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Coffee + Nap = Coffee Naps!

coffee nap
For many life is so busy it’s hard to avoid that early afternoon “drag” feeling when your morning coffee may be wearing off and/or your body is working overtime digesting that big lunch you ate. Chances are you have two thoughts in your head: “I want to take a nap” and “I need another cup of coffee”.  Which one is the best pick-me-up?  A new study shows both may be in the cards for you!

coffee nao

How It Works: There are a few keys to this technique in order to make it work. The first is that you must drink your caffeinated beverage quickly and fall asleep before it starts to kick in. {We say caffeinated beverage because any will do, such as tea, coffee, or espresso.}  You may want to try something like an espresso because it is typically a smaller drink, which makes it easier to consume quickly. The second key is to make sure your nap is no longer than 20 minutes. Less is certainly okay but more will make your body go into a deeper sleep which will make you feel more tired from waking up from.

coffee nap 2

Behind the Study: Researchers at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom found that these “coffee naps” rejuvenated their participants more than just naps or coffee alone and scored the fewest errors in their driving simulator. Scientifically, the process helps to remove a molecule in our brain called Adenosine. This molecule plugs into our brain receptors and makes us feel tired. These same receptors are what caffeine plugs into to make us feel alert. Therefore this technique helps to clear out the Adenosine and make room for the caffeine that we just drank. Crazy to think that these seemingly opposite things, coffee versus sleep, really provides the most alertness when mixed!

Are you able to fall asleep fast enough to take a coffee nap?

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Keep Your Coffee Safe

We brought our favorite coffee up to the lake last week on vacation and it seemed like everyone in my family brewed my coffee instead of theirs {I know, I definitely have way better taste in most things, including coffee, than my brothers :) }  Now, I love my family and am happy to share just about anything, don’t get me wrong…but when I wake up in the morning, wisps of my dreams still floating through my head as I move slowly to the kitchen thinking about taking that first sip of my favorite brew and it’s all gone?  Grrrrr!  You can imagine exactly what I was thinking about bringing on my next family vacation to protect my coffee…

Safe

All kidding aside, did you know that you really should be protecting your coffee to ensure the best possible freshness, flavor and quality when you’re ready to brew it?  After coffee beans have been roasted {try roasting your own!}, they are actually quite delicate and sensitive to things like light and oxygen. Many of us go to great lengths to preserve the freshness we desire. Recently I stumbled upon a product, appropriately name BeanSafe, that has solved this issue.

beansafe

This storage container seals in and protects your coffee beans from heat, light, moisture, and oxygen. What I didn’t know is that even CO2 that emits from the beans can damage them as well. BeanSafe has also addressed this issue with a valve on the top of it that allows the unwanted CO2 to escape, without compromising the beans to moisture or oxygen.

coffee bag

Tips to Store Your Coffee At Home

  • Store your daily coffee in an air-tight glass or ceramic container in a dark, cool place (NOT the refrigerator or freezer as contact with moisture will cause the bean to deteriorate).
  • Don’t buy in large quantities unless you use large quantities!  Coffee is like the value of a car, it begins depreciating the minute it’s made.  The quicker you use your coffee the better it will taste.
  • If you do need to store larger quantities, store the excess in smaller portion air tight bags in the freezer for up to 1 month.  Once you open the air tight bag move them immediately into an air-tight container.

How do you store your coffee beans and grounds at home?

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Need An Extra Boost?

Americano

I ran into some of my nieces and nephews over the weekend and was quickly brought back to my college days as they all talked about exam cram time they are going through right now. It consists of late nights and early mornings for that last minute studying in hopes to maximize your grade potential. Many students turn to their favorite cup o’joe to help boost their energy, stay up longer and hopefully increase focus through exam week.

Luckily there’s no more cram time in my future but I do find for many in the workforce, it’s common in the afternoon to “hit a wall” (around 2:30 p.m.) where focus is tough and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. Some may resort to energy drinks but those are not always very healthy for our bodies.

espresso

Coffee Shop Boost: An easy little caffeine boost that you can do at any coffee shop, is to add an espresso shot to your drink. Espresso is made through a small amount of hot water being forced into finely ground coffee and creating a greater concentration of flavors. Another option is to get a beverage called the Cafe Americano. This can be a single or double shot of espresso that has a greater water ratio. Or if you’re passing through a Dunkin Donuts you can try their Turbo Coffee or Turbo Shot. These are some simple alterations to your everyday routine that can give you that extra boost you are looking for.

