On the rare occasion, small stones and rocks may make their way into an order of beans. Why does this happen?
At Green Beanery, our coffee farmers are often based in developing countries and are not always working with mechanized sorting processes. Often coffee is spread out to dry in fields, where it would be easy for a small stone or other foreign objects to mix in with the beans, and the screens the farmers use to sort the beans might not catch these unwelcome objects either. That is why we recommend customers check their bean orders for small foreign objects before grinding.
In light of the upcoming Canada Day celebrations, we thought to ask: what would our coffee addiction have looked like then?
The good news: we absolutely would have been able to forage for wild coffee in various parts of Canada - Quebec, Ontario and the coastal regions. Oh, the savings! Once gathered, we would have had to set about removing the coffee beans from the coffee cherries. Do you know how to do that? Do you know what a cherry looks like? A coffee plant? Let's say we managed to dry some beans, how would we roast and grind them all by ourselves with nothing but a spoon and candle? And we'd still never arrive at a sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, peppermint white chocolate mocha with light whip and extra syryp, so what's the point?
Truly, things were different then in this part of the world. The standard rule of thumb for making coffee in the 1800s was to boil the coffee grounds in water - the exact opposite of our current wisdom on the subject. It is thought that this strategy was more to do with just surviving the drink because water was filthy with contaminants. Over time, taste became impossible to ignore any longer and coffee thought progressed to adding the coffee grounds to boiled water and the beverage grew in leaps and bounds in popularity.
There was more to contend with 150 years ago beyond foul taste and dangerous water, however. We could expect our coffee beans to be disgusting right from the get-go, having been changed for the worse by seawater in transit on sailing vessels. The resulting stench was often disguised by coffee merchants with dyes made from rust(!) and other concoctions such as beef blood caramelized in sulfuric acid.
The situation was not at all fresh.
Roasting equipment: let's call it a great lack and one that would most certainly have affected flavour.
Meanwhile, coffee grinders - not very precise instruments at this stage. We would have had to lower our sights from a fine grind to the adventure of zero expectations, and, knowing little else, we might possibly have liked our coffee excruciatingly bitter and without a pulse. "I'd like a short, flat, burnt cup of swill please. Full stench."
The reality of early coffee should have driven drinkers to give up altogether and focus on alcohol, twigs, elbows, anything else, but some coffee historians think that the smell of coffee when roasted (even this era of coffee) is so good, it spurred people to keep at it.
In short, we have much to be thankful for 150 years later.
Well, not quite a bottle - more of a cup. A KeepCup. Not many know this line of reusable takeout cups is from Australia, launched by brother-sister duo Jamie and Abigail Forsyth in 2009 as a solution to some of the excess packaging generated by their fresh food takeaway business.
The need for a reusable container struck Abigail one morning as she handed her toddler daughter warm milk in a sippy cup. "Imagine if I gave her milk in a disposable cup and then discarded it?" thought Abigail. "That idea seemed so wasteful, yet I did it with coffee twice a day! This moment was the call to action," she recounts in the story of how KeepCup came to be.
After two years of research and perfecting their original inspiration, Abigail and her brother unveiled the KeepCup at the 2009 Melbourne Design Market: they were mobbed. The Forsyths credit their cafe background with helping them to come up with a cup that suited both drinkers and baristas who needed a design that wouldn't ruin their crema on first shot.
The KeepCup is not only barista friendly but BPA/BPS free, lightweight, virtually unbreakable and adorable. They're also selling through the roof Down Under right now after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's three-part War on Waste series finished its run earlier this month. The last episode looked at the life cycle of a disposable coffee cup and upended the popular misconception that the 1 billion cups sent to landfills each year were recyclable. As a result, a shocked nation has fuelled a 400% increase in KeepCup sales the Forsyth's warehouse business is working around the clock to satisfy.
The main revelation driving the demand has been the number of people who didn't realize disposable cups weren't recyclable, Abigail told SmartCompany, an Australian news outlet.
The same misconception flourishes here in Toronto, even though we're reminded on a regular basis by local news media that our so-called "disposable" coffee cups contain a plastic type lining that renders them unsuitable for recycling (according to the city's solid waste management division, they're "contaminants" that belong in the garbage, not the recycling container).
