Is Americano a Fancy Term for Weak Coffee?

The delightful I Love Coffee blog discovered that Japan’s auto-coffee machines in restaurants distinctly label an Americano as “weak coffee.”

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Most Europeans dislike our coffee for being weak as it is, but even the Japanese think that an Americano, a coffee drink, is synonymous for weak coffee? Is that true? Should we accept it as true?

The theory is that the Americano was birthed from American GIs stationed in Italy during World War II. They found the espresso loved by the Italians to be too bitter for their tastes, so they diluted it with hot water to make it taste more like the American coffee they were used to. To this day, an Americano drink is hot water added to espresso and can be purchased at any coffee house or made at home if you have an espresso machine or the lovely Nescafé Alegria A510.

(Note that an Americano is hot water added to espresso, not the other way around. Espresso added to hot water is called a Long Black.)

But let’s get back to whether an Americano is simply “weak coffee.”

An Americano is 1 parts espresso, 3 parts hot water. Espresso is stronger than regular coffee in both caffeine and flavor. By adding the hot water to the espresso, it thins out the bitter taste of the espresso all while keeping the strong flavor in tact. Since one cup of an Americano will have less espresso than one cup of coffee, it also has less caffeine.

what-is-americano-coffeeIn comparison to traditional drip coffee, which is what is often used in Japan and Europe for coffee coffee (not espresso coffee), an Americano has 50 mg less caffeine per 8 oz drink. Drip coffee is less bitter than an Americano (since it doesn’t use the espresso method for brewing), but it’s also thinner bodied than an Americano for that same reason.

So is an Americano considered “weak coffee” because it has less caffeine? That’s possible. However, the I Love Coffee blog has a different theory, and as the author is from Japan, she is probably right. She thinks that the Japanese make an Americano with drip coffee, which would most definitely taste weak on all counts: flavor, caffeine, and body.

If you’re making your Americano drinks at home with drip coffee or your regular coffee maker, please stop. You are making weak coffee and little else.

Did You Know Coffee Naps are the Best Naps?

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Take a nap after drinking coffee? What? Isn’t coffee supposed to keep you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed awake?

Scientists have found that taking what they call a “coffee nap” will make you rest better and consequently feel better in the process.

The theory behind it is this: when the caffeine enters your brain from the bloodstream, it tries to fit into the neuroreceptors in your neurons. These particular receptors fit the neurotransmitter adrenosine, which normally makes you sleepy. After drinking coffee, the caffeine will compete with the adrenosine for these receptors. It’s able to boot out most of the adrenosine, but not all, hence why you may still feel sluggish after drinking coffee.

The kicker is that after you sleep for 15-20 minutes, a/k/a take a power nap, your brain flushes out the adrenosine. If you sleep longer, then you will plummet into deeper stages of sleep, which are much more difficult to recover from than the coveted power nap.

So since it takes 20 minutes for caffeine to leave your bloodstream and enter your brain, the theory is that if you drink coffee, and then take a nap, your power nap will flush out the adrenosine, leaving more receptors open for the caffeine to attach to. When you wake up, you’ll feel far more refreshed since the adrenosine is gone, and you’ll feel more awake and alert with the extra caffeine hooked into your neurons.

Seems pretty ingenious, right?

Curious to try it out? Here’s how:

  1. Drink coffee, and do it quickly.
  2. As soon as you finish, try to nap. Remember, you don’t have to go completely to sleep to get the effects of a power nap.
  3. Wake up within 20 minutes. Anything longer than that, and you will dive into REM sleep. You want to be awake when the caffeine hits your brain.

Obviously, decaf coffee won’t help you with a power nap. You can still take a power nap with decaf, but it won’t technically be a coffee nap without the added caffeine. Sodas won’t work as well either, as they have too much sugar to let you settle down enough to nap.

Are you Not Drinking Enough Coffee?

Are you drinking enough coffee?

Are you drinking this many cups a day?

This seems like an impossible question, right? Of COURSE you are drinking enough coffee. It’s your lifeblood. You’re undoubtedly drinking enough.

According to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, you may not be. The committee is a panel of academics and scientists who advise US agencies on various topics, and these agencies do include the Food and Drug Administration as well as the Department of Agriculture. The committee has determined that drinking coffee is indeed good for you (hooray!), but you should drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day to obtain the full benefits of the beverage. Most Americans, they found, drink only 1.7 cups a day.

