Tag Archives: coffee

Meat-Like Coffee

The Wall Street Journal had an article about a new coffee flavor wheel developed by a roaster in Durham, NC. Gotta say I like it;

Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel

I’m gonna start using this around the office. Pretty soon people will hear me say things like, “At first it tastes¬†leathery but there are definite tobacco undertones.”


Why My Coffee Habit is a Very Good Thing

Those of you who know me well can probably appreciate how happy this article – The Case for Drinking as Much Coffee as You Like – made me:

"What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can," says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. He's even developed a metric for monitoring your dosage: If you are having trouble sleeping, cut back on your last cup of the day. From there, he says, "If you drink that much, it's not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot."

Officially, the American Medical Association recommends conservatively that "moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle." That is a lackluster endorsement in light of so much recent glowing research. Not only have most of coffee's purported ill effects been disproven – the most recent review fails to link it the development of hypertension — but we have so, so much information about its benefits. We believe they extend from preventing Alzheimer's disease to protecting the liver. What we know goes beyond small-scale studies or limited observations. The past couple of years have seen findings, that, taken together, suggest that we should embrace coffee for reasons beyond the benefits of caffeine, and that we might go so far as to consider it a nutrient.

Reading this was literally like having angels sing in my ear. Oh happy days!

What Came First, Chicken or Jelly?

Once, when I was a kid, I was in the grocery store with my mother and we were picking out jelly.  I picked out a jar of Welch's grape jelly and she told me to put it back and replace it with a jar of the store brand. Now, you have to understand that this was long enough ago that generic brands weren't just less expensive, they were lower in quality and I was just a tad unhappy that we'd have to suffer through weeks of PBJs with inferior jelly. I asked Mom why we couldn't get the (superior) Welch's and she said she couldn't support a company that treated its workers the way Welch's did. Of course I hadn't a clue what she was talking about, but I couldn't believe I was going to have to suffer through crappy jelly because some company apparently was mean to its people.

After thinking the situation through I had a thought and said to Mom, "Welch's must sell a ton of their jelly and make a lot of money, they aren't going to even notice if we don't buy a jar. It just doesn't seem worth the all the effort to me." I'll never forget her reply: "Jon, I'm sure they won't notice, but I'm also sure I'll feel better every time I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if I'm not making it with their jelly." How do you argue with that?

That's a story I think about every time I see one of these "product protests", the latest of which is the so-called boycott of Chick-Fil-A being called for by folks who are incensed by the company president's statement against same-sex marriage. Whether or not the boycott causes Chick-Fil-A financial distress (I doubt it will since there's now a counter-boycott being staged by conservative Christian organizations), at a minimum the people doing the boycotting can feel better about where they're jacking up their cholestorol.  

For what it's worth people really shouldn't have a problem with Chick-Fil-A taking a financial hit for their conservative stance, mainly because they've made a ton of money from broadcasting their conservative Christian values. There are a LOT of people who frequent the chain not just because they like its chicken – they also feel good being able to support a business that reflects their own values. This is definitely one of those "live by the sword-die by they sword" situations.

As for me the boycott is a non-issue since I'm probably the only person south of Boston who thinks Chick-Fil-A is overrated, and they might have the worst coffee on the planet. Bland chicken and crappy coffee equals a permanent boycott that has nothing to do with the company's politics, but for the record if I did like Chick-Fil-A I'd be taking a break from visiting their restaurants. They wouldn't notice, but I'd feel a lot better about my jacked-up cholestorol.

Update: The "Support Chick-Fil-A" counter-protest today was quite popular in towns around NC and apparently a North Carolina based Wendy's franchisee showed support for its competitor as well. Although it's the kind of thing that the local news has to carry, is it really a surprise to anyone? After all this is a state that recently passed, overwhelmingly,  a state amendment against gay marriage. It's also firmly esconced in the Bible belt, clerks routinely wish you a "blessed" day and the first question you're asked upon introduction isn't "What do you do?" but "Where do you go to church?"

All in all I'd say this is totally predictable – what would be more interesting to know is the net effect on Chick-Fil-A's business around the country. It'll probably make a good case study for the Harvard Business Review in the near future.

In Praise of a Great Cup of Joe

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good cup of coffee.  Love is an understatement, but appropriate adjectives would likely be unsafe for young/workplace readers so let's just stick with unadulterated love.  That's why I totally get this letter, written by the the third Secretary of the Smithsonian:

Dear Mary,

I hope this will interest you.


Your Uncle Samuel

The best coffee in Carlsbad is at the Posthof, and is as good as I know of anywhere. I have been looking into the kitchen this morning and seeing it prepared. The statement that figs or anything of the kind are employed is legendary. There is absolutely nothing but coffee, and it owes its superior excellence to the freshness and the pains taken in its making.

1. The coffee in the berry.

There are four kinds of coffee bean employed: the Menado, Ceylon, Java and Preanger. I do not know the English equivalents for the first and last. They are of very different sizes indeed, and this difference in size of the berry must make it difficult to burn them equally.

2. Roasting.

The roasting is done in a rotary wire mesh over a slow fire. The coffee is renewed three times daily. Each time 10 to 20 pounds of coffee is roasted, a girl turning the handle, and the process occupying in each case nearly an hour. In spite of this care, when the beans come out some of them are very dark and these are picked out.

3. Grinding.

The coffee is then ground to a very uniform fineness, something between the head of a small pin and a coarse sand. It is in no ways ground into a snuff-like powder, but is always clearly perceptible as particles between the fingers. The color of the ground coffee is a light chestnut.

4. Mixing with water.

Somewhat over one-quarter of a pound of the ground coffee is measured in a tin and this is emptied into a tin pail holding, I suppose, four to six gallons. Into this is poured, actually boiling soft water, enough to make 10 portions of the coffee. This softness is considered so important, that if the water be at all hard, a little soda is first added to soften it. The coffee and water are then well stirred with a spoon, and the lid put on and allowed to remain two minutes, when it is poured onto a thick straining cloth placed in a tin vessel with large holes at the bottom through which it drains into a white stone pitcher, which is itself set in boiling water. From this pitcher it is poured into the little ones in which it is served on the table.

5. Serving.

The amount of coffee and water just described will, as I have said, make 10 portions, each of which will be, with the addition of the milk, two of the little cups here, or hardly one good breakfast cup as we have it at home. It is served ordinarily with milk which has been boiled, and which has a little whipped cream on top.

6. Comment.

The one criticism I can make is that the coffee with the above proportion of water, is served too diluted for a café au lait. It would be better made half as strong again and diluted with a larger proportion of hot milk.

Now those who know me also no I can't stand anything in my coffee – cream or sugar is a degradation if you ask me – but I totally get how into the coffee he is.  A lousy cup of coffee is more likely to ruin the start of my day than some jackalope cutting me off in traffic, and a great cup of coffee is almost a guarantee for a great day.

If I Drink 142.85 Cups of Coffee Today I’m Probably a Goner

 I drink a lot of coffee.  By a lot I mean A LOT, and it bothers some people enough that they nag me and tell me if I drink too much coffee all kinds of bad things will happen to me.  When I reply, "Like what?" they generally hem and haw because they have no research to back up their assertions.  I'll readily admit that nothing is good for you if you ingest too much of it, but I don't think I've hit that point with coffee so I don't worry too much about it.  If I did happen to worry about it I now know, thanks to this website, how much coffee I can drink before I'll die. BTW, it would take 445 cans of Coke Classic to put me six feet under. Useful info.