Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday's Coffee Realization

As much as I love my home brewed coffee in the morning, sometimes that just isn't possible. This morning I turned to the dark side and as a matter of convenience I got a cup of coffee at McHell! I know, I know, how could I right? Well I was in a hurry and it was on my way... Don't judge! lol It's not actually half bad.

Sure it's no single origin, fair trade, organic Sumatran bean roasted just days before I enjoy it... but it's decent. The moral of this story is that sometimes you just need a cup of Joe and I'm not too much of a coffee snob that "regular" coffees turn me off. At the end of the day... it's all coffee. Some coffees just happen to be (way) better!!

Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters

Last week I was privilaged enough to try some beans from BCR (Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters). They sent me two delicious varieties; A single origin coffee from Peru and an espresso blend called Home Brew.
The packaging is great. The beans arrived in tin cans! I loved this idea because they already had their own airtight storage when they came. That's a handy feature. Plus, the cans are not only recycleable, but reusable as well! They also stamp the date the beans are best used by too, so there is no guessing! So the packaging get's a 5 out of 5!

The Peru (COCLA/El Palomar) is 100% organic and fair trade certified. Fair trade is a huge deal for me, so that was a plus! When I used my french press and the Peru had great body! It was sweet and complex. It was great in the drip machine too. It had a nutty aftertaste to it that I really enjoyed. The sweet notes make it a perfect desert coffee, plus it's a lighter roast which makes it great after meals. It's not too heavy, bold or bitter... it's just right!

Home Brew was amazing! Although it is an espresso blend, it worked well with all methods of preparation, especially french press. This blend combined three different beans from South and Central America, all organic too! It had a rich chocolate taste and was full of body! It wasn't very sweet, but on the flip side... It wasn't bitter at all! This is a bold blend, has been my "go to" bean for my morning brew. It's a darker roast that stands up well against cream if you're into that. The cream didn't dilute it's delicious coffee notes at all, in fact I think it brought the richness to the forefront of this complex blend.

Of the two varieties I tried from BCR I'd have to say Home Brew would be my favorite. It was just so warm, rich and complex. It made a heck of a good iced coffee too!
Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters do it right! From the packaging to the beans, it's all on point! So, if you want coffee from roasters that know what they are doing, and do it very well... check out Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters! 

Delicious Weekend

This weekend i have been sampling some amazing coffees! Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters sent me a delicious single origin from Peru and I have continued to enjoy Stumptown's delicious Hair Bender blend.  I'll have a full review of Bellingham Bay in the next few days.

I'm also working on writing a newsletter that will feature my favorite roasters, recipes and other java related ramblings!

Have a delicious weekend!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Today I had the distinct pleasure of trying a bean blend from Stumptown Coffee Roasters!  Everything about Stumptown from their ultra hip website to their masterfully roasted beans says "I love coffee!".

Let's start at their beautiful website. It's easy to navigate, interactive and just plain cool! They have a lot of high resolution photos to get you in the coffee mood as well.

Their packaging, like their website, is interactive and cool! On the front of the lined paper bag is a neat little "pocket" that holds a card with the coffee's name and information. The card has details on the bean's origins and flavor profiles. It's a neat idea, I like a lot. The bag also has a stamp on the bottom with the date the coffee was roasted. My beans were roasted only three days before I opened them... now that's fresh coffee!

The coffee they sent over to me was their "Hair bender" blend. This blend is an exotic blend of beans from three different regions.  It's a complex espresso blend that is not just for espresso machines!
French press preparation is my favorite way to enjoy it, it has great body and a lingering sweetness that makes me want more every time! Even with auto drip prep you get lots of richness and body.

Stumptown describes the flavor profiles as being  "...complex sweet and savory blend which yields flavors of milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, meyer lemon, apricot and pineapple." they speak the truth!
I was sceptical about the fruity and floral notes blending with the rich notes of chocolate and caramel, but it works! It works very well actually. It's complex and lingers on your palet. In all manners of preparation I got the same complex flavors each time. It's a joy to drink!!

Overall my experience with Stumptown has been a very positive one. From customer service to product quality, you always feel like they care about your beans and your experience. They may have multiple locations, but I felt like they were a "mom & pop" roaster... and for me, that's a good thing!

