Tag Archives: coffee

The $1,000 Coffee Break

image via Visual Photos

Work perks.
Staffing firm Accounting Principals, which has just published its Workonomix Survey of workplace spending, found that 50 percent of the American workforce has a $20 weekly coffee habit, spending $1000 a year on workday coffee. Most consider it money well-spent.
Younger workers (ages 18-34) spend almost twice as much on coffee during the workweek as their older colleagues ages 45+: $24.74 vs. $14.15; men outspend women: $25.70 vs. $15.00.

The coffee break is a vaunted worker tradition. Legend has it that the world’s first coffee break took place around 1000 A.D. in Abyssinia, today’s Ethiopia. Long before the power and pleasure of the coffee plant had been discovered, a goatherd noticed his goats dancing around after eating its red berries. Following the goats’ lead, herders began indulging in the berries to stay awake during the long, boring stretches of watching the herds.

The coffee break first appeared in the U.S. in Stoughton, Wisconsin (home to the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival held every August) when the wives of 19th century Norwegian immigrants agreed to cover their husbands’ work shifts on the condition that they be allowed morning and afternoon breaks to go home to tend to household chores and brew up coffee. It was formalized as a workplace ritual in 1902 at the Barcolo Manufacturing Company of Buffalo, NY (rather appropriately, the manufacturer of Barcalounger recliners). In 1964 the coffee break was etched into U.S. labor history when negotiations between the United Auto Workers and the big three automakers nearly broke down over the practice. Other issues at those historic negotiations included health insurance, retirement benefits, and a 5% raise, but it was the coffee break that nearly brought about a strike. 74,000 workers at Chrysler came within an hour of walking off the job when the company relented and agreed to a 12 minute daily coffee break.

Did you know…
the espresso machine was invented in 1901 by an Italian factory owner as a way of speeding up his employees’ coffee breaks?  The first espresso machine, the Tipo Gigante, used a combination of steam and boiling water forced through coffee grounds to make a cup of coffee quicker than any other method in use.

The Coffee Break App for Mac can be set to remind you when it’s break time. It darkens your computer screen for the duration, lighting up again when break time’s over.





Posted in diversions, phone applications, workplace | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Beverage, Meet Laptop

image via Remember the Plamo

You know you shouldn’t, but you do.
You check your email every morning with the day’s first cup of coffee at your elbow, and wind down in the evening with a little facebooking and a glass of chardonnay perched nearby. Your latté and laptop share a table at Starbucks, and when you’re on an airplane, everything’s crowded together on the fold-down tray .
Sooner or later, beverages and laptops cross paths.

Now what?

Electric Power Plug Icon Clip Art Unplug and disconnect the power cord fast: the electrolytic activity from combining electricity and liquids begins on contact.

http://www.toshiba-india.com/laptop/images/common/battery-icon.png If it’s running normally on the battery, shut down in your usual way and remove the battery. If there’s a burning smell, smoke, or sparks, turn it off by any means possible and get that battery out.

http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/024/7/7/USB_Icon_by_momentscomic.png Disconnect any other drives or devices that are connected to your laptop.


Invert the laptop to drain any excess liquid to prevent it from coming into contact with the screen. And wait.

It’s a bit of a crap shoot.
The laptop could eventually power up without skipping a beat or there could be complete ruination. If you opt to bring it in for a professional repair, just know that liquid damage is almost never covered by the warranty—even Apple Care and other extended service contracts—and they will know.

Of course nobody relishes the disruption of their activity, and there is the possible expense to repair or replace, but it could be worse (think superglue or maple syrup). And you’re not worried about your data because you back up religiously, right? Just in case (no lectures, no recriminations) you can contact a data-recovery company like DriveSavers. You’d better be desperate, because you’ll pay dearly for this service.

http://www.777icons.com/libs/art-toolbar/hourglass-icon.gif Still waiting. You really don’t want to power up for a good 72 hours after it’s completely disgorged the liquid. Every day or so you can give the laptop a gentle jiggle to drain any trapped fluid. Some people swear by hair dryers to speed up the process, but unless the spill was water, you run the risk of baking the liquid’s sugars and impurities right into the computer’s innards. Stick to air-drying, and resist the temptation to try it out too soon.


