is multifaceted. With so many proven benefits, we see dentists recommending it to patients to help prevent and fight bacteria in the mouth that causes plaque. We see stressed out businesspeople using green tea as a soothing drink to relax. Finally, we see green tea used in the battle against cancer.

Green tea in many ways is helping to improve our overall health.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coffee From Around the World - Tanzania Peaberry

Tanzania Peaberry coffee renders a flavor that is concentrated and offers a more lively cup, full body and distiguished aroma.

Harvested on the slopes of Mount Kilamanjaro near the Kenyan border, this gourmet African coffee displays many of the characteristics of Kenyan coffee, though much lighter in acidity.

Click here for more information about Tanzania Peaberry Coffee.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coffee From Around the World

Looking for coffee from around the world?

Explorer’s Bounty, marketer and manufacturer of premium certified organic food products offers coffees Africa, South America or Asia. Explorer’s Bounty single-origin varietals include:

  • Expedition El Dorado from Colombia

  • Expedition Blue Nile from Ethiopia

  • Expedition Inca from Peru

  • Expedition Silk Road and Expedition Adventure from Sumatra

  • Expedition Grano de Oro from Costa Rica

Ground and whole bean varieties are available and are USDA certified organic.

Explorer’s Bounty also employs fair trade practices by partnering with non-profit organizations throughout the world in an effort to promote a higher quality of life and sustain the earth’s resources.

Visit Explorer’s Bounty to go shopping or to learn more about coffee from around the world.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Great Reason to Visit Hawaii

37th Annual Kona Coffeee Cultural Festival

Coffee has been cultivated in the rich Kona volcanic soil of Hawaii’s Big Island since the first half of the 19th century. So it’s only fitting that the state’s oldest food festival is the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. The 37 Annual Festival will be held November 2-11, at various sites on the island.

The mission of the Festival is to promote Kona coffee and the multi-cultural heritage of the Kona coffee pioneers. Festival visitors can enjoy nearly 50 Festival events, such as contests, coffee tastings, seminars, ethnic foods, two parades, the Miss Kona Scholarship Pageant, Living History Farm Tours, art exhibits and an outdoor concert.

This year’s festival has added a barista training workshop in which participants will learn how to taste and prepare espresso and other specialty drinks using Kona coffee. Instructors will work individually with participants from entry level to experienced professionals.

Also new this year is a free Japanese edition of the Kona Coffee Driving Tour Brochure. The brochures, both English and Japanese, provide a map of Kona Coffee Country and locates nearly 60 Kona coffee farms that offer tours, tastings and retail outlets. The brochure also provides background information on Kona coffee heritage.

For more information visit

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Add a Little Spice to Your Coffee

There are lots of ways to improve on basic cup of coffee. A few cloves, a pinch of cinnamon or even some whole fennel seeds can really create a whole new cup of coffee. Adding whole spices before you brew is a good way to do this.

Here are a few recipes for spiced coffee. These are all for coffee served hot... mmmmm!

Fragrant Spiced Coffee

3 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Blend together brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon (use ground spices, not whole). Mix coffee and cream together with the spice mixture. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Mediterranean Coffee

3 tbs ground coffee (coarse)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp anise seed (whole)
Pinch of dried orange peel pieces

Combine all the ingredients, and brew by your favorite method. Using a french press or a plunger pot is the traditional brewing style for this particular coffee recipe. Makes 1-2 cups of coffee.

Sweet Fennel Coffee

3 tbs ground coffee
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
6 whole fennel seeds, crushed
1 tbs brown sugar

Mix coffee and spices, and brew by your preferred method. Add the sugar to your finished cup for that sweet touch. Also makes 1-2 cups.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fun Facts About Coffee

Botanically speaking coffee beans are not really beans at all, but berries.

It takes between 4000-5000 coffee cherries to produce a single kilogram of freshly roasted coffee.

Coffee is grown in over 50 countries of the world but is not grown anywhere on the mainland United States.

Coffee is one of the most heavily traded products in the world, second only to oil.

A coffee tree has a life expectancy of 70 years and it takes five years for a coffee tree to reach maturity.

