Jun 26, 2012

Zevro Indispensable Coffee Dispenser

Zevro Indispensable Coffee Dispenser

One way to ensure that you get a good cup of coffee is to freshly grind your beans just before you are ready to use them. Oils escape from the beans when they’re ground and your coffee will age much, much faster than whole beans do. Dried out coffee grounds lead to less flavorful coffee. The problem with grinding as you go is that you have to devote some extra time to measuring and grinding the beans before brewing. This can be a slow and noisy (especially for those of us who make coffee very early!) process and there are times when it would be nice just to have that coffee already ground and ready to go! I don’t want to compromise flavor for speed, and neither do the people at Zevro, who came up with the Indispensable Coffee Dispenser. This gadget holds up to 1/2-pound of freshly ground coffee in an airtight environment. With the touch of a button, it will also dispense coffee grounds in 1 tbsp amounts directly into your espresso machine, coffee pot, or other coffee-making  equipment. It does not grind the beans, so you can grind them as coarse or as fine as you like before storing them.

The best thing about this dispenser is that it holds enough grounds to be useful, but not so much that you’ll end up with past-their-prime beans in your dispenser. It will keep things fresh until you’re ready for a refill.  The dispensing action is also useful because it means that you don’t need to constantly open the container and let air in as you access your beans.

Jun 15, 2012

Starbucks Frappuccino Smoothies, reviewed

Yogurt Frappuccino Sign

Starbucks, as well as other large food companies, is always test marketing new products to see how customers respond to them. It’s much easier to roll out a new idea to just a few key stores, rather than put it into every cafe without knowing how well it will do. I’ve seen examples of this before, but it’s hard to find the test market products because they’re never advertised. Fortunately, I was out on a bit of a road trip in Southern California recently and discovered one of them: new Starbucks Frappuccino Smoothies at a store in Moorpark, CA.

The smoothies are said to be made with nonfat yogurt, real fruit and have a yogurt whipped topping on them, and they’re available in Strawberry and Mango-Passionfruit. The smoothies are thicker than regular frappuccinos, much more like a Jamba Juice drink. They’re not too sweet, very refreshing and have a great fruit flavor, with a hint of yogurt to give it some richness. I particularly liked tropical Mango Passionfruit, though I’m always a sucker for that flavor combination.  The whipped topping was made in the same iSi whipped cream canisters that they use for the regular whipped cream. It had a light, tangy yogurt flavor and the ultra-fluffy texture of whipped cream. It was the perfect topping for a smoothie (which I couldn’t see topping with regular whipped cream) because it tied in very well with the fruity drink and had a nice light, healthy feel to it.

I don’t know if these will make it to the regular menu or not, so we’ll have to wait and see next summer, but they’re a great summer drink and a very refreshing alternative to coffee on a hot day. I’ll be back for another, and I’ll definitely take it with the yogurt whipped topping.

Mango Passionfruit Frappuccino Smoothie

May 27, 2012

Starbucks Reserve Malawi Lake of Stars, reviewed

Starbucks Reserve Malawi

African coffees are not usually my favorites, but I can never resist trying a new offering from the Starbucks Reserve line, so I eventually gave in to trying the Malawi Lake of Stars coffee a try on a recent visit. I have to admit that I did wait until my store was sold out of the Galapagos coffee before making the switch, which is what took me so long to getting around to this post!

I am willing to admit when I was wrong, and I was definitely wrong to put off trying this particular coffee for so long. The coffee is rich and incredibly smooth, with none of the citrusy acidity that I often find in African coffees. It did, however, have a trace of citrus flavor to it, but that was subtle and came only after a long, lingering chocolatiness that really dominated this coffee. The finish was clean and smooth, too. I like mine hot, but have since gone back and tried this iced and found it to be very refreshing, with the same flavors coming through and without any bitterness.

It almost makes me glad that my Clover store is out of the Galapagos, because now nothing stands in the way of me getting the Malawi reserve.

May 18, 2012

Coffee Drinkers Live Longer, study says

French Press

New research suggests that coffee drinkers live longer than con-coffee drinkers. If that’s true, I could probably live forever. The study looked at more than 400,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71, and those with some preexisting conditions – cancer, heart disease and stroke – were excluded were excluded from the study. The results were surprising. The study found that men who drank 2-3 cups of coffee a day had a 14 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, 17 percent lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, 16 percent decreased chance of dying from stroke and a 25 percent lower risk of dying from diabetes than those who drank no coffee. Women faired similarly. Those who drank 2-3 cups a day had a 15 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, 21 percent lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, 7 percent decreased chance of dying from stroke and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from diabetes. Results improved for those who drank more coffee, too.

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