You’re back online and it’s all looking good. You know that nothing fried on contact, but there could still be damage that has yet to be revealed.

If you spilled water, you should be fine. Anything else—coffee, tea, soda, juice—and you’ve got potentially corrosive sugar or acid residue in there. Unless you’re totally confident in your ability to take your computer apart and swab the components with distilled water or denatured alcohol, take it to a professional for a thorough cleaning.

An ounce of prevention…. Lifehacker gives us The Best Foods (and Strategies) for Eating at Your Computer.



Posted in gadgets, Science/Technology | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

What’s Hot in Cold Beverages

What we’ve been drinking:

Infographic via Beverage Marketing Corporation

We worry about an obesity epidemic, but in 2010, we were still chug-a-lugging soda, which remains the most consumed beverage at an average of 45 gallons in a year. And our professed concern for the environment? Last year we drank more bottled water than ever before.

As 2011 winds down, the prognosticators are turning toward 2012. The Food Channel combined the results of its reader survey with intelligence gathered from the market analysts at Mintel, Culture Waves, and the International Food Futurists to identify the top 10 beverage trends that will shape our drinking habits in the coming year.

What we will be drinking:

1. Do-it-Yourself Flavor
 Beverage companies have been experimenting with a profusion of flavors looking for the new blockbuster. Refrigerated cases overflow with lychee water, ginger-peach iced tea, and rhubarb-lemongrass soda. We’ll be taking matters into our own hands with powdered and liquid flavor enhancers that are added to water or seltzer; coffee and tea creamers in new flavors like honey-vanilla crème and white chocolate caramel latte; and Coca Cola’s new Freestyle machine with a touch-screen that turns you into an instant mixologist with more than 100 flavor variations.

2. The Buzz Around Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is all over the map. While school districts are questioning its place in their cafeterias, new studies seem to indicate that it’s a better choice than sports drinks for athletes looking to develop more muscle and less fat, and improve oxygen uptake during workouts. New products include straws imbedded with chocolate beads that flavor each sip, and a boozy chocolate milk for grown-ups with the tagline: “Retaste your youth at 40 proof.”

3. Cold Coffee is Hot
The iced coffee market has grown by 20 percent in the last five years. Dunkin’ Donuts, the nation’s largest retailer of coffee—hot and iced—reports that more than a fourth of the yearly, billion cups of coffee it serves are now iced. Iced, frozen, and slushie coffee drinks are available everywhere. Home brewing systems are growing in popularity and you can always grab a pre-bottled iced coffee or ready-to-mix concentrate. Iced coffee is not just for summer anymore.

4. Drink to Your Health
The category of functional beverages is exploding. Bottled waters are enhanced with vitamins and fortified with minerals that claim to battle diabetes, improve digestion, and promote improved bone and cardiovascular health. Sugars are being reshuffled as we steer away from high-fructose corn syrup and back to cane sugar; and away from artificial sweeteners toward natural, zero-calorie plant-based sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar. You can fire up with an energy shot, mellow out with a stress busting anti-energy drink, or sharpen cognition with one of the ‘think drinks.’

5. Simple, Seasonal Sips
The local foods ethos is coming to your highball glass. Beers are going seasonal, artisan distillers are cooking up local spirits, and bartenders are embracing a style that’s been dubbed ‘Market Fresh Mixology,’ whipping up cocktails with natural mixers made in-house and freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. Even the hotel minibar is now stocked with local brews and regional wines.

6. Fizz-free Combo Meals
Fast food and quick-serve restaurants are looking beyond fountain drinks. McDonald’s is urging its customers in ads to ‘drinkcessorize’ with its new smoothies and frozen lemonade, and Sonic Drive-In is promoting milk shake happy hours. Popeye’s is experimenting with soda-lemonade blends, Burger King has toyed with a breakfast cocktail of orange juice cut with Sprite, and they’re all testing the waters for alcoholic beverages.

