Coffee Shop A place for everyone who loves coffee! <![CDATA[Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew Quick Tip by gourmetcoffeespot]]> Sat, 9 Mar 2013 00:49:02 +0000 <![CDATA[Hot Chocolate Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 05:11:15 +0000 <![CDATA[ Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso]]> Is this worth buying?
Yes, this is the espresso talked about and recommended for those that want to perfect the home espresso brewing.

Is it as good or bad as you hoped?
I thought with the name Black Cat Espresso it would have been over roasted (and really strong) espresso, but the 'Black Cat' is more of a name of mystery as this is very smooth and sweet, as they intended it to be.

Would you recommend this?
Yes, especially if you always find that your home espresso tastes burnt and is way too strong and bitter.

Did someone recommend this to you?
Seen it recommended when someone mentioned they just got a home espresso machine. They recommended it by name, Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.


]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2012 20:11:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Coffee Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2011 22:10:30 +0000 <![CDATA[Tea Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2011 22:08:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Hot Chocolate Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sun, 5 Jun 2011 13:16:34 +0000 <![CDATA[UCC Sumiyaki Instant Coffee Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sun, 23 Jan 2011 06:50:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew Quick Tip by djevoke]]>
I tried it one morning when I was out of my regular coffee and needed more of a kick than my Green Tea would give me. I added my usual sugar, if not, a little more since this was a strong brew, added the instant coffee grinds, and hot water. I took a taste and was quite surprised. Though, it was strong (it was a strong brew- Italian Dark, so I knew it was going to be), it didn't have the usual bitter taste of Starbucks coffee. I would guess this is because I added the hot water and it wasn't sitting on a burner for 3 hours. It defintely had bite to it and it had the kick I needed. I felt a wee bit cracked out but, that has more to do with the fact that I had been mainly drinking green tea for a month.

If you're going camping, pick up a box of these and you won't have to deal with the heavily lacking insta-coffees that are usually marketed for camping or other times when you don't have a Starbucks or a coffeemaker near you.]]> Fri, 31 Dec 2010 19:58:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Makes Great Coffee, But It Takes Work]]> The coffee brewed by the DGB-625BC is head and shoulders above what my old Mr. Coffee was producing. Especially when you grind it fresh. So far, every pot of coffee has been excellent. I received it as a Christmas gift and am very happy with the results I'm getting. It brews in a reasonable amount of time and looks sleek and modern sitting on the counter. It feels well constructed and it is easy to load the water and coffee, be it beans or pre-ground. I like the re-usable gold mesh basket as well. The 625BC has the usual clock and timer and it is easy to program using its uncluttered interface. You'll need to read the manual though. The option to keep coffee warm for 4 hours is nice I suppose, but I'll stick with the default 2 hours.

Now for the less than stellar aspects. This is a tall coffee maker and may not fit well under some cabinets. I don't have a problem, but do need to pull it out to open the top when adding coffee and water. There are about 6 parts that need to be cleaned after each use so this adds a bit of work and time to the prep process. I suppose that is a trade-off for having the built-in grinder, but the clean-up process was a lot quicker with my old machine. The grinder is loud, so if your kitchen is near a bedroom, you are likely to hear it in the morning. It only lasts about 15 seconds though and the rest of the process is silent. Use pre-ground coffee if you want to avoid the noise. Also, I have yet to find way to keep the grinder for grinding a little when pressing the buttons for the program mode. Not a big deal, but there should be a pause at least before it starts grinding to avoid this. This Cuisinart uses carbon filters for better tasting water and fewer deposits, but they are an added cost over the long term you may want to keep in mind.

So this isn't the most user friendly machine, but it does make up for it with deliciously brewed coffee.]]> Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:14:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Follow Me Foodie Winter/Holiday Drinks NOW AVAILABLE until end of February 2011!]]>

All drinks are available exclusively at Creme de la Crumb from Dec. 20 – Feb. 28, 2011.

