Category Archives: Coffee Tips

Try a Coffee Sock to Camp with Coffee

sock-3

It’s a sock for brewing coffee!

With the lovely cooler weather, many turn to the great outdoors for a few nights of reconnecting with nature when you won’t sweat to death. While you may have fine-tuned your technique of brewing coffee over a campfire–because really, you can’t be without coffee just because you’re camping; that’s just crazy talk–here is an interesting method that doesn’t take as much time or frustration as stoking a fire. The question is, could you get over using a sock to brew your coffee?

Okay, so it’s not a real sock that you wear on your feet. This sock is far more tightly woven than a traditional sock and it’s attached to a wire. Plus, there is no heel or tight elastic to pull it over your ankle. It’s just called a Coffee Sock, and it’s not recommended that you fashion one from your personal sock drawer.

To brew with the Coffee Sock, simply place the sock into an empty coffee mug and add ground coffee to the sock. The best general rule for adding the coffee is 2 scoops per 12 ounces. If your mug is 16 ounces, add another 1/2 scoop, and if it’s 8 ounces, subtract half a scoop. Next, boil water, let it cool for about 20 seconds, and then slowly pour it into the Coffee Sock. Break apart any lumps of coffee sticking out of the water with an eating utensil. Let the concoction brew for 2-3 minutes, all depending on what you prefer. Remove the sock and drink! Coffee is ready!

When you’re ready to clean up, simply dump the grounds into trash or a compost pile. Turn the sock inside out and rinse it well. Then put it in a dry spot so it can air dry for the next time you need some java!

Granted, this method may not be great if you go camping with several other coffee lovers, but if you prefer your coffee stronger or weaker than the others or even want decaf instead, this is a simple way to bring single-serve brewing to the great outdoors.

Coffee Brewing Tip from the Old West: Add Egg Shells

coffee-eggshellsIf you use a percolator or boil your coffee to brew it, you should consider stepping into the 21st century. If you subscribe to the theory “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” here’s a tip from the Old West.

You may have heard the old tip of never, ever boil coffee to brew it. However, if cowboys on the trail wanted a cup of coffee while sitting around the campfire, they didn’t have much of a choice other than to boil it. The end result was often muddy and rather bitter tasting as the ground coffee swirled and mixed in with the brewed coffee thanks to the boiling.

As a way to prevent the coffee grounds from mixing with the coffee, brewers would mix in egg shells into the pot to keep the grounds at the bottom of the pot.

If you still use a percolator to brew your coffee (and you ARE old school), you can try this trick to brew a less bitter, smoother-tasting pot of coffee. Continue reading

5 Reasons to Drink Coffee Before Exercising

Coffee Workout

We’ve mentioned before how drinking coffee can help with your workouts, but here are five reasons why drinking coffee shortly before exercising can help you improve your performance.

Improved Circulation

A Japanese study discovered that those who regularly drink one cup of coffee a day experience a 30% increase in blood flow over a 75-minute time period in comparison to those who drank decaf coffee. Improved circulation is important during workouts because it helps your muscles get more oxygen.

Less Pain

You may hear “no pain, no gain,” but it doesn’t mean that you always want to feel that pain or that pain is entirely necessary. A research study from the University of Illinois found that drinking 2-3 cups of coffee one hour before exercise reduced any perceived muscle pain. As a result, caffeine could help you push past that initial barrier you might have during strength-training or endurance-training workouts. Continue reading

Coffee Brewing Tips Straight from the Starbucks Masters

Starbucks-Pike-Place-LgYou may not like Starbucks’ coffee, but you can’t deny they know how to brew one mean cup of joe that keeps people coming back for more instead of brewing at home. Wanna know how they do it? You can follow these easy tips from a Starbucks brewing master without even using Starbucks coffee. We have plenty of non-Starbucks coffee to help you get started.

According to this brewing master, there are four factors that affect your coffee brew, something we have touched on a bit in past posts, but haven’t emphasized as much as this fellow has.

Water

Use only the best water you can find. Starbucks uses a triple filtration system for all of their water. While you may not have such a fancy filtration system at home, use filtered water as much as possible instead of tap water. Continue reading

New iOS App to Help You Brew that Perfect Cup of Coffee

BrewsefulWant to make sure you’re brewing that cup of coffee to the perfect measurement and timing? As luck would have it, there’s an app for that.

Brewesful is a free app for iPhones and iPads designed with helping users brew the perfect cup of coffee in mind. At its core, the app is super fancy egg-timer, but it’s an egg-timer geared toward coffee. No regular egg-timer can tell you how long to pour, mix, and steep.