7. Craft Beer is Booming
Sales of craft brews are seeing double-digit increases, even while overall beer sales are flat. In the midst of a mature industry, craft brewers are acting like frisky teenagers as they tinker with ingredients and techniques to brew experimental batches with ingredients like fruit, tea leaves, lavender, chiles, and Nutella. There are so many small, independent artisan brewers popping up around the country that most Americans now live within 10 miles of at least one specialty producer.

8. Bourbon’s Rebirth
It’s the biggest bourbon boom since Prohibition. Just a few years ago, distillers were ready to consign the bourbon category to that great liquor store in the sky; today, inspired at least in part by the popular period TV series Mad Men, classic cocktails are making a comeback as the twenty- and thirty-something crowd bellies up to the bar for whiskey—specifically bourbon whiskey. Small batch premium and super premium bourbons are now commanding the same respect and high prices that had been the domain of single-malt scotch. 

9. Drinks and a Show
Restaurants like to dazzle us with presentation: the pampering turn of a peppermill; the deft, table side deboning of a whole fish; the oohs and aahs of a made-to-order zabaglione that’s whisked and flamed in its copper bowl. Now we’re seeing the same star treatment for cocktails. Juices are squeezed a la minute, syrups and purees are ladled right under our noses, and mixed drinks are given a deliberately theatrical, tooth-rattling ride in cocktail shakers.

10. How Low Can They Go?
Happy hour has always been a diet disaster, and drinkers, especially women, have always pushed for lower calorie choices. There’s a caloric arms race as the big players compete for the title of the lightest of the light beers on the market. Miller had just released its MGD 64, claiming it to be “as light as it gets” at 64 calories, when Bud Select 55 stole the title with a mere 55 calories in a 12 oz. bottle. Pre-mixed, low-calorie cocktails—a category that barely existed just a year ago—is giving a boost to liquor store sales, and restaurants like Morton’s Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurants, Applebee’s, and even that ode to caloric excess, the Cheesecake Factory, have developed low-calorie cocktail menus.


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The Best Cup of Coffee You Ever Had.

The New York Times called it “majestic” and “titillating; Time Magazine named it to the list of The Top 10 Everything of 2008; and when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz happened to stumble across one at a tiny café in lower Manhattan, he declared it made “the best cup of brewed coffee I have ever tasted.”

They’re all raving about the Clover, an eyebrow-raisingly pricey coffeemaker that brings high-tech precision to gadget-loving coffee drinkers. It also brews a hell of a cup of coffee.

Schultz discovered the Clover in 2006, curious about the customers lined up to get into a small, independent coffee shop. The Clover was then a cult object, hand-built in a converted, Seattle trolley shed. Costing $11,000 and requiring the equivalent of a masters degree in barista arts to operate, there were fewer than 200 in use worldwide—you could find more Flickr photo tributes to the Clover than there were machines in existence. So wowed was Schultz that Starbucks bought the Clover’s maker, and now distributes Clovers exclusively to Starbucks.

Why all the fuss?
Your home coffeemaker is probably an automatic drip; it boils the water and pours it over the beans, dripping the coffee into a carafe. You control the beans and the grind, and the coffeemaker and gravity do the rest. Some prefer the pour over; basically a manual drip that lets you adjust the water temperature and timing of the pour for a bit more nuance.

The next step up the scale of coffee fanatacism is the French press. The grounds and sub-boiling water steep until you push down on a plunger attached to a mesh filter that uses pressure to separate the brewed coffee from the grounds. The vacuum pot, those glass-globed contraptions found in cafes frequented by coffee geeks, achieves similar results. The pressure is created by heated water vapor that’s forced into the top globe; it agitates the ground coffee until the pot is removed from its heat source and the finished brew filters down to the bottom globe. Both of these methods add elements of control to the temperature and brewing time.

