Posts from the Past: The Gift of Flavor

This was posted on back on Friday, December 16, 2011.

I’ve added a small section on the About Me page to explain these sudden long absences.  In a nutshell, it’s my job.  Maybe I’m a secret agent?  Read the section to find out!

Flavored Coffee For Sale

Some of the flavors in this photo: Swiss Chocolate Mocha, Coconut Creme, Seville Orange, and Cinnabun

So many topics to cover but today we’re just going to cover something simple, gift coffee.  We’re right in the middle of the Christmas shopping season.  My friends and family know my feelings towards good java so quite often I receive a pound of interesting coffee as a gift.  The only problem with this is when good-natured people think I would like flavored coffee.


Café Godiva

A chocolate company making coffee has to add Vanilla and Hazelnut to the flavor.

Let me say this right off the bat, rarely do I like a flavored coffee.  There have been times that, I have to admit, they taste good but often the flavored blends are below average.  I will explain using four main problems.

#1.  The flavor is a ghost!  It says Pumpkin Spice but all I can taste is coffee.  Did someone add a teaspoon of pumpkin oil to a pound of beans?

#2.  If the flavor isn’t acting like a ghost then the flavor is “pasted” all over the beans.  What is that stuff?  Can’t I just add that stuff to the ground coffee in the filter?  Why not just use a syrup to the already brewed coffee?

#3. The flavor is a bad paring with the coffee.  Here are some flavors I’ve seen:  Blueberry Cobbler, Vanilla Caramel, Butter Pecan, Apple Spice, Caramel Apple Nut, Apricot Creme, Butter Toffee, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Coconut Creme, S’Mores, Spiced Butter Rum, White Chocolate Strawberry.  The list goes on and on and on.  Is this a dessert of a coffee?  And how do they get the flavors for some of this stuff?  I don’t like to mess with a good thing and coffee, just by itself, it a real good thing.

#4. I don’t have confirmation on this but my guess is that the beans that are used for flavored coffee are of lower quality in general since they are expecting the flavors to mask any imperfections with the taste.


Liquid Leprechaun

Liquid Leprechaun

If you’re buying coffee for someone who already drinks Blueberry Cobbler coffee then you can probably assume that they’ll want to try the S’Mores blend.  However, if they grind their own beans, own a press pot, and won’t drink coffee from a gas station, then they probably don’t like the flavored stuff.

I enjoy receiving gifts and I will usually try anything once so if you’re reading this don’t think that I would throw your flavored coffee out on the street.  Everything deserves a chance.

Except for maybe that Apricot Creme…

Iced Coffee at Home

It’s too cold for an iced coffee today (currently below 0º) but I found this iced coffee maker that is easy and inexpensive.

It distributes the water rainfall-style over the coffee grounds and there is a seal that keeps the coffee fresh in the refrigerator.  I’m considering it since iced coffee is generally much more expensive to buy than hot coffee.

OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

It’s $50 on Amazon.

A New Destination

I remember reading a while ago that Starbucks had this thing in its business plan called the third place or third destination.  They way they saw it, people spent time at home (destination #1) and at work (destination #2) and some would search for a third spot like a golf club or a bar or the beach.  Starbucks wanted to tap into that idea of the third destination.

In New York City, there are Starbucks every couple of blocks in Manhattan and some neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.  It’s hard to imagine that anyone would have a favorite Starbucks in New York City because there are just so many of them.  In smaller cities and towns this isn’t the case and the Starbucks might be the only place to go to that isn’t a bar.  Now Starbucks will attempt to have a few destinations in major cities designed to be these new super cafés.  They’ll have several brewing methods, 100% of the beans will be roasted on-site and even something called, Starbucks Evenings where they offer alcohol and tapas.

I’m all for it.  I know that I won’t be able to enjoy the ones opening here in New York City because they’ll be in neighborhoods far from me and most likely crowded all day long.  But they look pretty sweet.


Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room

Reserve® Roastery and Tasting Room in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle


Starbucks Evenings

Coffee Spill Science

I love it when “they” say a bunch of “physicists” explain why coffee spills more than beer.  Who are these people and where do they get all of this free time to experiment on things that are obvious?

If you want to laugh at all of the science behind this, watch the video.  Otherwise I’ll provide the spoiler here: beer has foam and therefore stops the liquid from spilling.