In 2009, the Toronto Star newspaper estimated Torontonians were throwing away around a million cups a day. A blue bin state of confusion finally prompted the city to launch the Bad Things Happen public education campaign in 2016 to help the public identify what and what not to recycle. Coffee cups were among the top five culprits in the What Not category.
Meanwhile, the KeepCup pictured belongs to the author and it's been a friend on the go since the beginning of this year when "a New Year's resolution I can keep" included this one entry: "use a KeepCup. Just do it." That's one big check (mate), thanks to Abigail and Jamie.
To consider a reusable option from our KeepCup selection for yourself, continue here. We carry the original line made from BPA-free, food grade thermal, recyclable polypropylene. The KeepCup Brew made from soda-lime, fully tempered glass with a redesigned hard lid and bigger mouth opening. A version sporting a cork grip band sourced from a sustainable cork forest in Portugal. And, lastly, the KeepCup Longplay, designed to extend heat retention and keep cold drinks cooler longer.
* In Australian slang, bottler is an expression of delight; a person or thing that excites admiration.
News that a cafe in Tokyo was offering snooze space to customers prompted, for us, a timely reminder about the benefits of coffee naps.
In the case of Nescafe Harajuku, with the purchase of at least one food item, customers were eligible to score a two-hour siesta on one of 10 customized beds designed to recline at any angle, complete with adjustable lighting and music to aid slumber [pictured below]. A complimentary decaf was served prior to. [See: Tokyo's new nap cafe is an actual dream come true]
As lovely as this sounds, Tokyo's Nescafe Harajuku wasn't maximizing the real buck-up potential of a hit of actual caffeine followed by a brief doze.
As it turns out, coffee naps are a thing and they can help to reinvigorate us more than just a coffee or a nap by itself, but the length of the wind down is everything. [See: Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone]
Various studies show that consuming caffeine without dawdling - perhaps an espresso or iced-coffee - before settling in for a nap - timed to last no more than 20 minutes - can provide a significant energy boost.
The reason is, however, snooze-inducing sciencey.
Sleep is regulated by adenosine molecules in our brains. When these molecules bind to their specific receptors in the neural membrane, our brain wave activity slows down and we feel tired. Some substances can imitate these natural neurotransmitters like adenosine and help themselves to their receptors, which can't tell the difference. Caffeine is one such trickster.
The effect of caffeine on an awake subject is to steal some of the brain spots that belong to adenosine, blocking it from doing its job and curbing some of the drowsiness it would otherwise produce.
But just as the adenosine build-up which regulates sleep dissipates during rest, adenosine declines in our coffee nap also. With less adenosine to compete with in the battle over receptors, caffeine consumed prior to a 20-minute nap thus produces a greater effect. Our neural activity instead of slowing down, speeds up.
And there's another reason for that boost. A short nap is perfectly timed to benefit from a caffeine energy surge, which typically kicks in around 30 minutes after drinking.
Just be careful not to mistime your coffee nap. Wait too long after finishing your coffee and the caffeine will hit beforehand, leading to sleep disruption and poorer performance on waking.
Coffee naps won't resolve a sleep deficit either. But as a way to improve a power nap, they will leave you feeling full of beans.
Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. ~ Alex Levine, Irish actor and musician
First published on March 11, 2016
If the spirit enlivening, fine rugged roar of an Irish coffee, (emphasis on) well done, has ever struck you as something of a revelation, the story of its origin will further heighten this notion.
As all good things often are, it was a stroke of genius on the fly; in this case, in the midst of a storm. Pitted as it was against the forces of nature, this wee blast of brilliance — likened to being kicked by a mule with a velvet hoof — was intended as a tonic for embattled late-night travellers.
In particular, these travellers: the wet and weary passengers aboard a seaplane in the winter of 1943, held back by poor weather from their late-night flight across the Atlantic from the village of Foynes in the midwest of Ireland. Foynes was then one of Europe's largest civilian airports and served as the last port of call and refueling on the country’s eastern shore for transatlantic seaplanes.
