In the news, I’ve seen the headline boldly proclaiming that half the world prefers instant coffee to regular coffee. Eastern and Western Europe combined drink 40% of the world’s instant coffee, with Eastern Europe consuming more than twice as much as Western. Australia and Asia account for most of the rest of instant coffee consumption. That sure sounds like the headlines are correct and that people are clammoring for instant coffee!
But what these headlines are omitting is that instant coffee has an almost indefinite shelf life and is significantly less expensive to buy than fresh coffee. Most of the places where instant coffee is “preferred” are places where there is not a huge, developed coffee culture and/or places where the cost of freshly brewed coffee puts it out of reach as a daily drink for those who are not affluent. American coffee drinkers are the least likely to opt for instant coffee, with an almost total (up to 90%) preference for fresh brewed. We have a strong coffee culture and as a result we have a basic expectation for how tasty and fresh our coffee should be (though even “fresh” coffee isn’t necessarily delicious coffee). It is likely that as coffee becomes even more popular globally, consumers in other areas will start to seek out more flavorful options than instant, too.
Trader Joe’s can be a great place to pick up some premium teas at a very reasonable price. Their tea selection, especially their seasonal offerings, always has a few innovative blends that are absolutely delicious. One of their newest teas is Trader Joe’s Coconut Green Tea, a light and refreshing tea for the summer. It is also a loose leaf tea, which is a departure from the usual bagged teas that the store carries. The tea is packed in a colorful metal tin to keep it fresh until you’re ready to brew it.
The tea has a green tea base, accented with coconut, lemongrass and ginger. Since the coconut graphic is so prominent on the container, I expected to get a strong coconut flavor from my first cup, but found that coconut blended nicely with the other flavors instead of dominating them. You get more coconut in the nose of the tea than in the body. The tea has a nice balance of green tea, citrus and spice. It’s mildly sweet and very well-blended, so no one element stands out over the rest- which isn’t a bad thing, as it makes for a subtle and very enjoyable cup of tea. I found that this tea was pleasant when brewed hot with no sweeteners, but its natural sweetness came out a bit more once sugar was added. It was also great when brewed at double or triple strength and served over ice.
Most pour-over gadgets aren’t very visually exciting to look at. They’re ceramic, glass or plastic objects that look a lot like the reusable filters that you might pop into a drip coffee maker. They get the job done – and they come at various price points – but they’re utilitarian. This Rocket Fuel Coffee Brewer is anything but, as it has a funky design that will put a smile on your face in addition to putting coffee in your cup! The bright red plastic (BPA-free) coffee brewer is shaped like the base of a rocket ship, and a delicious kind of “rocket fuel” brews inside when your fill it with freshly ground coffee and hot water. It uses a standard #2 filter and the fresh coffee will stream neatly out of the base of the rocket into a mug below. The fins of the rocket will hold it in place over the mouth of your mug, so you don’t need to worry about any mis-launches while you’re getting your coffee ready.
There was a time when I had a single sugar bowl as part of my coffee service, but so many people take various artificial sweeteners in their coffee and tea these days that my sugar alternative bowl is bigger than my sugar bowl! I still stick with regular sugar when I want to sweeten up my drinks and I suspect that having an unusual sugar service just might convince friends who are used to those pink, yellow and blue packets to switch back to sugar. This Hourglass Sugar Dispenser just might be the thing I need to convince them. The plastic dispenser is 8 inches tall and it looks just like those old timers you used to use for your board games as a kid – only it is filled with sugar instead of with sand. The openings on each side allow you to pour sugar easily into your drink no matter which way the “sands” are spinning, and it’s fun to play with (because we all know that it is fun to play with your food at any age!) while you’re enjoying your drinks.