None match the precision of the Clover. It brews one cup at a time using pistons and valves that alternate a pressure push with a vacuum pull. It’s outfitted with proprietary Cloverware software and an Ethernet port connected to an online database that micromanage every variable of the brewing process. In the hands of a skilled barista, the choice of bean, grind, coffee dose, brew time, water quantity, and temperature contribute to one perfect, magnificent cup of coffee that will have you reaching into a wine lover’s vocabulary to describe it: a cocoa nose to the Sumatra; hints of tobacco and walnut in the Nicaragua; a voluptuous, plummy Peaberry.

Where can I get this ambrosial brew?
Starbucks has placed Clovers in just a few hundred locations, and done so with so little fanfare that you have to wonder if the company really wanted the Clover coffeemakers or just didn’t want them in the hands of the competition. You can click Clover Brewing System in the search filter on the Starbucks Store Locator and hope there’s one nearby. And keep an eye out for Clovers in the independent coffee shops, where they are holding tightly to those they purchased before Starbucks cornered the market.


Posted in coffee, gadgets | Tagged , | 3 Comments

How Green is Your Coffee?

Actually, it’s pretty hard to tell.
There’s fair trade and organic coffee, shade-grown, and even bird-friendly.
You can drink it in a recycled cup with organic soy milk and sugar from plants that haven’t been genetically altered.
And there’s the carbon impact.

By the time the beans have been grown, harvested, processed, roasted, shipped, ground, and brewed, your morning cup of coffee has left a pretty big footprint on the planet. About 3 pounds of CO2 are released into the atmosphere for every pound of coffee that is produced using environmentally responsible practices. More when it has been factory-farmed.

You can buy carbon neutral coffee.
Carbon-neutral means that the sum of the world-wide activities that produced your coffee did not contribute to the carbon in the environment. To accomplish this, a grower or roaster conducts an audit of their energy usage and emissions, and then plants trees (which are naturally carbon-sequestering) to mitigate the impact. Carbon offsets are purchased in an amount to make up the difference.

We know what ‘carbon neutral’ means, and there are private companies that provide audits and certifications, but there’s no national standard or official certification, and no regulations or protocol for the FTC to enforce. Until we get some standardization and clarity, here are a few things you can do to green your coffee-drinking habit:

  • Minimize your footprint by shopping locally. Unless you live in the tropical band around the equator, you can’t buy locally grown coffee, but you can reduce the number of miles that your coffee has to travel to reach you by finding a roaster close to you to cut down on the trip and the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by your coffee delivery. Coffee Habitat will tell you where you can find roasters in your area that have demonstrated social responsibility in both their bean imports and their own business practices.
  • Consider the source. Shade-grown, bird-friendly, and fair trade are not mere marketing ploys to ease a guilty conscience. They are all designations and certifications that have real, enforceable teeth that guarantee ethical and environmentally sound growing practices.
  • Use a permanent filter in your coffee maker. The little paper filter might seem like a small thing, but disposable coffee filters are a strain on the environment both at the start of their life and at the end. They use paper, which is made from a consumable resource that is slow to be replaced. Toxic chemicals are employed when the paper is processed, and after they’re used, they end up in a land fill for decades. Worst of all are the snowy white filters that were bleached to get that way.


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No, It is Not Iced Coffee Season

I do love my iced coffee.
A tall glass, lots of ice, and just a splash of cream. When properly made, the coffee is rich and smooth with very low acid, notes of chocolate and caramel, and barely a hint of bitterness. Sugar is superfluous.
Why would anyone want to wait for summertime to enjoy it?

Finally, the rest of you are catching on and catching up.
According to an independent survey commissioned by Dunkin’ Donuts, iced coffee is now seasonless.

