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App That May Help You Get More Sleep

One rainy night as I was browsing through new apps on my phone, I found one that has intrigued me for the past few weeks called UP Coffee. Now this is not a typical coffee recipe book, but instead a coffee bio of yourself. It has been a cool way to keep track of myself and how my coffee is affecting me throughout the day.

UP Coffee 1

Once the app was downloaded is was easy to get started by imputing some basic information about myself and my caffeine sensitivity. I set a goal time of when I wanted to go to bed and then plug in when I drink coffee throughout the day. Not only does the app give you options for coffee and tea, but it also lists some places (like Starbucks) that you may had purchased it from in order to give you a more accurate caffeine level. This handy app gives you visual aids to help you see what times you are typically drinking your coffee and what your energy level is. If you drink more than your used to, UP Coffee will even ask you if you want to have that cup of coffee because it may make you feel edgy.

UP Coffee 2

The more I play with this tool, the more surprised I am about my coffee habits that had otherwise gone unnoticed. To help you further understand yourself, UP Coffee even offers little news tidbits to help relate to why you should be more conscience of your coffee and tea consumption. After a period of time inputting your coffee and tea on a regular basis, it gives you a horoscope-like description on how you take your coffee and around what times. Mine says I am a Traditionalist. Download the app and tell us what yours says or if you have any other great apps related to coffee and tea. I am always up for a new app to try out!

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Paying It Forward

Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to pay for the person behind me as I went through a local drive-through.  It felt great to think that I may have had a hand in putting an unexpected smile on someone’s face and that maybe this small act of kindness would lead them to pay it forward to someone else, too.

As I watched my cup brew this morning, it occurred to me that I take clean water for granted. I am fortunate enough not to have to wonder each day where and if I can get clean water from.  According to the World Health Organization, 20 liters of water is needed per person a day for adequate drinking and personal hygiene.
{Don’t think in liters?  20 liters = 5 gallons = roughly 84 cups = 42.268 pints}.

Through their partnership with Water for People, Toms has created a program that gives those in need 140 liters of clean water just with a purchase of a bag of their new coffee. That is a full week of clean water for one person in need and an AMAZING way to pay it forward! {If Toms sounds familiar to you, yes it’s Toms, the same company that donates a pair of shoes when you buy a pair of shoes.}

Toms coffee

Toms has sourced beans from five different locations that has a distinct flavor for the region. From these regions that they acquire the beans, they also give back through clean water and support of the local coffee farmers. These coffee blends come from Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Rwanda, and Peru and all are roasted in the United States.

Toms coffee shop

I think that this is a fantastic idea to help the world from something that many of us drink everyday without a second thought. Have you ever been the recipient of a “Pay It Forward” act of kindness or seen an idea/program that gives back to the community?  We might not be able to solve all the worlds problems, but if we put our mind to it, no matter how big or small, we can always pay it forward, every day. 😀

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The Secrets of Tea

steeping a tea bag

Tea has been around for many years and to some, is even a form of art. This beverage has many varieties and that means that they need to be treated differently. Unlike coffee, each tea leaf cannot be brewed the same way. Some may need to steep longer while others need to be at different temperatures.

{A Tea Legend} So how did one come about with the idea of boiling leaves and then drinking it? One Chinese legend tells the tale like the apple contributing to the discovery of gravity. The story goes: one Emperor of China required his subjects to boil his water before he would drink it. One day, after his boiled water had been waiting for him, a few leaves had blown into his water from outside the window. It changed the color of his drink and through his curiosity, he tried it. He was so happy by the way it tasted and the restorative properties it held on accident he discovered brewed tea.

traditional tea

The process of boiling water and letting the tea sit in the water is called steeping. This process extracts the qualities of the tea leaves. Some need higher temperatures or need to steep longer to achieve this. Sounds similar to our recent post on roasting coffee!

Although every tea connoisseur finds their own perfect way to brew, below is a general guideline that will help you towards brewing a better cup of tea.