(2 locations: 466 Granville Street or 700 Hamilton Street)

]]> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 11:10:44 +0000
<![CDATA[AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker Quick Tip by dailydemitasse]]> Thu, 11 Nov 2010 21:00:18 +0000 <![CDATA[ The most perfect coffee drink in the most perfect serving size.]]> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 18:55:52 +0000 <![CDATA[Espresso Quick Tip by JenKnox]]> Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:08:47 +0000 <![CDATA[Tea Quick Tip by Kort_Kramer]]> Mon, 13 Sep 2010 21:25:33 +0000 <![CDATA[Starbucks Quick Tip by Celestial]]> Wed, 11 Aug 2010 17:21:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ A way to insure that you have a freshly brewed cup of coffee]]> An americano is a cup of coffee made by adding hot water to one or more shots of espresso. There's no milk or flavoring added, so it tastes somewhat like a cup of normal drip view. It's not exactly the same flavor, but not terribly different. I don't prefer one over the other.

I have friends who think americanos are a waste of money. You get a cup of coffee, about the same strength as brewed. So why pay more? The answer is simple. Freshness.

Coffee starts losing flavor quickly. For canned coffee, that's not really a problem because the quality of the beans and the way they are processed insure that much of the flavor has either already gone or wasn't there to start with. With quality beans that are recently roasted and ground there is a big difference.

There's a simple experiment that you can do to prove this. Brew a cup and keep it warm for a half hour or more. Now brew a fresh cup. Taste test them. If you start with a premium coffee that's reasonably fresh and recently ground, you should notice a significant difference in taste. Enter the americano. Since it is brewed as you watch, you know you are getting a fresh cup. If you are in a high-end coffee place that grinds each cup individually, you will notice a huge difference.

]]> Tue, 10 Aug 2010 00:47:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ A nice alternative to powered coffee makers.]]> I've been using the AeroPress for 3 years now and it is my main coffee maker. The cup it brews is nuanced and flavorful. The process of using it is simple. Heat water. Place the ground coffee in the brewer and press the plunger to create a concentrated coffee that resembles a shot of espresso. Add water to fill the cup and you will have a nice single cup of joe.

If you buy your coffee at the supermarket or local Starbucks, read no further. The AeroPress is a handy coffee maker. It travels well and brews a good cup. It's great for making just one cup.

Unfortunately for me, I've become very picky about my cup. I even roast my own coffee from selected green beans and never get more than a few days ahead of consumption. Coffee has more flavor compounds than wine, almost all of which degrade quickly. So unless you order from a custom house that sends only today's roast or roast your own, the extra ability of the AeroPress to pull all the flavor of fresh coffee won't matter.
(that's the aero press on top of my stove)

There are a few things to know about using the AeroPress for optimum extraction. The instructions indicate that you should use 170 degree water. it makes a difference. Hotter water robs the cup of the subtleties available in freshly roasted coffee. Cooler water doesn't fully extract enough from the beans. The temperature isn't totally fussy. I normally use 180 degree water and sometimes a few degrees hotter.

I pour water into the AeroPress, stir with the included stir paddle for about 10 seconds, then wait another 10 seconds before depressing the plunger.

I know this sounds like a lot of effort. It was at first. i had to learn how to judge the temperature of my tea kettle by the pre-whistle sound it makes. I had to learn how hard to press the plunger and how fine to grind my coffee. Now, I've brewed so many hundreds of cups that the process is automatic. You wouldn't know by watching the practice that went into doing it.

Is it worth the learning curve? That is the question. I first bought the coffee maker to be able to have a good cup while traveling. The AeroPress packs compactly an only requires coffee and a source of hot  I would bring my own coffee and a tea coil so I wasn't at the mercy of road coffee. After a bit, I realized that I actually preferred the coffee it made to either my french press or drip machine. But, I've become a bit of a coffee snob. You see I love FRESH coffee, that is, roasted within the last week.