If you want to experience Stumptown Coffee, please visit their website:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ground & Ready

As Summer aproaches so does the season of open toed shoes, sandals and going barefoot! So how does this relate to coffee? The same coffee that gets you ready in the morning, can get your feet ready for Summer! If you follow my other blog, Positively Pulchritudinous, then you know that I am a big fan of natural products. So it's no surprise that I wanted to come up with a natural way to pamper my feet.

You only need three ingredients to make this simple foot scrub! Used coffee grounds, olive oil, and cocoa butter.  The coffee grounds not only slough off dead skin to polish your feet, but the caffeine also increases circulation to the feet helping your toenails grow healthier! The olive oil provides antioxidants and the cocoa butter moisturizes and protects your skin. I get my cocoa butter for this at the dollar store, it comes in 2 ounce "sticks".

Here's how I make this luxurious DIY scrub...

  • Take about 3 ounces of used coffee grounds and set them on a paper towel to dry out for an hour or so.  
  • Put 2 ounces of cocoa butter in a microwave safe dish until it is just melted. A few "chunks" left un-melted is fine. 
  • To the cocoa butter add 1 ounce of olive oil and stir.
  • Add in your dried coffee grounds. If they are dry, your scrub will keep for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.
  • Mix everything together to form a thick coffee paste!
  • Use this paste to scrub your feet. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Your feet will feel soft and moisturized! The olive oil will keep the mixture pliable, if the paste is too stiff just add more oil. That's it! Easy foot scrub made from your morning coffee!

Monday's Cup O' the Mornin'

This week is starting out on a delicious note! Another offering from the roasters of TTC (TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.). I coarsly ground some TTC Sumatra, and prepared it in my drip coffee pot. 
Normally I would bust out the french press, but I was in a hurry this morning. So I let it drip while I got my daughter ready for school. Even in a traditional drip style coffee maker it was delicious! It had body, and a velvety smooth finish. Vanilla and chocolate notes swirled together in my mouth making for a delicious start to the day!

Today's cup: TeenyTinyCoffeeCo's Organic/Fair Trade Sumatra
Today's prep: Auto Drip, 2 sugars no cream
Today's cup gets 5 beans!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Chillin'

This weekend I tinkered with cold coffee drinks. What a yummy time in the lab (kitchen)! I tried about half a dozen different drinks, and there was a clear favorite. I didn't have a recipe, but making delicious coffee drinks really isn't rocket science!

Basically, if it tastes good hot, it will taste good cold. The main difference besides the ice cubes, is sugar. If you add sweeteners to your hot version, you may need to add a little more into your cold creation. Your taste buds dont detect the sweetness as well if the drink is cold, so you need to compensate. Have you ever tasted melted ice cream? It's sickening sweet, but it's frozen counterpart is just right!

Here's the creation that kept me going all weekend. It's borderline addictive! 

Iced Java & Cream

  •  3-4 oz. Strong  Coffee or Espresso (chilled)
  •  1 oz. Cream or Non Dairy Creamer (flavored creamers work well too)
  •  4 oz. Milk or Milk Substitute
  •  2-3 tsp. Sugar or Sugar Substitute
  •  4-6 Ice Cubes

First thing you should probably do is put your ice in a tall glass and pour your coffee concentrate or strong coffee over the ice.

In a small microwave safe cup combine your cream and sugar. Microwave on high power for 10-15 seconds or until it's warm enough to disolve the sugar.

Stir the warm (not hot) cream into the milk and slowly pour over the ice and coffee.

Add a straw, and sip your heart out!

It's not an exact science, and I am sure my "recipe" isn't unique...but it's tasty and refreshing. Remember, if it tastes good to you, that's all that matters. Feel free to change it up. Keep in mind that cold drinks need a bolder, sweeter "kick". Stronger coffee and sweeter cream may seem like it's too much, but once it's iced it will balance out.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Sips

This weekend I'm experimenting with the colder side of coffee drinks.

  • Iced cappuccinos
  • Iced Lattes
  • Coffee milkshakes
  • Chilled Mochas
  • Cold brew methods
If they turn out amazing, I'll post some recipes next week!!

If you have any favorite iced coffee drinks feel free to leave a comment with the recipe!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keepin' It Fresh

So you just bought some really good beans, now what? 

