Mar 23, 2014

Coffee May Reduce Parkinson’s Risk

Cup o' Java

A new study found that people who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower risk
of developing Parkinson’s than those who did not. This is great news for coffee-lovers who might have a family history with the disease, which is (currently) a progressively degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The major symptoms are movement-related and include shaking, difficulty controlling muscle movements and even difficulty walking. Previous studies indicate that drinking coffee may help to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s and help those afflicted with the disease to have better control over their movements, but this new research indicates that caffeinated coffee consumption might significantly reduce the risk of developing the disease at all.

The challenge for scientists is to create a drug that can mimic the positive effects of caffeine without the side effects, which include headaches and jitteriness. In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to pour yourself a second cup.

Mar 19, 2014

Coffee Shop Geography

Coffee Shop Geography Map

Where do you get your coffee in the morning? Depending on what region of the country you live in, your answer to this question might be very different from the next person. This Coffee Shop Geography Map (click to enlarge) shows the nearest coffee place among the popular coffee chains, within a 10-mile radius, all over the country. The map was put together by Flowing Data just to see where people like to get their coffee.

Starbucks was all over the country, of course, while some chains are regional – and those regional chains sometimes dominated the market in their local areas. Starbucks is strong in most major metro areas, but really dominates on the West coast. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a popular So Cal chain, is strong in the LA area, while Peet’s has a solid hold of the SF Bay Area and a few strong locations elsewhere on the West Coast. Dutch Bros dominates the North West. Seattle’s Best, which is owned by Starbucks, put up a good showing all over the country, even though it wasn’t the strongest in most markets. Tim Hortons had lots of fans along the US-Canada border and Caribou Coffee had a stronghold in the midwest, particularly around Minneapolis, where the company has its headquarters. It’s not surprising to see that the concentration of coffee shops mirrors the concentration of the population across the country. In the South West and North East, the density of coffee shops is much, much higher than it is in the plains states.

Mar 18, 2014

Coffee-Mate Girl Scouts Thin Mints Creamer, reviewed

Coffee-Mate Girl Scouts Thin Mints Creamer

I’m not usually one to put creamer in my coffee, but every once in a while I like to sweeten things up and creamer is an easy way to get the job done. I happen to be a fan of Girl Scout Cookies and was intrigued when I heard that Coffee-Mate had teamed up with the Scouts to offer cookie-flavored creamers. When they launched last year, I initially had trouble finding them, but eventually found and tried their Coconut and Caramel Creamer (Samoas-flavor), which turned out to be pretty good. This year, I noticed that these creamers were a lot more widely available in my area, so I decided to give the Thin Mints flavor a try.

I initially thought that this would be a chocolate-flavored creamer with a hint of mint, but it is a mint-flavored creamer with a hint of chocolate. I am not a fan of artificial chocolate flavoring, so this turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. The creamer had a cool mint flavor that didn’t overwhelm the coffee and was only slightly sweet when compared to some other creamer flavors. It only had a hint of chocolate to it, just enough to evoke the cookie. If you wanted more chocolate flavor, it would be best to add some to a mug of hot chocolate or to a mocha.

Mint flavored coffee isn’t going to be my new favorite coffee drink, but the creamer was pretty close to its target and really reminded me of the cookie. I liked it best in iced coffee, rather than hot coffee, since the mint seemed very refreshing over ice. Overall, it was a nice change of pace from usual, even though I didn’t like it quite as much as my Homemade Thin Mint Frappuccino.

Mar 14, 2014

Homemade Thin Mint Frappuccino

Homemade Thin Mint Frappuccino

Thin Mints are the best selling Girl Scout cookie and they make up 25% of all Girl Scout Cookies sales. They have just the right combination of chocolate and mint in a crispy cookie to be addictive. Their flavor is actually pretty unique and that makes Thin Mints very recognizable. I often use Thin Mints in baking recipes and decided to turn them into a refreshing coffee drink this time around – and the result is my Homemade Thin Mint Frappuccino. It’s an ice blended coffee drink that is packed with Thin Mint flavor – and actual Thin Mint cookies!

All of the chocolate flavor in the drink actually comes from the cookies. Thin Mints are a little more minty than they are chocolaty, so putting too much chocolate into the drink just turns this into an ordinary, but minty, mocha. The crispy cookies add just the right amout of chocolate flavor, and I added a little extra peppermint extract to boost the mintiness of the cookies. It’s a little sweet and surprisingly refreshing for an indulgent iced coffee drink! Don’t hesitate to splurge and add a dollop of whipped cream on top before serving.

If you want to enjoy this drink and it’s not Girl Scout cookie season, you can easily substitute for the Thin Mint cookies. Keebler makes a cookie called a Grasshopper that is almost identical to the Thin Mint, and you can even use plain chocolate wafer cookies or Oreos without the filling with good results.
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