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Archive for the ‘Coffee 101’ Category

Just thought maybe it was time to give you a little perspective on today’s coffee market:

2010 was a year that should have been split in half. The first 6 months saw green coffee futures prices trade in a narrow range from 126.50 to 140.50. Then all hell broke loose in mid-June. The market took off on 6/11 from 137.00 and went all the way to 242.25 on 12/22. That’s a 77% increase in 6 months!

Why did it happen? And why did it start in mid-June when the hot summer usually causes prices to go down most years?

Well it actually started in April, when it broke through 140.00 but then the Euro collapsed as the financial problems of Greece and several other European countries came to a crisis point. The stronger US$ caused several hedge funds to sell their commodity holdings and buy back their short US$ bets. By the time that crisis subsided, a couple of months went by, and the hedge funds came back to buying coffee and other commodities. (We’ve all heard about gold/silver/cotton/copper etc making new highs, right?)

But it wasn’t just the hedge funds buying coffee futures. There were several, severe problems brewing in coffee, but they were ignored or discounted because Brazil was harvesting the biggest crop in their history – perhaps 55 million bags. Surely the market couldn’t rally in the face of that much supply, right?

Well, let’s see why it did just that…
• Consecutive poor harvests in Colombia (the largest supplier of washed Arabica) have reduced the availability of high quality washed Arabica, driving premiums up all across that spectrum.

• Worldwide consumption has risen to 131 million bags in the last decade but only Brazil has increased production.

• Because of the on-year/off-year cycle in Brazil, you have to look at a two year cycle of statistics there. Brazil needs 98 million bags each two year cycle, due to export demand (30 million) and internal consumption (19 million) each year. Last year’s 43 million + this year’s 55 million = 98 million. No help there.

• Stocks in the producing countries have been at their lowest level for the last 3 years since the USDA started keeping the stat over 45 years ago.

• Green stocks in all hands in the U.S. are at their lowest level in 10 years (< 4.5 million bags)

• Now we learned that Brazil exported a record 33 million bags in 2010 meaning they will have even less carry-over to help out with next year’s lower crop

What can we look forward to that might help this market slow down, or even better, turn around?

• Today, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is holding public hearings about their proposed rule changes that might help limit the size of the positions that hedge funds and other speculators can hold. It could be months before anything is implemented though and it is not clear that they will truly help.

• A prolonged strengthening of the US$ would help as those funds that believe a weak dollar is best offset by investing in commodities would have to reassess their holdings.

• A “normal” harvest in Colombia of 12 million bags next year (2011/12) but we won’t know if that is possible until late summer. Early signs are not encouraging though as heavy rains fall in much of the growing areas, knocking off flowerings and disrupting late season harvesting.

If the largest crop in Brazil’s history couldn’t prevent this rally, the answer will have to lie elsewhere.

So you coffee lovers around the world….suppose we will have to wait and see what happens from here! In the meantime maybe it time to enjoy a nice "Cuppa Mokk-a!" Cheers!

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Here are a dozen great uses for coffee filters.

1. Food covers. Place them over food cooked in the microwave. They are simpler than plastic wrap, and cheaper than paper plates or paper towels.  

2. Dish and pan protectors. Store and protect your good dishes by placing a coffee filter between each dish. Place several in a cast-iron skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

3. Wine filter. If you crack apart a cork when opening a bottle of wine, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

4. Food wrappers. Excellent for holding tacos and other messy foods.

5. Scale helper. Place ingredients in a coffee filter for weighing chopped foods on a kitchen scale.

6. Grease soakers. Place on a plate to soak grease out of bacon and fried foods.

7. Spoon rest. Use a small stack to help keep counters clean.

8. Snack bowl. Great for popcorn.

9. Drip stoppers. Poke a hole in filter and slide onto a Popsicle stick or ice cream cone.

10. Cleaning windows and mirrors. This is my favorite use for coffee filters. Because they are lint-free, you won’t have all those fuzzies.

My $1 pack from Dollar Tree held 160 filters. That makes them less than a penny each.

