Browsing articles from "August, 2011"
Aug 31, 2011

Coffee made with pistachios?

Pistachios

I’ve seen pistachio flavored coffee on the menu before (wouldn’t recommend it unless you LOVE spumoni ice cream), but I’ve never heard of coffee that is made with pistachio nuts instead of coffee beans. Recent research conducted by chemists at the University of York indicates that this just might be possible – and that there are quite a few reasons why coffee drinkers, as well as coffee companies, might want to take note.

The nut in question is variety that grows on the Pistacia terebinthus tree. It is smaller than the pistachios that you would find in a bag of mixed nuts, and it has the same chemical “signature” as coffee. In other words, when the nuts were roasted to the same types of high temperatures that coffee beans are roasted to, they took on a very coffee-like aroma and flavor. The “coffee” made with pistachios has no caffeine, although it can be brewed up just like the real thing, making it seem like it might be a fantastic fit for those who want coffee without the kick and would otherwise opt for decaf on a regular basis. Even better, the nuts are much cheaper to buy and produce than coffee beans are, so pistachio could be a very cost-effective business to get into, as well.

But the process of turning pistachios into coffee isn’t perfect yet. The Sunday Telegraph challenged a couple of local (UK-based) coffee experts to try the pistachio coffee and see what they thought about it. One tester found the flavor to be very distinctive with a much stronger pine flavor than any regular coffee, but noted that the overall aroma was very pleasant. Another trial ground the nuts to brew espresso with. Like most roasted nuts, the pistachios were too oily to be ground so finely and turned into a buttery paste (think peanut butter) that would not pull a shot. When it was brewed, however, the pistachio coffee had a pleasant “woody and spicy flavor.”

With these small issues taken into account, researchers are trying to perfect the roasting process to remove excess oil and make the pistachios perform more like coffee beans. The hope to keep their unique flavor but improve their performance. Coffee prices are still increasing and for some manufactures an affordable alternative could have a lot of appeal.

Aug 26, 2011

Starbucks Reserve Tasting Event

Starbucks Coffee

This week I had the opportunity to take part in a great Starbucks tasting event, tasting some of the Starbucks Reserve coffees with a Coffee Master, Yuli. Starbucks Reserve Coffees are rare, small batch coffees that are being released in very limited quantities at various Starbucks stores across the country. They have coffees like Jamaica Blue Mountain, Organic Blue Java and 100% Kona Coffee. They’re coffees that come from small growers (in some cases, from single farms) and they’re items that will appeal to serious coffee drinkers (like me!). Of course, limited quantities also mean that once they’re gone, they’re gone for good – or, with any luck, until the end of the next growing season.

Our tasting was of Sumatra Tapanuli and Kenya Tana River. This was also my first time experiencing the Clover coffee brewing system first hand. It’s a very unique brewer designed to produce the perfect cup of coffee. Very few coffee shops have these, and only a handful of Starbucks locations. The way they brew, they are supposed to give you the most flavorful cup of coffee possible.

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Aug 17, 2011

Trader Joe’s Mango Black Tea, reviewed

Mango Black Tea

Lately, it seems like green and white teas are chosen to blend with fruits more often than black teas are. Green and white teas can have such a mild flavor that it is easy to bring other flavors out in a blend with them. As a result, I wasn’t sure exactly how much actual mango flavor to expect when I tried Trader Joe’s Mango Black Tea – and was very pleasantly surprised when there was a lot of fruit flavor there!

This tea is made with black tea, natural mango flavor, blackberry leaves, hibiscus and calendula petals. Mangos are a fruit with a very sweet, floral flavor to them and it was a stroke of brilliance to add these extra elements to the tea (rather than just tossing in some dried mango pieces) because they really highlight the floral flavors of the mango. If you’re already familiar with the flavor of hibiscus, you’ll be able to pick it out from the other background flavors, too (although if you aren’t, it will most like just blend in). The tea has a smooth black tea background, but is really bursting with a tropical feel and a distinct mango flavor. I typically drink tea unsweetened, although this is one that I found was even better with a little bit of honey added to it, as that also served to enhance the mango and make the tea “juicier.”

I haven’t tried this tea iced, but I suspect that a pitcher of iced tea with some actual sliced mangoes in it would be a huge hit at a brunch!

Aug 15, 2011

What is cold brewed coffee?

Cold Brewed Coffee

Cold brewed is a coffee term that has been popping up more and more frequently, even though there are plenty of cafes – including the chain Seattle’s Best – that have been offering up cold brewed coffee for quite some time now. Cold brewed coffee is just what it sounds like: coffee that is brewed cold, not hot. To make it, ground coffee beans are placed in cool water and left to sit in a cool place for around 12 hours to brew. Cold brewing produces a milder and sweeter cup of coffee than simply refrigerating coffee that is brewed hot. You don’t get the harsher, more bitter notes of coffee that are often brought out after chilling hot-brewed coffee. Cold brewed coffee will keep very well for several days in the refrigerator after it has been made, and it is easy to make a big batch and keep it on hand. As with regular coffee, you will want to experiment with the ratio of coffee grounds to water to get a concentration that you like, but err on the side of using too much coffee. Not only are you not rising adding bitterness to your drink by doing this, but you can always water down a cold-brewed coffee concentrate with a bit of extra water before serving if it is too strong.

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