]]> Tue, 10 Aug 2010 00:31:36 +0000
<![CDATA[Coffee Quick Tip by Kort_Kramer]]> Thu, 5 Aug 2010 21:42:59 +0000 <![CDATA[Starbucks Breve Misto Quick Tip by megmeg]]> Thu, 29 Jul 2010 18:37:53 +0000 <![CDATA[Lion's Den Quick Tip by michellebweiss]]> Wed, 26 May 2010 04:25:40 +0000 <![CDATA[Vietnamese Drip Coffee Quick Tip by Butter]]> Wed, 12 May 2010 01:27:42 +0000 <![CDATA[Vietnamese Drip Coffee Quick Tip by missmelchoi]]> Mon, 3 May 2010 04:22:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Cafe Latte Quick Tip by missmelchoi]]> Mon, 3 May 2010 04:15:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Lion's Den Quick Tip by austii]]> Fri, 16 Apr 2010 00:13:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Cafe Latte Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 21:17:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Coffee Quick Tip by AmandaPesqueira]]> Wed, 14 Apr 2010 23:46:34 +0000 <![CDATA[Cafe Latte Quick Tip by RobertStallings]]> Tue, 6 Apr 2010 22:58:48 +0000 <![CDATA[Keurig B70 Gourmet Single-Cup Home Brewing System Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> Thu, 1 Apr 2010 20:59:49 +0000 <![CDATA[The Blue Bottle Coffee Company Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> Thu, 1 Apr 2010 20:58:29 +0000 <![CDATA[Regular Coffee Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> Thu, 1 Apr 2010 20:56:41 +0000 <![CDATA[ Amazing Coffee from Zoka Coffee - Organic Fair Trade Sidamo]]> This is a AMAZING coffee from Zoka Coffee! What makes this so AMAZING? The coffee has a taste that is so much better (and fresher) than any store brand or Starbucks.

To get the fullest taste of any coffee you should use a French Press coffee maker, and for coffee this different you willl want to brew each cup using this method.

The taste is crisp, clean and very bright. There are hints of natural fruit flavors from this coffee grown in Sidamo, Ethiopia.

As a regular coffee drinker who tries many different types of coffee, this one stands out above the other coffee varieries I have tasted.

What I like about this coffee, aside from the AMAZING taste, is that the beans were roasted and mailed out the same day! Newly roasted coffee beans need to sit a few days before grinding and brewing, so by the time you receive your order they are ripe, fresh, and ready to be consumed.

Recommended as a great mailorder gift idea for people who love coffee. This isn't just an ordinary coffee - you need to try this!  ZokaCoffee

]]> Thu, 1 Apr 2010 20:22:10 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Inexpensive Blade Grinder]]>
Hamilton Beach Custom Grind
Everyone who has studied coffee grinders knows that burr coffee grinders yield better ground beans. That being said blade grinders can be a good low cost alternative for someone just looking to get into grinding their own coffee. Fresh ground coffee is always preferable to pre-ground coffee. Coffee quickly loses some of its flavor after it is ground. This is because of the oxidation that occurs after grinding. If you’re looking for a low cost coffee grinder with a small footprint the Hamilton Beach Custom Grind is a good choice. It has plenty of different settings and is simple to operate. It is an automatic blade grinder so you just chose the setting and push the button. The grinder shuts off automatically when the grind is complete. As far as coffee grinders go it is relatively quite so you will not wake up everyone in the house making your morning cup. For a full review see my blog at You can find the Custom Grinder at many stores including Walmart or on my website

]]> Thu, 25 Mar 2010 14:26:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ Indulge in a Bit of Luxury]]> I first heard about the Starbucks Dark Cherry Mocha from a review written by @woopak_the_thrill. Since I would be going to Target today and I knew there was a Starbucks by their food court, I decided to indulge in a bit of luxury. I was extremely lucky because I tried two versions of this mocha: one made the traditional way with espresso and the other made as a hot chocolate with added flavoring. 

The two drinks were very different from each other. The espresso version was very "coffee" tasting with a hint of cherry. At some points it reminded me of dark chocolate covered espresso beans that you buy as a snack. It was a very rich and sweet drink despite the fact that dark chocolate usually tastes bitter (I blame the cherry syrup). The hot chocolate version was also rich and sweet, but it had a very strong taste of cherry flavoring which overpowered the hot chocolate. They both came with whip cream and dark chocolate shavings on top, which I ate first before trying the actual drink. Between the two, I enjoyed the original hot mocha the best. The person who was with me enjoyed the hot chocolate version more.

The question readers must be asking themselves is: How do we know which version of the drink to order? Well, it will depend on your mood and taste preferences. Both drinks are very sweet, thanks to the cherry syrup, so be prepared for a sugar overload. If you are not in the mood for a caffeine rush, then getting the hot chocolate version will be a wiser choice. Otherwise, I recommend choosing the drink based on the flavor you want to stand out more: dark chocolate or cherry.

