Oct 7, 2014

Your Coffee Habits May be Shaped by Your DNA

Cup of Kenya Coffee

Have you ever noticed that a cup of coffee can affect people very differently? You might be able to drink a few cups of your favorite roast and take a nap an hour later without a second thought, while your close friend might get the jitters after just half a cup. You might have chalked this up to caffeine tolerance – after all, caffeine is a drug – but it might be deeper than that. A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found that genetic variants explain why same amount of coffee can have different effects in different people.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied over 120,000 coffee drinkers and found six genetic variants linked to coffee. Two are thought to play a role in the positive effects of caffeine, the happy stimulant effect that you get from your first cup, while others had impacts on glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure regulation and addiction (to caffeine, for the purposes of this study). For instance, regular coffee drinkers were less likely to have high blood pressure than those who did not drink coffee. The study is interesting in part because it focused specifically on coffee and the caffeine in coffee, not just caffeine from general sources, and the fact that they identified links to coffee specifically help to explain why so many other studies have found health benefits related directly to coffee consumption.

Oct 4, 2014

Lovely Lemon Squeezer

Classy Lemon Squeezer

Do you take your tea with lemon? Lemon juice is a great way to perk up a mug of otherwise boring tea, giving it not only a little extra flavor, but adding a sinus-clearing citrus aroma to the cup that is idea for cool fall and winter evenings. Typically, the lemon is served as a simple wedge that can be squeezed over your cup. This is a bit messy when you’re serving tea to guests and a bit wasteful when you’re making tea for yourself, as you have a good portion of lemon leftover that might dry up or otherwise be forgotten. One stylish way to add a splash of lemon juice is to use this lovely Lemon Squeezer, instead. The gadget is made of stainless steel and it includes a base and a pointed spout. The spout, which has a serrated edge that will loosen the juice from the lemon, slides neatly in to your citrus without requiring a knife or making a mess. Once your lemon is spouted, you can rest it on the stand until you are ready to serve. Then, simply angle the spout over your mug and give the fruit a little squeeze, and the juice will run neatly into your tea. This also might come in handy for adding just a splash of citrus to your cocktails, for those times when tea isn’t quite enough.

The best part about the spout is that, since the skin of the fruit is largely intact, it won’t dry out sitting on your counter and you’ll be able to come back for another squeeze the next day. For longer storage, keep your lemon in the fridge.

Oct 2, 2014

Nescafe with Coffee-Mate, reviewed

Nescafe Coffee and Creamer Combo

When you work in an office, you probably have access to office coffee. Unless you happen to work at a place filled with coffee snobs or a place that actually produces/provides coffee (such as Starbucks, etc.), the office coffee is probably not all that good. Office coffee is rarely good, but we drink it when when have to in order to get through the day. I don’t always want to run across the street or down the block to get a fresh cup of coffee, so I’m always open to alternatives that could help out.

Nescafe with Coffee-Mate is a new line of products from Nescafe that blend their instant coffee with Coffee-Mate creamer flavors, delivering a two-in-one product for those who like their coffee on the sweeter side. Currently, they’re available in three different flavors: Original, French Vanilla and Hazelnut. The original is a classic sweetened cream flavor that is not overly sweet and allows you to taste the Nescafe coffee underneath. The vanilla has a strong, sweet vanilla flavor that is ideal for a vanilla lover or someone with a bit of a sweet tooth. Hazelnut is slightly milder than vanilla and blends in with the base coffee flavor, though it still comes through as being sweeter than the Original flavor. Of the three, Vanilla is my favorite simply because I am a vanilla-lover and enjoy the extra flavor boost, however a few friends who helped me do some taste testing thought that the Original was idea for delivering a nice balance of sweet, cream and coffee.

I loved the convenience of this product as something that was both ready to drink and very tasty right out of the package. The directions on the resealable containers are ok, though I found I preferred to use slightly more of the powder in my drinks for a stronger coffee flavor. They are on the sweet side, however, and you may find that they are sweeter than you prefer if you typically drink your coffee black. Fortunately, you can also use them as a substitute for regular coffee creamers (since they are creamers with coffee built in) to both sweeten up and strengthen a cup of the existing coffee that might be brewing at your office.

Sep 29, 2014

Java Monster Kona Blend, reviewed

Java Monster

If I say that I need an energy drink, that usually means that I want a cup of coffee – not a strangely flavored, slightly carbonated canned beverage. That said, I have found many canned and bottled coffee drinks that I enjoy over the years, and am always interested in giving new ones a taste to see what might provide a good, quick fix when I’m on the go. So, I was a bit torn when I first saw the new Java Monster Kona Blend, which was both an energy drink and a canned coffee drink in one! The use of Kona coffee won me over and convinced me to give it a shot – and I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised!

Java Monster Kona Blend is made with real Kona coffee, blended with milk, sugar and Monster’s energy blend, which includes taurine, ginseng and guarana seed extract, as well as some additional caffeine. It’ll definitely wake you up if you’re sensitive to caffeine, though I didn’t feel too much more of a “rush” than I would with a regular cup of black coffee. The drink is smooth, with a great blend of rich coffee and creamy milk flavors, plus just the right hint of sweetness. I didn’t intend to like it when I picked up the can, since I always prefer to get my energy from coffee or tea over an engineered “energy drink,” but this wildly exceeded my expectations and was better than many other bottled (or canned) coffee drinks I’ve had. In short, it tasted very good. The drink is offered in other flavors, which I haven’t tried, but the vanilla, mocha, toffee and irish cream flavors definitely sound interesting!

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