And that’s what Brewseful does, and it caters the times to your brewing methods. First, you tell the app what method you use to brew, such as French press or pour-over, the coarseness of your ground coffee, and cup size. Then you can calibrate the ideal coffee-to-water ratio. Once all of this data is entered, the app will take users step-by-step through the brewing process, including time to start and stop pouring, time to stir, and time to finish and enjoy.

screen568x568Brewseful isn’t for those who aren’t picky about their regular cups of coffee. But those aficionados out there who are a little persnickety about how to brew the best cup of coffee to ever cross their tasting thresholds, Brewseful is here to teach you how to do so.

Best thing is, it’s absolutely free, so where’s the harm in checking it out?

Gardening with Coffee Grounds

April is National Garden Month, which is quite fitting thanks to the popular children’s rhyme of April showers bringing May flowers. April is the perfect time to start a garden (check out Territorial Seed for a garden jumpstart!) or revitalize your garden for the rest of spring and the coming summer months. Believe it or not, used coffee grounds can really give your garden a boost (pun intended). Here are five ways you can invigorate your garden with your used coffee grounds instead of just throwing them out.

coffee_grounds_414x270Coffee Grounds as Mulch

Dump your coffee grounds directly into your soil around your trees, your vegetable garden, and your flowers. As the grounds decompose, their acidity turns neutral, providing rich nutrients for your soil and plants.

Be sure not to simply pile on the coffee grounds, as this will create mold. Spread on the grounds to about one-half of an inch on top of your mulch.

Coffee Grounds as a Fertilizer

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, one very important ingredient in organic fertilizers. Since coffee grounds are about 10% nitrogen, they’re ideal for using in your fruit and vegetable gardens.

Coffee Grounds Deter Slugs

Slugs do not love coffee as much as you do. If you have a slug problem in your garden, sprinkle used coffee grounds in a circle around your seedlings, and you’ll notice a decline in your slug problem. It doesn’t eliminate them entirely, but every little bit helps.

Coffee Grounds Deter Fungi

Fungi and molds also don’t love coffee as much as you do. Actually, to be more specific, fungi and molds don’t love the fungi and molds that coffee grounds produce. It’s weird to think of wanting to grow fungus to fight off other fungus, but that’s essentially what coffee grounds do in your compost piles.

You can also use coffee grounds to fight off harmful fungi in your vegetable gardens as well. Drop about a handful of grounds into a transplant hold for your vegetables, and you’ll notice the risk of wilting post-transplant is almost eradicated.

Coffee Grounds in Composting

Do you have a compost pile? Throw your coffee grounds into your pile! Despite what you may have heard, worms can process coffee grounds just fine, so don’t hesitate to add them to your composting ritual.

If you use White Bear coffee pods, you can toss the entire coffee pod into the compost pile, as the entire pod is biodegradable.

If you don’t have a compost pile started and want one, the Greenhouse Megastore has everything to help you build your first compost pile or sustain your current one.

The next time you remove that filter from your coffee pot, save those grounds! Your garden will thank you for it.

Guest Post: How to Make Your Coffee Healthy

Healthy coffeeIt’s rare these days for coffee drinkers to take their coffee black. Most people (this writer included) prefer coffee a bit sweet. However; many don’t consider their sweet coffee habits are what hinders them from losing weight. If you’re consistently adding lots of calories to your coffee, here are some things you can do to help turn that daily cup into healthy coffee and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the weight drops. From my personal experience, dropping to nonfat milk with my morning indulgence melted off four pounds in a week. Going sugar-free dropped another three pounds.

Dietician Keri Gans offers several tips on how to make that cup of coffee just a wee bit healthier.

Cut down on the size of your coffee.

If you routinely buy coffee at coffee shops, go for the smaller 12 oz cup instead of the 20 oz. You can save 60 calories alone by ordering the small cappuccino. If you add sugary syrups, you can save as much as 170 calories with the smaller portion.

Use nonfat milk.

As I attested to earlier, switching to nonfat milk in your coffee, no matter if you go to a coffee shop or add milk to your coffee at home, will make a huge difference. Unless you tell your barista you want nonfat milk, they will typically use 2% or even whole milk. Switching from 2% to nonfat in your coffee can save you 50 calories with each serving. It may not sound like a lot, but those 50 calories can add up over time, especially if you drink several fancy coffee drinks in a day.

Forgo the syrup.

Adding syrup to your coffee adds many, many calories. If you simply can’t live without that tasty sweetener in your coffee, then try a sugar-free version. Or, better yet, use a sugar-free creamer so you can skip both the sugary syrup and milk altogether.

Skip the whip.

It doesn’t matter if they offer you fat-free whipped cream; whipped cream is chock full of empty calories. Leave it off your coffee entirely. Did you know that three Hershey kisses have fewer calories than the dollop of whipped cream your barista will pour on your coffee?

Cut down on your sugar.

