Happy October 1st!

The dust was antique spice, burnt maple leaves, a prickling blue that teemed and sifted to earth. Swarming its own shadows, the dust filtered over the tents.

-Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

3 Simple Tricks To Improve Your At-Home Barista Skills

Sick of reaching for your office’s less than stellar coffee pot for a morning buzz? You could swing by the over-priced coffee shop down the street, but daily store-bought java takes a serious toll on your wallet. Instead, consider these three modern brewing methods to improve your at-home barista skills and help with brewing the best cup of coffee before heading out the door each morning:

A French press isn’t as complicated as it seems.

This java contraption is a low tech, easy to transport way to make a delicious cup of coffee (or multiple cups, with a bigger model). The brewing process of pressing down on the grounds instead of using a paper filter allows for intense extraction of the coffee’s natural flavors. Store the device on your kitchen counter or office desk for convenient caffeine on demand.

Pro: Preserves coffee bean oils and offers intense extraction of flavor components.
Con: Clean-up can be a bit messier than other devices.
Recommended coffee ground: Coarse.

Get “under pressure” with a Moka pot.

This aesthetically pleasing Italian device is experiencing a resurgence thanks to its strong and flavorful coffee output. Every cup is super concentrated, brewing dark coffee that is similar in strength to conventional espresso makers. Masterfully capture sweet and spicy flavors, such as with new Gevalia Special Reserve Papua New Guinea Fine Ground, which is specially pre-ground for Moka pot brewing. Prettier than expensive electronic alternatives, this compact device is a surefire kitchen conversation starter.

Pro: Makes coffee or espresso concentrated, dense and flavorful.
Con: Requires careful supervision to avoid coffee burn.
Recommended coffee ground: Fine.

Pick up a pour over.

This simplistic method requires slow and steady pouring through a sturdy funnel stationed over your single coffee mug. You can easily control the strength of the coffee based on how much you measure into the pour over, and coffee is ready in no time — making for a speedy morning option. Coffee aficionados agree that pour overs highlight coffee’s complex rich, round and fruity notes with a cleaner taste than conventional coffee pots. Keep in mind that the slower the pour, the more flavorful the coffee.

Pro: Dishwasher safe and perfect for single person households.
Con: Demands pre-caffeinated focus to pour a steady coffee stream.
Recommended coffee ground: Fine.

Coffee does not have to be expensive or bitter in taste. Use any of the above brewing methods in the comfort of your home for rewarding and rich coffee every time — your taste buds (and your bank account) will thank you. For at-home coffee inspiration or to learn more about the Gevalia Special Reserve line, visit Gevalia’s Facebook page.

Get a Free Starbucks Drink During the Holidays

2016 Starbucks Holiday Design

Starbucks is giving away free drinks each day throughout the holidays, except for Christmas, through January 2nd. The only catch is that you have to check their site, Starbucks Cheer, to find out where.

The site says:

As 2016 wraps up, we hope everyone will ring in the new year with love in their hearts. We’re excited to give away free tall handcrafted espresso beverages from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at 100 locations every day (except Christmas) through January 2. Select your state to find a Pop-Up Cheer Party near you. 100 new locations revealed daily.

Check out their festive site to see if there’s a free espresso near you!

Al Roker’s Famous Iced Coffee Recipe

You can now grab the recipe for Al Roker’s famous iced coffee, which looks quite tasty complete with our favorite holiday spices including ginger and cinnamon, thanks to the folks at the Today Show.

The coffee concentrate will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.


Uganda’s Declining Coffee Market and its Effect on National Poverty

ugandas-declining-coffee-market-1Uganda used to be a world player in the coffee game — in fact, almost every home in Canada had Ugandan coffee with or without realizing it.

Agriculture makes up approximately 42 per cent of Uganda’s GDP and 80 per cent of employment. With the majority of the population living in rural communities, farming is a way of life and a means of survival. Individuals farm land for small Ugandan companies, who then sell the product to large corporations in Europe and North America.

By the mid-1990s, coffee took over as Uganda’s largest export commodity, surpassing both tobacco and cotton. In 1994, the Ugandan coffee industry earned a whopping US$457 million. But as the demand for coffee grew, individual rural farmers struggled to keep up, severely affecting them and their families.

Years of political instability combined with low resilience and traditional farming practices caused the collapse of Uganda’s economy. By 1998, major coffee corporations had developed new ways of storing beans that allowed them to buy in bulk when the price was low, hitting the country’s coffee empire hard.

ugandas-declining-coffee-market-2When the millennium rolled around, coffee export prices fell by almost 70 per cent. Although the nation still produces coffee, other export commodities have taken its place.

Some major coffee corporations have turned away from buying Ugandan coffee due to the popularity of Arabica beans. While Uganda has typically only grown Robusta beans, the Arabica coffee industry is dominated by Ethiopia and Latin America. Robusta beans tend to have an acidic taste and although the plant is easier and cheaper to grow, the sweeter, milder taste of Arabica coffee is favoured by major corporations.