When the decision was made to turn around, catering staff at Foynes’ flying boat base were alerted, and, Joe Sheridan, head chef of the Foynes’ terminal restaurant — 'terminal' a word that should not precede what was then considered one of Ireland’s best eateries — was asked to whip up something warm for the incoming passengers. So Joe did what has revived so many during trying times: he gave them liquor, adding Irish whiskey with a trick of sugar and cream to the passengers’ coffee and the rest is history. When Joe was asked if he’d used Brazilian coffee, he is said to have quipped: “No. That was Irish coffee!” And, by Jingo, that, it was.
A few weeks later, Joe shared his new recipe with his boss, Ireland’s famed hotelier and business innovator Brendan O’Regan (who also gave the world its first duty-free shop), and they both agreed this touch of the Irish had to stay.
From then on, Joe’s “Irish” coffee was served to all of Foynes’ passengers — some of them famous, including Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller (pictured), along with Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bob Hope and Humphrey Bogart, among others. Ultimately, Joe's recipe made its way across the Atlantic to America, most notably thanks to the efforts of the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco and the travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, who introduced it there.
Joe’s 1943 ingredients have been altered, added to, jazzed up, as well as criminally cheapened over the years, so, in celebration of Joe’s original innovation, and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, here is Joe’s yesteryear recipe in all of its sweet, bitter and fiery glory taken from Foynes’ flying boat museum website (which is well worth a browse; in fact, Google to research Foynes' history, and O'Regan's biography further: it's fascinating, including this video about the golden era of giant flying boats).
Suggestions have been added in bold:
In your Foynes Irish Coffee Glass, place a teaspoon and fill with boiling water for five seconds. (Replace the 6-ounce “classic” Foynes stemmed glass with an 8-ounce handled mug or tempered glass mug for practical reasons. If you actually do possess a Foynes glass, congratulations!).
In this pre-warmed glass, put one teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure of Irish Whiskey. (For the sake of historical record, Joe used Paddy Old Irish Whiskey from the Cork Distilleries Company. Do not leave out the sugar. Sugar is key to keeping the cream afloat).
Fill the glass to within 1cm of the brim with really hot, strong black (French press) coffee. Stir well to melt all the sugar. (Joe used Ireland’s Bewley’s brand but any freshly ground, brewed coffee will do. Try a medium-roast Colombian, dark-roasted Costa Rican, Guatemalan in a darker roast or medium-roast Sumatran. Sidenote: Bewley does have operations in the U.S., under Rebecca’s Cafe in Boston and Java City in California).
Then carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee. (The cream — use double or whipping cream — should be whisked just short of stiff. Use spray-can cream and you will defile the memory of Joe and his coffee contribution to humanity).
Do not stir after the cream is added, as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream.
And, lastly, as this Celtic coaster prompts: sláinte!
Our Coffee of the Week Club has been up and running since last summer, so it's rather remiss of us not to have mentioned it here before. Let's get to it.
As the purveyor of the world's largest variety of coffee beans, it can be a daunting experience trying to decide what to select. It has also long been a goal of ours to provide more in-depth information about the beans we carry in order to make that decision process easier. To that end, last summer, we launched the Coffee of the Week Club as a way to tour our extensive inventory with greater ease and less confusion via a featured coffee that includes the added bonus of $5 off for online orders.
Our current Coffee of the Week, which ends after midnight on February 22, is Brazilian Santos 2/3 SC 17/18 SS FC - a particularly good pick for creating an espresso base or for blending with other beans.
Santos, a name many might be familiar with, refers to the port much of Brazil's coffee passes through. Located in the city of Santos in the southeastern state of São Paulo, the port of Santos is Brazil's biggest and Latin America's busiest, established in 1541 as a result of the country's bustling coffee trade; a bustle which continues to this day - Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of coffee. As such, it will come as no surprise to learn, given the importance of coffee to the country's economy, development and culture, that Santos is also home to a coffee museum.
Museu do Café (aka the Coffee Museum) is housed in an iconic building once known as the "Coffee Palace". As part of a countrywide celebration in 1922 to mark a full century of independence from Portugal (after three centuries of Portuguese colonization), the Coffee Exchange Palace (Bolsa de Café) made its debut as the coffee equivalent of Wall Street. This is where coffee was weighed and traded before it shipped out to overseas markets.