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The story of coffee as we know it does not begin with the mythical figure Juan Valdez from Columbia, it begins long ago in Ethiopia.  If there is one coffee bean that bids fare to be the original coffee bean it is Ethiopian– Ethiopia’s Yergacheffe bean (also spelled other ways).  The story is told about Ethiopian goat herds who noticed that their goats got more bounce to the ounce when they ate the beans off certain bushes.  So being smart goatherds, they tried the beans as well, roasting them over a fire, to the same effect, and then they got really smart and began trading with the beans or selling the beans to local Ethiopian monks.  It was those monks in the desert, which is freezing cold at night, who roasted and crushed the beans, and apparently first brewed the beans and voila— coffee, the first Christian beverage.   But that is not all.  

The art of making coffee was something that was passed on from monastery to monastery, and there were various refinements– for example in Italy.  Did you know that the term capuccino comes from the color of the Capucchin monks robes which is like the color of the beverage?   Yes indeed. And the association was a natural one since those monks had been brewing beans for some time.  Now of course it is true, that travelers on the spice road and merchants in the Middle East also got hold of Ethiopian coffee beans and exported them north, and east ,and west.  Turkish coffee is certainly one of the earlier forms of the beverage as well, and it was this form of coffee that became more widely known in Europe due to both the spread of the Ottoman Empire, and its later contacts with and negotiations with such Western powers as Great Britain and France.  But what about coffee in America?   Well that is a sadder tale.

The rise of widespread coffee drinking in America can be attributed to the Great Depression, where it was the cheap beverage of choice served to those in the breadlines. And of course the rise of coffee drinking in America paralleled the rise of the industrial revolution and the mass producing of things.  And here is where the story of coffee in America goes horribly wrong.   Originally, coffee was a beverage you got in grand hotels.  The mass producing of coffee might be what led to the distruction of good coffee in America, and the conditioning of Americas to drinking bad coffee, any coffee so long as it was hot, strong, and caffeinated.   This is still a problem.

Coffee beans like any other product loses their freshness and flavor over time.  And if one roasts, grinds, and packs the beans in cans to sit on shelves for who knows how long, you are simply asking for mediocre flavorless coffee at best, and bad bitter coffee at worst.  Ever seen a bitter coffee face— I bet you have. Here is something few Americans seem to know— coffee beans are not inherently bitter. Indeed if they are roasted and ground and brewed when they are fresh, the coffee is indeed semi-sweet. The Turks knew this, and to this day if you drink real Turkish coffee you will discover it needs no added sugar. The ground pulp of the bean is sweet enough. 
There are in fact many ingredients that go into having as truly good and flavorful a cup of coffee as is possible.  

  • You need to have beans that are as fresh as you can get, with as little time between the roasting and your consumption as possible.  The vacuum packed bags are helpful, but still coffee has a shelf life. 
  • It is always best to grind your own beans.  Yes often it is a bit messy but the coffee is much more flavorful.
  • Use a good filter to filter the grounds. 
  • Use filtered or bottled water.  Some waters have a high limestone content.  Special filtering of the water to makes a better cup of coffee. 
  • You must thoroughly wash all the components of the coffee machine between pots of coffee. This is especially so when it comes to washing the pot itself.  

Then, of course you need to know what you are doing in picking out beans. This is personal preference but here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) decaf not only leeches the bean of a good deal of its caffeine, it also leeches it of its natural flavor as well. Decaf, does not however mean no caf!

 2) flavored beans are just that– beans with flavor added.  But there are so many wonderful different natural flavors of coffee beans that you should try them first

3)  you will have heard the terms dark roast, and small roast etc. perhaps This has to do with both how long the beans are roasted, and in what quantities.  All other things being equally, small batch hand roasting seems to produce a more consistent batch of similarly tasting beans.  The darker the roast, the bolder the flavor, but this does not necessarily mean the stronger the coffee!   That of course has to do with a variety of factors including degree of caffeine. 

4) You may also have heard terms like free range coffee.  This is an attempt to make sure the beans are grown naturally and properly and picked when they are ripe, and also there are attempts to be sure to support the small coffee farmers all over Latin America, Africa, Asia, Hawaii and elsewhere that produce coffee the right way. 