Death Wish Coffee

How about a cup of WORLD’S STRONGEST COFFEE? Appropriately named Death Wish Coffee, this company has worked tirelessly to create their perfected product through their roasting techniques and more importantly, through their small batches. How does this coffee stack up to it’s more well-known counterparts?

Coffee Comparison Death

 

Of course we’d be we’d be remiss not to mention that exercising regularly and healthy eating are great, natural ways to energize your body. :)  What do you do to help increase your energy and focus when you start to slow down but still need to be focused and effective?

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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!

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Are you ready for the holidays?

The holiday season is here and you still don’t know what to get your friends, family, or significant other? Here are some simple {coffee related of course :) } ideas to get you started:

bean mugA cool coffee mug…help your coffee lover enjoy their cup o’ joe in a unique way. Who wouldn’t want to get up in the morning if their coffee is in a wicked cool mug?!

 

Reusable coffee filterReusable filter….go green! A reusable filter is not only great to save them money, but is also very environmentally friendly.  Reusable cones (seen left) or k-cups are available.

 

 

coffee printerCoffee machine…single-serve brewers are definitely in this year!  Some coffee machines even brew your coffee and then “print” a picture on the top!


k-cupsA gift certificate is always a winner.  It’s a great way to let them expand their taste buds and try new coffees without having to worry about cost.

 

Whatever you decide to gift this holiday season, remember to find your moments to relax somewhere in the midst of the holiday season and enjoy every minute of it!

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Facts About Caffeine

Offduty: Caffine DrinksBesides the taste of coffee {downright AMAZING if you find the right flavor!}, caffeine is the main reason why most people consume it. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that over 90% of the world uses daily.  It gives us the energy and attention span to get through even our stalest days. But did you know that caffeine is naturally produced in some 60 different plants? A substance that makes you less drowsy and happy…it works so well that the Olympic Committee has banned it in athletic use due to increasing an athlete’s endurance.

Caffeine is found in coffee beans, tea leaves, guarana, etc. Many beverages come from these plants such as coffee, tea, and many energy drinks on the market today.  An average person feels the caffeine kick in about 15 to 20 minutes after having it and the kick usually lasts around three hours. Ever hear “you can never get too much of a good thing”? Too much caffeine can be lethal {about 100 cups of coffee in four hours}.

According to some studies, America consumes about 200 mg of caffeine per day but Finland takes the cake with an average 400 mg per person per day. A cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 95 to 200 mg of coffee and a caffeinated soda contains only around 30 mg.

Coffee has various amount of caffeine depending on what type of coffee you get. It is a common misconception to think dark roast has the most caffeine and that decaf coffee has none.  The light roast coffee actually has the highest caffeine content and decaf coffee actually has about 10 mg of caffeine in it!

Whatever the reason you enjoy coffee, we hope that it helps you find your moment, just for you. :)

 

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The Evolution of The Coffee-To-Go Lid

coffee cup to go

Ever noticed how many little pieces make a quality coffee-to-go cup? I was holding a coffee the other day and realized that it must have taken some quality time and many tries to make it just right. My cup was a firm paper cup that was not soggy at all. On top of that was a cuff that would prevent my hand from getting burned. Next the lid was securely snapped on with a little stick that doubles to cover the drinking hole to keep your drink hot as well as works as a stirrer.

Of course that got me thinking about the evolution of the hot coffee cup and with all my free time {ha!} my laptop came out and the research began.  Some of the early lids were the tear back plastic tabs that were not securely fastened and had the reputation of causing people to spill it on themselves. Some were an epic fail, including a large lawsuit with McDonald’s and an woman who burned herself, which soon sparked other inventors to create a better lid. Many ideas emerged from the tear back to punch top holes and small openings for the consumption of the hot coffee.

