31 Aug

Food and Health Concerns Among People

In terms of nutrition food and health are great concern all over the world. The major concentration is on the threats exerted by kinds of foods, and how we can cut them by avoiding junk foods and modifying our daily diets. For example, many consumers avoid the white sugar as they perceive that it is harmful for health.

Many nutrition and health authorities offer guidance for people to avoid health problems associated with over or under-consumption of certain foods. However, it largely depends on the attitude of the people to their food intake and health. Continue reading

31 Aug

Cooking A Prime Rib

The average bovine has 13 ribs. Some younger ones have only 12 but most mature ones have 13 so I am referring to them when I say that a prime rib roast comprises 7 ribs, starting from the 7th rib at the shoulder and continuing back to the 13th rib at the loin, part of which is the most tender part of meat on the animal.
The reason the loin is so tender is because it is a muscle that is rarely used. The most heavily used and strongest muscles are the toughest cuts of meat.
The prime rib is the piece of meat that rib-eye steaks and rib steaks are cut from. A normal, full 7 rib roast will yield 14 rib-eyes or 7 rib-eyes and 7 rib steaks. The only difference between a rib steak and a rib-eye steak is that the rib-eye does not have the rib bone attached as the rib steak does. When you remove the bone you have a rib-eye.
Many butchers will call a rib steak a bone-in rib-eye. Nevertheless, the rib steak, although it is the exact same cut of meat, should always be cheaper per pound than the rib-eye because you are paying for bone, which obviously, you cannot eat, but many times they are the same price.
The tenderloin is the cut of meat that continues back from the end of the prime rib roast, or 13th rib, along either side of the back and is usually cut into three sections called the sirloin, tenderloin and top sirloin. The tenderloin is the most tender piece of meat on the entire animal and is what the filet mignon is cut from.
A full prime rib roast is a very expensive cut of meat, so it is important to know many things about buying, preparing and cooking one before you ever attempt to do one, because a ruined prime rib roast is a lot of money wasted.
Before cooking a prime rib you’ll need to know how much (how many ribs) you will need to buy as per how many hungry people you are going to feed. You also need to figure an estimated cooking time and you need to know exactly what temperature it needs to be when you take it out of the oven.
The roast will continue to rise 10 degrees in temperature during the resting period. The resting period is usually 20 to 30 minutes and that allows the juices to re-settle into the meat. If you carve a roast without letting it rest, you will lose a lot of juices and your roast will be dry.
So, since the roast will continue to rise in temperature, you will need to take it out of the oven 10 degrees before it reaches your desired temperature for the perfect doneness, whether you want it rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well done.

30 Aug

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27 Aug

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25 Aug

A Cup Of Kopi Luwak Coffee

A barista is an interesting profession very suitable for socially-minded people who like to talk, meet people, listen to stories and enjoy the memories of special “coffee moments.” One of these special memories is the story of a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee that a coffee patron shared with a barista friend.

The coffee patron was very specific in his order of genuine gourmet Sumatra Mandheling coffee. He sighed at the absence of Kopi Luwak on the coffee menu. Kopi Luwak is among the most expensive coffees in the world. For this reason, it is not something a coffee shop would feature for regular consumption.

However, the coffee patron said to the barista, “…you realize how delicious coffee really is when you taste a cup of genuine Kopi Luwak coffee as I did during my travels in Sumatra. It is a paradox to learn that a Paradoxurus or “Luwak,” basically a little mammal that goes unnoticed and is not very beautiful, produces “animal coffee” for which humans pay hundreds of dollars per pound! Sumatran locals call the little mammals “Luwak.” Paradoxurus is their scientific name more fitting for the high priced coffee droppings collected to make this marvelous coffee. These animals live in the trees in Sumatra. One of their favorite foods is red, ripe coffee cherries. Interestingly, they eat the cherries, bean, everything. Once the coffee cherries get to their stomach, the animal’s body produces enzymes and gastric juices that process the beans.

A scientist from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Doctor Massimo Marcone, ran scientific tests on Kopi Luwak coffee. This scientist proved that proteolytic enzymes penetrated into all the “Luwak” beans. This is what causes substantial breakdown of storage proteins and reduces the caffeine level in this special coffee. Apparently, these animal enzymes prevent bitter taste and caffeine jitters. The “Luwak’s” stomach is almost like a natural “coffee mill.” When the beans exit through the animal’s digestive system, the beans are still intact.

