Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

Year: 2016 (page 1 of 7)

Don’t Stress About the Coffee this Christmas

With all the Christmas festivities and holiday gatherings at hand, the traffic to my post about the best grocery store coffee has skyrocketed. I can almost feel the angst behind this relatively marginal, yet ever-present issue. “Will the coffee I have be good enough for {insert “coffee snob” name here}?”

The funny thing about this question is that there is a lot of angst on both sides of the coin. The host wants their guests to enjoy the fare that is provided. The guest wants to be gracious and not put up a fuss about a simple cup of coffee.

Thinking about that forlorn host searching google for the perfect coffee inspired this post, but I also couldn’t help thinking about the coffee lover, bemoaning a silly cup of coffee.

Here are a few thoughts on how the coffee question can go from an awkward situation to a non-issue or even something that brings community and enhances the festivities.

For the Host- Don’t Stress about It, It’s Just Coffee

If you are hosting a gathering, realize that there is really no reason to stress about the “coffee snob” (I prefer coffee enthusiast) that is coming to your party.

Most coffee lovers wouldn’t want someone to go out of their way or make excuses all day for “bad coffee”. Trust me, if coffee is that important to them, they will probably just bring some.

Please do not be offended if someone brings coffee to your gathering. This is not a slam on you as a host but merely an assertion of preference. Most coffee enthusiasts have a hard time keeping their love of coffee to themselves and thus will probably want to share a coffee they have been enjoying.

Some Simple Action Steps for the Host

If you don’t know much about coffee but want to accommodate your coffee loving guest, ask them about it. Don’t waste your time guessing what coffee they would like and fretting about it. Get them on the phone and ask them if there is a particular coffee that they enjoy and where it can be found.

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2016 Brewing Coffee Manually Coffee Gift Ideas- Coffee Lovers Gift Guide

It is already November which means it’s time to start putting together Christmas gift lists for the coffee lovers and aficionados in your life. Here are some of the coffee gift ideas that have been resonating with me this year. If you have something to add, join the discussion in the comments down below.

Want more ideas? Here are the gift guides from previous years:

Stocking Stuffers

  1. Cupping Spoon- Whether you are slurping through an Angels’ Cup subscription every week just occasionally dabbling in the practice, every coffee enthusiast should have a cupping spoon. Cupping spoons vary from the very basic to the silver plated Rattleware RW (and beyond). You may even be able to snag one from a favorite roaster or get one custom engraved.
  2. Brandywine Coffee Roasters Chemex Pin-This enamel Chemex pin from the creative minds at Brandywine Coffee Roasters is amazing. What manual coffee brewer wouldn’t want this 1.25 inch tall pink Chemex hanging out by their slow bar?
  3. 30 Pack of Kalita Kantans- Several weeks ago, I wrote a brew guide about these handy little disposable brewers. The Kalita Kantans are the perfect gift for the people who don’t need extra coffee stuff. They take up almost no room, are disposable and are fun to throw in for on-the-go coffee brewing adventures. Win, win…. win
  4. Flow Restrictor for the Bonavita gooseneck kettle- For less than a quarter (plus shipping), you can upgrade your giftee’s Bonavita gooseneck and make it easier for them to get a constant flow rate (for brewing methods like the Nel drip). You will probably even get to explain what it is. This restrictor will allegedly slow down the flow rate of the Bonavita gooseneck kettle severely.
  5. Coffee Makes Me! Sticker by Kyle White- Kyle sent me a couple stickers a few months back. I really like his “Coffee Makes Me!” Sticker. I put mine on my airpot I use when I bring coffee for my co-workers but it would also look good on a water bottle or coffee journal.

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What is Cascara? – Exploring Coffee Cherry Tea

Cascara (a.k.a. coffee cherry tea) is something that is picking up steam in the craft coffee world. A few years ago, I would hear some mentions of it here or there but would have had to actively search if I wanted to find some (let alone a recipe for brewing it up). These days, I see cascara in many coffee shops and online roasters. If you have questions about this trending fruit tea, here is an informational and brewing guide.

What is Cascara?

A brief history

Coffee is the seed of a fleshy, cherry-like fruit that grown primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (you can read more about green coffee here). In most cases, the flesh of the coffee cherry is removed and discarded during coffee processing. This discarded flesh from coffee processing can be a nuisance and can even create a pollution problem if it is not dealt with properly.

WARNING: Do not confuse cascara made from coffee cherries with Cascara Sagrada. Cascara Sagrada (sacred bark) is the dried bark of the cascara buckthorn plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest. It has an extremely bitter taste (allegedly) and is known for its laxative properties.

Traditional consumption of coffee cherry tea is thought to be even older than roasting the coffee seeds (beans). Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian herdsman (Kaldi) and his goats. He began making a caffeinated tea out of the fruit (which eventually morphed into roasting the seeds themselves). A drink made from the coffee fruit has been consumed in Yemen (called qishr*) and Ethopia (called hashara) ever since. Cascara is also consumed in Bolivia under the traditional name of sultana.

The credit for the recent rise of cascara’s popularity has been given to Aida Batlle, a renowned coffee grower from El Salvador. It is said that during a cupping, Batlle made an infusion out of some discarded coffee cherries and coined the phrase cascara (which means skin or husk in Spanish) because coffee pulp wasn’t a very marketable name.

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