Contrary to popular belief, darkly roasted coffees contain less caffeine than lightly roasted blends. Caffeine is burnt off during the roasting process, so consequently the longer roasted dark blends have less caffeine.

When serving coffee to guests, it is the custom that the oldest person sitting around a table is served first in Turkey and Greece.

Rather unusually, the terms ‘supremo’ and ‘excelso’ are used to indicate the large physical size of the coffee bean and not its quality as one might expect.

The human body will only be affected by caffeine up to a certain level when coffee is drunk. This level depends upon the individual. After a certain number of cups of coffee have been drunk (typically 4 in quick succession), consuming further cups will provide no further stimulation as the rest is not absorbed.

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world apart from water and has been consumed for over a thousand years.

Soluble instant coffee was invented in 1906 by an Englishman, living in Guatemala who later moved to the USA. Interestingly his name was George Washington.

People from different parts of the world traditionally add different ingredients to enjoy their favorite drink. The Ethiopians add a pinch of salt, Moroccans’ add peppercorns, while the Mexicans add cinnamon. Drinkers in the Middle East enjoy the addition of cardamom and spices, whilst Austrians add whipped cream. Egyptian coffee drinkers like it strong and dark and rarely add cream or sugar.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Something Special for Tea Lovers

Most coffee and tea drinkers enjoy a little indulgence! How about treating yourself...

Check out this line of bath and beauty products with the crisp scent of green tea. Take your pick of soaps, body wash, lotions, and a fragrance mist.

Green Tea Cologne
Green Tea Body Lotion
Green Tea Liquid Foaming Bath
Green Tea Body Wash
Green Tea Soap
Green Tea Hand Wash
Green Tea Hand Lotion
Green Tea Home Fragrance Mist
Green Tea Aromatic Candle

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Want to try something delicious?

Try a Javatini... especially tantalizing for the true coffee-lover!

Combine the following ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake...

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
1 ounce espresso, cooled

Strain into a martini glass rimmed with cocoa or sugar. Garnish with chocolate shavings if you like and...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grow Your Own Coffee Beans

For the True Coffee Lover...

You can enjoy your own coffee, as well as the glossy dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers of this easy-to-grow, unique plant.

In 3-4 years your plant will bear fruit which will ripen to red in the fall, with a sweet pulp surrounding each bean. Simply harvest the desired amount of beans, roast in an oven or roaster and cool completely. You’re now ready to grind and brew your own homegrown coffee!

It can be moved outdoors in the summer for pollination.

What an ideal gift for any coffee-lover who has a green thumb!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Please Vote For Our Book Clip!!!

We need your votes!!!

Every week 60 different artisans face off in 12 different categories in the Artisans Challenge to see who has the best handmade item.

Our very own "Delicate Purple Flowers" book clip from our online store is in the challenge!

Please vote before April 6th!!!

Go to Blockhead Radio to vote today!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make Your Own Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

Chocolate-covered coffee beans are confections made by coating roasted coffee beans with chocolate that could be either dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate. They are just slightly sweet and especially the dark chocolate kind is rather intense.

The bitter flavor of the coffee beans can be overpowering for non-coffee-drinkers. Chocolate covered coffee beans are rich in saturated fat and have high caffeine content as well. If you are a coffee lover then you undoubtedly love coffee prepared in any way, shape or form. So chocolate covered coffee beans would be a popular treat for you! These tasty treats can be had at any coffee shop or specialty store. But you could also make your own as it is really quite simple.

All you need to do is to buy high quality coffee beans. Be sure they are fresh and not broken or damaged. Next purchase the chocolate. Dipping chocolate is easier to work with and it tends to set up nicer. Chocolate chips and chocolate squares will work too.

Melt and prepare the chocolate for dipping. All you need to do is carefully melt the chocolate in a pot. Once the chocolate is melted, simply place the beans in the pot to coat, and then remove with the fork. Set on wax paper to harden overnight.

Your tasty crunchy snack is ready!

The selection of coffee beans can be important in the making of chocolate covered coffee beans. You should buy a medium or dark roast, since a light roast will simply be too acidic for chocolate covered coffee beans. This is one reason why chocolate covered espresso beans are a popular sell, since it's a very dark roast.