More than a fourth of the yearly, billion cups of coffee served by Dunkin’ Donuts are now iced, and 56% of their iced coffee drinkers prefer iced coffee to hot coffee, even during the winter months. 42% said that what they like best is the energy jolt they get from iced coffee—in fact Dunkin’ Donuts uses a double portion of ground coffee in its double-brew method, although melting ice dilutes the double dose of caffeine. 21% said they like that they can gulp it down, while hot coffee requires careful sipping; 18% claimed that their favorite thing about iced coffee is the straw.

It’s never too cold for iced coffee.
Look at ice cream. Alaska leads the nation in per capita consumption, with the chilly states of New England close behind.

Iced coffee is expected to rack up another summer of double-digit sales increases, causing food and beverage businesses to trip over each other with new product launches. There are ready-to-drink, canned and bottled versions coming from Wolfgang Puck, the classic Italian espresso brand, Illy, and Pom Wonderful (better known for its line of pomegranate drinks). Starbucks is pushing its one-ounce-shy-of-a-quart Trenta cup, a new Via instant iced coffee packet designed to be mixed into a standard water bottle, and created a page for its iced frappuccino drinks that became Facebook’s third-largest product fan page in less than a week.

For the record, Dunkin’ Donuts is still the nation’s largest retailer of hot coffee and iced coffee. Let’s also note that 91% of their iced coffee drinkers order it sugared-up with added flavorings (mocha and French vanilla are the favorites). You know my position on sweeteners. But I’ve tasted Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee and am willing to cut them some slack.

For the summertime purist who believes (however misguidedly) that iced coffee goes in and out of season, there is a pointless but nifty website called Is It Iced Coffee Weather? Plug in your zip code and you’ll get the definitive answer.



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The Shape of Things to Come

Ice comes in cubes. Same for sugar. White Castle even sells its hamburgers as little cubed sliders.
Yes, we’ve always liked a good cube.

It’s a Platonic solid, a perfect shape in terms of its symmetry and aesthetics. Scientists and mathematicians have always been mad for cubes.
But that still doesn’t explain why the food business is suddenly cubing everything in sight.

Not that we’re complaining about hot chocolate cubes that you swirl into a cup of milk. It’s like the foil-wrapped chocolate Ice Cubes you see by the cash register, but on a stick, and  the chocolate’s better. [The Ticket Kitchen Chocolate on a Stick]



It’s instant coffee and it’s cubed. As far as we can tell, just ‘cuz.  [Little Delights—The Original Coffee Cube]



If you make a lot of smoothies, this one will make a lot of sense. It’s frozen smoothie cubes. You add them to milk or juice in a blender.  [Creative Gourmet Smoothie Cubes]


In the midst of all the cubing, the traditional bouillon cube is bucking the trend. The familiar shape has seasoned the stew for generations of cooks, but this year it’s being reformulated as a blocky ‘X’ said to dissolve easier. Can you say New Coke?








The big daddy of cube introductions is the restaurant cube. It’s a fully equipped, self-contained restaurant inside a semi-translucent cube that will be placed atop a series of European landmarks. It will operate as a temporary, 18-seat pop-up restaurant at each location, using a resident chef and locally sourced ingredients. It’s currently perched on the main arch at the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium. [Cube by Electrolux]

And finally, we would be remiss in our cube roundup if we failed to mention the cube known around the ‘net as ‘is it a puppy or a loaf of bread?’.



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We’re Like Rats in a Maze

image via Futurity.com

What’s dangling from your keyring?

Buy ten coffees and get one free.
Or pints of frozen yogurt, bakery muffins, or home-delivered pizza.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve got 14 loyalty cards and tags clipped to your keys or stuffed in your wallet, although just around half of them are ever used. […]

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Starbucks’ New, Flavorless Coffee Beans.

roasted and unroasted coffee beans image via Smithsonian.com .


Customers have long complained that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. Apparently, the company has been listening. Maybe a little too well. Starbucks is rolling out a new beverage made from unroasted, green coffee beans.

What, you might ask, does unroasted coffee taste like? According to Starbucks’ vice president of global beverage Julie Felss Masino, “It’s coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee.” In fact, the company refers to the green coffee extract as ‘flavor neutral.’ It also doesn’t have a coffee aroma, and contains a mere fraction of the caffeine. And the point of this new beverage is…?