5) Drink coffee while it is hot or warm.  If you let it sit and get cold over a long period of time, you lose flavor and it does become more bitter. 

6) Despite the hype there is not more caffeine in espresso than in regular coffee. It is simply this….the grind is finer and the cup is smaller!   

The four European blends from Mokk-a are totally different in body, aroma and taste.  Give them a try and let me know which one you prefer!  www.mokk-a.com

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After brewing coffee, coffee grounds are often tossed into the trash bin. Some people regard the group of squeezed coffee beans as worthless items. If they only knew the alternative uses for coffee grounds, they would probably store the used beans in their cupboards.

Coffee grounds have many other uses aside from producing coffee. They can be used for gardening, repelling insects, and even as pet grooming products. Just by using these supposed waste products, the need to buy some household products can be instantly eliminated. Best of all, the use of coffee grounds is environment-friendly. You better think twice if you plan to throw away your next batch of coffee grounds. Here are 11 of the best reasons why used coffee grounds are worth keeping:

  1. Compost Material – Coffee grounds fit the standards set by gardeners for compost materials. The grounds, when mixed with soil, release nutrients that make the ground richer and more acidic. Plants that flourish in acidic soil will be healthier since they can get the needed nourishment from the ground. If you have a good supply of coffee grounds, just spread them evenly in your garden. Your plants will reward you by producing robust blooms.
  2. Pet Grooming Solution – Mix coffee ground extract with some water and the result is a nice grooming solution for pets. After a few rubs, the solution softens your pet’s fur, giving it a nice sheen. Some people even claim that the solution keeps fleas and other parasites off your pet, though it still needs testing for it to be considered a fact.
  3. A cutie cat

  4. Fridge Deodorizer – Storing different types of food inside the fridge can produce a nasty mixture of odors. Remove those pungent smells with a bowl filled with coffee grounds. Place the bowl inside your fridge and your coffee ground deodorizer will gradually absorb all unwanted scents. If your fridge is packed with stored food, just add more grounds and a few drops of vanilla to your deodorizer so that it can absorb more odors.
  5. No Place for Pet Litter – You can keep your pet from defecating in your garden if you spread a mixture of coffee grounds and orange peels around the area. Your pets will find the scent of the mixture too exotic for their defecating standards.
  6. A man with coffee grounds on his faceSkin Exfoliant – Rubbing your skin with coffee ground extract seems silly but it is actually a good idea. The extract removes dead skin cells, which results in better-looking skin. It can save you hundreds of dollars since this simple product can practically replacesseveral pricey sessions with your dermatologist.
  7. Shoe Deodorizer – Active people and smelly feet are often associated with each other. Break away from the norm by placing used coffee grounds in your shoes. It will not relieve you of foul-smelling feet, but it will certainly get rid of the evidence. Now, if you want to truly remove foot odor, you can always wash your feet with water and coffee ground extract.
  8. Hair Shine Solution – Let’s face it, everyone wants to have shiny and bouncy hair. Some people spend significant amounts of cash just to make their hair look better. You can look no further than your supply of used coffee grounds to give you softer and shinier hair. Just wash your hair with the coffee byproduct and rinse. You will soon sport your favorite celebrity hairstyle after a few strokes.
  9. Brushing her shine long hair

  10. Ant Repellent – Ants can be annoying, especially if they manage to make their way to your bath towel or clothes. You can avoid these tiny pests by rubbing coffee grounds on your closet. For some reason, ants dislike the scent and the properties of coffee ground extract.
  11. Fireplace Dust Regulator – Fireplace dust is always a big obstacle for someone who cleans the fireplace. Large dust formations can sting your eyes and irritate your sinuses. They can also make the surrounding areas dirty. To properly regulate dust, you can toss a handful of wet coffee grounds in your fireplace after operation. The wet grounds will hold the dust in place, lessening the appearance of dust clouds when cleaning the fireplace.
  12. Heating it up

  13. Coloring Ingredient – If you combine coffee ground extract with hot water, you can create brown dye for fabrics, art works and other applications. You can also mix the extract with henna to produce brown-colored henna tattoos.
  14. Scratch Remover – Coffee ground extract can erase scratches after several forceful scrubs. Its thick slippery base, when coupled with a rug, topples the foundations of most scratches. The scratches eventually fade in the process.