All of these designs are still around and used in many different places. For the biggest chain restaurant establishments you typically see the SOLO cup brand that fits snugly on the cup with the small opening, but I frequently see the tear away lids in places like the break room because they are less expensive and familiar to many. Such a simple idea that has turned some inventive few into very wealthy retirees. It is such a simple idea that I wish I thought of first! Below are some of the many designs that have evolved over time.

coffee lids

What have you come across that seemed like such a simple idea you wish you had thought of it first?

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Can You Really Tell Who Someone is Just by Their Coffee?

Coffee Personality

Theses days there seems to be a study conducted on just about any topic.  Lucky for me I found a study about my favorite topic…COFFEE!  :)  This study was conducted by two body language specialists, Judi James and James Moore, who give reason to believe that there is in fact a direct link to personality type and coffee drinking habits. Before you continue reading, think about the coffee you typically drink and what you think it says about you. There are eight “drinkers”, each with different characteristics that define them. Read the eight choices before you read their personality definitions to see how accurate their study was.

  • Espresso Drinker
  • Black Coffee Drinker
  • Latte Drinker
  • Cappuccino Drinker
  • Instant Coffee Drinker
  • Decaf Soy Milk Drinker
  • Frappuccino Drinker
  • Non-Coffee Drinker.

Narrowed yourself down into one category?  Let’s see how accurate this study was!…

 

 

 

 

Espresso Drinker: Hard working, into leadership and fast goals, experienced, prone to “night time shenanigans”, and moody.

Black Coffee Drinker: Minimalism, direct approach to life, quiet, moody, and difficult yet a potentially rewarding friend or colleague.

Latte Drinker: Like to please others, want to be liked, have an immature side, and want to be a hot shot contender.

Cappuccino Drinker: Extrovert, optimistic, imaginative, gets along well with other creative minds, and motivated.

Instant Coffee Drinker: Cheerful, straightforward, hidden personality, puts things off, no nonsense, and unadventurous.

Decaf Soy Milk Drinker: Eco worried, seeks attention, picky, and high maintenance.

Frappuccino Drinker: Willing to try things, follower, stylish, and not set on choices.

Non-Coffee Drinker: Frightened of life, afraid of change, and coffee taste puts you off.

I had a good chuckle as I found some attributes fitting but as an instant coffee drinker, I feel I am very adventurous and don’t keep my personality hidden. With the K-Cups you could even combine some of these attributes, for example you could be an instant black coffee drinker. Just some fun information to share with friends but don’t let it stop you from doing what you do! This is just one study but keeping looking for others like the one below too.

Coffee says

How did these two studies do? Did either of these studies accurately describe you?  :)

 

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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 Is a Type of Produce

Coffee PlantEvery day I take for granted that I will have a freshly brewed cup of coffee.  It got me thinking this morning that someone, somewhere must do a whole lot to let me brew my favorite cup o’joe. Believe it or not, just like produce has it’s own season {and we know how much better it tastes when it IS in season!}, coffee has its own season as well. While it may not seem like a big deal due to the sheer volume of coffee produced around the world, different locations may yield a better cup of fresh coffee depending what time of the year it is.

Many locations around the world have a main harvest of coffee beans where they pick coffee cherries and then must let them rest until maturity before they can be shipped. This can take up to two months so keep in mind that the harvesting period will begin two months before you may receive your fresh coffee and end two months before your coffee is out of season. Some locations may have a few different harvests because of coffee grown in different locations within the country, but in general the harvesting periods and locations are as followed:

  • From February-March: Jamaica, Colombia, Kenya
  • From April to September: Rwanda, Burundi
  • From April to October: Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru
  • From May to September: Papua New Guinea
  • From June to December: Indonesia
  • From September to January: Uganda, Tanzania
  • From September to March: Cuba, Dominican Republic
  • From October to December: Kenya
  • From October to February: India
  • From October to March: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia
  • From October to April: Ethiopia

Probably with technology such as vacuum sealing, you won’t change your coffee-buying habits to fall seasonally with the coffee season of your favorite brew .  We need not be so concerned with each coffee season as the airtight seal keeps the grounds fresh for longer periods of time {Did you know that coffee was the first product ever to be freeze-dried?}. Hats off to all the people, no matter what part of the process they play a part in, to allow me my favorite morning indulgence.

Do you find that your favorite brand of coffee can taste better during different times of the year? We’d like to know!