Tag Archive: tea


How to pick a coffee shop

So as you know coffee is a passion of mine. Being the shortest of the four guys in my family (even though I’m 6″ 2′), I’ve been told that if I didnt drink so much, I may have been the tallest. I might start a monthly thing where I do something on coffee (subjects on my previous coffee post) every month.

Everyone knows that theres a difference between Maxwell House and premium coffee. Thats not a problem, the problem is that signs outside of coffee houses aren’t clear on which they are really brewing. This blog is for those of you who have been curious about that coffee house across the street, or for those curious if you should even bother with that kiosk in the airport.

If you just want a coffee, its quick and simple to tell if its going to be quality; ask what they are brewing. Look for answers that give a specific reigon or country. Lots of roasters will buy cheap, leftover coffee from farmers and give them names like “breakfast roast”, “light roast”, or “Columbian”. Does this mean that they will be awful coffees with these names? Not necessarily, but its a good indicator. Some indicators of good coffees? Descriptions of the roasting process. “Sun Dried Kenya” or “Aged Indonesia” is a great clue that you are going to be drinking quality brew.

Ok, so size isnt everything, but if their machine looks like something you can get at wal-mart for $50.00, then it cant be a quality drink. Its true that Great espresso machines arent always huge, but honestly, most are.

Take a look around the store, and look at their menus; is it just coffee and cappuccinos? Or do they have specialties? Is the coffee from Seattle’s Best, or is it from a local roaster? Is their coffee brewed in the same kind of pot as they do at your work? Some shops just try to copy Starbucks, and offer a worse quality in the process, while others branch out and offer something new.

On that note, did you know that an independent coffee shop is the most likely business to fail within two years? If they are going to be a lasting store, then they will have to have found a way to set them apart from big chains like Starbucks. Some stores offer soup and sandwiches, others offer teas like mate (mah tay) and special chai blends, some have rice and almond milk, and others have a constant lineup of local music for you. Ask what keeps their business afloat, and figure out what makes them special.

Here’s the most important part, though. If your coffee is called “light blend”, and is brewed through a coffee maker that has “Waffle House” scratched off from the side, but turns out being your best cup of Joe ever…. Keep going. If the espresso machine only cost $20, but it’s the best latte you have had… keep ordering it. Theres no reason to be snobby about something you love, and your local coffee shop needs the business!

So go out there, and try something new. These people need your business, and won’t judge you for asking questions!

Coffee Time

Ok, so I am working on a collaborative blog with some of my friends. It is going to cover certain creature comforts that we all enjoy from coffee to restaurants, to wine, cigars, cafes, and more. Obviously, my area of expertise in which I will be writing will be coffee,  some teas, and probably a few restaurants. As a little promotion for our blog, I figured I could put my first post on here.

So how do you drink your coffee? Do you drink what ever the cheap stuff is at your office coffee maker? Something instant that kind of resembles coffee when you think really hard about it? What I’m encouraging you do is drink coffee with the intention of enjoying it, not to give you a little rush to make it till 5:00. Drinking it solely for the caffeine is like using a wheelchair when you roll your ankle. This is why coffee and caffeine get shown in a  bad light; people drink it in excess, getting the jitters, acid reflux, or even ulcers.

Something you may not know about coffee is the good side effects. All of these come from two cups (thats 16 fl oz)  of coffee or less, which I have been told is the most one should drink in a day.

  • Coffee helps regulate your blood pressure; in small amounts, it actually dilates your veins and arteries, lowering your blood pressure slightly. It should go without saying that too much will definitely raise it, though.
  • It helps your short term memory stay sharper; caffeine passes the blood brain barrier, and can momentarily help you with that last minute cramming you do from time to time.
  • Coffee in small amounts can help your exercise. In a test on cyclists, the ones given caffeine went 29% farther than the ones that went without it. (working on citation)
  • It helps you stay “regular”. I dont think you should need any more details.
  • Coffee increases your coolness by at least 79%, just by sitting back and sipping on it. That is a fact.
  • Coffee has no calories! Well thats not technically true, I believe that the ratio is something like 5 calories per 8oz, but hey, compare it to a small can of Red Bull, and the calorie count is 110!

Now that I have you on the coffee bandwagon, there is something you need to understand; coffee drinks such as McDonalds, nescafe, maxwell house, and those pouches in your hotel room are not coffee. Yes, maybe they pass as coffee, because they do technically contain coffee beans, there is not nearly as much quality as needed to make yourself a decent cup of joe. Its like calling a pack of parliament lights cigars; yes there is tobacco, but bring it into a cigar shop, and you will get laughed at. Most of these kinds of coffees do the minimal. They pay the cheapest prices for beans that may not be completely ripe, roast them for a minimal amount of time, or till they reach their first “pop”, immediately grind them for a paper filter, freeze dry them, and who knows how long they stay on the shelves?

So here is what I want you to do; go out and have some real coffee.

I’m not saying that I want you to swing by Starbucks’ Drive Thru and grab a grande drip with cream and sugar, I want you to sit down and enjoy coffee as it should be. If you can, go buy a French Press and a grinder, or else find a coffee shop nearby that will press your coffee for you (most Starbucks will if you ask). Get you some gourmet coffee (preferably a Latin American coffee if you aren’t used to a press).

Heres the simple directions for making a french press;

1. Coffee: 4 heaping scoops of whole beans ground coarsely does it for me in my 8 cup press.

2. Water: as close to boiling as you can get it, coffee brews best in temperatures between 210 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Let it sit for 4 minutes. Dont press the big metal rod down just yet. I know it, its hard to wait, but just hold on. After the 4 minutes are up, press the grounds to the bottom, and…

4. You got the Java!

Don’t rush to the fridge and get your Coffee Mate caramel macciato flavored creamer- give it a try black. Smell the aroma, and let out a big slurp as you get your first few sips. This is how coffee is meant to be enjoyed, not as a stimulant  that you feel needing an intravenous injection. Drink it out on your porch on these fall evenings or on a Saturday morning before you get going.

I hope this is inspiring to you to rethink your coffee addiction.

Other topics I’m working on in the near future: Cafes in Nashville, how to pick a coffee to brew, how to tell if the cafe you walk into is quality, coffee shop 101, and how to drink your coffee(press, espresso machine, percolator,etc),