Tea brew and steep times

 

{Steeping Tip!} If the tea is left in for too long, then it releases a harsh bitter flavor that is often not what you are looking for out of your tea. If you are looking to make your tea stronger, then add more tea leaves, not more steeping time!

Have you found a perfect way to brew your tea?  We’d love to hear about it!

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Roast the Best Beans of Your Life

Roasting coffee benas

In the quiet dawn hours, while everyone was still asleep, I had the chance to enjoy my favorite cup o’joe in peace.  My little slice of heaven got me thinking about the process of what it took to get the coffee to my brewer.  All I had to worry about was turning my brewer on and popping in my favorite flavor…that’s the easy part. Believe it or not, the actual roasting of the beans is quite easy, too! All you need is a few items to assist you and you are well on your way towards creating ANY type of roast to fit your fancy. There are many variations to roasting your own coffee so the method you use is totally up to you, but it’s good to recognize what happens to the beans throughout the roasting process so you can pick your method.

Getting Started

Here’s what you’ll need to roast yourself:

  • A metal bowl or pan or baking sheet
  • Roasting/heating gun, stove or oven
  • Gloves for handling hot bowls or beans
  • A spoon or any other tool to keep the beans mixing around
  • A sieve, strainer or any other tool to cool the beans
    {NOTE: must withstand the high temperatures of the beans}
  • Raw coffee beans for roasting

Raw Coffee beans

Once you gather the supplies above you’re ready to roast away. The raw coffee beans should look greenish, almost like peanuts. No matter the method you chose, you can decide how much of your coffee beans you can or want to roast at this time and begin to crank up the heat. If you are working in the oven, stirring is not necessary (or easily done) since the heat is being equally distributed across the beans. If you are working on the stove, constant stirring is needed (just like you are cooking food) so you don’t have unequally roasted beans. As you are watching or mixing the beans, they will begin to slowly change color that can range from greenish to extremely black.

{WARNING: Once you start the heating process, you must not stop until you have achieved your desired color or roast.  This will cause the beans to taste funny because you allowed them to cool and interrupted their chemical process.}
{Double WARNING: Be very careful not to let the color get to the extreme black because the beans can quickly ignite!}

Determining the Type of Roast

This chart will help you to visualize the color process the beans go through and the types of roast associated with them.

Coffee roasting chart

Light Roast

Stages 1-6 are all leading up to what is called the “First Crack”. This is when the beans start to make an audible cracking sound, similar to popcorn popping when the beans are at 350 degrees F and higher. As the temperature of the beans continues to climb, the cracking beans will slow to a stop and have a color similar to stage 9 with a temperature of around 420 degrees F. If you want a light roastthen this is where you will want to stop.

Medium Roast

If you are looking for a more medium roastthen continue roasting and increasing the temperature of the beans until you start to hear a “Second Crack” but stop as soon you hear this. The “Second Crack” sound is not as loud as the first, but it is still audible and looks like the beans in stage 12.

Dark Roast

If you want to continue for a dark roastthen stop heating as the “Second Crack” is continuous and the beans begin to get darker, looking like stage 13 with the temperature over 450 degrees F. The next stage happens very quickly after 13 as the beans begin to look oily. Stage 14 is the full french roast. Anywhere past this is quickly becoming the danger zone. The beans are becoming ash or charcoal and can turn into a fire if they are thrown into your cooling stage.

Cooling Stage

No matter the stage your removed the beans from the heat, you will have to cool them down so that they stop roasting right where you want them to. Once again there are many ways to do this and the choice is up to you. Whether you spread them out on a cool sheet or in front of a fan, it all has the same goal in mind.

bean cooling

Now you can relax with your very own house-made coffee from bean to brew! Once you get the first few under your belt you will soon be able to recognize the sounds and colors more fluently. Just don’t let the power of roasting your own coffee get to your head! Just as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told him, “With great coffee roasting power, comes great coffee roasting responsibility”. Well…not quite but you get our “Spidy” sense to roast safely!  Leave a comment if you’ve tried to roast your own beans and how it went or think you might like to try it!