To be included in these price discussions, brokers were required to purchase a chair in the Trading Room [pictured] - a prestigious inner sanctum decorated with stained glass ceilings and artwork by the Brazilian painter Benedito Calixto de Jesus (considered one of the greatest exponents of Brazilian painting of the early twentieth century). These wooden chairs (which are said to have cost as much as a house at the time) are still to be found in the former Trading Room, now preserved as the museum's main room. The building's exquisite interior, restored after years of effort, is a highlight of any visit to the museum, which features vintage photographs, antique farming tools, storage sacks, scales and tasting tables in its celebration of Brazil's rich and lively coffee history. Explore the museum further through a video tour here.
For more Coffee of the Week insights, subscribe to our mailing list. Be sure to select the checkbox for Coffee Club at the end of the form.
Each new Coffee of the Week begins every Thursday and ends the following Wednesday. There is no obligation to order: if you like what's on offer for that week, simply add the $5-off promo code we send you to your online purchase at any time during the week it applies to.
Christmas is nearly upon us and, once again, you're here at our online store, thinking: "Can I give them coffee two years in a row? Who else can I give coffee to? Is coffee really all that of a gift?"
First of all, coffee is the best gift anyone has ever given or received, so no fear there. And, yes; you can give coffee to everyone you know who favours it but it is preferable to not repeat yourself from one year to the next.
But don't worry. At Green Beanery, we're more than just coffee: we're also coffee equipment and coffee accessories, as well as a number of other things entirely unrelated to coffee, which is all to your good at this crunch time of year. So put away your panic. We've got you covered and covered well, my dears.
Please step this way, and let's begin.
If you're ordering online, the best thing you can do at this point, to ensure timely delivery, is a gift card. We've got scads of electronic gift cards, including Christmas and Hanukkah cards, as well as gift cards that will do nicely for sending best wishes for the New Year's. Make a jump start on other occasions too with our Chinese New Year's and back-to-school selection, and, for those brave enough to be moving house in winter, give them our housewarming and coffee-to-the-rescue gift card options.
If you're able to order online and pick-up in-store, here are some ideas that are sure to please. A number-one pleaser would have to be the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker. To be sure, it's an odd, rather plain-looking gob of plastic (that is BPA and phthalates free, mind, and made of food-safe copolyester), but, nevertheless a gob of plastic few will comprehend the wonder of based on looks alone. Yet, a wonder the AeroPress is, day in and day out, no exaggeration. This will change your morning coffee routine forever - it's fast, it couldn't be easier to clean, it's versatile, durable and the coffee is so damn good; for $39.95, this little cracker will make you believe in the magic of Christmas again. True story: I gave this to someone, very fussy, last February and they're still, nearly a year later, telling me how much joy it brings them and I have to admit: I may never top a gift like the AeroPress.
It's hard to make something as thrillingly simple as the Aeropress better but they did by ensuring you need never be without it with the AeroPress Coffee Travel Kit, which is basically the Aeropress and a tote bag, and for more dollars, includes a Hario mini hand-grinder. Camping, cottages, conferences, hotels, work ... regardless of your location, the Aeropress is good to go.
With all the palaver about artisanal Third Wave coffeehouse culture, it's hard not to feel swayed by all the frou-frou and crave some of that cool cafe chic for yourself at home. Certainly, for coffee lovers, some of these accoutrements make for lovely and useful gift ideas. One such item is the Hario Buono Stainless Steel Kettle - with its sleek beehive design and gooseneck spout, the Buono is beloved by serious baristas and home-users alike for its reliable, precision pour and is something of a must-have for anyone attempting the pour-over method of coffee brewing. Take it up a notch with the Bonavita 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle BV382510V - the extra finger grip and steady water stream is a real bonus for the novice to pour-over and the 60-minute heat-and-hold and real-time temperature display works beautifully for any hot beverage.
Like the Hario kettle, the Chemex pourover coffeemaker is another timeless statement piece that is both lovely to look at and lovely to use, and easy on the wallet. The classic Chemex has been restored to a place of adulation by third wave coffee connoisseurs for its function and beauty: so iconic is its hourglass design fastened with a wood collar and tie, it remains on permanent display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Choose your size preference from our selection here. For the coffee lover who has everything, you might want to consider the divine Chemex Hand Blown Glass Stovetop Water Kettle or, better still, the mouthwatering Chemex Ottomatic Coffee Brewer, which unbelievably automates the entire art of pour over without the bother.