Have fun & Enjoy!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Come Join the Fun!!!

It's Party Time!!!

Be sure to check it out!!!

March 20th - 27th!!!

Be sure to register to win one of the many great prizes!!!

You could win these earrings from our very own online store, Acorn Accessories!!!

If you want to win these earrings (or any pair of earrings from Acorn Accessories), be sure to blog about them (INTL 63)!!!

More Amazing Teapots

I truly hope you enjoy my virtual collection of Amazing Teapots...

This first teapot is called Aria and was created by Ricky Maldonado. This beautiful burnished design is coil-built with a dotted glaze over terra sigillata.

The next teapot in my virtual collection is a Patsy Cox creation called, Mother. It is wheel-thrown with thrown and pulled additions. It has a glazed interior and an engobe exterior.

This last teapot on display (but certainly not least) is called, Toy Tea and was created by Robert "Boomer" Moore.

It is assembled and wheel-thrown and included some additional altered parts. It has multiple sprayed layers of high-fire copper-bearing glazes.

So, wonderfully creative!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coffee Beans from Animal Droppings???

Yes, you read the title correctly...

Kopi Luwak coffee beans have actually been eaten by a small animal before being collected and roasted.

Animalcoffee is the original source of authentic kopi luwak on the internet.

Based in Indonesia Animalcoffee has been supplying genuine wild collected kopi luwak from Sumatra, Java and Bali since 2002. The kopi luwak is sourced directly from coffee plantations as luwak scats (droppings) so there is no ambiguity regarding the authenticity of the coffee beans.

Animalcoffee is apparently the ONLY source of natural, unprocessed kopi luwak.

Surprise someone with a gift box of the rarest coffee there is. It's also the strangest in my opinion!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Java-Log: The World's Only Eco-Friendly Coffee Firelog

For you real coffee-lovers out there...

Check out Java-Log ~ the most innovative, funky new fireplace item that has quickly become the people’s choice firelog. It offers a wonderful solution to the much detested chemical smell often associated with other firelogs since Java-Log has No Chemical Smell.

Java-logs are man-made fireplace logs that are made up mostly of coffee grounds.

For for the environmentally conscious coffee-drinker, you will appreciate the fact that Java-Log contributes positively to several environmental concerns and burns beautifully, hassle free.

Java-logs burn a natural flame since coffee has 25% more energy than wood and 3x the flame per unit of energy. Java-Logs produce significantly fewer emissions than firewood.

What a "crazy-fun" gift idea for a fellow coffee-lover!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brew Perfect Coffee Every Time

Getting a great cup o' joe doesn't have to mean paying a bundle at your local coffee spot. The best coffee you've ever tasted is just a few easy steps away, right in your own home!

1. Start with freshly roasted whole bean coffee and grind it as you use it.

2. Use good water. Remember, coffee is 98-99% water.

3. Measure your coffee. Two Tablespoons of coffee to every 8oz cup of water.

4. Brew by an Auto-Drip coffee maker or French Press. When using an Auto-Drip coffee maker, DO NOT leave the brewed coffee on the burner!!! It will continue to cook and will become bitter in a few minutes. Transfer the brewed coffee to a good thermos for flavor's sake.

5. Grinding Coffee Beans- for brewing good coffee is the way to go! Grinding your own coffee beans just before brewing helps ensure the freshest, best tasting coffee.

6. Storing Your Coffee. Coffee beans tend to lose their flavor rather quickly and even faster after being ground. It is best to keep your coffee whole bean until used. Always keep your coffee in a sealed container that prevents the coffee from being exposed to the open air. Coffee can be kept fresh in a sealed container in a cupboard for a couple of weeks.If you need to keep your coffee longer than two weeks, keep it in a sealed container in your freezer. When keeping coffee in the freezer, take out only the amount you are going to use and put the remainder back into the freezer immediatly. Coffee kept in the freezer will last a month or more.

