How About Some Salt In Your Coffee?

Sea salt in bowls

Uhhhh…I don’t think so. Seriously, I love this drink too much to ruin it with salt. Or am I being too narrow minded here? Apparently, the people in Taiwan have discovered something quite unique – salt coffee.

This kind of coffee is currently being offered by Taiwan’s largest coffee chain, 85 Degree Bakery Café. Salt coffee was launched only on the 11th of December 2008 but it seems to be catching on like wildfire. According to Cathy Chung, the spokeswoman for the coffee chain, “Public reaction surprised us. Nowadays an outlet in north Taiwan can sell 700 cups of salt coffee per day and a store in south Taiwan can sell 700 cups, which is 20 to 30 percent more than the daily sale of our brand coffee, American coffee.

Heck, it surprises me too! 700 cups of salt coffee in a day? Unbelievable. I just can’t get over the fact that salt is not supposed to put in coffee. Period.

Then again, I have never tried this beverage so who am I to say anything? Customers who have tried the drink rave about it:

“It gives you three tastes. First, you get the slightly salty taste from the cold cream foam, second, the mixed taste of the salty cream foam and hot coffee, third, the aroma of coffee,” says Ho Hsiu-ling, a university student, at the 85 Degree Cafe outlet on Xinyi Road in Taipei.

“It is amazing. I ordered it out of curiosity and expected it to be salty, but the taste is not entirely salty. It is salty and sweet and is more fragrant then sugared coffee.”

But Li Ping-mou, a computer engineer, says he prefers iced salt coffee “because the salty-sweet taste is sharper.”

Alright, being the adventurous person that I am, perhaps I would be willing to try this salt coffee. Who knows, I might be able to tell you about it if I ever find myself in Taiwan sometime in 2009.

For now, I will stick to my hot, rich, and sweet coffee. Happy New Year, guys!

Drip Brewing with a Paper Filter

Drip brew is a method for brewing coffee which involves pouring water over coffee contained in a filter. Water seeps through the coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, solely under gravity then passes through the bottom of the filter. The used coffee grounds are retained in the filter with the liquid falling (dripping) into a collecting vessel such as a carafe or pot.

Paper filters are commonly used for drip brew all over the world. One benefit of paper filters is that the used grounds and the filter may be disposed of together, without a need to clean the filter. However, metal filters are also common, especially in India. These are made of thin perforated metal sheets that restrain the grounds but allow the coffee to pass, thus eliminating the need to have to purchase separate filters which sometimes cannot be found in some parts of the world.

Drip brewing is the most popular method of coffee brewing, owing to the overwhelming popularity of the automatic drip brewing coffee machine. There are, however, several manual drip-brewing devices on the market, offering a little more control over brewing parameters than automatic machines. There also exist small, portable, single serving drip brew makers that only hold the paper filter and rest on top of a cup. Hot water is poured in and drips directly into the cup.

Brewing with a paper filter produces clear, light-bodied coffee, which is free of sediments, but lacking in some of coffee’s oils and essences, which are trapped in the paper filter.

Irish Coffee Crunchies

Irish Coffee CrunchiesA mere mention of the name of the recipe is enough to make my mouth water! What better way to enjoy your coffee with great tasting cookies? And if you do not feel like drinking a cup of joe (I really can’t imagine why you wouldn’t!), you can still have your coffee kick from these amazing cookies. By the way, they’re perfect for dessert during the holidays.

Here is the recipe as presented by ABC News.

In a bowl beat 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened, with 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons each of Irish whiskey and strong coffee and 1 teaspoon heavy cream. Add 2 cups quick-cooking oats and 1 cup flour sifted with 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder and combine the mixture to form a dough. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a floured surface and with a 2 1/4-inch cutter cut out rounds. Bake the rounds on a buttered baking sheet in a preheated moderate oven (350° F) for 15 minutes, or until they are lightly colored. Transfer the rounds to a rack and let them cool.

In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons each of Irish whiskey and strong coffee and 1 teaspoon heavy cream. In a bowl combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, and the coffee mixture, stir in 3 teaspoons boiling water, a little at a time, and beat the icing, adding a few drops more water if necessary, until it is smooth and of spreading consistency. Spread half the rounds thinly with the icing, top them with the remaining rounds, and coat the cookies with the icing. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let the icing set. Makes about 18 cookies.

I am thinking that as good as this looks, I will need to double – even triple – the ingredients!

Buying A Grinder? Blade vs. Burr

ground coffee

Recently, I talked about my recent acquisition of a coffee grinder. When I was at the stores, my main consideration was cost. I just bought myself a $40 drip brewer, and I wasn’t about to spend more than that on a grinder.

And so I got myself a small Krups blade grinder. But at that time I didn’t realize I had other options, and that these would likely give me a better coffee experience, if not for the price.

This means if I had the cash to burn, I should’ve gone for a burr grinder.

Blade vs. Burr

There are two basic types of grinders: blade and burr. A blade grinder works by spinninng a set of blades, which chop up the coffee beans. The fineness or roughness of the resulting grind is determined by how long you spin the blades. If you’re using a brewer with a cone-shaped filter, then most likely you will need a finer grind (about 30-40 seconds). But sometimes spinning blades can produce friction and exposure to heat might cause a burning taste in the coffee grind, and the resulting grind will not always be of similar consistency all throughout. Blade grinders can come as cheap as $20 for the smaller ones.

