December 20, 2011

When the Going Gets Rough...

When all else fails, try coffee.

December 15, 2011

Double Shot Thursday

Today is Thursday. It is better than most Thursdays in that it is double shot Thursday. Two shots of espresso, pulled long.

Actually, it is like all other Thursdays here in Brockeimia, and much like all other days of the week. I have double shots of espresso every day.

What about you?

December 8, 2011

December 1, 2011

The next DIY frontier: roasting coffee beans at home

The next DIY frontier: roasting coffee beans at home
Raw coffee beans get the do-it-yourself treatment as java aficionados jump at the chance to roast their own blend.

Story in the LA Times.

November 23, 2011

Coffee may prevent endometrial cancer: How much does it take?

(CBS) Scientists have identified another possible health benefit of coffee. A new study ties drinking lots of the stuff to a big drop in the risk for endometrial cancer.

read more

September 5, 2011

The Best Cafes

Coffee Humor Tin Metal Sign You Can Sleep When You're Dead
The best cafes sometimes serve the worst coffee, bringing in the fullness of humanity. 

There are no tourists at these places. There is no ambiance that would draw people just because of whatever is on the wall. The owners did not hire an interior designer, or put fake bricks on the wall. No one talks about it as the place to be. It is not referenced as a "best dive cafe," as if it has that pretentious badge of ignominious honor. 

It might serve espresso, but don't expect much. The beans might not be single plantation, and no cupper has ever tasted the nuances. Baristas don't wear goatees or unusual piercings, hoping to be artsy. They aren't even called baristas. They are called owners, or friends of the owner, or, simply called employees.

It is not next to anything. The university students don't go there after class, or to study, hoping a cute girl shows up. No after theater latte drinkers. No anything, yet it is next to everything.

People go there on their way to places, and from places. If they stop there, it is because it is convenient, big enough, and maybe offer free refills. No one goes there. People just end up there, and come back whenever.

September 4, 2011

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is Ruining Coffee

I'm getting tired of Schultz. He's just another billion dollar corporate suit ranting politics. Give me better coffee, Howard, not your political claptrap.

It is no help Schultz, according to Wikipedia, is worth 1.1 billion. The image of Starbucks is more organic than it is Montgomery Burns. Money buys great PR, but all we get is a guy making more money than 99.999% of the world. 

My Starbucks boycott just began. Join me.

Starbucks' Facebook status update: Our ceo, Howard Schultz, is part of a National Town Hall conversation with America. Join him on the live stream, Tuesday night at 7:30pm edt / 4:30pm pdt

Upward Spiral was inspired by the Letter to America written by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. Upward Spiral encourages individuals and businesses to join together in an effort to help our nation’s elected officials hear our collective voice and to prompt our national leaders to take the necessary action to restore trust and confidence in the US economy.

July 10, 2011

Great for Everyday Espresso: Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend (Misc.)

Great for Everyday Espresso: Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend (Misc.)

This is what I drink (I usually rotate between Illy, Caribou's Sumatra and Black Cat). I first found it fresh in the Intelligentsia's Chicago Loop shop location, and now always buy it as fresh as I can. When I can, I prefer some of their single plantation beans, but the Intelligentsia Black Cat serves as nice everyday espresso.

Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean BlendSweet, a blend of several beans (Minas Gerais, Brazil and Santa Ana, El Salvador in this case), it finds an excellent balance that successfully avoids the burnt-bitter taste of other espressos.

Feel good about it being direct trade, but buy it because of the quality. Help yourself enjoy it by purchasing it with as few middlemen as possible. I often get mine at a local grocer, but it is already a week old.

Enjoy your next cup.


Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend 

June 24, 2011

Coffee may protect against Alzheimer's disease, study finds

Coffee lovers, raise your cup to the latest research on the benefits of your favorite beverage. Researchers at the University of South Florida say there's a mystery ingredient in coffee that could protect coffee drinkers against Alzheimer's disease.

June 20, 2011

Coffee Tip: Espresso Pods

If the espresso pod feels inconsistent, do not shake it. The fabric of the pod is thin and may break. I unfortunately proved this fact this afternoon.

Cleaning up finely ground espresso coffee is akin to clean up copier powder.

DeLonghi EC155 Espresso Maker

June 16, 2011

Overpriced Douwe-Egbert Coffee at a Not-so-lonely Table

The Douwe-Egbert coffee was overpriced, but her company was beyond any value.

She sat at my table. I don't know why but I didn't ask. 