7. After brewing coffee should be served immediatly. To keep coffee hot for a longer period of time, use a vacuum pitcher, an airpot or an insulated travel mug. This is the only way true coffee flavor can be maintained. Keeping coffee on a warmer destroys the flavor after as little as twenty minutes, resulting in a bitter tasting cup of coffee.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Amazing Teapots - Part 2

"The teapot is to the potter what the convas is to the painter".

I hope you enjoy these amazing teapots...

This first amazing teapot is called "Ritual Teapot". It is slab-built, stamped white stonware created by Lana Wilson.

This second amazing teapot, called "The Odds Are Stacked", was designed by Robert L. Wood. It is slab-built earthware clay and steel; slip with oxide and frit, textured surface embedded with brokern pottery shards and peices of brick and steel bolts.

How fun is that?

This third amazing teapot, called "Moss Teapot", was designed by Shari Sikora. It is wheel-thrown made from altered raku clay with a copper base (bisque-and-raku fired).

Amazingly creative!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Amazing Teapots - Part 1

These unique stone teapots are all hand carved, each one with truly amazing craftsmanship. Although all of these teapots are carved from stone, some look like bronze, some look like wood, and some look like bamboo, depending on the surface treatment.

ChengNi Stone Teapots are all hand carved from a single piece of ChengNi Stone!

These designs are truly amazing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How To Decaffeinate Your Tea Right at Home

There is a Chinese method of infusing tea that has led to a simple way for anyone to remove most of the caffeine from their tea, at home - in less than one minute.

Many commercial methods of extracting caffeine from tea are harsh and can affect the taste, the flavor and selection of the finished product. This 'Gongfu' method is approved by the Specialty Tea Institute.

Because most of the caffeine found in tea leaves ends up on the outside of the leaf during the drying process, a simple 'leaf washing' or 'pre-brewing' is all that's needed to remove 80-90% of the caffeine from any black, oolong or green tea.

This method allows decaf tea drinkers to experience a whole world of teas.

  • Measure the correct amount of tea leaves into the teapot.

  • Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil in a kettle or saucepan.

  • Immediately pour this water over the dry tea leaves in the pot, only covering the leaves with the water. Do not fill up the tea pot just yet.

  • Wait 30-45 seconds. Pour away this small amount of water using a strainer to catch any stray tea leaf. Put strays back into the pot. By doing this procedure, you allow the caffeine to dissolve, then you pour this concentrated caffeine solution down the drain.

  • Now fill up the tea pot with your hot water and brew as usual.

That's it! You've done it - decaffeinated your own fine quality loose teas at home, in less than one minute!

You may notice a slight decrease in flavor or strength with a few teas after using this technique. If this is the case, simply add an extra teaspoon of tea to the pot prior to the procedure.

Note: Anything over 1 minute really affects tea flavor and does not insure additional caffeine reduction.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tea & Food Pairing

Still an evolving art, pairing teas with particular types of food can add new dimensions to one's dining experience. As with wine - which has long been the subject of pairing with different food products and cuisines - the variety of flavors and aromas found across the world of tea offer countless culinary opportunities!

As you consider the pairing of tea and food, keep in mind that the most important consideration is your own personal taste. Below, are a number of suggestions:

White Tea: Because of the extremely subtle flavor of white teas, we recommend pairing them with only the mildest of flavors.
Bai Mu Dan - basmati rice

Green Tea: In general, the subtle, vegetative flavor and aroma of most green tea is well suited to mild or subtly-flavored foods, such as seafood, rice, salads, melon or chicken.
Dragonwell - seafood or fish, salads, chicken
Gunpowder - Asian or Middle Eastern Foods
Ti Kuan Yin - desserts and fruits

Oolong Tea: Many argue that the subtle complexity of flavor and aroma attributed to oolong tea demand drinking it on its own. However, because oolongs can range in character between green and black teas, many can be paired with food along the same lines as their green or black counterparts. For instance, greener oolongs tend to go well with scallops, lobster and other sweet rich foods, while darker oolongs compliment somewhat stronger-flavored foods such as duck and grilled meats.
Jade Oolong - chicken, seafood, or fruits

