When I was in – we’ll say middle school, for the sake of argument – I recall seeing a video of astronauts in space that showed what their everyday life was like. One of the little clips showed them “drinking” water. What they were actually doing was chasing down little mouthfuls that floated, like bubbles, away from a full bottle because there was nothing to hold them down. Water isn’t much of a problem, but other liquids might be sticky, hot or otherwise cause problems floating about. One astronaut decided that he could do something about this problem and make it possible for astronauts to actually drink from a cup while in space.
Astronaut Don Pettit, aboard the International Space Station, managed to mold a plastic cup that would allow him to sip coffee from a cup, rather than from a pouch (the current standard liquid delivery system in space). The cup is designed – to put it very, very generally – to draw the coffee up towards a small opening, letting the astronaut sip instead of forcing him to slurp.
Years ago, practically all the tea bags I purchased came with little tags attached that made them easy to pull out of a steaming mug. These days, most of the tea bags I buy don’t come with this convenience, and I’m left to try and fish out the bag with a spoon or – when desperate – with my fingers. I’m pretty sure that every tea-drinker has burned his or her fingers at least once trying to fish out a hot tea bag. With this tea straining spoon, you can fish the bag out and give it a quick squeeze while keeping your fingers out of harms way. The thing that separates it from similar spoons is that the squeezing end is on the back of the spoon, so you can essentially use it just like any other spoon – stirring in cream, sugar, etc. – until you need to use the tong action of the tool to grab and squeeze a bag.
It’s not everyday that you find a coffee packaged in its own, custom designed metal tin, but Starbucks Limited Edition Aged Sumatra comes in one that matches its tiger mascot. I like the tiger and the tin enough that I’m planning to keep it around for a while – not that that has anything to do with the coffee, but it’s a nice little bonus. The Starbucks Aged Sumatra is a dark roast, made from Indonesian beans that were aged for five years and were not mixed with younger beans to increase the overall volume of the batch. According to the packaging, the beans were tested every six months until their peak flavor was achieved.
These beans aged amazing well and the finished roast, while very dark, is incredibly smooth and flavorful. It smells rich, with a combination of woodsy scents and caramelized sugar (verging on burnt sugar, like a creme brulee). The coffee itself is slightly spicy, with hints of chocolate, and is very mellow from start to finish for such a dark roast. Aging coffee beans is a risky business because it is very easy for them to go bad during their time waiting, but this batch was clearly worth the gamble. These beans far exceeded my expectations and are really outstanding. This is a limited edition coffee, so you might want to move it to the top of your “to try” list if it sounds appealing and you want to pick up a package before they’re gone.
Espresso makers are not exactly known for their size or portability, and although there are some brands that make fairly small machines, it’s a type of appliance where bigger is usually better. In exchange for giving up a lot of counter top real estate, you get extra power/water pressure and a bigger heating capacity, not to mention faster brewing and recovery times. The Handpresso Espresso Maker set out to prove the good things – even where espresso is concerned – can come in small packages. The hand held gadget needs no electricity and can put out enough for a single serving per use. It uses ESE (easy serve espresso) pods and requires hot water. From there, you pump the handle to manually build up enough pressure to pull a shot. Very convenient and, while it might not be quite up to the standards of a $1,000+ machine, it’s definitely something for a space-pressed coffee fan to consider keeping on hand.