The declining coffee industry has had a significant effect on the lives of individual farmers in Uganda. In 2012, 19.4 per cent of the population was classified as impoverished — meaning they live on less than US$2 per day, with the majority living in rural areas.

The combination of hard-to-reach communities and a declining agricultural market has also had an impact on the education of future generations. Between 2009 and 2012, the gross enrollment of students in grades 11 and 12 was only 14.8 per cent. As students get older, enrollment rates decline — especially for females.

Beautiful World Canada, a Toronto-based charity, aims to combat the lack of young women in higher education by proving post-secondary school scholarships to girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Find more information at www.beautifulworldcanada.org.


3 Ways to Establish Yourself as a True Coffee Aficionado

coffee-aficionadoCoffee has become a social ritual — a way to stand out, a comforting daily routine, and even a hobby for some. The way we like our coffee speaks volumes, while the way we serve it to others is even more important. Reach aficionado status and impress guests with these quick tips.

1. Know the lingo.

Bold? Smooth? Doppio? Café breve or a café au lait? Knowing your way around the coffee lover’s dictionary is the first step to mastering a delicious cuppa. Different blends, beans and regions, as well as dairy and water ratios, work to create different layers, tones and flavors. The growing demand for unique and customized coffee has resulted in a number of international trends crossing borders, like Australia’s version of a latte — the flat white. With so much to know, start with the basics and work up to mastering the ins and outs of an espresso tazza d’oro, otherwise known as a cup of gold.

2. Opt for the newest technology.

Gone are the days of having to leave the house for the best espresso in town. Use machines like the Saeco GranBaristo Avanti to create your favourite caffeinated drink from the comfort of your own home. A fully connected espresso machine, the GranBaristo connects to your tablet via Bluetooth with 18 fully customizable drink options for a full-bodied ristretto or the perfect cappuccino. Integrating technology into your coffee routine makes it easy to prepare your morning java or take guest’s coffee orders without leaving the dinner table.

3. Do your research.

Coffee has become a personal trademark and a point of pride for many self-proclaimed aficionados. Before walking-the-walk, it’s important to really understand what makes a full, well-rounded cup of coffee. True coffee experts understand the fine details, including acidity, the difference between arabica and robusta beans, and how soil composition and rainfall affect the beans.


Brew-it-Yourself: Benefits of Becoming Your Own Barista

baristaBecoming your own barista is now easier than ever, with the rise of increasingly more advanced personal coffee and espresso makers allowing us to make a perfect cup of joe from the comfort of our own homes. While the transition from barista to home coffee maker has left some missing the hustle and bustle of their corner café, serving good coffee to guests is just one of the benefits of brewing at home.

1. Becoming the host again.

Catching up with a group of friends over a cup (or two) of coffee is a social tradition that doesn’t have to be lost in translation. While many coffee shops have a limit as to how long patrons can occupy the space, brewing quality coffee at home allows for the freedom and flexibility to serve guests when you want and for how long, without the pressure of a time restraint.

2. Quality coffee at a better price.

With a wealth of at-home coffee machines on the market offering a variety of types and brands, brewing at home is a great way to achieve the same high quality of coffee in a quick and cost-efficient way.

3. Coffee the way you want it.

Avid coffee drinkers know exactly how they prefer their coffee, and relinquishing control as a customer can be a struggle. At-home coffee machines such as the elegantly designed Saeco Moltio offer a tailored taste experience, allowing coffee lovers to brew their morning joe the way they like it. Getting a professional espresso drink at home is no problem for the Moltio – the machine’s dual chamber technology ensures you’ll enjoy quality coffee with dense, long-lasting milk froth in every cup.


Drink the Coffee, Use the Grounds

Coffee BeansI enjoy coffee. I generally put the grounds into my composter where they will add nutrients to the compost, or I dig them directly into my garden soil for the same purpose. However, there are numerous other ways to use your spent coffee grounds.