Black Tea: The more robust flavors and aromas of most black teas, as well as the most pronounced tannins, are well suited to pairing with full-flavored foods such as meat and spicy dishes.
Darjeeling - egg dishes; creamy desserts
Keemun - meats; fish; Chinese foods; spicy Mexican, Italian, or Indian dishes
Yunnan - highly seasoned foods
Lapsang Souchong - chicken, smoked salmon, lemony desserts Assam - hearty foods; breakfast foods; chocolate, custard or lemon desserts

Pu-erh Tea: Worthy of special note, pu-erh teas are known for their digestive benefits. Not only do these teas pair well with meats and oily foods, they can offer a welcome settling effect after large, multi-course meals!
Pu-erh - after a large meal (such as Thanksgiving Day); red meats, stir-fries, oily foods

Monday, February 9, 2009

Coffee Dacquoise Hearts

Looking for a great Valentine's Day treat for a coffee lover? Well, look no further!


2/3 cup hazelnuts
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon warm water
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened


Prepare Hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toast nuts in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until skins are split and nuts are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove skins (not all skins will come off), then cool. Finely chop 1/3 cup nuts and reserve.

Make Meringue Hearts:

Finely grind remaining 1/3 cup whole nuts with cornstarch and 1 teaspoon sugar in a food processor (do not allow to become a paste). Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sugar.

Reduce oven to 250 degrees F.

Cover 2 baking sheets with foil. Using cutter or cardboard template as a guide, trace 6 hearts on each sheet with pointed end of a toothpick (for a total of 12). Brush foil lightly with oil.

Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until foamy, then add cream of tartar and continue to beat until whites hold soft peaks.

Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in ground-nut mixture gently but thoroughly and transfer meringue to pastry bag.

Staying within traced lines, pipe 4 solid hearts and 2 hearts with a heart-shaped space in center on each baking sheet (there may be meringue left over). Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until dry and pale golden, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool 10 minutes, then carefully peel meringues off foil and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make Buttercream:

Stir together espresso powder and 1 teaspoon warm water until dissolved.

Bring remaining 1/4 cup warm water and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, washing down sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water, until candy thermometer registers 238 degrees F or a drop of syrup forms a soft ball when dropped into a cup of cold water.

When syrup reaches boil, start beating yolks in a bowl with electric mixer until thick and pale.

When syrup reaches soft-ball stage, slowly pour it in a thin stream down side of bowl into yolks, beating constantly. Continue to beat at high speed until cool to the touch. (It is important that mixture is properly cooled before proceeding.)

With mixer at high speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated, then beat in dissolved espresso. Continue to beat buttercream until fluffy.

Assemble Hearts:

Spread 1 tablespoon buttercream evenly over each solid heart. Top each of 4 solid hearts with another solid heart, buttercream sides up, then top each stack with an open heart. Spread about 1 tablespoon buttercream around sides of each heart, then coat sides with reserved chopped hazelnuts.

Chill hearts 30 minutes, then let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

Serve with coulis & Enjoy!!!

Recipe Provided By:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Valentine's Day Gift for Coffee/Tea Lovers

Looking for creative ideas for Valentine's Day?

This gift basket was so easy to put together and would be a great gift for just about anyone!

It includes four glass Cappuccino mugs, four napkins with napkin rings, a set of four drink charms from Acorn Accessories and a decorative rose heart.

Drink charms a "charming" way to tell guest’s glasses apart. The charm hangs from the handle of a mug (or stem of a wine glass). They add real "charm" to this gift basket!

If you want, you can also add to top off the gift with a pound of coffee beans or some unique tea.

Of course, the drink charms can also be used on wine glasses! As an alternative gift idea, simply replace the coffee mugs with wine glasses and add a bottle of wine.

For more drink charms, check out Acorn Accessories!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make Your Own Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

Chocolate-covered coffee beans are confections made by coating roasted coffee beans with chocolate that could be either dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate. They are just slightly sweet and especially the dark chocolate kind is rather intense.

The bitter flavor of the coffee beans can be overpowering for non-coffee-drinkers. Chocolate covered coffee beans are rich in saturated fat and have high caffeine content as well. If you are a coffee lover then you undoubtedly love coffee prepared in any way, shape or form. So chocolate covered coffee beans would be a popular treat for you! These tasty treats can be had at any coffee shop or specialty store. But you could also make your own as it is really quite simple.