Starbucks has rolled out two flavors of the iced, green coffee beverage called Refreshers. Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus get their flavor from added fruit juice and are sweetened with stevia.

Green coffee bean beverages aren’t exactly new. Like green tea, green coffee beans are  the youngest and least processed form that, on their own, produce a grassy, astringent brew. And like green tea, they have a longer history in Eastern cultures where they are prized mostly for medicinal uses. Recently, green coffee and its extracts have been available in weight-loss aides, and Nestlé has been selling its Nescafé Green Blend and Nescafé Protect, both containing one-third green beans to two-thirds roasted, which Nestlé is promoting for the health benefits provided by high levels of naturally-occurring antioxidants.

Next time you want a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee, smell like coffee, or pack much of a caffeine punch, you know right where to go.


Posted in coffee | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Chewable Coffee, Sushi-on-a-Stick: What will they think of next?


Have you seen the press coverage of the Candwich?


News of the Candwich, the latest innovation in sandwich technology, has been covered by everyone from Stephen Colbert and Perez Hilton to Business Week and the New York Times. The sandwiches, in peanut butter or barbecued chicken varieties, are packed in pop-top beverage-style cans. There’s been a little hang-up as the backing company sorts through SEC allegations of fraud— apparently the investors believed their $145 million was funding real estate deals, despite the money manager’s track record with a company that sold rose petals imprinted with greeting card sentiments. But given the excellent shelf-life of the Candwiches, the delay shouldn’t pose a problem. […]

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Some Salt in Your Café Latte? The ‘Starbucks’ of Taiwan has arrived.



Starbucks, Tully’s— all the big names in Seattle coffee are brewing in Taiwan. In fact more of them have opened shops there than in New York. But one local Taiwanese chain has been running circles around the Americans, and now it’s looking to challenge them on their home turf.

Bigger, better, cheaper than you-know-who.

85°C (named for coffee’s ideal brewing temperature) custom-brews each cup individually. You’ll find the usual espressos and frozen, blended drinks, plus some Asian-style bubble teas. The infamous salted coffee is their signature latte with sea salt whipped into the foam topping. It’s a subtle touch that teases out a little more coffee essence without adding saltiness. […]

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Beware: The Frozen Drinks of Summer

Nothing says summer like a slushy drink.

A blender, some ice, and the promise of super-cooled refreshment; what was once a poolside specialty can now be found at every coffee shop, convenience store, and fast food outlet.

We used to know where we stood with our frozen drinks. Milkshakes were a dessert stand-in when you didn’t feel like a cone. Slushies, were glo-light-colored slurries of icy, sugar that were strictly for the playground set. Smoothies were a nutritious meal replacement for the health and fitness crowd.

Now it’s not so clear. […]

Posted in fast food, health + diet | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Iced Coffee is Hot Hot Hot!


Iced coffee is expected to rack up yet another season of double-digit sales increases.

The big boys are tripping over each other with new product launches as each tries to cash in on our growing affinity for iced versions of our favorite beverage. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonalds will be going head-to-head this summer, each with its own frozen-dark-roasted-choice-of-flavored-syrup-blended-ginormous renditions. […]

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10 Most Dangerous Foods to Eat While Driving

photo via Los Angeles Times

Texting while driving gets all the attention these days, but few things are more distracting than a hot cup of coffee in your lap.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified the ten most common and dangerous foods to eat or drink while driving, and naturally, coffee is at the top of the list. Even with a travel lid coffee seems to find its way out of the cup. The other nine on the list are: […]

Posted in fast food, food trends, Travel | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Is That for Here or To Go: coffee in motion

Four Seasons Hotels announced that it will begin offering to go cups with its morning coffee service.

If there is anywhere that cups and saucers should be right at home it’s Four Seasons. The hotels are bastions of luxury and elegance, where mornings have been a time for the genteel hush of dining rooms and lobbies broken only by the sounds of crisp newspapers and the ring of spoons against fine china.

