If you have any interest in rare coffees, you have probably heard of Kopi Luwak, a coffee made with beans that are eaten and partially digested by civets in Vietnam. It’s not a coffee for the squeamish (although the beans are definitely safe to brew by the time they get to a coffee shop), but it commands a high price tag. One forward thinking entrapaneur wondered if there were other animals out there that could help process coffee in a similar way. The result was the creation of Black Ivory Coffee, the world’s most expensive coffee, which comes in at about $500 per pound.
The coffee is produced by collecting beans that a group of elephants in northern Thailand have eaten and excreted. The Canadian developer behind the coffee, Blake Dinkin, says that the elephants’ stomach acid breaks down the coffee just enough to remove some of the bitterness from the bean – leaving you with a smoother cup. It takes about 72 pounds of raw coffee cherries to make 2 pounds of drinkable coffee.
Black Ivory Coffee sold out of its initial inventory, but they hope to have more available next season for coffee connoisseurs looking for the next unique thing in coffee.
I tend to drink inordinate amounts of tea when I have a cold, so the silver lining on having a cold for me is that I have the chance to try a lot of new teas. This Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Rooibus had been in my tea stash for a couple of weeks and had gotten passed over in spite of the very nifty tin that is packed in. The onset of the cold made me crack it open and I haven’t looked back.
This herbal tea is packed loosely in nice looking square tea bags. It includes a redbush (rooibus) herbal blend, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and natural pumpkin flavor. I’m not exactly sure what the natural pumpkin flavor is (it is unlikely to be actual pumpkin, since dried raw squash has a rather unpleasant flavor to it), but I felt that the spices came through more than the pumpkin “flavor” in any case. The tea definitely reminds me of a well-spiced pumpkin bread, with a great balance of all the spices in the tea. The rooibus is the perfect base for the spices and it is a great tea overall. This tea is particularly good hot, when sweetened with a little bit of honey or agave. If you have a loaf of pumpkin bread on hand, so much the better.
I recently gave some friends who weren’t too familiar with Sumatran coffees a little bit of a crash course in them by serving them some Sun Dried Sumatra Rasuna, one of Starbucks’ current Reserve coffees. This particular coffee is rather unusual because Sumatran coffees are typically semi-washed, not sun dried, during processing. Totally dry processing is uncommon in Indonesian coffees, due at least in part to high humidity, which doesn’t create ideal conditions for drying coffee.
My friends either loved or really disliked (fortunately, most loved) the coffee, and I think that Sumatran coffees tend to be a little bit polarizing because they have very bold flavors. I, personally, really enjoy Sumatran coffees and think that this is a great example of one when it comes to its flavor profile. It is dark, rich and super earthy. I got some very juicy, sweet fruit towards the beginning and a very moist, tropical earth flavor throughout, with a nicely clean finish. This coffee was also good served cold, over ice (I did that with the Clover).
As for the dry vs semi-dry processing method, I couldn’t say that one is better than the other based just on this one coffee, but would be interested in doing some side-by-side comparisons sometime to see how much of a difference I could detect.
Peppermint Bark is a very popular Christmas and wintertime chocolate treat. It typically consists of layers of dark and white chocolate studded with bits of peppermint. Some have more chocolate than others, and some have more mint, but they all get the same chocolate and mint combination across. Peppermint mochas are already a popular winter drink in coffee shops and, after getting a huge box of peppermint bark as a pre-holiday gift, I decided to use it as a base for my own peppermint mochas.
The recipe is easy: melt peppermint bark into hot coffee, top with milk and serve. You can garnish it with a peppermint stick, if you like, or just munch on any unused peppermint bark while your sip your holiday drink.
The amount of peppermint bark you will need for this recipe will vary, depending on the type of bark you have and how minty it is. Start with the 2-oz I recommend and go up from there as needed. If you need to add more, just go ahead and do it. You can always reheat your drink a little bit in the microwave to ensure that it is hot enough to melt all the chocolate.
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