All you need to do is to buy high quality coffee beans. Be sure they are fresh and not broken or damaged. Next purchase the chocolate. Dipping chocolate is easier to work with and it tends to set up nicer. Chocolate chips and chocolate squares will work too.

Melt and prepare the chocolate for dipping. All you need to do is carefully melt the chocolate in a pot. Once the chocolate is melted, simply place the beans in the pot to coat, and then remove with the fork. Set on wax paper to harden overnight.

Your tasty crunchy snack is ready!

The selection of coffee beans can be important in the making of chocolate covered coffee beans. You should buy a medium or dark roast, since a light roast will simply be too acidic for chocolate covered coffee beans. This is one reason why chocolate covered espresso beans are a popular sell, since it's a very dark roast.

Have fun & Enjoy!!!

Creating Perfect Foam

With a little practice, you can learn the secret of creating the perfect foam with steamed milk for making a wonderful cappuccino. Your foam should end up velvety smooth and the bubbles should be so small that you can barely see them. This enables the foam to blend with the espresso, creating a harmony of the flavors instead of a boring cap floating on top.

First of all, it's important to start with cold milk that's just out of the fridge. Pour the milk into the steaming pitcher until it is just about 1/3 of the way full. Milk will double to triple in volume after the frothing process. A stainless steel pitcher works best. It will dissipate some of the heat, allowing more time to infuse air into the milk before the milk gets too hot.

When making home-made cappuccino, it may take some practice to learn the art of creating a perfect foam.

Use a thermometer to get the milk to the correct temperature of 145 degrees. There are many thermometers made for this purpose that will clip onto the side of the pitcher for convenience.

The Technique:

Purge the steam wand onto a damp towel by releasing the valve for a few seconds. Be very careful not to burn yourself, the steam will be extremely hot. This purging will get all of the water out so you don't get it in your milk.

Next, submerge the wand into the milk and quickly turn the steam on full power. Avoid letting the tip of the wand come out of the milk. This will cause splattering and create large, tasteless bubbles.

Adjust the wand so that it is pointing off center in order to get the milk to flowing in a rapid, circular motion. Maintaining this fast, circulating vortex is vital.

Then, slowly lower the pitcher until the tip of the wand is just below the surface of the milk (keeping the circulation going). When you can hear a hissing noise, similar to bacon frying, you have reached the perfect position for the wand to inject air into the milk.

Try to maintain this hissing noise while keeping the milk rotating. You will have to slowly lower the pitcher as the milk volume rises in order to keep the wand tip just under the surface.

By keeping the milk flowing in a rapid circle, any large bubbles that are accidentally created will be rolled into the milk and eliminated. Continue steaming until the milk reaches 145 degrees. Be careful not to get the milk too hot, it will scald giving it a bad taste.

If you have a few large bubbles, you can try to get rid of them by tapping the bottom of the pitcher lightly on the counter.

Serve immediately and enjoy some of the silkiest frothed milk you have ever tasted!

So Many Teas To Choose From

With over 3000 different varieties of tea in the world, how do you choose?

Tea is known by the terms white, green, oolong and black. All four types come from the same plant species, the only major differences between them are a result of the different processing methods they undergo, mainly the amount of oxidation.

Oxidization is stopped at certain stages in the manufacture in order to produce the different types. Black teas undergo hours of oxidation in their preparation for market; oolongs receive less oxidation, and green and white teas are not oxidized at all.

So, based on the methods used in production, tea can be divided into the four different types: black, oolong, green and white tea. Of course there are many different varieties of tea within each of these four main types.

Black Tea Black tea is withered, fully fermented and dried. Black tea least resembles the natural tea leaf. The manufacturing processes and varieties of black tea differ considerably among the various growing regions. Black teas give a strong, hearty and bright, reddish or amber-colored brew.

Oolong Tea Oolong tea is withered, partially fermented and dried. Oolongs fall between black and green tea in color and taste, have low caffeine, and give an orangy-brown to dark brown brew. Oolong tea give a very mellow, delicate and "fruity" flavor. Some varieties give a deliciously "nutty" finish.