The rest of the world has always considered the to go cup to be a somewhat uncouth symbol of America’s go-go culture. Order a coffee in virtually any cafe in Europe and it is sure to be delivered in a proper cup, frequently on a tray with niceties like a glass of water and maybe a little cookie or chocolate. To go isn’t even an option for most of the world’s coffee drinkers. […]

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Coffee: How Much is Too Much?

image courtesy of Cocobean


Do you have a child named Joe? Get your minimum daily requirement of calcium from half and half? Have a line item for coffee in your budget? Do you think maybe you drink too much coffee?

How much coffee is too much coffee?

The medical community tells us that we should limit our caffeine intake to 200 – 300 mg. a day, or about two cups of coffee.

A little coffee is a good thing. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, alleviates fatigue, and increases wakefulness. It increases strength and endurance in athletes. Coffee is full of antioxidants that reduce risks of certain diseases like type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer. It’s been linked to lower rates of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. There are fewer suicides among coffee drinkers. […]

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Starbucks Love. Starbucks Hate.


Starbucks Love

These days you risk getting run out of hip society for admitting a fondness for the Seattle giant. Even Starbucks is shunning its own brand with the opening of 15th Ave. Coffee and Tea. From the coffee cups to the store fixtures, Starbucks’ ownership  is nowhere in evidence. 15th Ave. can’t even be found on the Starbucks website, instead answering to the screen name of streetlevelcoffee.com. […]

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Up and Down: recession winners and losers

   image courtesy of Food Mayhem


The recession marches on.

Unemployment is still too high; consumer spending is still too low. And have you looked at the financial sector lately?

While discretionary spending on groceries and restaurants is down overall, there are some signs of life. Health, convenience, small luxuries, and qualities that can can lead to future savings; these are the features that seem worth opening wallets for.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3253/2652939425_ddef7fb3fd.jpg Up: home-brewed coffee.

We’re dusting off the Mr. Coffee or replacing it with a single-cup brewing system. Even Starbucks got in on the act launching Via Ready Brew instant coffee. When we do go out for coffee, it’s likely to be a 99¢ cup from a fast food outlet. Could $4 lattes be a thing of the past? […]

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Giving new meaning to the question Would you like whipped cream on that?

Seattle is well known as the first city of coffee. Starbucks and Seattle’s Best both got their start there. The city consistently ranks first in the U.S. for coffee consumption. Now Seattle might again break new ground as the first municipality to outlaw bikini baristas.

Competition is fierce in Seattle with thousands of coffeehouses, carts, kiosks, and drive-throughs vying for a share of the local caffeine dollars. A few years ago a local entrepreneur latched onto a plan to stand out from the crowd with scantily-clad baristas pulling the espresso shots. Similar coffee shops began popping up throughout the Pacific northwest– with names like  Brewlesque, Twin Perks, and Java Juggs– all hiring attractive young women to serve up steamy coffee drinks.

As competition heated up between these coffee establishments, the bikini baristas upped the ante to keep the big tips coming. Bikinis begat G-strings and pasties. Some cafe workers catered to special requests for extra hot or hold the foam. Five baristas were busted for prostitution.

Seattle and neighboring cities are seeking to regulate the coffee houses under adult entertainment ordinances. This would mean zoning restrictions and minimum age requirements. Baristas would be required to cover up if they are visible in a drive-through or storefront.

Could this spell the end for bikini baristas? Or the start of a First Amendment defense?

I’m just here for the cappuchino!

Sure you are…that’s why Bikini-Baristas.com lists 117 locations where you can get your, uh, caffeine fix.

Cowgirls Espresso is offering franchise opportunities. Get a good look at the business plan with more than 5 minutes of cowgirl footage on their website.


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Hungover? You need food!


The office party.  The neighbors’ open house. Nogs and bubbly and toddies.  A little too much holiday cheer?

Forget about the hair of the dog; you need food.


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