Sometimes, no matter how flavorless a coffee, if the conversation is good, it tastes like the first sip.

June 9, 2011

No Java for You

Why is there no picture of coffee?

She promised me coffee. 
We met at sunrise, in the pouring rain.
There was no coffee.

June 4, 2011

Coffee Tip: Milk or Cream

The Very Best Of CreamAdding cream to coffee? Microwave it a few seconds to take the cold out. This will help keep the coffee hot.

Watch out to avoid nuking too long. You do not want to cook the milk.

April 22, 2011

Free Coffee Today at Starbucks and Caribou - Earth Day - April 22

Caribou Coffee, Caribou Blend, 24-Count K-Cups for Keurig BrewersBring in a reusable mug and receive free coffee at either Starbucks or Caribou.

"On April 22 we’re inviting everyone to bring in a reusable mug or tumbler and get a free brewed coffee or tea. Your choice of brew, hot or iced – it is spring after all!" - Starbucks

"Participating stores only. Must bring in and use a reusable drinkware to redeem offer. Offer valid Friday, April 22, 2011 only." -Caribou (from an e-mail)

I'm off to Caribou. See you later!

 Search for Starbucks

Search for Caribou coffee 

April 12, 2011

Cafe Ballou from the Outside Not Looking In

Cafe Ballou, from the outside, looks like that trendy urban high school kid who spent extra on clothes that have strategic holes, or which don't match so much that he looks hip. Like they go out of their way to look like...

But they serve Intelligentsia Coffee. But on their website is a photo with fewer neighborhood postings than the one I took last week.

Inside, from the photos, it looks like somewhere between a community cafe and a Caribou Coffee Shop.  

Cafe Ballou
939 North Western Avenue # 1
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-2909 ‎
Cuisine‎: Bagels‎, Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt‎, Salads‎, Sandwiches
Parking‎: Street‎, Metered
Meals Served‎: Breakfast‎, Lunch
Seating‎: For 30
Ambiance‎: Casual, Family Friendly
Reservations‎: Not Accepted
Amenities‎: Kid-Friendly, Wifi Hotspot
Wi-fi Hotspot‎: Available
Price Range‎: $ (Under $9)

April 10, 2011

Yin and Yang: Espresso in March, with a Drop of Cream

Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang: Espresso in March, with a Drop of Cream
No latte art made this coffee. Pure circumstance. Sipped in the late morning, I found the moment, and I found eternity.
In Taoist philosophy, yin and yang (☯) arise together from an initial quiescence or emptiness (wuji, sometimes symbolized by an empty circle), and continue moving in tandem until quiescence is reached again. For instance, dropping a stone in a calm pool of water will simultaneously raise waves and lower troughs between them, and this alternation of high and low points in the water will radiate outward until the movement dissipates and the pool is calm once more. Yin and yang thus are always opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

It is impossible to talk about yin or yang without some reference to the opposite, since yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall. Thus, a seed will sprout from the earth and grow upwards towards the sky – an intrinsically yang movement. Then, when it reaches its full potential height, it will fall.
Wikipedia on Yin and Yang

March 15, 2011

Coffee Joke: The Blonde and the Winnebago

Larien Bagel BiterSometimes, I read something and think I wish I had written it. This is not one of those times.Smirk as you like. It's cute.

A blonde goes into a coffee shop and notices there's a 'peel and win' sticker on her coffee cup.

So she peels it off and starts screaming, 'I've won a motorhome! I've won a motorhome!'

The waitress says, 'That's impossible. The biggest prize is a free lunch.'

But the blonde keeps on screaming, I've won a motorhome! I've won a motorhome!'

Finally, the manager comes over and says, 'Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. You couldn't have possibly won a motorhome because we didn't have that as a prize.

The blonde says, 'No, it's not a mistake. I've won a motorhome!'

And she hands the ticket to the manager and he reads...

'W I N A B A G E L'

Larien Bagel Biter

March 7, 2011

5 health reasons to not quit coffee

The Editors of EatingWell Magazine wrote about why we should drink coffee. Their five not very scientific reasons are old news to we coffee lovers, but they flesh it out more. See the below for more.

1. It protects your heart
2. It diverts diabetes
3. Your liver loves it
4. It boosts your brain power
5. It helps your headaches

The details here: 5 health reasons to not quit coffee

February 28, 2011

Speedy, Adequate Espresso: review: Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3)

Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3)I own and use regularly an espresso machine. The Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine isn't that. It is a single-cup brewer. What it is, however, is a solution when time is in the way.