Burr grinders, meanwhile, use a circular or conical wheel, which grinds the coffee against an unmoving surface. The fineness of the grind is controlled by how close the grinding wheel is to the surface. The fineness of the coffee grind is better controlled with a burr type grinder. However, this comes at an expense of higher cost, at about $300 or so for the cheapest.

For personal use, I would say a blade grinder is probably good enough. But if you’re venturing into commercial or heavy duty use, then by all means go for the burr kind, particularly the conical-shaped ones, which are more expensive, are easier to control and maintain.

(image source)

Why You Should Get Yourself a Grinder for Home Use

Krups Grinder

A few weeks back, I was sent a review pack of Escazu Costa Rica blend beans (review to follow later). Having been shipped from the US to my small tropical island residence, the best way to do this was to ship them whole bean rather than ground. But my problem was I did not have a grinder at home. And I couldn’t find a cafe who would grind these for me for free, as they usually grind only beans bought from their stores.

And so I decided to buy myself a small grinder for home use, and settled with the Krups KM 75, which is a very compact grinder that can mill up to 75 grams of coffee at a time. I got it for a reasonable price of $30 at a local department store.

What’s great with getting to grind my own beans is that my coffee is now fresher than ever. Ground beans usually go stale in a few days, even when I transfer these to an airtight container. But having a grinder on hand lets me grind just the right amount for a day’s worth of brewing (I usually brew about 4 to 5 times a day).

Passion for Coffee has a handy guide for grinding beans, which you might find useful, depending on the brewing method you prefer. I just realized I have to grind my beans finer, since my drip-brewer uses a cone-shaped filter.

Bus Driver Shows The Spirit Of Christmas

I know this is not really about coffee but my story for today happened at a coffee shop – Canada’s most famous coffee shop, in fact. I think that you’ll understand why I wanted to write about this story so much even if it is not really about coffee. So this is what happened…

Bus driver Rick Bazinet Jr. was going about his usual night and made his usual stop at a London Tim Hortons – Canada’s answer (and a very good one, I hear!) to Starbucks. He went to the washroom and hit gold – he found a bag full of money. It was actually a Brinks bag, which apparently had been left by guards who filled the ATM in the store earlier. The bag contained $80,000 in 20 dollar bills.

Now put yourself in Bazinet’s place. What would you have done? I will be totally honest and say outright that I would have been so tempted to grab that bag and make a run for it. Finders keepers, eh? But deep in my heart, I also know that I would have done exactly what Bazinet did.

He went back to the store, told the clerk what he found, and returned the money. He said. “In hindsight, I guess it would have been nice to have. And Christmas sure would have been great, but it wasn’t mine. That’s the way I was brought up and it’s what I teach my children.”

Despite all the evil we witness on a daily basis, there are still people who know the right from wrong and who have the courage and strength to do the right thing. That’s a comforting thought – as comforting as a steaming hot mug of coffee. :)

Read the full story here.

Giving The Gift Of Coffee:

Here is another gift idea for this Christmas. If you are looking for high quality fair trade coffee and you are not sure as to where to get some, I suggest looking over the inventory of is a relative newcomer to the online coffee store world but the actual business has been around for quite some time. It family-owned and operates out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Their web site showcases a veritable treasure trove of everything coffee.

President and Managing Partner Ellie Glidewell shares her vision:

Starbucks, Seattle’s Best and all those other brands are great, but they’re all from the Northwest. I’m from the South. When I sip my cup of coffee with my lady friends on the porch at the ranch… we share a little gossip and news about town and laugh together. There’s something special about the Southern Coffee we experience that you just don’t get up North.

So I endeavored to create a Southern Coffee and Gift Basket experience for you – every morning you and I can enjoy the rich Southern tastes that remind us of tire swings, Southern plantations, green pastures and joyous conversations.

So if you are looking for a bit of Southern comfort (no not the alcoholic drink), you might be enticed to purchase coffee from them. I was particularly attracted by their gift baskets, which are shipped for free! The price tag can be as low as $50++ and as high as $100++. Why not take a look at these if you are still trying to complete your Christmas list?

On The 12th Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…coffee, coffee, and more coffee! Now I would certainly stick with this true love if he gave me coffee for all the 12 days of Christmas – who wouldn’t? Looking at things from another perspective, YOU could give the gift of coffee this Christmas and capture the heart of that special someone. Or if you think romance is full of hot air anyway, give coffee anyway and have people in your debt forever. ;)

Seriously, though, I am thinking of giving away coffee beans this Christmas. I will just have to order a huge amount of beans from my regular supplier and then buy some nice containers and wrap them up. Perfect gift, yes?

If you do not have the time to do all that – packing and wrapping can take some time – then here is another good idea for you. How about taking a look at I just found a Christmas basket dubbed “The Twelve Days of Coffee Christmas Gift Basket Whole Bean Selection.” They got me at the name, really. Who would be able to resist such a gift basket?

The site describes the basket as:

Celebrate Christmas with 12 glorious days of the finest coffees from around the world and seasonal flavors perfect for the holidays. Inside an attractive woven wood basket we have included twelve 2 oz bags of our fresh roasted whole bean gourmet coffees. The collection includes popular specialty and estate coffees from the finest growing regions of the world, specially selected by our discerning roasters based on seasonal availability. All coffees are fresh roasted from fine Arabica beans and packed in our one way valve bags to ensure optimal freshness (a rarity for 2 oz bags, but necessary for bagging fresh coffee).

More than the coffee, though, they are also throwing in special treats such as wafer cookies and chocolate covered beans. For $59.95, this is one heck of a Christmas gift.!