Coffee Gift Ideas for Mom

April 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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I haven’t blogged consistently over the past three months. Kim and I have done a lot of traveling and we have moved to a different state. We have had some good and bad things to deal with also that involve our sons. I may write about some of our experiences in the near future. But you can be sure we have had some good coffee along the way. Starting next week I will be posting coffee and coffee shop reviews. I have a lot to catch up on. I have even turned down some coffee until I get caught up.

During our travels we have been able to try coffee in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. We have had some great coffee and some average coffee. Some coffee that we had was even a little disappointing. We have been in some great coffee shops and met with owners and roasters. Talking with some of the owner/roasters was a great diversion during some difficult times.

We have been learning a lot more about coffee and coffee shops too. Since January we also learned more about cupping coffees and barista judging. We plan to look into home roasting in the future too. We have been trying some new coffees and sharing beans with friends. I have introduced some people to the French Press and Chemex brewers too.

Today I want to give you our suggestions for gifts of coffee if your mom likes coffee and has a grinder. If you live close enough to one of these shops then take your mom out for a good cup of coffee. In my reviews you can read what I look for in a coffee shop. The shops I mention here are very good. I will suggest a coffee too, but we have had more than one coffee from each of them and they were all good. I am already thinking that there are other shops I could mention, but I’ll start with these:

www.bostonstoker.com  Costa Rican La Minita; Dayton, Ohio area

www.cafevolio.com  Founder’s Blend, West Side Market, Cleveland, Ohio

www.hemispherecoffees.com Nicaraguan Maragogype, Mechanicsburg, Ohio

www.staufs.com  Dominican Republic Café Femenino, Columbus, Ohio

www.coffeelabs.com  Ethiopian Amaro Gayo, Tarrytown, New York

www.buongiornocoffee.net/  Venezie Blend, Grapevine, Texas; the picture at the top is their roaster.

Each of these coffee shops is worth going out of your way to get too. We have had more than one coffee from each of them and thought they were very good. The staff of each was very helpful and friendly. It was a really good experience. From our point of view you should be glad if you live close to one of them. If you don’t you can still order coffee from them and give your mom some great coffee. Time for me to take Kim on a date to a coffee shop we have never been too. Until the next time, remember to stop and enjoy the conversations and coffee.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill

(Romans 15:13)

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Coffee Tasting Party

September 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews, Coffee Shop Reviews | 5 Comments
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What do Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Haiti, Mexico, and Nicaragua all have in common? They are all countries where coffee beans are grown. Recently we had the privilege of sharing some coffee from each of these countries with some family and friends. We actually tried a couple more coffees too! It would be the first intentional coffee tasting party for us. Man did we have fun. We have already had another and have plans for more in the near future.

Before the party I asked the host if I could bring some different coffees and brew them a couple of different ways so we could try something new. You see I come by teaching naturally. I like to take opportunities to teach whenever I can. I am also a lifelong learner and I think that one of the best ways to continue to learn is to teach about what you are learning. My wife and I have been learning about the roasting, grinding, brewing and tasting of coffee. I wanted to share some of that knowledge and coffee with some family and friends. So I had a plan to share about grinding, brewing and tasting one specific roasters coffee.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (www.hemispherecoffees.com) provided us with coffee. Their motto is “coffee with a mission.” We’ve reviewed some of their other coffees before. They are involved with direct trade with the coffee farmers and this works out better than fair trade. They care about improving the lifestyles of the indigenous coffee farmers. They have also started a non-profit agency to assist the coffee growers in Latin America called Care Cup International (www.carecupinternational.com). I encourage you to check out both sites.

Well Kim and I stopped in Mechanicsburg at the Hemisphere Coffee Roasters shop to meet Paul and Grace who started this ministry/business. We had a good time talking with them and getting to know them. We tried some coffee and they gave us some samples to give away and to brew and little cups to use. We appreciate their helpfulness and generosity! We hope to get back up there again on one of our trips.

None of the people at the picnic own or use a grinder or French Press. They usually buy coffee that is on sale in the grocery store. That has changed now. First I showed them how easy it is to grind whole beans. Then I made the same coffee in an auto-drip and French Press. We tasted the auto-drip first and then the Press. A couple of people weren’t sure if they liked the Press, but they did like the coffee in auto-drip.

We were drinking coffee in little cups so I kept making coffee to taste. I would pass around the bag of whole beans and ask them how they liked the aroma. A few people actually ate a bean of each coffee. Then I would let them smell the aroma after the beans were ground and again after the coffee was poured into their cup. I would ask them to try to describe the aroma.

After we sipped some coffee I would ask them to try to describe what they tasted. It was a lot of fun listening to their descriptive words. Things like; I’m not sure, fruitiness, tingly, smooth, heavy, and full were used at different times. We even tried some Mexican decaf and one person who doesn’t like decaf liked it and thought it would be good in the French Press.

Overall the Papua New Guinea and Menno Blend were favorites. They are smooth, flavorful, and naturally sweet with a good earthy aroma. The Haitian coffee was liked too. Two people liked the dark roast Nicaraguan Maragojype the best. They thought it was a deeper, bolder flavor. All but one person liked the Mexican decaf.

We had a great time talking and tasting coffee. We gave away sample bags of coffee that we received from HCR. I also ground beans of each coffee we tried and put them in baggies for each taster to take home and enjoy. It was a lot of fun our pleasure to introduce people to the good coffees of Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We truly hope it sends some business their way and helps their “coffee with a mission” grow. We received the coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation!

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review: Hemisphere Coffee Roasters Nicaraguan Cafe Diego

August 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 1 Comment
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This is the third coffee we have tried from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters  (www.hemispherecoffeeroasters.com) and this one is a dark roast version of the Café Diego. It is described as Nicaraguan coffee at its finest with good acidity and chocolaty undertones. It is grown at high altitudes in old shade canopy. We liked the light/medium roast we had before and thought this would make a good comparison.