The committee has determined that consuming 3-5 cups of coffee per day:

1. Does not have long-term health risks.

In fact, those who say that coffee has long-term health risks have been proved wrong time and time again with current research.

2. Reduces the risk of heart disease.

According to recent research, coffee reduces lower heart and stroke risk factors such as heart rhythm disturbances and arrhythmia.

3. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee is a natural diabetes fighter, but if you add sugar to your coffee, you aren’t helping fight diabetes in the slightest.

4. May protect against Parkinson’s disease.

We’ve gone over this before in a previous blog post, so we won’t rehash it here. But if you’re curious how this is possible, visit the link above.

5. Can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern.

According to committee member Tom Brenna, “Coffee’s good stuff. I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer—nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

In other words, turn your brewer back on and pour yourself another cup of coffee. Chances are, you haven’t had your required dosage today.

[Original Source]

Are You Drinking Your Coffee Wrong?

wrongcoffeeThat does sound harsh, doesn’t it–to be told that the way you are consuming coffee is wrong? How we drink coffee is all about personal preference and therefore, opinion, right? So how can we be wrong?

Buzzfeed created a nifty little video that shows 5 ways they claim you are drinking your coffee “wrong,” but what they really mean is they have five tips to help you get the most out of your coffee! A few of these tips we’ve gone over before, but a couple were complete news to me.

Watch the video below, or skip to our written summary with other tips if you can’t or don’t want to watch a video. We get it.

Don’t Drink Old Coffee

We’ve gone over the tip for making coffee ice cubes before to help prevent your iced coffee from getting watered down. Using old coffee is a far better idea than brewing a whole new pot of coffee just for the iced cubes. It cuts down on waste, for starters. However, Buzzfeed introduced another idea for the iced coffee cubes–use them to make a quick iced latte. Fill your glass with the iced coffee cubes and pour milk over it.

Don’t Force Yourself to Power Through Bitter Coffee

Does someone in the office like the coffee to slap them in the face in the morning? Did they brew the pot before you got there? It happens. Instead of forcing yourself to burn through it, because my God, you need that jolt today, add a pinch of salt to the coffee! It sounds disgusting, but adding just a pinch, JUST A PINCH, will naturally counteract the bitterness.

Don’t Dump Sweeteners in Your Coffee

You like your coffee to be a little sweet? That’s exactly what the creamers are for. However, if you’re dumping in loads of creamer and sugar, perhaps you need to change how you’re brewing your coffee. When grinding the beans, add some natural flavors into the whole beans before grinding. For example, add some cinnamon stick flakes or orange zest or tear up a few mint leaves. Now your coffee has some natural sweetness ground in, perfect for adding in some cream (but not sugar!).

Don’t Add Cold Milk to Coffee

This tip essentially teaches you how to make a foamy latte without a cappuccino machine. Pour the milk into a mason jar, shake vigorously for 30 seconds, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds, and then you have “steamed” milk with foam that you can top on your coffee.

Avoid Old Coffee

So we know that you should freeze your old coffee into ice cube trays, but how can you tell if the coffee is old? Obviously, this is simple to tell at your own home, but at the office? That’s a different beast. The video shows how you can use two Styrofoam cups to keep track of the age of the coffee. You’re going to have to watch the video for this one; it’s quite handy and it’s hard to explain without seeing it.

Now the trick here is to get everyone in your office to adhere to the cup timer.

Do you have any other coffee life hacks you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!

A Coffee that Helps You Sleep?

Counting sheep

Those who are sensitive to caffeine often have to switch to decaf if they want to continue to enjoy the lovely beverage known as coffee throughout the day. However, what if coffee could be the last thing you drink before bed and actually help you go to sleep?

Deland Jessop wanted to know why there wasn’t a decaf coffee that helped aficionados go to sleep. Jessop wasn’t a coffee fan, but his wife was an addict who had to switch to decaf after 3, and then not touch it again after 5.

He turned their kitchen into a big of a makeshift lab, and tried several herbal concoctions until he found one that not only lulled his wife to sleep, but was tasty and didn’t overpower or ruin the flavor of coffee. He then partnered with a coffee roaster in Newark to combine powdered valerian root with coffee while it is roasted. Together they created Counting Sheep Coffee.

And yes, it is decaf coffee.

Jessop has created two types of Counting Sheep coffee, 40 Winks and Lights Out. 40 Winks has slightly less valerian root in it and will simply induce drowsiness. Lights Out does exactly what it claims.