Keeping with a more lavish theme, the ROK espresso maker is a uniquely graceful design that is sure to win a gasp once opened (check out the neat-o reusable metal container it comes in). Described as an "AeroPress on steroids," the ROK (in a different incarnation, known as the Presso) is touted as one of the best espresso makers for under $500 - it also comes in black, red and copper (which is the one I want, Santa). A "Green Heroes" design winner, it doesn't use electricity either, so it's eco-friendly to boot. But it does require hand power and a good grinder for optimal success, which is why they made the companion ROK manual coffee grinder - a looker like the espresso maker, that takes less than half the revolutions of a standard manual grinder and around only 30 seconds to grind a double espresso, the same time as it would using an electric model.
Another coffee grinder that has been making waves for us this year is the Baratza Sette 270. The coffee geeks in your life will love this one - awarded the 2016 Best New Product by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the Sette 270 has been getting "game-changer" raves all over and the raves are deserved: expect superior speed (this is a burr grinder that moves fast) with an excellent, even grind and speeds of 3.5g/sec for espresso and 5.5g/sec for filter coffee, a light body at 7 lbs, nearly zero grinds retention and easy clean-up. One reviewer compared the release of this model to Apple unveiling their newest iPhone. It's that big of a deal.
For something a lot more budget friendly, the reusable KeepCup makes for a very thoughtful present for both the environment and someone who loves their brew with a pop of colour. At our store on the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, we keep a range of these cups on display, as well as gift sets ready made-up with coffee or tea and an assortment of little delights that make for attractive stocking stuffers. Stop by for a browse and take a moment to retreat from the madness with a treat from the menu and a seat beside our Christmas tree.
Because the weather outside is frightful
But our store is so delightful
And since you hate going out in the storm
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Halloween superstitions and folklore abound, as we all know. But what about coffee superstitions? Let's get on board with some, shall we?
Who doesn't spill coffee now and then? It's a nuisance, sometimes a damn nuisance, but according to superstitious coffee logic in the Middle East (and elsewhere), spilling coffee is considered a sign of good luck. So next time you whoopsadaisy coffee onto your bag and coat, know this: "You're so lucky."
In fact, aim to spill coffee. In Greece, spilling coffee on a coffee plaque (find one if you can) or a picture that includes coffee, is a sign money is on its way to you. Could this turn the economy around?
Next, Finland: If a bubble forms on the surface of your coffee but moves away from you, expect to lose money. If the bubble moves towards you, expect to gain some. If you blow the bubble in the desired direction, consider this creating good luck for yourself.
Moving on from Finland to bubbles in general.
If they form in the middle of your cup, prepare yourself for some bad weather; around the rim signals a beautiful day ahead. (In fact, high atmospheric pressure can force bubbles to the surface center so there is actually some science to this).
Try to catch any bubbles anywhere on the surface of your coffee because doing so is said to bring good luck if they are caught with a spoon and consumed.
Is gender important? Apparently. If a female brews your coffee and then spills it, her lover is thinking of her. This is significant if you thought you were her one and only. Perhaps if you had made her coffee she wouldn't have taken another lover.
If a cup holding coffee is dropped by accident, this spells misfortune. That's right. Your coffee has spilled, your cup is likely broken but in case you weren't able to ascertain this for yourself: that scenario is considered not lucky.
But if coffee must spill and you have any power of choice in the situation, spill the coffee on a saucer - yours, someone else's - as this indicates money is about to flow in. Because your saucer is over-flowing? Who knows.
Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic: Drinking coffee standing up should be avoided as it portends plans for the day will not come to fruition. There is a body of research that recommends drinking and eating while sitting down, but it isn't immediately apparent why taking coffee standing up would bring ruination.
Nevertheless, this superstition ranks as a good reminder to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the most important drink of the day with the pause it deserves. As do you.
Happy Coffeeween, everyone! And may this time of celebration be free of pranks and scares when your mouth is full of coffee.
Artwork: Catwoman cover Vol 3 56 (DC Comics), by Adam Hughes, deviantART