  • If you vermicompost, use some of the grounds in your worm bins. Worms such as white worms and red wigglers seem to relish them and quickly turn them into worm castings.
  • Like tea, coffee makes a natural dye for fabric. Unless the color is made permanent with a fixative, some will wash out in the laundry so use caution when washing a coffee-dyed fabric along with other fabrics.
  • Rub a small amount of grounds on meats, especially prior to grilling, to flavor and tenderize the meat.
  • Use grounds according to taste to give a hint of coffee flavor to a recipe.
  • Place a bowl of freshly dried coffee grounds inside the refrigerator and leave it there for a few days to help deodorize the fridge. Important: be sure the grounds have been dried well in order to avoid growing mold on them.
  • Rid your hands of smells by rubbing them with damp grounds and rinsing with warm water.
  • You can use grounds when cleaning out a fireplace. Sprinkle the damp grounds over the ashes in the fireplace, let sit for about 20 minutes, then sweep or scoop out. The coffee grounds will cling to the ashes and prevent the dust from scattering.
  • Coffee grounds will exfoliate the skin. Make a scrub with a tablespoon of grounds and a tablespoon of olive oil. You can add a drop or two of fragrance/essential oil, if desired. Use on your face, neck, decotee area, and even arms and legs. Rub gently and rinse off with warm water.
  • Sprinkle dry coffee grounds in areas where ants are a problem. They will act as a repellant without the use of harmful chemicals.
  • Most cats do not like the smell of coffee. Use grounds as a harmless cat repellent, especially in the garden.
  • Damp coffee grounds can be used as a mildly abrasive cleaner for cleaning hard surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Be certain to test the surface for colorfastness before cleaning with the grounds.
  • Fill old pantyhose with used coffee grounds to make your own eco-friendly air freshener. Knot the hose to contain the grounds and cut above and below the knots. This idea repurposes two items at the same time.
  • Use cooled coffee grounds to cover scratches on wood. Make a paste with a little water, rub on the scratch, wait a few minutes and wipe off. Repeat, if necessary.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Photo: Andronikos Deligiannis

Top 5 Coffee Recipes for the New Year

Here’s a list of our favorite homemade coffee recipes to top off the New Year – enjoy!

  1. I’m a caramel lover and that’s why I picked this simple recipe for Easy Caramel Latte from Naive Cook Cooks!

    Easy Caramel Latte

    Easy Caramel Latte

  2. Here’s a similar recipe with a kick: Salted Caramel Iced Coffee Cocktail from Pizzazzerie – I love a good salt/caramel combo!

    Salted Caramel Iced Caramel Cocktail

    Salted Caramel Iced Caramel Cocktail

  3. Another fascinating flavor combination is this Yuanyang – Coffee & Tea Latte recipe from Sandra’s Easy Cooking.

    Coffee & Tea Latte

    Coffee & Tea Latte

  4. It’s still cold out and not too late to carry out the holidays with this warming Coffee and Eggnog mix suggestion from Dirty Whisk.

    Coffee and Eggnog

    Coffee and Eggnog

  5. For some lighter fare, check out this Skinny Iced Peppermint Mocha from Tar of Lemons.

    Skinny Iced Peppermint Mocha

    Skinny Iced Peppermint Mocha


Coffee Recipes To Keep You Warm

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, a good cup of coffee can be your best friend. It can help you wake up when it’s dark outside, keep you going on last-minute shopping trips, and nothing beats a heartwarming after-dinner coffee around the table with family. Coffee is the perfect companion to keep you warm for outdoor activities in the cold and snow. Keurig Canada has created the following three winter coffee recipes, complete with a holiday twist for twice the fun.

Leprechaun’s Latte

Leprechaun's Latte

Leprechaun’s Latte

What you’ll need:

• 1 Van Houtte Holiday Blend K-Cup pod

• 120 ml (4 oz.) skim milk

• 30 ml (1 oz.) Irish cream liqueur

• Whipped cream


1. Brew 175-235 ml (6-8 oz.) of Van Houtte Holiday Blend coffee directly into a 415 ml (14 oz.) mug.

2. While the coffee is brewing, warm the milk using a milk frother.

3. When coffee is ready, add 120 ml (4 oz.) of warm milk to coffee.

4. Add the Irish cream liqueur.

5. Top with whipped cream.

Gingerbread Spice Latte

Gingerbread Spice Latte

Gingerbread Spice Latte

What you’ll need:

• 1 Van Houtte Holiday Blend K-Cup pod

• 1/3 teaspoon (2 ml) ground ginger

• 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 ml) ground cinnamon

• Pinch of ground nutmeg

• Pinch of ground cloves

• 1/4 tablespoon (4 ml) vanilla extract

• Sugar (to taste)

• 1 cup (250 ml) milk

• Whipped cream


1. Brew 120 ml (4 oz.) of Van Houtte Holiday Blend coffee directly into a 415 ml (14 oz.) cup

2. Add all the spices and the vanilla.

3. Stir and sweeten to taste.

4. Froth the milk and add to coffee.

5. Top with whipped cream.

Candy Cane Latte

Candy Cane Latte

Candy Cane Latte

What you’ll need:

• 1 Timothy’s Christmas Blend K-Cup pod

• 120 ml (4 oz.) milk

• 1 crushed candy cane

• Whipped cream


1. Place the crushed candy cane in a 415 ml (14 oz.) cup, and reserve a few pieces.

2. Brew 175 ml (6 oz.) of Timothy’s Holiday Blend coffee directly into the cup with the crushed candy cane.

3. Stir well to make sure the candy cane has melted.

4. Froth the milk and add to the coffee

5. Top with whipped cream.

6. Garnish with crushed candy cane.

More information on these holiday coffee blends can be found at Keurig.ca.

Source of the recipes: Keurig Canada Inc.