     When you buy a freshly roasted bag of coffee, you want it to stay fresh. That flavor you love can quickly turn sour (literally) if you don't properly store them. When it comes to coffee storage, keep in mind the three main enemies of your coffee; air, light, and moisture. Your coffee storage solutions should prevent those enemies from getting at your coffee beans.
     Avoid buying ground coffee. Buy your coffee as whole beans, and grind it right before you brew. If you do buy ground coffee, store it at room temperature (not the fridge or freezer!) in an airtight container after. 

    A ceramic canister with a vacuum seal is a great option, but avoid clear glass. Sunlight is not good for your coffee. You can use those pretty ceramic canisters, but they’re really not necessary. Any canister that you can seal with an airtight seal is fine, including the can that you bought it in.

    Try to store about a one week supply of whole coffee beans. If you do find yourself with more coffee than you’ll use in one week, you can store up to another week’s supply in the freezer. If you do need to freeze beans you should take some precautions. 

    Here’s how to store coffee safely in your freezer: Put the beans in an airtight canister or put the beans in a zip-top plastic storage bag. Try to purge out all of the extra air, or use a straw to suck it out. Then I like to wrap the bag in one or two layers of plastic wrap and finish up with a layer of aluminum foil just for good measure! Once you take the canister or package out of the freezer, Leave it out. Refreezing your coffee will dehydrate it and speed up flavor loss.

    If you take the time to store your beans right, you'll enjoy delicious coffee every morning!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Teeny Tiny Review

This past week I have been fortunate enough to try some of the best artisan beans ever! TTC (TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.) sent me two coffees to try and I was instantly in love! Roasted to order and shipped fresh, the beans were lovely!

I posted the review video on my YouTube channel, and Ken (expert roaster at TTC) posted a link to the video on his site as well!

To see the review video, click the image below!


Now that you have seen the review, head over to TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.'s site!

More reviews coming soon!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Coffee Myths; Busted

As a coffee lover I have heard many myths about my beloved drink. For some reason many people that don't like coffee tend to find some way of justifying their dislike.  Some myths are based loosely on facts while others are pure fabrication.

When thinking of all the myths I have come across over the years, I chose the 5 that came up most often in conversation.

Myth #1: The best coffee is from Europe.
     This one makes me giggle a bit. Coffee is not even grown in Europe! Yes, coffee in Europe is great but what's good about it is the roast and preparation. Italy is famous for espresso and France for the french press, but they get their coffee the same way everyone else does... from farmers in the "coffee belt"!

Myth #2: Coffee's acidity causes ulcers.
     Recent studies have shown that most ulcers are caused by a bacteria called, Helicobacter pylori. Coffee can irritate an ulcer that is already there but there are many other factors involved. It's unhealthy gut flora, not your morning cup of coffee that is to blame!

Myth #3: Keeping your coffee in the refrigerator will keep it fresh.
     It makes sense, initially. Usually we put things in the fridge to extend the freshness, but coffee beans have 3 enemies; Light, air and moisture! The moisture levels in a refrigerator are far too high for your precious beans. Coffee is also very porous, so any smells in there will be absorbed into your coffee. Tuna casserole leftovers in your morning cup anyone? I didn't think so! The best way to store your beans or ground coffee is in an airtight container stored in a cool dark place...not the fridge!

Myth #4: Coffee is bad for your kids!
     There are many reasons people give to "prove" their point that kids shouldn't drink coffee. Everything from stunted growth to hyperactivity. In regards to growth, doctors used to link low bone density in patients to caffeine but soon discovered it was calcium and vitamin "D" not coffee that caused the bone loss. As far as coffee making kids hyper that's only partially true. In fact, a regular coffee has between 77-150mg of caffeine while the sugary drinks and energy sports drinks can have anywhere between 200-500mg of caffeine! Caffeine is a stimulant, but many children with hyperactivity disorders are prescribed stimulants to CALM them down! So next time you child asks for a sip of coffee, just think... Would you rather them drink a natural beverage that you can control or  a sugar laden soft drink made in a factory with unnatural ingredients!

Myth #5: Coffee is bad for your health.
     Just like the previous myth, this one is thrown around a lot. People are always saying to me "Melissa, don't you think you should cut back on the coffee? It's really bad for you!".  I'll save some of this for a separate post but in short.. coffee is actually quite good for you. Antioxidants are abundant and coffee stimulates your production of dopamine as well! Dopamine elevates mood. When dopamine is released it effects the pleasure center in your brain, putting you in a better mood. This can also increase your chances of becoming addicted to coffee...but with all the other benefits coffee offers I am not sure that’s a bad thing!