Even if you are not a fan of either flavor, the drink is worth buying at least one time just for the experience of a new flavor of coffee. If you are a little nervous ordering outside your comfort zone, I recommend buying the smallest version of the drink before indulging in a larger size. There is always time for another visit to Starbucks later in the week if you find it to your liking.

The drink was what I expected it to be: very chocolaty. I actually expect more of a "cherry flavor," but the espresso overpowered it. That wasn't a problem for me because I am not a fan of cherries unless they are in their natural state (either fresh or dried fruit). Thus, I was pleasantly surprised and thought the drink was better than I expected. However, it's not something I would regularly order because it would give me a "chocolate overload." Still, I was very happy to try a Dark Cherry Mocha from Starbucks because the company is always creating new spins on traditional coffee drinks that are pure decadence! It was an indulgence in a bit of luxury, but it won't be a regular drink order. I prefer Starbucks Vanilla coffee drinks or their Blended Strawberry Lemonade.

]]> Tue, 16 Mar 2010 04:43:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tastes Like CHICKEN....]]>
….actually no, it doesn’t taste anything like chicken. I just wanted to attract attention :-)
Anyway, my buddies at Starbucks along Market Street and Beale convinced me to try the DARK CHERRY MOCHA (my favorite drink is non-fat mocha after all) and since I am such a great sport and I like being treated like a guinea pig, I decided to give it a shot. 

The drink is actually not bad. Not my favorite but I did like the way the drink seems to have the dark chocolate taste that dominated my taste buds. The cherry taste was there and it did feel like I was slurping on a “See’s” dark chocolate candy with a cherry filling. Now this is not a negative comment, but rather more of an observation. The folks in this Starbucks store know me so I got charged $ 1.85 for a grande size drink; the regular price is $ 3.85. Hey, I may be biased on my coffee enjoyment but it helps to have connections.
I’m not exactly too big on sweet coffee drinks but sometimes, they do hit the spot on a cold, breezy day.
I like it. [3+ Stars]
]]> Thu, 11 Mar 2010 19:55:03 +0000
<![CDATA[Starbucks Quick Tip by devora]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2010 00:14:24 +0000 <![CDATA[ Try a Cuban coffee when you're looking for something different.]]> Sometimes I use it as a desert drink because of its sweetness.  Here is an article on how to make it.

I like to use Cafe Bustelo espresso.  It can be a great espresso drink with an international flair.]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 14:47:41 +0000
<![CDATA[Lion's Den Quick Tip by ariajuliet]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2010 18:14:58 +0000 <![CDATA[Manhattan Special Espresso Soda Quick Tip by devora]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2010 04:35:39 +0000 <![CDATA[Lion's Den Quick Tip by RyanWeiss]]> Wed, 17 Feb 2010 19:25:46 +0000 <![CDATA[ I left my heart at the Lions Den]]> I have had a love affair with the Lion’s Den ever since I first stepped in their doors. It became a quintessential part of my LMU life my four years on campus, as good or bad as that may be.

The bottom line here is that the coffee is good, and the price is right. More often than not, the friendly student staff omits the extra charge for an extra shot of espresso or soy milk. Bonus of when you know or make friends with the baristas, because they often hook you up with a pastry, extra tea bag or a mocha that had been paid for and long forgotten.

The best things on the menu are their Freezes. This is not your average Frappachino from Starbucks. These are thick and rich, not icy and not overly sweet. Every flavor is delicious, and a bonus is that you can get it with any kind of milk you want. I really love the caramel, and toffee ones.

Their lattes and cappuccinos are always the right temperature, and the coffee never taste burnt or anything. I’ve never been unhappy with a drink I have got, and if I ever needed some extra milk or another shot of syrup, they have been willing to add it with no fuss.

There are a few irritating things, that make the experience less then blissful. The line is always long, especially 20 minutes before classes start, or 10 minutes after classes get out. The staff is insanely slow at crafting drinks. It’s a good thing that the quality doesn’t suffer because of it. I would rather wait for 10 minutes for my insanely delicious latte and be 5 minutes late to class, then be 5 minutes early to class and have a crappy latte.