“The ritual of having a cup of coffee is a very relaxing ritual,” he said. “It’s just a nice warm beverage you want to sit and sip … With the valerian root added, it just kind of adds to it.”

His coffee brand has now made it easy to have coffee when you first wake up to when you go to sleep, which was captured in his company’s motto: “The best way to start your day is now the best way to end it.”

He said that he and his wife used to have a glass of wine together before bed, but now they drink a cup of Counting Sheep together.

The coffee can currently be found in Fresh Market and Market Basket grocery stores. Jessop is meeting with Walmart next month to talk distribution as well.

Would you like to drink coffee right before bed? Imagine a nice, soothing homemade mocha as a sweet treat before bedtime. This definitely has some great possibilities.

4 Other Uses for Coffee Filters

Coffee filters are often quite the cheap commodity for more filters than you may conceivably use in a month’s time. But did you know they could be used for other awesome things around your house that will also prove to be far cheaper than traditional products? Oh yes, coffee filters are about to become a staple in your home, if they weren’t already.

Odor Absorbers

And here's yet another fun use for coffee filters...temporary bowls!

And here’s yet another fun use for coffee filters…temporary bowls!

Don’t buy a whole box of baking soda to sit and rot in your refrigerator to absorb those strange smells. Put about 3 tablespoons of baking soda into a coffee filter, make a ball of the filter with the powder, and then tie off the open ends with a rubber band. You can also use the ball of soda to absorb odors in other smelly places, such as near cat litter boxes or in your shoes!

Dryer Sheets

Before you toss a filter into your dryer and press go, hold up, there’s a couple of other steps you must complete first. Step one, dunk the filter into vinegar. Believe it or not, vinegar absorbs odors and prevents static cling. If you want your clothes to smell super fresh, add a few drops of essential oils to the filter before tossing it in. Essential oils are also natural antibacterials, so any germs that your washing machine missed will be taken care of.

Screen Cleaners

Don’t use a paper towel on your smartphone, tablet, or computer monitor; try a coffee filter instead! They’re lint-free, so you won’t have to rewipe your screen with your sleeve or another cloth after cleaning.

Coffee filters are also perfect for cleaning up small spills instead of wasting a whole paper towel.

Baking Greasers

If you need to grease a pan or baking dish, instead of grabbing that stick of butter and rubbing it down directly on the pan, which then calls for you to throw away the butter once done, rub a coffee filter onto the butter. As it is lint-free, it won’t leave anything behind on your butter. No waste, and your hands stay butter-free as well.

Do you have any fun uses for coffee filters? Share them below!

How Coffee Helps Your Brain Stay Healthy

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It’s popular to hate on coffee and caffeine in a few health circles, but there’s been plenty of evidence that coffee and caffeine do a body good, especially your brain. The key is moderation, the same rule that governs most of the wonderful things in our lives.

But here is what caffeine does for our brains:

Kickstarts our memory. That jolt you get from coffee does more than make you a bit more alert; it actually briefly kickstarts your mental processing. Caffeine accomplishes this by binding to the neurotransmitter that causes sleepiness and preventing it from attaching to the receptors.

Inhibits Inflammation. Polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that prevents osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease, are in coffee. There’s also some evidence that these polyphenols in coffee reduce inflammation in the cortex and hippocampus of the brain.

Protects against Alzheimer’s. With this inflammation inhibition, the effects also help stave off Alzheimer’s, something we’ve discussed before. A study has found that those who consistently consume 3-5 cups of a coffee a day could have as much as a 20% decrease in developing Alzheimer’s.

Improves brain function for a lifetime. A study from the National Institute on Aging found that men and women over the age of 70 performed better on mental functioning tests if they consumed caffeine first.

Obviously, caffeine won’t prevent aging or the lovely side effects that comes with the process of life, but studies are showing that a healthy dose of caffeine each day can delay the inevitable for far longer. And in doing so can create a more optimal life in your golden years.

Have you had your cup or two of coffee today?

Saving Money on Coffee This Holiday Season

The I Love Coffee blog is one of the best coffee blogs out there, simply because she comes up with creative infographics for boring statistics. In turn, she makes boring statistics seem interesting.

For example, she recently posted how much money millennials will spend on coffee over the holidays, which if you do the math, is staggering.