If you know of any other coffee myths that have been debunked, please share them in the comments below!

Monday's Cup O' the Mornin' !

 Every Monday I will report my start of the week coffee. Your morning coffee can set the pace for the rest of the day! I will list the coffee used, prep method and how I "took" my cup.  Then I'll give it a score; 1 bean means it was horrible, and 5 beans is outstanding! So if I give a coffee 5 beans, I'm sure to have a good start to the day!!

Today's cup: TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.'s Symphony blend!

Today's prep: French Press, 2 sugars and 1 cream (Bailey's Irish Cream!)

Today's cup get's 5 beans!

Coffee Review By Melissa Hussell

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it's true! I am going to be posting a review for TeenyTinyCoffeeCo. in the next day or two.

Ken Graham, president and artisan roaster over at TTC (TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.) sent me two of his expertly roasted coffees. One is a single origin, fair trade, organic Sumatran; and the other is a blend called Symphony.

I have been "field testing" both varieties and will be ready to report on them soon!

To see TTC's blog post about our collaboration, please follow the link below! There is also a permanent link to TTC in my "Coffee Clicks" link directory to the right of this page.

Coffee Review By Melissa Hussell

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sneaking A Sip; A Love Affair in the Making

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with coffee, but I can recall the first experience that led to the affair. This tiny moment shaped my life, and in some small way, who I am.

The first experience I had with this brown bean was the summer of 1989. My niece Brandie and I were staying a week at my Aunt Sandi's for Summer break. Out in the country, miles away from the world, it was always an interesting time. Exploring in the woods, wading through a creek, playing in the mud and wondering if the night's supper was caught or was all part of the fun.

My cousin Amanda was a few years older than me and the youngest (and only) girl of my my Aunt Sandi's 6 children. The 5 boys were always out and about, probably shooting squirrels or riding their dirt bikes. Whatever they were doing, they weren't doing it with us girls!

One afternoon my Aunt Sandi needed to run into town and left Amanda in charge. The boys were off doing "boy" stuff and Aunt Sandi wouldn't be home till almost supper time. So we just played outside. It was hot out! After a while of playing out in the hot sun, us three girls decided it was a good time to go inside for some refreshments.

Let's look back a moment first. I was a city girl. I was used to the fluoridated water the city provided us. I was used to being a block away from a convenience store where all the cold refreshing beverages I could drink were right there, at my disposal. I wasn't used to a 30 minute drive to go to the grocery store and I certainly wasn't used to the sulfur smell of well water!

Ok, so there we were. In the kitchen. Nothing cold to drink in the fridge and the water, well let's just say I wasn't looking forward to drinking it! Amanda said the only way to get the smell out of the water was to boil it, or make coffee.

Coffee? What is this coffee you speak of? I was curious. I knew roughly what it was, it came in a metal can and "old" people drank it in the morning and after supper. Were we even old enough to imbibe? I wasn't so sure, but Amanda insisted we were old enough. She was in charge, so who was I to argue?

Amanda started the mysterious brew in a large metal percolator. There it was, making gurgles and bubbles. I was mystified. It smelled really good. I had been around coffee brewing before, but we were kids, home alone, and it seemed like we were doing something naughty.

She pulled it off and got some cups. Three cups on the table, and each with an ice cube to cool it down enough for us to drink. She filled each cup almost to the top. This was it, the moment of truth! I took a sip, and instantly spit it back out!! It was horrible. What did I know, I was 8 and the most exotic thing my pallet had tasted was "Hawaiian Pizza".

Amanda laughed. She said "You need to add sugar and milk, silly!"

She added some sugar, poured in some milk and handed the cup back to me. I hesitated, took a sip, and...swallowed it! It was actually pretty good. So there we were, sitting at the kitchen table sipping our coffee. We felt like we were so grown up, we also felt a little bit like what we were doing was sneaky. Like we were being rebellious or something.

After that Summer I didn't drink coffee for a few more years. I don't know if that was the moment I fell in love with the bean, but it was certainly the moment I was most intrigued by it. Every so often I think back  and remember the sweet, slightly bitter brew and smile.