They are often out of things, like soy milk, raw sugar, or flat lids. Not that this is super incontinent, but when they run out of hot lids, that is just a little bit…irresponsible? How am I supposed to jet off to class without a lid on my steaming hot tea? Many times I would run up to the lair, steal a stash of lids from the coffee corner there, and throw them on the sugar counter in the Den, just to spite the staff who didn’t think of it themselves.

The Den is open 24 hours during finals week, making it the perfect place to escape on a break and refuel at 3am when you really need it. It’s also open a half hour before classes each morning. It is unfortunately NOT open early on the weekends, making my hangovers last extra long, waiting for their precious caffeine fix. With all the Saturday Greek events, service org volunteering opportunities, group projects and my personal favorite, weekend lab days, you would think that the Den could help a fellow student and staff member out by opening, at least by 10 am.

The Den is great for meeting people for quick conversation or homework. It’s a great place to ease-drop on conversations, people gossip here on the same decibel as talking about their ISQM classes.

It’s not so great for finals cramming or group study sessions. I don’t understand how people can have group’s discussions here, it is way too loud! And everyone’s laptops are pugged into the floor, allowing me to trip over every single cord, as I make my way across the room.

You will always see a familiar face here, kind of like Cheers…or Tompkins. I have never gone into the Den without having someone say hello to me, or having someone say hello to you. Whether it be someone to walk to class with, someone to ask for homework help, or someone to borrow some LION dollars from to get some coffee, you will never feel alone here. You will almost always run into the person or people you are trying to avoid here, or never want to be seen by before your 9 am cup of joe.

The Den is run by the students, which makes it hard to be super critical of it. They use bio-degradable plastics cups and lids, and fair-trade coffee. The Den staff host amazing events in the Living Room, next door, and always has a new yummy student inspired creations every month.

I hope that The Den gets better at keeping inventory, and find a way to expand so that the orders get made quicker, without compromising quality. And I hope forever that it will stay a student run operation, and that they will never jack up the prices.

]]> Wed, 17 Feb 2010 19:13:12 +0000
<![CDATA[Latte Art Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Sun, 7 Feb 2010 22:00:04 +0000 <![CDATA[ Quite Good For a Seasonal Holiday Beverage!]]>
Just tried this at the Starbucks near work. I may be a little biased because I have developed a rapport with the people who work there and I usually don’t pay full price for my drinks. I even got this one for free! Whoo-hoo!
Anyhow, I was talked into trying the CARAMEL BRULEE LATTE. My regular drink is a non-fat mocha or a white chocolate non-fat mocha. During the holidays, I have either an EGG NOG latte or a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was never a fan of the caramel macchiato drink (it’s too sweet) so I had my reservations. I have to say, this store has a very good BARISTA (yes, it makes a difference!). My drink was served up real quickly and I was surprised as to how good it turned out to be.
The Caramel Brulee latte is VERY rich yet it isn’t as thick as the EGG NOG latte. It maintained that Caramel Macchiato taste with a hint of Egg Nog and coffee. I had the drink with whipped cream and I think they sprinkled something on it that looked like really fine candy sprinkles and tasted as such. Could’ve been something else, I didn’t bother to check. Surprisingly, this beverage wasn’t as sweet as I feared (maybe the barista just knew my preference) and it was perfect for my taste buds. I found it very refreshing for an afternoon beverage at work.
I have to say, I will probably have another grande cup of the Caramel Brulee latte. It took its spot as one of my favorite seasonal drinks at Starbucks.
Maybe it tasted better because it was free or because of the barista? We’ll find out…

Now if someone can come up with a chicken-flavored latte then we're good! Yep, I have weird taste in drinks...LOL!
]]> Wed, 2 Dec 2009 04:11:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ I'm Starting to Like it a Little Bit More]]>
However, I have had to go there for members of my family and other times when I am driving and need something, they are the quick fix on the road.  I have since discovered one of their cold drinks (I think it is called a Mocachino.  I can never remember it but I know it when I see it) that comes in vanilla bean that is actually an excellent tasting vanilla shake.  I also noticed that they started offering egg white sandwiches though on the same not so good bagels.  These sandwiches actually taste pretty good despite the fact that the egg what is already made, looking like something that used to come in my daughters Playskool kitchen. 