Green Tea Green tea totally skips the oxidation process. After it's been withered, if at all, it's immediately steamed or heated via firing or pan frying to prevent oxidation. It is then rolled and dried. Green tea most resembles the tea leaf in its natural state. Higher grades of green tea have a fuller, more complex flavor, and can usually be steeped more times than the lower grades. Green tea give a pale, yellowish-green brew, and the taste should be smooth and fresh -- very light and delicate.

White Tea White tea is unfermented -- it goes through the least amount of processing of all the teas. The young tea buds are plucked before they open and receive no oxidation or rolling; they are simply withered and then immediately dried by steaming. The curled up buds have a silvery, white appearance, thus the name. White tea is produced mainly in China (Fujian Province) and Sri Lanka. It produces subtle flavors in the cup -- fresh and mellow with a hint of sweetness and a slight "flowery" taste. The color of the brew is very pale. White teas are extremely rich in vitamins.

Whether choosing your tea by type or by taste, it totally depends on your own personal tastes and preferences. Those who prefer a very light tea that has little caffeine and a mild taste should lean towards purchasing white or oolong tea. Those who enjoy an aromatic, "herby," yet refreshing tea should purchase green tea, and those who prefer a darker more robust brew should look to purchase black tea.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Well Do You Know Your Coffee?

Many people grind their beans themselves, to ensure a fresh and flavorful cup of coffee. But not as many people roast their own. Whether you are a home-roaster or not, knowing the different roast levels and their taste characteristics can be helpful when purchasing coffee.

As beans are roasted, the sugars, fats and starches that are within the bean are emulsified, caramelized and released. This creates the delicate coffee oil. This oil is what gives coffee its distinctive aroma and taste.

In general, lighter roasts are sharper and more acidic than the darker roasts. Darker roasts have a fuller flavor. Beans that have been over-roasted will take on a burned, smoky or charcoal flavor. Also, there is less caffeine in the darker roasted coffees than in the lighter ones.

The roast alone doesn't determine the resulting coffee taste or quality. The origin of the beans makes a big difference.

Here are the basic roast types. Many are used interchangeably, so be careful.

Light Cinnamon
The lightest roast for coffee. Beans are a pale cinnamon brown and dry with no oil on the surface of the bean. The flavors of the coffee are barely developed, and the brew has a bready, baked taste (also sometimes known as a ‘pale roast’).

Cinnamon Roast
The color is pale orangey brown and dry with no oil on the surface of the bean. The flavor is a bit more polished than a light cinnamon, slightly grainy in taste.

New England Roast
A light roast popular on the Northeast coast. The flavor is light and slightly acidic with a hint of sourness.

American Roast
The color of American roast is a medium brown with no oily patches on the beans. It delivers a light tasting cup of coffee with no sour notes, but less coffee flavor than slightly darker roasts. It’s considered an optimal roast for coffees that are brewed from a single type of coffee bean because it lets the flavor of the bean come through without imposing the flavors of the roasting method.

City Roast
At this roast, the coffee beans are a medium brown with darker brown marbling or cracking lines showing distinctly. The flavor is rich and full-bodied, with the individual flavor of the coffee variety still very much in evidence.

Full City Roast
Slightly darker than City roast, the Full City is a uniform brown, with a strong coffee aroma and no burnt or caramelized flavor to the coffee.

Light French (Viennese) Roast
A deep, rich brown roast with slight patches of oil on the bean surface. This roast is rich and full-bodied, and is generally considered to be the point where the flavor of the roasting process begins to eclipse the unique flavors of the coffee’s origin. For many, this is the darkest roast that should be used for making espresso.

French Roast
The beans are so dark that they appear nearly black, and the entire surface of the bean is oily. French roast coffee has a sharp, bright flavor to it with a light acidic overtone. Most French Roast coffees will have more in common flavorwise with other French Roast coffees than they do with lighter roasts of the same type of coffee bean.

Italian (Dark French) Roast
Italian roast beans are fully caramelized, black in color and very oily. They can make very burnt tasting coffee, depending on how fast they reached the dark roast stage and how well controlled the process was. It is the roast most favored on the Southern Italian peninsula.

