One of the biggest complaints about K-cups is that they create a lot of waste. Coffee itself is compostable, and is actually great for enriching a garden, but the little plastic cup that makes the k-cup so useful when it comes to making a quick cup of coffee isn’t great for the environment. There has long been a call for someone to create a more eco-friendly k-cup and EcoCup is the first one to be widely released.
A Canadian company, Mother Parkers Tea and Coffee, has launched the EcoCup, a clear, recyclable pod that they hope will have appeal to consumers that less environmentally friendly pods don’t. They’re going to launch them in the next couple of weeks, filled with their Higgins & Burke tea, and will increase the tea brands that they use with the pods throughout the remainder of the year. Coffee pods are planned to launch next year. The cups and coffee are recyclable, but the lid and filter materials used in the EcoCups are not, but it is still a big improvement over the less eco-friendly alternative for consumers looking for convenience with a hint of green.
Raspberries and white chocolate are a combination that you’ll see often, both in desserts and in coffee drinks. Raspberries have a bright, sweet-tart flavor that is a good match for sweet, creamy white chocolate. They’re not the only berry that is a good match for white chocolate, however. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all play well with white chocolate. In this case, I used fresh blackberries to make a Blackberry White Chocolate Mocha. It’s a unusual – but delicious – change of pace from a raspberry drink and it’s especially good as blackberries are coming into season.
The drink is built with fresh blackberry purée and white chocolate. You can purée your blackberries in the food processor and then strain them to remove all the pulp and seeds from the fruit. This will leave you with a smooth, beautifully colored purée that can be added directly to your drink. I combined the purée with white chocolate (you might need to add a little sugar, depending on how see your berries are) and added hot coffee. The coffee is hot enough to melt the chocolate, so I just let it sit for a few minutes before stirring it to combine all the ingredients and topping it off with milk. You can use either coffee or espresso in this drink with good results.
I finished my mocha off with a couple of homemade Blackberry Marhmallows, which are also flavored with fresh blackberry purée. I highly recommend making a batch, but in lieu of that, you can top this drink off with regular marshmallows or whipped cream, and add a touch of leftover blackberry purée for extra flavor.
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The most valuable part of the coffee plant are the coffee beans, but coffee beans don’t grow on trees ready to be picked and roasted. Coffee trees produce coffee cherries, a small fruit that contains the coffee beans. The coffee cherry is discarded after it has been processed to remove the bean and it is generally discarded. But there is one company that is trying to come up for a new use for those leftover cherries by turning them into coffee flour.
The gluten free Coffee Flour is made by drying and grinding up discarded coffee cherries, waste from the coffee bean harvesting process. It may sound like a stretch, but with the tremendous growth of the gluten-free flour market, there is actually a lot of potential for this unusual flour. Coffee flour contains 5 times more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 84% less fat than coconut flour and three times more protein per gram than fresh kale. It is high in potassium and, like coffee, contains a bit of caffeine (although less than brewed coffee). It can be used in cooking and baking and, apparently, tastes more like roasted fruit than coffee. That’s certainly an interesting flavor profile for a flour and it could very well add a lot of complexity to baked goods. The flour is not yet commercially available, but it is being produced in Hawaii, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Vietnam, and should start showing up in products and on shelves sometime in 2015.
I was in Starbucks the other evening and the barista looked rather tired. I asked if he was feeling alright, and he said that he had been caught in a Frappuccino rush for the last hour and it was madness. It was an unusually cool April day in Los Angeles, but Frappuccinos never really go out of season here. In fact, Frappuccinos are one of the most ordered types of Starbucks drinks in Los Angeles in general.
The lovely map above (click to enlarge) shows the most popular Starbucks drinks from some major metropolitan areas across the country. The areas in blue all exhibit a distinct preference for cold beverages, whether blended or over ice, as they tend to have warm weather most of the year. The grey areas prefer hot drinks to cold ones. It’s interesting to see the trends, and I’d be even more interested to see more detailed maps with more specifics, too.