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Coffee

Coffee is so important to the world that it’s the second most traded commodity on the stock market, only surpassed by petroleum products.

Negotiating Cafes for Coffee In Paris

Café Francais
Courtesy of The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

This is a guide for drinking coffee in cafes in Paris

Café express: Sometimes called café noir, café nature, or café normal.  This is a small, espresso-style coffee. (Calling it an espresso would raise the ire of Italians everywhere.)  If you simply say you want a “café,” this is what you’re going to get.  Every time.

Café serre: A tight café express, more concentrated since it’s made with

Fascinating Facts About Coffee

Coffee (Coffea arabica) grows between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in regions with abundant rainfall and temperatures that only occasionally dip below freezing. The plants can be grown as far as 25 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator.

It is believed that Kafa (or Kaffa), Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia, is the birthplace of coffee. The name kafa gives us the root word for coffee. Kafa is located in the Oromiya region, west of the Great Rift Valley in Africa.

Although there are no known records of when coffee traveled from Ethopia to Yemen, it was in

Dona Elena’s Rich Coffee Flan

Courtesy of Courtenay Dunk: www.spicelines.com

(Spicelines is a very interesting blog.  You might want to check it out!)

Our delicious cena at the Coatepec home of Maria Elena Serena ended with a double-barreled coffee dessert: an intensely flavored coffee flan, followed by a scoop of her homemade coffee ice cream.
Earlier, in her tidy outdoor kitchen, Dona Elena had given us a lesson in making flan: Placing a metal pan right over a gas flame, she caramelized a few spoonfuls of raw sugar until it was brown and syrupy. Setting it aside to cool, she frothed instant coffee with eggs, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in her blender. After pouring the coffee mixture over the cooled sugar syrup, Dona Elena tore off a sheet of aluminum foil. She eyed us sternly: “Never put the dull side next to the flan, or it will make it dark,” she instructed. And indeed, the flan, cooked on the stovetop in a

The Butterfly Effect

Spice News: This Blog Helps Veracruz Coffee Grower Find a Market in South Korea
Courtesy of Courtenay Dunk: www.spicelines.com

You’ve heard of the “butterfly effect,” haven’t you? It’s the idea, put forth by Conrad Lorenz, that the whisper soft beating of of a butterfly’s wing may stir up air currents that create a storm thousands of miles away.

Something like the butterfly effect seems to have happened in Veracruz. And it’s very good news.
Two years ago, I wrote about the plight of Don Ruperto Opoch, a genteel third generation organic coffee farmer whose story nearly broke my heart (“Veracruz: Great Coffee If You Can Find It; a Grower’s Lament”). “We are starving,” he told me with simple dignity. After a lifetime of

Great Coffee If You Can Get It — A Grower’s Lament

Courtesy of Courtenay Dunk: www.spicelines.com

coffee growing

 

“We are starving.”

Ruperto Opoch has a natural grace born of equal parts humility and excellence at his chosen metier. He is the third generation of his family to run Predio Guayabal, a small organic finca outside Coatepec, the coffee-growing capital of Veracruz. At 70-odd years, his thick, carefully combed hair is white and his face bronzed by a lifetime of working in the fields-yet he is as dignified in his denim work shirt, fleece-lined jacket and jeans as a banker in a proper Savile Row suit. It is the deep sadness in his eyes that is arresting as he explains what

Sugar, Coffee, Chocolate, Vanilla: How Much Do You Know About The Issues Surrounding These Products?

Sugar, Coffee, Chocolate Vanilla: the backbone of the tropical foods economy. Four products that most of us use daily. But, do you know where your morning coffee is grown, or the conditions under which it’s grown? What about that chocolate bar you had yesterday afternoon? Who processed the sugar you sprinkled over your cereal? Is the vanilla in your ice cream natural or synthetic?

The truth is, few of us know much about where these food staples are grown, or whether the people who grow them earn enough to feed their families, have schooling available for their children, or have access to basic medical care.

Consider this: Coffee and chocolate traditionally grew in the

Ethical Coffee Pushed Into Mainstream

July 2003
By Eric Onstad, Reuters

AMSTERDAM — Just as Starbucks popularized cappuccinos for mainstream America, a new group wants to put “ethical” coffee on supermarket shelves across the globe.

The Utz Kapeh Foundation (www.utzkapeh.org), whose name means “good coffee” in an ancient Mayan language, guarantees basic standards for poor peasants hit by rock-bottom prices and inhumane living and working conditions. And it strives to

A User’s Guide to Great Coffee

Winter or summer, boom or bust times, coffee drinkers aren’t going to give up coffee. However, when times are tight, people are more likely to make coffee at home, so it’s helpful to have a guide to great coffee.

By making a shift in marketing techniques, some of America’s top specialty coffee purveyors are offering workshops on how to create the best home-brewed coffee, coffee drinks and coffee and cheese pairings.  It isn’t just about providing information or selling products; it’s also about pride in their profession.  Here are their thoughts on how

Your Daily Grind

You buy sustainably grown coffee and tea whenever possible.  Fantastic!  The farmers thank you for your support.

However, did you know that you can take your eco-sensibilities another step by turning your daily grind (or cuppa tea) into a great compost, fertilizer or special food for acid-loving plants?

The caffeine in coffee grounds is an excellent source of nitrogen.  Nitrogen gets “fixed” by bacteria in soil, creating a high quality compost for your plants.  Add it to your compost pile.  Coffee filters and tea bags break down rapidly during composting so throw them in too!

You can also sprinkle a little around

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For an update on the 2016 vanilla shortage, please see "Why is Vanilla so Expensive?"

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