The animals move primarily at night. They creep along the branches of coffee trees. The animals sniff the coffee cherries and pick only the reddest and tastiest ones. They chew the exterior of the cherry but swallow the whole beans. Amazing to think there are Kopi Luwak farmers who follow these creatures through the Sumatran forests. The beans stay in the animals’ stomachs for about 36 hours before they come out. The farmers are familiar with the “Luwak” territory so they scour the grounds for animal droppings to collect. The farmers clean the beans thoroughly. Then they can roast the beans and grind them just like any other coffee. Funny to think that the origin designation for this coffee is “Kopi Luwak.” The price tag is a high one but worth every sip!…”

The barista nodded and the coffee patron continued. “…Aah! Kopi Luwak coffee: rich and strong aroma. Full bodied like no other coffee, almost “syrupy” and with a hint of chocolate taste. It is coffee that lingers on the tongue with hints of malt coffee. A shame the production is so low, only about 500 pounds per year. But you know, it is not the only fruit digested by an animal, excreted and then collected for human consumption as a pricey drink. There are others….”

The barista said, “Really, did not know that.” The coffee patron replied, while taking his last sip of Mandheling gourmet coffee, “…In Brazil, they have Jacu Bird Coffee. In Vietnam, the weasel is what produces Weasel Coffee. I find “Luwaks” prettier than weasels, don’t you? In the Philippines, the ‘civet” (a “Luwak” by another name) produces Kape Alamid Coffee. I could go on and tell you about the Argan oil story, a tale of nuts and tree climbing goats from Morocco. But, it is late and I need to go. By the way, the Sumatra Mandheling coffee was great!…”

Yes, genuine gourmet Mandheling Coffee tastes great and it is available for the asking. Go ahead; treat yourself to a cup of this delicious specialty coffee!

24 Aug

Specialty Coffee – A Vibrant Industry, Or The Future Of Coffee At Crossroads Of Change?

Seattle; the home of Boeing, software giants, grunge music and…specialty coffee. Well, not quite. Contrary to popular belief, while Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Boeing and Oracle do indeed hail from the Pacific Northwest, modern specialty coffee has its roots much further south.

When Alfred Peet died in his sleep a few weeks ago he was a sprightly 87. He passed away peacefully hopefully dreaming of coffee trees laden with ripened cherries. While most people have never heard of him, Peet is widely recognised as being the father of modern “specialty coffee” in the industry. He was a Dutchman who became an American. He had traded tea for Lipton’s in Java, lived in Sumatra, worked in the business in New Zealand before, finally, settling down (somewhat) in the University suburb of Berkeley, California. It was at Berkeley where he founded his roastery in 1966 and Peet’s Coffee was born. Alfred Peet was passionate about coffee. His roasting exploits legendary and his ability to commentate, roast and put out fires simultaneously are famous. His experiences while living in Indonesia had given him an affinity with farmers who grew coffee, as well as a thorough understanding of the origin, the place where coffee was grown. This background, combined with his love of roasting, resulted in a place where coffee was not just a cup of Java, but something exotic, living and with a story.

From Alfred Peet’s inspirational example came many of the coffee cultures that now are household names today in America and around the world- Starbucks being the most famous of these of course. The original founders of Starbucks- Baldwin, Bowker and Ziv Seigel originally leant their roasting trade from Peet, in fact Peet roasted for them in their early years. Many others in the industry in America today also passed through the Peet’s Coffee experience. In fact when Howard Schulz purchased Starbucks, Bowker and Baldwin moved across and purchased Peets Coffee- Alfred Peet retiring to a role of Coffee Mentor for the Industry as a whole.

Today most coffee drinkers, from Surabaya to San Francisco, recognise Starbucks and its logo, but the name “Alfred Peet” often draws draws blank looks.