These two items are things that I can get if there are no options and Dunkin Donuts is the only game in town.  Other than that I try to avoid this place at all costs.]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2009 13:06:25 +0000
<![CDATA[ HONEY, Thats Not A Paint Mixer!!!]]> Thirty two ounces is the perfect size of a specialty coffee maker for all of those single persons out there of for the people that just do not want to be rude to ask their company to leave when you have had enough of their conversations. This electric coffee maker is made by Mr. Coffee and can be found at a variety of stores and will cost you less that $20.00 plus tax. This has an amusing shape to it and the first time that my wife and daughter saw it, they that it was a new toy that they could mix my daughters finger paints in side of it.

Well, needless to say this did an excellent job mixing the paints together, but there were too many bubbles for them to use for any art projects. So, unbeknownst to them they decided to add more paint and to use this before I got home, unknowingly they were using this for my daughters’ art projects and I was not there to tell them that it was not for their art projects. Once I had gotten home from the store I was taken aback, because before I could say another word they were adding more paint because they thought thet they did not add enough paint because of all of the bubbles and this was when it had started overflowing all over the place and the finger paint was spewing just like a volcano. At the time, this was not very funny because I ran as fast as I could to grab at the power cord, and my three dogs (germen Shepard and two miniature schnauzers) thought that I was playing and they started grabbing at my pant legs and tripping me all the way until I able to grab a hold of the cord and gave it a yank to stop it from spewing.

This can be plugged into any household outlet, and has a removable 32 ounce pitcher that sits on top; I guess that is why they thought that this was a toy and not a coffee pot. The clean up was as simple as it could be since I got to it right away there was some kind of non stick coating on the surface that allowed me to just soap and water to scrub the paint bubbles off. Even though the lid twists and locks into place it does not stop the liquids from seeping if you add too much. If you go away and forget to turn this off then this has a safety device that will automatically shut this down but it will not shut off by itself if the pot is over flowing, just when the cycle is done will it shut off automatically. Along with the automatic start this also has a time dial that you can turn so it will start and make your beverage later in time. This whole product only weighs about five pounds when it is empty and does not have paint all over the outside. The outside diameter is approximately 6” x 7” x 11” in diameter.

Even though my first experience was a very memorable one, I still would not have missed it for the world. Just to let you that this coffee maker did survive and even though it is specially colored outside, it kind of looks like a designer looking, one now. This now is put through its regular paces such as putting creamy beverages inside will heat and mix and surprise the heck out of you. It will show you that you do not have to go out to enjoy a frothy mix of any powdered or spicy mixes. We have made hot chocolate, flavored coffee, and cappuccino with a very large head of foam. We also like to add cinnamon and different type’s syrup for a lively flavored beverage. As long as I keep this product away from my wife and daughter there is no more experimenting with it. This has worked very since the finger painting incident about a year ago, but I highly recommend that you only make a couple of cups at a time, to prevent any spewing and overflowing.

This coffee maker would be perfect for the single person or one person that does not think that this is for your daughters’ art project. But, we have put it through all of the paces and it has survived and is still working and it does blend in well with any kind of wall paper now. Five stars for this as long as you do not fill too full.

]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2009 20:03:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Exceptional coffee and beverages, mediocre baked goods.]]> Dunkin' Donuts is everywhere!   You will find shops on downtown streets, in strip malls, at interstate exits and even in supermarkets and gas stations.  In fact, at last count there were 124  Dunkin' Donuts locations here in Little Rhody.  The situation is pretty much the same throughout New England and the rest of the Northeast.  Dunkin'  Donuts dominates the market.  The highly regarded North Carolina based Krispy Kreme chain discovered as much when they came to New England a few years ago with a very aggressive expansion plan.  The experiment lasted but a few years.  Now Krispy Kreme is gone and the location near my home is a bank branch.