If you add one packet of sugar to your coffee, don’t sweat it. One packet is only 11 calories. If you’re adding more than that or you drink several cups of coffee a day, you’re consuming loads of extra empty calories. Try using artificial sweeteners instead, as they often have fewer calories, such as Truvia.

Your calorie goal for each cup of coffee should be about 100 calories, especially if you drink more than one cup a day. Try it for a couple of weeks, and you’ll be amazed at much easier it is to lose weight.

Make Not These Coffee Mistakes

hF521925DEven though there are coffee shops on nearly every street corner, there’s just something about brewing your own pot of coffee at home. Whether it’s for the convenience, to save money, or just to have control over what you drink, there are numerous reasons to put your coffee needs in your own hands. However, are you brewing the best cup of coffee you could make?

There are a few common coffee-brewing mistakes that are easy to avoid and will help you produce optimal coffee quality and taste. Take a mental note of these and add them to your coffee practice.

Coffee Mistake #1: Over-brewing the coffee

If your coffee is too bitter each time you brew, your coffee machine is most likely over-brewing. If there is nothing you can change on your machine, it’s time to replace it. If you can tweak your machine, check out this handy chart from Sweet Maria’s for optimal brewing times.

Coffee Mistake #2: Overheating the water

The temperature of your water is imperative for brewing good tasting coffee. Your water should stay between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s any cooler, your coffee will taste acidic. If it’s any hotter, you could burn your coffee.

Coffee Mistake #3: Not using ideal coffee-water ratio

The ideal coffee to water ratio is 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. If you want it a little stronger, you can add a little more coffee or less coffee to make it weaker. Just remember the ideal ratio and try to keep your brewing as close to it as possible.

Coffee Mistake #4: Using cheap coffee beans

You’re already saving money by brewing the coffee yourself; don’t try to save more pennies with cheap coffee. Cheap coffee beans will always brew sub-par coffee. Life is too short to drink cheap coffee.

Coffee Mistake #5: Improperly stored coffee

Store coffee in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. The best containers are glass and ceramic with airtight closures.

Coffee Mistake #6: Freezing the coffee beans

We’ve gone over this before, but it warrants mentioning again. Storing your beans in the freezer does not help preserve your coffee. The coffee won’t spoil, but freezing will break down some of the coffee oils that give coffee its grand flavor.

Coffee Mistake #7: Using old coffee

Like meats and vegetables, fresh coffee is best. Buy coffee in small quantities so you can brew only the freshest coffee available.

Avoid all of these mistakes, and you’re sure to brew that perfect pot of joe in no time. Need to buy non-cheap (yet not expensive), fresh coffee? We can help you with that.

The Morning Isn’t the Best Time to Drink Coffee

besttime1Hold your outcries for just a moment. There is actually a reason for such a crazy statement.

Ryoko Iwata, “a Japanese coffee-lover living in Seattle,” pens a blog entitled I Love Coffee, and a recent post covered research by Steven Miller, a PhD student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. Miller’s research was actually not based on caffeine, but what Iwata has inferred from his research is quite interesting indeed. Due to our body’s natural rhythms, drinking caffeine in the morning is not as helpful as it is later in the day. Continue reading

Coffee Resolutions for 2014

Thinking about cutting down on your coffee intake as part of your 2014 resolutions? While we agree excessive coffee drinking isn’t a good idea, we caution that you shouldn’t cut out drinking coffee all-together. Everything in moderation, right?

After all, coffee does have some healthy benefits in addition to just being so gosh darn tasty. For instance, coffee can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Coffee has also been found to help alleviate depression. And don’t forget all of those antioxidants you get from drinking coffee.

So instead of resolving to cut out coffee, here are some other resolutions we propose you implement instead.

Resolve to clean your coffee machine.

While there is a National Clean Your Coffee Machine Day, you really should clean your machine more than just once a year. Make it a goal to clean your machine every four to six months, depending on how often you brew coffee.

If you don’t know how to clean your machine, we have you covered.

Try something new.

Mix it up a bit! So you love your Starbucks’ Sumatra blend. Why not try brewing from a Nescafé Alegria 510? Grind your own beans. Use a French Press to brew your coffee some morning. Try a different coffee shop (that doesn’t mean you go to a different Starbucks location). Try a new coffee house drink at your favorite coffee shop. Try making your own coffee house drink. Invent your own flavored coffee recipe!

Switch to decaf.

If you are drinking more than 8 cups of coffee a day, that’s quite excessive. Try mixing in half-caff with a few of those cups or switch a couple of them with decaf. Some caffeine is good for you, but your body will be far happier if you cut out some of the caffeine. Many popular blends come in decaf variety, so you won’t have to sacrifice flavor while sacrificing the jolt.

Don’t cut down on the coffee, just the caffeine!

Whatever you resolve to do for 2014, we hope you have a very Happy New Year (with plenty of coffee in your mugs)!