Make Your Own Potpourri

Potpourri ~ basically, a mixture of dried flowers and herbs ~ has been used for centuries to sweeten a home with soft scents. However, potpourri can be decorative and lovely to look at, too.

Follow these instructions to make your own potpourri and a pretty container to display it in...
What You'll Need:

  • Scented garden flowers
  • Paper towels
  • Spices
  • Glass container
  • Ribbon
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Spoon
How To Make Potpourri:

Step 1: Gather sweet-scented garden flowers early in the day after the morning dew has dried.

Step 2: Pick the petals off larger flowers, pick leaves off herbs, and spread the petals and leaves out to dry on paper towels. Smaller flowers may be dried whole. You can also cut the flower spikes from herbs such as lavender and dry them whole.

You can experiment to see which flowers keep their scent after drying. You may want to dry petals of colorful but unscented flowers to add color to your potpourri.

Step 3: Blend your herbs and flowers together to make a pleasing scent. You can add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or bay leaves.
Try some of the following mixes, or make up your own combinations:
  • Lemon verbena or lemon balm, lavender, and violets
  • Rose petals, lavender, and bits of orange peel
  • Pine needles, rosemary, violets, and bay leaves
Step 4: Put your mixture, now "potpourri", into glass containers with lids and decorate with ribbons.

To make sachets: Cut circles of fabric. Place a few spoonfuls of potpourri in the middle of the circle. Draw the fabric in over the potpourri and tie the bundle with ribbon.

Did You Know?

If you are a coffee/tea lover, there is perhaps nothing better than one of these delicious beverages sometime during the day. For those who are avid coffee/tea lovers, these types of drinks don't even have to be consumed during the morning hours as coffee/tea beverages are good all day long.

Here is some helpful information that all lovers of coffee and tea should be aware of. Some of this information will already be known by those who appreciate the bean or the tea leaf whereas other information might be new insight.

Keep the Coffee Tea Products Fresh
One of the best tips to keep in mind when it comes to coffee/tea items is to keep the beans and tea bags/leaves as fresh as possible. In order to promote the freshest condition, coffee tea items should be stored in airtight containers. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a wise idea to store your coffee tea ingredients in the refrigerator. By keeping your coffee tea items fresh, you will find that the end result will be the highest quality of coffee tea drinks possible.

Buy Beans Whole & Grind Them
It is also a wise idea for coffee drinkers to buy whole coffee beans and then grind the beans right before brewing coffee. This will keep the flavor inside the bean intact as long as possible and make the final product an extremely tasty cup of coffee simply bursting with flavor. Although ground coffee beans are good as well, the freshest coffee comes from newly ground beans.

Green Tea Has Wonderful Health Qualities
Some may already know about the wonderful health qualities associated with green tea. The main healthy quality pertains to the antioxidants present within the tea leaves. Although black tea contains such antioxidants as well, green tea tends to have a higher concentration of these healthy items. Therefore, when you are sipping on your hot cup of green tea or green tea latte, it is good to know that you are getting health-related benefits to boot.

The Type of Coffee Bean May Dictate How Good the Coffee Is
Like wine and beer, coffee also comes in a large variety of styles and flavors. Coffee beans come in many different styles whereas some are stronger than others may be. If you are a frequent coffee drinker and you like to sample different types of coffee beans, you may already know which variety you prefer. As coffee beans have distinct tastes, some cups of coffee may yield different results with regard to favoritism. Therefore, what type of bean you choose may dictate how good the coffee is to you.

Coffee & Tea Offer a Wide Array of Beverages
If you drank coffee in the past and were not crazy about it, don't give up completely on the coffee bean. There are many different beverages which coffee beans can be turned into… espresso, cappuccino, lattes, breves, ice coffee and even more. A coffee/tea lover doesn't necessarily prefer every type of coffee/tea beverage as there are some lovers of coffee and tea who like lattes and cappuccino yet do not like espresso or hot coffee. Therefore, if you have tried different types of coffee/tea options in the past and not been successful in choosing one you like, you might want to try some of the other types. You may just find one you really love.