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Smartphones and Coffee (Don’t Spill!)

Coffee and SmartphoneAs I sit down in the morning for some breakfast and coffee, I often pull out my smartphone and browse its endless capabilities. Who hasn’t gotten sucked into an app and totally lost track of time? {Umm…Facebook or Twitter…need I say more?} I began thinking what things my phone could do with coffee. Obviously I don’t mean stir my coffee with it, but instead what kind of apps are available to accompany my coffee experience.

Newspapers have become less and less common among people now that online versions have become available. CNN, NBC, FOX, New York Times, and even NPR are some of the many news sources available for free download on your phone. I enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal as I have a subscription for it, but now that I learned there was an app I am hooked! It is so easy to read and keep constantly up to date. Some networks like FOX and CNN have also paired with local TV providers so your can link your accounts and watch news videos all from your device.

There is an app for EVERYTHING, right, so why stop at just news? Coffee is such a staple that there must be coffee apps out there so I did a search on my smartphone…the amount of apps available were endless! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Instant Barista – It provides recipes for coffees, espressos, and even teas. It showed me different techniques and ingredients that I otherwise would have looked over. It kind of gives you the feeling of having all the secrets of a coffee shop. One of my favorite parts about the app is the latte art section. While mine don’t turn out so much like the picture, it is still fun to try.
  • Intelligentsia Coffee – This app was much more intense but promises to deliver the absolute best cup of coffee if you follow their EXACT directions. This app was no joke as it lays out everything you need and even gives you a timer to create the perfect brew. This is fun to read during the week but definitely needs some time to complete so it actually takes action over the weekend.
  • Coffee Guru – My friend in New York uses this quite often as it has led them to their favorite coffee shop. This app has a large listing of indie coffee shops that promote direct and fair trade for the farmers they get their beans from. It gives you a map of nearby shops, a place to save your favorites, and even provides a flavor wheel to help describe your coffee, but you don’t need that after our Coffee 101 lessons!

It is amazing how technology has opened a world of instant information and immediate gratification. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy checking Twitter or playing a little Candy Crush but there is so much more out there. :)

Did you try one of the apps I mentioned or have you used a different app?  Let me know, I am always game for trying something new!

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Coffee 101 – Taste Lesson

coffeesLast week we started our new Coffee 101 Series to help you better navigate the chaos of the coffee world. This week we are going to kick it up a notch with some terms that will better help describe your coffee flavors preferences. Terms like spicy, earthy, or winy are actually all ways that describe coffee. It may be hard to comprehend some of these terms and how they work within the grounds of the coffee but if you’ve ever tasted them, you know exactly what I am talking about.

If you sipped coffee that had a vanilla or cinnamon taste to it you might describe it as vanilla-y or cinnamon-y, but believe it or not, the term you are looking for is spicy. In coffee terms, spicy simply means it has a type of spice found in food, such as vanilla, cinnamon, or chili. If you tend to choose coffees with with fruity or floral flavors you have a taste for the exotic.  For those of you that gravitate towards flavors that may have a taste similar to wine your preference can described as winy. That can be a bit confusing because many wines have a fruity or floral essence in nature, so don’t confuse exotic with winy.  Lastly, if your coffee has an earthy note to it, you may find the aroma might have a hint of fresh earth, wet soil or raw potatoes. An earthy quality is either a defect or an exotic taste characteristic depending on who you talk to. :-)

Professional coffee tasters not only look at the flavor but also the body when rating a particular coffee. The body is basically the perceived weight or thickness of your coffee. It could range from being thin, like watery, to thick, such as a syrup consistency. Bitter coffee is a harsh, generally unpleasant taste you get on the back of your tongue most commonly found in a dark roast coffee. And if you’ve ever sipped a cup of coffee and thought it tasted salty, it is usually due to coffee that has been continuously heated after brewing is complete, a characteristic also known as briny.

Phew!  I bet you never thought coffee could be it’s own class, did you? After reading Coffee 101 Series, Coffee 101 – Food and Coffee Compliments and this post, are you starting to feel comfortable speaking the coffee language and defining your own personal coffee preferences?  Be on the look out next week for another Coffee 101 Series post that expands on coffee terms.  Don’t be shy, “raise your hand” in class and post your questions by commenting below.  There is no such thing as a dumb question, only the question that is not asked!