It has a nice roasted aroma from the bag and the freshly ground beans. Kim said that she could smell the freshly ground beans upstairs. She thought there was almost a fruitlike aroma. Me, I just thought it smelled really good.

First up for the brewing was the French Press. The flavor reminded us of bittersweet chocolate and the acidity is mild. There is a natural sweetness as you drink it and a nice, not too tangy aftertaste. It’s a good morning cup of coffee.

Next up was the auto-drip and the overall flavor is a little milder here. I want to emphasize that the aroma of these beans is really good. The aroma fills the area where you are grinding and brewing the coffee. Even though there is a good roasted flavor it is not as strong as you would expect from the aroma or the color of the beans. We enjoyed this brew too.

Lastly we used the Chemex coffee maker. This was our favorite way to drink this Café Diego dark roast. I never get tired of the clean taste of coffee from the Chemex. You can taste some fruitiness and some dark chocolate. I would describe the aftertaste as pleasant with a mild acidity. The coffee beans were dark, but they were not over roasted. The taste from the Chemex was our favorite this time, though any of the three brewing methods produced an enjoyable cup of coffee.

If you are looking for a dark roasted Nicaraguan coffee we suggest you try this Café Diego from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We would also encourage you to visit their site and look into how they are helping coffee farmers. They work with Rosedale Mennonite Missions to help indigenous farmers and laborers improve both their lifestyles and communities. You can enjoy their coffee and help people in different parts of the world at the same time.

We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee With A Mission!

August 2, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 2 Comments
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Coffee with a mission! That’s the slogan of  Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (www.hemispherecoffeeroasters.com). This week’s coffee is light/medium roast called Café Diego. It is grown by Diego Chavarria in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. People from Rosedale Mennonite Missions met Diego in the 1970’s while doing work in the area. They became friends and started working together. In 2006 HCR purchased a full container of Café Diego, paying twice what they were currently receiving. With the profit the men are empowered to pay their workers better, sustain the farm, and hire pastors for their workers and their families. Six churches are now supported from ongoing coffee purchases.

The Café Diego is described as having a good acidity and chocolaty undertones. It is grown at high altitudes in old shade canopy. The bean is hard and has wonderful characteristics. One of the things we enjoy about doing the coffee reviews is sharing coffee with friends who don’t normally drink coffee made from fresh ground beans. We get to try new coffees and help friends find out just how easy it is to grind whole beans and then use a different brewer. It is about the relationships with people. It seems to be that way with HCR too.

This light/medium roasted Café Diego has an earthy and fruity aroma. When brewed in the French Press it has a medium body, not too heavy or too light. The taste seems to hit the middle of the tongue and there is a bittersweet chocolate flavor. It has a natural sweetness. We enjoyed the flavor of this coffee.

Next up was the AeroPress brewer and it seemed to intensify the flavors. The AeroPress is unique in that you can brew and drink the coffee like an espresso or add water to the cup and drink it like American coffee. We brewed it and tasted it espresso style and it wasn’t overpowering. Neither Kim nor I really like espresso, so we added some water and it still had a surprisingly good deep flavor.

We also used the auto-drip and filled a thermos for a short trip to some used bookstores and antique stores. The coffee had a good roast flavor and hints of dark chocolate. The acidity is low and there is a pleasant aftertaste.

We liked this coffee from any of the brewers we used and would give it two thumbs up. We are not experts about coffee but we are willing to break out of old routines and brew coffee in different ways. We like tasting the differences that each brewing method presents to us. If you haven’t tried a whole bean coffee, give it a try, you can do it and you will be glad you did.

If you want to try some good coffee and help missionaries and missions work at the same time we suggest you try this Café Diego or any of the coffees from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. You’ll be glad you did. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Coffee Review – Nicaraguan Maragogype

July 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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This coffee is from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (www.hemispherecoffees.com) and is described as a dark roast with lemon and chocolate notes. It is a unique smooth coffee that grows very scarcely in Central America. Many farmers have stopped cultivating it because doesn’t produce well.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (HCR) was started out of work with Rosedale Mennonite Missions with a vision to assist coffee farmers and their communities. Many of the farmers live in areas of extreme poverty and the relationships between the farmers and HCR is a practical way to help the farmers and their communities profit from the sale of the beans. In 2008 HCR worked to start a non-profit, Care Cup International (www.carecupinternational.com) to further assist the farmers through grants and agricultural consulting. In future blog posts I’ll share more about HCR and CCI, but I do want to encourage you to check them out.

Our first brew was with the French Press and there is a nice aroma that comes from these dark roasted beans. They have a deep roasted smell in the bag and after being ground. There is a distinct lemon flavor that spreads all over the tongue with a mild acidity. The body of the coffee is smooth and light. You really notice this coffee when you taste it. Two thumbs up.

We went with the auto-drip next and Kim remarked how good the aroma was when she came down stairs. Overall the flavor is well balanced and deep. There is a smooth feel and good aftertaste. This is a memorable cup of coffee. We would give it two thumbs up again.

Finally we used the Chemex coffee maker and there was a clean deep roasted flavor to enjoy. The taste of lemon was there along with a bittersweet or dark chocolate. It has a nice aftertaste and this is kind of where the dark chocolate comes out. As we sat down and talked about this coffee both of us simply liked the flavor we tasted. Two thumbs up again.

Kim liked drinking this coffee as she was eating some Asian food. It also tastes good with a chocolate oat bar. I made a cup in the single cup brewer and it tasted really good there as well. Both of us could say that we liked this coffee very much. If you have never tried a Nicaraguan coffee we highly recommend this Maragogype from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time, stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

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