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Her study comes from mostly coffeeshop data, as she notes in another infographic that 45.5 cents of every $1 millennials spend on coffee goes to Starbucks. That’s a lot of money to be spent at coffeeshops, and while we totally get the need to keep that coffee fix going, there are so many cheaper ways to stay caffeinated with coffee.

For starters, you can always brew your own. Here’s another lovely infographic to show how much money you can save from brewing your own coffee vs. going to Starbucks.

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Courtesy of I Love Coffee blog

Now if you’re attached to special flavor drinks, don’t think you’re resigned to relying on your favorite latte-brewing shop. Early cappuccino machines used to be a burden and a pain to use and maintain, but thanks to Nescafé, it’s gotten far easier to make cappuccinos and mochas at home. It may seem pricey up front, but if you do the math (we’ve done it for you!) it won’t take long to see how much you will save with the Nescafé Alegria A510.

Not sure how to make those fancy flavored drinks you like at coffee shops with the Nescafé Alegria A510? We have some recipes for that as well, in addition to several different Coffee-mate liquid pump creamers that can turn your latte into that peppermint mocha you love.

Save your money this holiday season for that massive Christmas shopping list you know you have. Brew coffee at home, make your coffee drinks the way you will definitely like it, and enjoy the savings. And if you really can’t let go of Starbucks, we can save you some money on buying Starbucks’ roasts.

Make Your Coffee More Eco-Friendly

is-recycle_coffeeMany environmentalists like to point to coffee-drinkers as some of the biggest culprits when it comes to harming the environment, from the excessive waste of K-cups to drinking coffee from styrofoam cups at the office. If the finger-pointing bothers you, there are several things coffee lovers can do to reduce the amount of waste and be a tad more eco-friendly all around. The best part is, they’re all very simple and easy to do!

Use coffee mugs.

Instead of using plastic or styrofoam cups, invest in a coffee mug or five. Keep one at work, and several at home. You can even create your own coffee mugs on Etsy or on CafePress.

Use washable filters.

Paper filters are great, as they’re easy to clean up, but they create waste. Look into buying permanent filters that need to be washed to save how much gets dumped into a landfill.

Recycle coffee grounds.

We’ve explained before the benefits and how to reuse your old coffee grounds, but it’s worth mentioning again.

Coffee grounds make great additions for your compost pile, but if you don’t have a compost pile, throw your used grounds into your garden. The nitrogen in the grounds makes for an all-natural fertilizer, and the grounds will keep unwanted pests away, such as ants and even stray cats.

Do you have your own eco-friendly coffee tips? Leave them in the comments below!

More Halloween-ish Coffee Drink Recipes

While you’re handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, taking your child trick-or-treating, or having fun at a Halloween party, here are a few more coffee drink recipes you should keep on hand! One is a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte that actually uses pumpkin. Did you know that the lattes at Starbucks don’t have pumpkin in them? Bypass that nonsense immediately and make your own!

black-cauldron-ck-xThe Black Cauldron

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso
  • 24 ounces oatmeal stout beer

Place 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream in 4 tall glasses. Pour over each 1 tablespoon vodka, 1 tablespoon brewed espresso, and 6 ounces oatmeal stout beer. Serve immediately.

Halloween-Express-Cocktail-1The Halloween Express

Ingredients

  • 3 oz brewed espresso
  • 1 oz rum
  • 1 oz maple syrup
  • 1 oz half and half
  • Cinnamon sugar for rimming (Mix cinnamon with sugar with a 1:4 ratio)

Wipe the rim of your glass with a couple of drops of maple syrup, and then dip the rim of the glass into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Put the remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain and pour the contents over ice into your glass, preferably a cappuccino mug or an Irish coffee mug.

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Pumpkin

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee or 1/4 cup brewed espresso

In a medium saucepan, heat the pumpkin and spices over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla, and heat until hot, but do not bring it to a boil.

Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth and slightly frothy. Add the coffee and blend until just combined.

Pour into two large mugs and top with whipped cream and a mixture of nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon if desired.

Processed with VSCOcamItalian Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients

  • 3 cups hot milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee
  • 3 European styled rolled wafers
  • sugar

Steam or froth the hot milk with the pumpkin pie spice and sugar using a Milk-frother on a cappuccino machine or blender until frothy. Pour the mixture into 3 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full.

Brew coffee and pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Stick a European styled rolled wafer into each mug.

Want more coffee drink recipes for Halloween? We have a few.