You can use coffee grounds as unconventional product substitutes for many household activities. With their wide variety of uses, you can say that they’re even more useful than their ungrounded counterparts.

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 Coffee commands an average price of $2.00 a cup. The Coffee grower gets 1 cent. Coffee is the most popular beverage worldwide with over 400 billion cups consumed each year.

Only about 20% of harvested coffee beans are considered to be a premium bean of the highest quality.

In 1732 Bach wrote a coffee cantata. Cantata is a Italian word meaning “To sing”, a composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment.

In 1763 the city of Venice boasted more then 200 coffee shops.

Today Italy supports 200,000 plus coffee shops, restaurants, bars. That number is still growing.

Italy manufactured the first commercial espresso machine in 1906.

Espresso means to the country of Italy what champagne is to France.

In Italy, coffee and espresso are synonymous, inseperable.

Coffee is grown commercially in over 45 countries throughout the world.

Coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity on earth followed only by oil.

In Brazil more then 5,000,000 owe their employment to the coffee trade. Most are involved with the cultivation and harvesting of more than 3,000,000,000 coffee bean plants.

In America coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed.

www.mokk-a.com

Give us a try!!

 

 

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I spend a few days a week working at coffee shops, which is pretty common in San Francisco, and I’ve seen some serious audacity in the last few years.

There’s always the guy communing with his computer at a table meant for four. He inevitably plugged in to the only outlet five hours ago; about the time he purchased his coffee, which has long since gone cold. Occasionally he rises to aim banter at the irritated barista, and then returns to his seat without making a purchase. Smashing.

I once saw someone pull a screwdriver out of his bag to remove a cover plate the owner had secured over an outlet. I had to restrain myself from walking over to smack his hands away.

By supplying Internet access, coffee shop owners know they’ll attract customers who want to work, but there are limits. Let’s review them:

1. Remember you’re frequenting a business. If the coffee shop isn’t profitable, it closes, leaving you pantsless in front of a Top Chef marathon. You, my friend, are a customer — so rise to the challenge. While you’re working, keep a purchase in front of you, and buy something every hour or so. If you can’t afford that, the library beckons.

2. Don’t bring a picnic. This should go without saying, but you may not bring food or drink to a place that sells things to eat and drink. Not even if you bought a coffee at some point. You can leave and come back if you want, but go eat your PBJ somewhere else.

3. Hang up. The barista is not a vending machine. Put away your cell phone while you’re ordering.

4. Tip well. Tip at least a buck every time you make a purchase. This promotes goodwill and serves as karmic rent. It’s an acknowledgement that you’re using space someone else could fill. Someone who tips.

5. Clean up after yourself. If you spill half the creamer on the counter before you find your cup, wipe it up. Empty sugar packets go in the trash, which is conveniently located inches from your hand. Bus your table between purchases and clear the table before you go. If someone takes your empty glass while you’re still sitting, that’s a forceful hint that it’s time to buy something else or leave.

6. Let the baristas be. If they want to talk to you, they will, and a pleasant conversation may ensue. But if you feel chatty — or god forbid flirtatious — direct those impulses elsewhere. Employees can’t be rude in the face of your attentions, and they can’t exactly leave work to avoid you.

7. Take one chair, and the smallest table available. If that happens to be a large table, offer to share until someone accepts. Don’t wait for others to ask, and don’t cover the table surface with papers in hopes that no one will bother you. As soon as a smaller table opens up, move.

8. Leave chairs free. If the space is busy, your bag goes on the floor, not a nearby chair. That way other people can use the chair without interrupting you. If you’d like someone to clear a laptop bag so you can sit, say, “Excuse me, is someone sitting here?”

9. Don’t bogart bandwidth. No P2P or large file downloads while everyone is sharing a network. Besides, we can all see your porn, and it’s awkward.