Just what is the attraction of Dunkin' Donuts anyway?  Beats me.  Just about everyone can agree that the coffee is fabulous.  That is pretty much a given.  But beyond that I find precious little to recommend.  Now I gave up donuts more than 20 years ago but even when the donuts were actually made in the shops I never thought they were that great.  Today they arrive in the stores from regional distribution centers.  I find that the muffins are OK but the bagels are simply awful.  About the only variety that I can deal with is the multi-grain. The rest taste like paste.  Meanwhile the chain is continually coming up with new varieties of sandwiches featuring croissants or flatbread or biscuits that are available for a "limited time only."  Good thing because as far as I am concerned these items are among the most unappealing fast food items I have ever seen.  Lots of folks pop into Dunkin' Donuts at all hours of the day or night for a quick pick-me-up.   Dunkin' Donuts offers all kinds of choices for these customers including iced coffee, lattes and a refreshing cold drink they call a Coolatta.  Indeed, many of these items are very good but at the same time awfully expensive. 

At the end of the day I have a couple of major problems with Dunkin' Donuts.  For one thing I find that the cleanliness in many locations leaves a lot to be desired.  Secondly, each franchisee is evidently allowed to determine his/her own prices.  Thus the coffee and bagel that cost you $2.85 in one location may run you $3.57 in another Dunkin' Donuts just  a mile ot two away.  That annoys me!   Currently there are around 6400 Dunkin' Donuts locations in the United States with the overwhelming majority east of the Mississippi River.  I was quite surprised to learn that there are no Dunkin' Donuts in California and that the company has no plans to expand there.  Although I do visit Dunkin' Donuts occasionally I am by no means a regular.  I much prefer Panera Bread or the locally owned and operated bagel shop I frequent. In my view Dunkin' Donuts is for the most part vastly overrated.   ]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2009 16:05:39 +0000
<![CDATA[ Flake it and you've got yourself the best café mocha in the world!]]>

It is sweet, too sweet for my taste and as chocolate on its own it's not my favorite either. I much prefer Godiva, Goldkenn or Lynn's chocolate. What do you do when your colleague give you a gift from her trip to Australia and you tried it but don't really like it and yet you can't really dump it into the waste paper basket either? Well, dump I did, but into my hot coffee when I ran out of sweeteners! And that's when something miraculous happens!

I made the most wonderful Cafe mocha I've ever made in my life! And for most part of my life, I've been paying Second Cup in Canada lots for their Ice Moccaccino!

I google and found this recipe for Ice Mocha from Coffee & Tea Warehouse.
  • 1 1/2 cups strong hot brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, such as Hershey’s
  • 1 cup ice cold milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Handful or so crushed ice
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish
  • 1 small piece semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, for garnish

1. Combine the hot coffee and brown sugar in a large measuring cup and stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate syrup. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Cool briefly at room temperature, then chill until ice cold. You can accelerate this step by putting it in the freezer, but just make sure it doesn’t start to ice.

2. Combine the chilled coffee, milk, and vanilla in a small pitcher; stir to blend. Divide the coffee between 2 serving glasses, adding a small handful of crushed ice to each. Top each glass with whipped cream then grate a little chocolate over each one. Serve with straws.

You know what? Save all that trouble. Simply dump some Cadbury Flake into your hot coffee as I did and you've got yourself a great drink! Trust me, you won't regret it!

" ]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2009 11:09:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ Coffee, Vietnamese style]]> Except when it comes to Vietnamese Drip Coffee. I do not believe the coffee powder is different here from any other (in fact, it's probably the most common available since it's served in all Vietnamese restaurants) but I was able to find consistently good Vietnamese Drip Coffee no matter which Vietnamese restaurants I go to. These restaurants are also found in abundant in L.A., San Francisco, Vancouver & Toronto. Great restaurants, not just for coffee but also for authentic Vietnamese food!

Vietnamese Drip Coffee are served hot while you let it drip slowly into the condensed milk. When that's done, mix it well and then pour it over a glass of ice. That is better than any Starbucks or Pacific Coffee!
It usually costs about $2 to $3 and try to order it while you are ordering your food as it'll take time for the coffee to drip. 

Iced Coffee with milk in Vietnamese is ca phe sua da.
Hot Coffee with milk in Vietnamese is ca phe sua nong.