Do You Take Loci with Cream & Sugar?

A loci is a term used in genetics and recently eight loci were identified as genes that determine coffee drinking behavior.  And I always thought I just liked the taste!

The study was conducted with 120,000 people so they have a good sample but they said that, “the scientists were able to determine why some people need more of the stimulant than others for optimal caffeine effect.”  This leads me to believe that preference for the taste has little to do with genetics.  They mostly seemed to link the genetic need to drink coffee to smokers and alcoholics that are addicted and, of course, coffee has that little part called caffeine.

Here is an article about the study:  Coffee Genetic Link

Remote Espresso

Apparently people cannot live for more than 24 hours without coffee.  That’s funny that I am being sarcastic when I’m writing about coffee on a blog but even I think that it gets a little ridiculous.

Do you need fresh espresso, not powered or pre-ground, but fresh espresso when you’re:

  1. Camping
  2. At the beach
  3. In the desert
  4. Sailing

Because I live in such a large city I find it difficult to imagine anywhere that doesn’t have access to a few coffee places or stores to buy coffee but I must be wrong.  Check out the Minipresso in this YouTube video and get your hand muscles ready.

The Coffee Gadget Industry

I know that coffee is popular now but this is ridiculous.  I see a new gadget or toy for coffee every day and sometimes twice a day.  Are people really buying this stuff?  Some of it seems great and others are just pure indulgence.


No electric needed espresso.  The ROK Manual Espresso Maker.  Looks great, but at $200…I don’t know.  It sure is cool-looking on your countertop.

ROK Espresso Maker

ROK Manual Espresso Maker

ROK Manual Espresso Maker



This next one I like and at $30 it’s affordable to me.  If you like iced coffee then all you need to do is pre-chill this cup, pour in coffee and drink.  Great idea, if it works.

Zoku Iced Coffee Maker

Zoku Iced Coffee Maker

Zoku Iced Coffee Maker


My favorite so far…coffee cubes that only need hot water.   I like to camp and this is perfect provided you can heat up some water.  Only $15 for 24 cubes AND they’re pre-sweetened!  The bad reviews on Amazon say that the taste isn’t so great but…it’s coffee, in a cube, while you’re camping!  What’s your alternative?!?!

Jiva Coffee Cubes



Seven Interesting Facts

1. After coffee beans are decaffeinated, coffee manufacturers sell the caffeine to soft drink makers and pharmaceutical companies.

2. The average U.S. worker spends $1,092 on coffee each year.

3. According to legend, Honore de Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day to fuel his writing.

4. In 1932, Brazil couldn’t afford to send its athletes to the Olympics in Los Angeles. So they loaded their ship with coffee and sold it along the way.

5. In 1674, the “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” said it was turning British men into “useless corpses” and proposed a ban for those under 60.

6. Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511. It was believed to stimulate radical thinking and hanging out.

7. The first webcam watched a coffee pot. It allowed researchers at Cambridge to monitor the coffee situation without leaving their desks.

HG One Grinder

As I surf the internet throughout the week I come across some very interesting coffee gadgets and I keep meaning to post them on but often I don’t do it because I have nothing to write about them.  Take this one, for example, the HG One Grinder.  It’s over $900!  I love coffee and I think you need a good grinder to get good tasting coffee but I can’t afford that.

Having said all of that, here is a link to a $900+ coffee grinder, that looks really cool, but I cannot review.

HG One

HG One Grinder

HG One Grinder

Old News: Coffee is Good for You

I’ve never been a big fan of the effects of caffeine from coffee only because I like to drink coffee and after too many cups I get jittery.  I’ve tried a few decaffeinated coffees and I think they are quite good so maybe that’s the way to go forward.

Anyway, I find this a stretch but now they are tying coffee drinking in with ethics.  “They” say that when you’re sleep deprived you can be more susceptible to unethical behavior.  If that’s an excuse to have fresh coffee available at work, I’m all for it!

“Our research shows that sleep deprivation contributes to unethical behavior at work by making you more susceptible to social influences, such as a boss who tells you to do something deceptive or unethical,” said Michael Christian, an organizational behavior professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. “Caffeine can help you resist by strengthening your self-control and willpower when you’re exhausted.”

Here’s the article and a video about caffeine.