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Coffee 101 – Food and Coffee Complements

Coffee & Food PairingsIt’s more popular to have a discussion on food and wine pairings, but not so common to think of food and coffee parings! I’m not merely saying what foods coffee tastes good with, I’m talking about getting into the nitty-gritty of what specific coffee is good with what specific foods.  In the end, everyone has their own favorite coffee & food combos but here is a basic guide of coffee to food pairings based on the way they complement one another.

Let’s start with one of my favorite meals of the day – breakfast.  Depending on how much time I have in the morning often guides what I am going to have for breakfast. Luckily I can save loads of time when it comes to my coffee decision thanks to the ease and speed of k-cups, pods and freshpacks. I just need to decide what I am going to eat so I can pop the right pairing in my single-serve brewer. For example, simple breakfasts like toast or cereal are a good pair with a light or medium roast Colombian coffee because of their grains. Pancakes and syrup pair up nice with a Kona coffee to help supplement the sweet flavors. Eggs and bacon go nicely with a medium roast but if you got creative and made an omelet, then you may have to think twice. Omelets typically need a coffee that can handle all of the full flavors like a Sumatra coffee can. Or, you can just skip the food entirely and enjoy a nice breakfast blend or even coffees that have a glazed donut or cinnamon roll flavor.

A good pairing of food and coffee doesn’t have to stop at breakfast. There are plenty of other pairings throughout the day. A Kenyan coffee is a good pair for things that are fruity, such as most berries, fruity scones, or banana bread. There is one fruit in particular that really brings out a great pair with Jamaican coffee…blueberries! Just like at breakfast time, a Kona coffee with a maple or raisin scone or oatmeal raisin cookies pairs nicely.  You can begin to see a theme between flavors and coffees no matter what time of day.

Now to the most important food – chocolate!  :-)  Everything goes great with chocolate, including coffee. If we’re talking about dessert after dinner, just be careful with that late night caffeine. Brownies, chocolate cake, chocolate dipped fruit, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate all have a great coffee pair for your after meal sweet tooth. Much of the chocolate scale is covered by a nice dark roast Guatemalan coffee, this includes brownies, chocolate cake, and dark chocolate. These usually have a very chocolatey flavor and go well with a coffee that can back that up. White chocolate, on the other hand, is a lighter on the chocolate flavor so a Colombian coffee is a good match. For the fruity flavors of chocolate covered strawberries, similar rules apply as regular fruit. The Kenyan and African coffees are a great compliment to this dish because of their winey (find this term in the next Coffee 101 Series) and fruit like flavors. And then comes my simple favorite, milk chocolate. The easiest of all to pair a coffee to as nearly any coffee will do.

This basic guide is a great start but there is so much room to be creative!  Have a pair that I didn’t mention? I am always looking to try more, so please share! I look forward to hearing what you have in mind.

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Coffee 101 Series

Coffee Question

When you are shopping for coffee there are a lot of terms used to describe a particular brand and flavor…”light roast”, “earthy”, “exotic”, “bright”, or even “spicy”, just to name a few.  Do you really know what those mean?  How can you determine what kind of coffee drinker you are?

When I was younger (and a lot less knowledgeable about coffee) I had visions of my coffee looking bright, smelling like dirt, probably came from some foreign country and had a kick to it like Tabasco.  Really?  Was I that naive?  Luckily I had the sense to do some research and found out how far off from the true meanings I was and that these terms were actually things that helped me define my coffee preference so I would know what to look for when coffee shopping. It gives me a good laugh to look back and see I’ve come a long way since my college days and am much more refined in my coffee knowledge.

We’re excited to begin a new blog series on coffee basics, Coffee 101.  At the end of our series you’ll not only be able to describe what kind of coffee drinker you are but feel more comfortable trying out a new coffee flavor and maybe even impressing a pal or two at the breakfast table. :-)

Coffee 101

When you wake up in the morning and enjoy that smell of your coffee brewing, you are enjoying its aroma. If you like the smell of coffee grounds before they are brewed, that is called the bouquet. While these are terms to describe your coffee in a good way, bland or stale are terms not usually associated with a good cup o’Joe. These mean that there is a lack of flavor in the coffee (bland) or that it has been sitting around for too long and become flat (stale). Last, but not least, there is tone, which is a term used to actually describes the physical appearance of the coffee.

When I was younger I would never think to describe my coffee other than good or bad, but as I have developed my own sense of coffee preference, it’s almost like speaking a different language.  How’s it feel to have your first coffee language lesson? :-)

Questions about the terms we covered here or have a suggestion about what terms you want us to cover next? Have a specific question about one of our products at coffeerocket.com? Leave us a comment!