Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Hey blogosphere! So my New Years resolution was to get a job. Yeah, I know I just posted about how I do construction, but I needed a more consistent income. So… a few weeks ago I requested prayer at church for a job. The next day, my wife noticed a post from my favorite coffee shop that they were still hiring for one more full-time position. I immediately sent in my resume, and then went in the next day just to stock up on beans because I was getting perilously low. The owner just happened to be behind the bar and  told me he got my resume and said we would have an interview after the holidays. Last Friday we had our interview and I was hired on the spot to start Monday! YES!  I’ll be learning to be a Barista and also putting my construction skills to good use in renovating the cafe. I just finished my first day and am pumped to be a part of such a great and successful team of people.

As part of my training at the hands of a bona-fide national champion, I pulled my first shot of espresso today and made my very first latte (see below.) It was fun, learning the particulars of the process, from tamping the grounds, to pouring the art on top. Judging from my first day, I think I’ll like the coffee business just fine.

Cool coffee legends

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Like all important things, Coffee has many origin stories and legends that surround its pervasive spread around the world. And like all legends, facts are fuzzy.

How was coffee discovered? The legend goes like this.

A Ethiopian goat herder named Khalid was doing his thing in the hills when he noticed his goats acting strangely. They seemed to be uncharacteristically energetic. He saw that they were eating strange cherry-like fruit from some shrubs near the edge of the field. Curious, he tried some himself, and was amazed at their effect. He stayed up all night, invigorated by the strange food’s power. His mind was active as he contemplated this discovery.

The next morning, he gathered the cherries in a bag and took them to the local priest, explaining their strange powers of energy and clear thought. The priest grabbed the bag and threw it into the fire, saying, “These magic beans are from the DEVIL!”

Minutes passed as the small rectory filled with the fantastic aroma of roasting coffee beans. Finally the priest could stand it no longer and snatched the bag out of the fire, declaring, ” Anything that smells this heavenly must be from God himself. And that’s how coffee was discovered.

During the next hundred years or so, coffee, and especially the seeds were controlled by the Arab and African states where it grew naturally. So how did it spread around the world?

In 1714, King Louis XIV was granted a gift of a coffee tree for the royal arboretum in Paris. One night nine years later, an enterprising naval lieutenant named Gabriel de Clieu snuck in and stole the precious tree to stow onboard. His ship sailed with the tide and was far out to sea before the theft was discovered. After a perilous sea voyage that included a stretch in the doldrums, being boarded by pirates, and nearly being wrecked by a giant storm, the ship landed in Martinique, where he was able to start a plantation that is the ancestor of all the coffee plants in the Americas.

How did Brazil get coffee?

During those early years of the coffee trade, its seeds and secrets remained fiercely guarded. The Portuguese emperor sent Francisco de Mello Palheta to French Guinea to arbitrate a dispute between the French and the Dutch. This was his overt mission. His covert mission was to steal some fresh coffee seedlings to bring back to what would become the largest coffee producing nation in the world. During the week of intense negotiations, Palheta seduced the Governor’s wife. At the end of the week during the celebration dinner, she presented him with a thank-you bouquet of flowers for his “services” to their country. Hidden inside the bouquet were several tiny coffee seedlings! Brazilian Coffee dominance here we come.

If you’d like to know more, visit the National Coffee Association site.

Or read “The Book of Coffee and Tea” by Joel, David, and Karl Schapira. This book has nearly everything you might want to know about either drink. WARNING: Before reading this book, I could just drink any old coffee. After reading this book, I am a coffee snob.

In keeping with my snobbery, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the best cafe in Syracuse: Cafe Kubal. They roast beans everyday and have a unique and tasty flavor. Each bag comes with the date it was roasted (usually just a day or two before purchase) and a taste description.Example:My current bag of Sumatra Lintong- French Roast. Aroma: sage and thyme accents. Taste: roasted cocoa. Body: heavy. Aftertaste: tobacco

So you want to be snobby about something but aren’t sure how? I’ll tell you in these three easy steps.

1. Pick something to either swear off altogether, or get way into. This should be something the majority of the world doesn’t really spend too much time thinking about. For example: coffee, shaving, or shopping at Walmart.

2. Cultivate your knowledge and taste for what you choose. Ex. Know that the best coffee is made from Arabica beans and that cheap coffee is made with Robusta beans that have twice as much caffeine but are known for their poor taste, compared with Arabica beans. Or that shaving with a DE razor gives a much smoother and more comfortable shave that any of the modern five-bladed monstrosities.

3. Proclaim your opinions to others when they use the inferior product or activity. “Oh no thanks, I only drink locally roasted Arabica coffee.”  or ” I just can’t support a corporation that victimizes its employees and negatively affects the US trade imbalance so much.”

That’s it! Now you can be a snob too! The best part is, you can be snobby about almost anything. Yogurt, pens, books, farmer’s markets, diapers, sushi, mutual funds,  shampoo, etc…

lg310700Here’s proof. I’m reading “The Book of Coffee and Tea” and of course am all excited about coffee now. I have a list of all the best beans in the world and want to try them all. But first I had a bag of Dunkin Donuts whole bean that I had to use first. I know, I know. Definitely not world class coffee. I got it before I read the book. Anyway, I have a french press that my parents gave me when my son was born. But no grinder. So I have this bag of whole beans just sitting there. I tried ye olde mortar and pestle but that took forever. So I decided I needed to buy a grinder but there’s a catch. We joined the Compact this year, which means no buying anything new except for food and safety related things. (there’s other exceptions too but that’s beside the point)

I had a gift card to Wegmans left over from Christmas, so even if the grinder didn’t qualify as food related, I figured I could use my card and the purchase could still be considered “safe.” When We got to the store, my wife started looking at seeds for our vegetable garden while I went in search of a coffee grinder. They only had two models and one was huge, so I was stuck with only one choice, white, or black. With a french press, you need a course grind and this machine didn’t have any grind settings. You just have to eyeball it. So I decided to wait on buying one.

Later that day, after church, we were over at my parents so they could get their baby fix. I told Mom that I needed to find a good coffee grinder while I was looking at hers, out on the counter.

“Why, doesn’t the one we got for you work anymore?” She said.

“What do you mean?” I asked “You only gave me a French Press, not a grinder.”

She looks at me suddenly and holds up her finger. “Wait a minute!” She says. She bends down and reaches under a kitchen counter and comes up with…a brand new coffee grinder, still in the box! Sweet.

So you may say: coincidence, but I say no. God. The very day that I finally decided to buy one, then held off at the last minute, only to recieve one a few hours later for free… That’s God. So thanks, God, for the coffee grinder…and thanks Mom too. MMmmmm coffee.