My home is open, and friends know they are welcome to stop by without much notice. The beauty of this is I can enjoy the company of wonderful people. The challenge is that my time to prepare is minimal. Using a single cup system, I meet their needs, while focusing on hosting duties. Given time, I can grind beans, whip cream, and more. Without time, guests can still enjoy a better than average espresso.

The term 'espresso' is used here loosely, but accurately. Unlike some single cup systems, high pressure is used to make the espresso. Is it the same as a standard espresso machine? No. It is not that sophisticated. Still, for what is asked of this machine, the espresso flavor is very good. There is a nice crema, and the roast is medium to slightly dark. Those looking for a stronger flavor ought look elsewhere, but, for the average chain coffee house customer, this will be more than adequate.

A better solution for those looking for speed with a more authentic espresso should invest in a standard espresso machine and ESE pods. The pods are single-serve, ready-made. However, if you own the Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine, and love its convenience (great for other flavors), give these a shot. Keep them handy when friends honor your home with an unexpected visit.


Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3) 

February 23, 2011

Ten Cups Worth of Simple Grinding - Toastmaster Coffee Grinder reviewed

We spend mornings together. Evenings are better spent separately, but mornings are when our friendship is the most piqued and perky. At about 6:00 a.m. I awake all haggard and gravel-voiced, not seeing any clear reasons for daylight. My view and the sun both lift more quickly when this coffee grinder is at work.

I like coffee fresh, and carefully prepare it from carefully storing my beans to using only the heaviest cream and clover honey to sweeten the taste. To have the flavor I prefer most, I grind each pot's beans. Of all the options, the Toastmaster Coffee Grinder is all I need.

When it whirs, it purrs, happy to help me through the day's waking labor. I treat it well, never abusing it with harsh cleansers or hot water.

I have made ten cups of coffee ground from this device. That is probably the limit of the grinding bowl.

I never ask much of this one-speed friend. It turns on when I press the button. It turns off when I release the button. How fine a grind is based on how long it grinds. I only make one kind of coffee, so additional settings are not necessary. It wipes clean with a dry paper towel. Most of you only use a simple brewer, and will be happy with this grinder.

Toastmaster 1119 Push-Button Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder 

January 31, 2011

Reclusively Drinking Starbucks in a Basement Hidden from Hundreds

Starbucks Cup
"Stuck inside these four walls," sang Paul McCartney and Wings in Band on the Run. At the moment, those four walls hid me in quiet solitude.

Starbucks supplied the coffee where I would be meeting hundreds of people, as well as the cups. I was thankful.

No one here. Not here, not in the lowest floor, in farthest corner of a large building. Above me was an auditorium unaware that I sat a long table catching my breath and energy. Cacophony there, but silence here.

Peace is good. Give it a chance.

Paul McCartney and Wings - Band on the Run

January 24, 2011

Lamentations of a Future Truck Driver

When old friends fly in from the country up north, from the farthest direction possible, sharing with them unfettered, friendly time is the only course possible.

I knew him years before when I was his teacher, hired to help him struggle through books he likely never read. Biology too. He passed unimpressively, but my recommendation to a small college convinced them he could survive. He didn't, leaving after a year. Instead, he found a bride on 2,200 miles away, and took work in a factory which fired him. It was probably his fault. It usually is. 

He sought an ear, and this I offered, and coffee. We met a Caribou Coffee a chain coffeehouse and drank for hours. Finjal, Ethiopian, organic. A not quite medium roast, unremarkable, but expensive. It offered nothing the non-organic did, It was mid-day, and people came and went, but we remained. There was much to say.

He lamented, yet hoped truck driver would be the answer. So we talked about truck driving.We might have talked about the books he never reads, but the truth stepped in the way, as it always does.

It is a hard life to live, but perseverance and hope define him more than failures. 


January 12, 2011

Will you buy coffee from the mermaid? Does it matter what logo you drink from?

Starbucks Ceramic Travel TumblerA new, simpler logo from Starbucks has generated some buzz, but why? They are losing the words, leaving the half-naked mermaid. 

Am I obsessed with the logo, or the contents of the cup?

I've seen this before here. Chicago is strange how they like to be marketed to. Even though Sears had long sold their building, some were upset the branding of the building was changing. Even though Marshall Fields sold themselves to Target's mother company long before, they, though shoppers frequented to store less often, went into a tizzy when Macy's put their logo on the door. Didn't matter that Macy's sold the same things.

RedEye: Will you buy coffee from the mermaid?