Tip: The coffee dripper is very simple and can be bought from Chinatown or Vietnamese supply stores for a meagre sum and it's very easy to clean. Perhaps this is a good alternative to any coffee maker or dripper you might find in the market? I think each one costs less than $5!!!]]> Sat, 12 Sep 2009 04:10:39 +0000
<![CDATA[Hot Chocolate Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2009 01:29:33 +0000 <![CDATA[ Paciugo Gelato is just awesome!]]>
Now you know what they're selling, how about who's doing the scooping? The mother/daughter proprietors Monien and Brittny have done an excellent job of hiring. The staff is always friendly, and quick to offer you countless samples which enable you to properly whittle down the broad selection. When my girlfriend and I became addicted about 10 months ago it was just as much due to the friendly staff as it was the friendly flavors. 
]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2009 07:24:27 +0000
<![CDATA[ The rise of Starbucks and the economics of coffee.]]> Starbucks exactly twice in my life.  The first time was perhaps a decade ago.  My wife and I glanced at the price list and did an abrupt about-face.  The only other time was 3 or 4 years ago and Starbucks was the only available option.  We had a muffin and coffee and frankly were not all that impressed.  Prior to reading "Starbucked:  A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce and Culture" if you asked me what a barista was I might have guessed that it was some kind of opera singer.  Still, when I came across Taylor Clark's "Starbucked" it piqued my curiosity.  I wanted to find out what all the hubbub was about.

"Starbucked:  A  Double Tall Tale of Caffeine. Commerce and Culture" chronicles the remarkable ascension of Starbucks into one of the three most recognized brands in the world. Clark offers a brief history of coffee and introduces us to some of the pioneers of American coffee houses like Albert Peet (Peet's Coffee and Tea, Berkeley, CA) who were absolutely convinced as long ago as the mid-1960's that Americans would ultmately ditch their inferior canned coffee and pay a premium price for a product that was far superior.   The very first Starbucks opened for business in Seattle way back in 1971.  The primary focus of the original owners of Starbucks was to sell high quality coffee by the pound, certainly a far cry from what Starbucks has evolved into today.   Perhaps the defining moment in the history of Starbucks was when the company was acquired by Howard Shultz in June of 1987.  A few years earlier while travelling in Milan, Italy Shultz had seen first hand the rousing success of the coffee houses there and was sure that espresso  and other coffee beverages would be a hit in America as well.  He would prove to be the right man at the right time.  Shultz was a visionary who truly believed that Starbucks would become a  national phenomenon.  He envisioned a chain with upwards of 40,000 locations worldwide!

But as you might expect, not everyone shares Howard Shultz's enthusiasm for Starbucks.  In "Starbucked" Taylor Clark discusses the economics of the coffee business.  It is certainly quite disconcerting when you discover that poor Third World farmers receive something like 0.41/lb. for their premium beans.  Seems there is a glut of coffee on the world market that serves to depress the price to those who painstakingly grow it.  Clark also discusses the difference between the rich "arabica" coffee that is grown in Africa and South America and the cheap  "robusta" variety that has been introduced into countries like Vietman.  It is the cheaper "robusta' variety that turns up in most canned coffee and serves to depress the price for all coffee.  The sad truth is that no one has been able to figure out a way to ensure that most coffee growers get a fair price for their crop.   The Fair Trade movement has helped some but only 2% of growers are involved in this program.   There are others who are none too pleased with the rise of Starbucks.   In many communities, leaders fear that Starbucks and other chain stores will displace poor residents in a process known as gentrfication.   Sure, the neighborhood may look better but where are people to live?  Finally, a growing cadre of disgruntled former Starbucks employees accuse the company of "unfair"  labor practices.   Clark spends a bit of time discussing their complaints as well.

Since "Starbucked:  A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce and Culture" was first published in late 2007 some things have obviously changed.  The economy has hit the skids and Starbucks has actually announced plans to close hundreds of locations.  But the prognosis for Starbucks in the long term is still very positive.  Why?   Many years ago,  when Starbucks commissioned  a market research company to help explain just what customers were looking for Starbucks discovered a remarkable thing.  Customers were not only interested in great coffee beverages.  They also were longing  for a comfortable "third place" where they could hang out, mingle, do a little work on their laptop or relax.  I can totally relate.  Although Starbucks is not my personal choice I frequent a local bagel shop for much the same reason.   People need venues to reconnect with each other and these places are valued quite highly by many of us.  All in all, I totally enjoyed "Starbucked".   This is Taylor Clark's very first book and it is a dandy.  I learned an awful lot.    Very highly recommended!]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2009 13:02:21 +0000