10. Respect the owner’s intent. If wi-fi is turned off at certain hours, then your laptop probably isn’t welcome either. Be aware of the cafe’s culture. If everyone around you is reading newspapers, or having quiet chats, this isn’t the place to start coding.

11. Avoid noise pollution. Switch your cell to vibrate, and take calls outside. If that’s not possible, keep conversations brief and quiet. Also, mute the sound on your computer, or wear headphones. Do you have any idea how much time you’re spending on Hulu?

12. Recognize that everyone wants the outlet seat. Unless outlets are plentiful, don’t use one unless you must. Arrive with a charged machine, and consider bringing an extra battery to avoid the whole drama. If you’re sitting at an outlet and you have enough battery to work for an hour or so, offer to share.

13. Don’t tamper with outlets. If an outlet is covered with a plate or tape, are you seriously willing to be the guy who opens it up? Don’t be that guy. What’s more, if there’s a fan, a lamp, or any other electrical device plugged in, you may not unplug it in order to charge your machine.

14. Ask before you pull out a power strip. In some cases it’s fine to bring along a power strip to multiply outlets, in other cases it irritates the owner. It’s more likely to be a good idea at a Starbucks than a mom-and-pop cafe. Another good sign is if the coffee shop has several available outlets, and is clearly set up for laptop use. When in doubt, ask the owner.

15. Once in a while, change your scenery. If you plan to spend an entire nine-to-five workweek in the same space, you might as well get a real job. Perhaps you’d be interested in learning to make a good latte?

The day may come that you’re too engrossed in your work to notice that you’re doing something rude. Hopefully, that situation will be such an anomaly that everyone will cut you some slack.

Now let’s go get some coffee. You can sit with me.

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0156-0709-2705-2637_TN[1]Preparing coffee

When hot water comes into contact with ground coffee, the aroma, flavour and colour constituents are released. Just how many of these components finally end up in the cup is determined by the grind size, water quality and quantity and brewing temperature, as well as the length of time the water is in contact with the ground coffee (brewing time). Very simply, fine ground coffee, a high temperature and a longer brewing time result in more of the components being dissolved and released. If too much of the content is removed in this way, the coffee tastes strong and negative bitter. Grind size, contact time and temperature should on one hand allow extraction of many of the water soluble components, but on the other hand prevent extraction of negative bitter components.

Centuries of coffee brewing
It is therefore hardly surprising that the search for optimal quality in coffee as a beverage gave rise, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, to the development of a whole host of infusion methods, most of which have since disappeared. Many of these methods served to prepare the ground for today’s brewing methods. The idea of boiling the ground roasted coffee in water comes from Arabia.

The principles of brewing great coffee

The principles of brewing great coffee are always the same, no matter which
type of equipment you use:

  • Always make sure your coffee maker is clean
  • Use fresh water to brew the coffee
  • Rinse the coffee pot well before you start
  • Use fresh coffee. After opening the packet, keep the coffee in a tightly-sealed container
  • Buy the correct grind for your machine
  • Use the same amount of coffee each time, in order to gain as
    consistent a flavour as possible
  • Make sure the coffee is evenly distributed within the filter bag
  • The best drip filter and French press coffee is brewed at around 96 degrees Celsius. Moka express and Espresso coffee is ideally brewed at 90 degrees Celsius. The ideal temperature to serve it at is around 80 to 85 degrees Celsius.
  • Coffee is at its most delicious directly after being brewed.
  • For a uniform flavour, the coffee in the pot should be stirred before pouring.
  • Do not leave coffee standing on the hot plate for too long, or the fine aromas will be lost. If you wish to keep the coffee longer, use a thermos flask.
  • Remember to de-scale the coffee machine every so often. How often you need to do this depends on the hardness of the water in your area.
  • Use clean crockery

My coffee grinder quite on me yesterday evening!  Problem! 

Was grinding up some Mokk-a Cafe Italia to give to some friends….and it just stopped!  Really bad timing!  They did send me a note saying the coffee was verrukkelijk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In Dutch that means “marvelous”!!  Thanks guys!

www.mokk-a.com

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