Specialty Coffee today is at a crossroad- an important junction in deciding which direction coffee will be heading over the next decade. In the last 10 years many new comers have entered the business. It is estimated that the global coffee sector today is valued at over US$80 billion. It is no wonder that with these revenue numbers, the industry attracts a mix of business people with mixed agendas- who often see the potential bottom line rather than education and passion as being the driving force in what they do. Traditionally the specialty coffee industry has been built on the strong foundation of sharing knowledge and experience- with the supposition that by helping each other the industry will be strongly quality focused. However a number of the more recent arrivals in the market are perhaps choosing coffee for the perceived easy profits, rather than for a real passion for coffee or its heritage. As a result many of the traditional methods of exchange are not as effective, or used as frequently as they have been in the past.

Globally Coffee is in a position where consumption is beginning to slow down and opportunities to grow coffee are becoming more difficult to find in the traditional coffee consuming markets- Europe, USA, South America and Oceania. The easy answer if to look at new emerging markets- China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are prime targets. These countries either have low coffee consumption (Indonesian’s, for instance, consume 500gm per person per year vs. Norway’s 12kg per person per year), or have reasonable consumption, but historically are tea consumers (India). The new markets are also very suggestible to western branding- in many cases the strength of branding has been shown to be more important than the product itself. This presents a number of opportunities to strong western brands and of course new local brands to emerge. However it does not necessarily equate to long-term longevity of specialty coffee in these new frontiers.

In the more mature markets, the patterns of consumption have changed markedly over the last 15-20 years. The traditional, lower quality coffee products such as instants, are being replaced by roast and ground coffee (drips, plungers etc) and of course Espresso Based Drinks (cappuccino, latte, espresso etc). Fresh roasted coffee has many advantages over the instant coffee. It is more flavoursome and more importantly has a greater link back to where it originally came from. This means that customer awareness is also on the increase- bringing into the spotlight the actual paper trail of where the coffee comes from, who picked it, what price the grower get from it etc. To consumers in countries such as New Zealand this is very important- as generally there is a linkage between quality of coffee and the return the farmer or grower gets. The correlation is the better the return to a farmers, the better the coffee will be. Higher returns means more time can be spent in the origin country looking after the crop, pruning, selective harvesting, proper intensive drying and packing/storing the coffee once it is dried.

The role the specialty coffee industry plays in all this is very important. Retail shops that source and supply only the best coffee help to sustain the industry both upstream and downstream. This means the farmers and workers will be rewarded and the consumers will have access to quality coffee, hopefully growing the business further.

Unfortunately the reverse is gradually becoming more often the norm. Cafes, coffee shops and roasters entering the market all over the world tend to look for short-term cost advantages to try and fuel their business models. To achieve this they either buy poor quality coffee, as cheap as possible or average quality coffee…likewise as cheaply as possible. Cheap coffee equates to, at the best, very average finished product. This in turn means generally a poor perception of the place selling the coffee. This would perhaps be OK if there were not so many cafes now selling poor quality coffee. As it is it means that poor quality coffee is often accepted a being the norm- hence having the result of putting people off drinking coffee.

In many ways the industry can be seen as having come almost full circle back to where it was in the early 1970’s when instant coffee and coffee sitting on hotplates for 10 hours were seen and accepted as being normal coffee. This is what pioneers like Peet worked so hard to change. It is also why the crossroads the industry now stands at are so important.

The choices are really quite simple. For coffee to evolve and grow further there needs to be education of the retailer and the customer. The global industry is built around national organisations that play a varying role in providing advice and education to those in retail or wholesale. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) are two such organisations. However to become members of these organisations is as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee. Often the motivation of the people joining is just to get a sticker to put on their shop door, knowledge is a secondary motivator. There is talk that membership should involve some form of basic enter test and then continuing education via the internet- which would at least help to provide tools to pass information on to those drinking the coffee.

Looking at those in the industry who do things well, is also a great way of building and planning the future for specialty coffee. In the USA quality roasters and café operators such as Allegro, Blackstump Coffee and Intelligensia have taken industry standards to a new level. Buying quality coffee, hiring quality staff and imparting quality knowledge to customers buying their morning coffee has proven very successful for these companies. So much so that it is an unquestionable part of their corporate culture. All of these companies also practice something unique- they regularly visit their growers in countries such as Indonesia, Guatemala, Kenya, Brazil and Colombia. To take this one step further, they do not just visit and spend a few nights- taking photos of a grower’s coffee trees, they maintain regular contact with those growing the coffee. This approach must be seen as the future for coffee in competitive, quality driven markets. It is true relationship coffee where the roaster becomes by default part of the farmers extended family.

Passing knowledge on to those who buy a coffee everyday, and arming them with information on what type of coffee they drink, how it is grown, who grows it, when it is picked, how it gets to them gives all power to the customer. It is a very important, yet lagging piece of the future of coffee globally. Being able to learn the differences in tastes/cupping qualities has some snob quality, but more importantly it helps the buyer to differentiate between good, average and poor coffee. Here lies the problem. A successful café founded on the principles of sustainability and true coffee culture has nothing to fear from education. A café selling poor quality coffee is unlikely, or perhaps unable, to want to educate clients about quality.

A failure to address quality, education and sustainability in the business sector (from the farmer to the retail customer) will ultimately result in consumption patterns falling further. Quality issues- especially over the counter and in the cup, need to be addressed. If not unfortunately those to suffer will be the grower or origin country, rather than the retailer. With current economics a grower in Indonesia receives only around 2-5% of the cost of the average cup sold in America or Europe. If demand drops off, the Arabica business ultimately will fall back into a cycle of commodity pricing rather than specialty pricing that many quality origins now enjoy. Competition from other beverages, and lifestyle choices, compete with the disposable income that coffee comes from.

If Alfred Peet was still alive, undoubtedly he would just carry on doing what he did well and loved, roasting coffee and sharing his knowledge and experience with anyone willing, and wanting to learn and listen- a model to all of us in the industry today.

© Alun H.G Evans, Merdeka Coffee, 2007. The writer reserves all moral rights to this article. May only be reproduced.

23 Aug

Fun Cooking Accessories the Entire Family Can Enjoy

When it comes to cooking, the whole family can get involved. Sometimes, it is easy for one parent to get stuck doing all of the kitchen work because he or she is naturally the better home chef. With the right tools, though, everyone can get involved in this fun activity. The key is to find fun cooking accessories that the entire family can enjoy, so all of the adults and children can make meals together.

One of the best ways to get the family involved in mealtime is to find fun and creative ways to make the foods they love. Start with dessert, which is always a crowd-pleaser. An ice cream machine is a good investment. Along with the rest of the family, you can mix up a batch, and let it freeze as you are cleaning the dishes. Once the ice cream is ready, you can all take turns scooping it into cones, adding toppings in a bowl, or even baking other treats that can be topped with ice cream.

It is also easy to get the whole family involved with baking cookies. Sugar cookies work well, since even the smallest hands can decorate the cookies with sprinkles or cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Consider buying a cookie press, which can help streamline the process. They are fun for kids to use, and once you buy the machine, you do not have to spend much money to purchase different shapes for every occasion. Along with a cookie press, be sure that you purchase good cookie sheets, as well as a baker’s cooling rack so that the end product turns out as delicious as possible.

Another great way to get your family involved in the cooking process is with a juicer. Fruit and vegetable juice is perfect for helping your children (and picky adults for that matter) get enough nutrients into their diets. With a juicer, your family can choose exactly what they want to drink, and you do not have to worry about the hassle of chopping and peeling, like you would if you used a blender. You can also use your juicer to make more adult drinks, like a Bloody Mary, so it is great for adults as well as kids.

There are actually a number of kitchen gadgets that you can use to entice the other adults in your household to participate in the kitchen. For example, your spouse may not like to cook, but maybe he or she would like to mix the drinks using a glass tabletop beverage dispenser.

Perhaps they would be willing to choose and chill the wine using a rotating wine cooler. You can even purchase a Mr. Beer home brewing system, which comes with everything you need to make the perfect beer from the comfort of your kitchen. Even people who do not like to cook are usually willing to work a little if it means having fun entertaining guests later.

No kitchen would be complete without some fun tea and coffee gadgets. Your spouse may not like being in the kitchen, but learning how to brew the perfect pot is not that difficult, especially if you have the right tools. Many retailers sell percolators and stovetop teakettles. You can also invest in an espresso machine, a cream whipper for topping cups of hot chocolate, or an entire coffee set. Instead of buying a bulk package of the store brand, consider splurging on specialty coffee and tea blends that complements your new equipment.

When it comes to getting your family involved, fun tools can make the prep work for a dish seem to go a lot faster. Luckily, most little gadgets are not expensive at all. For example, a cherry/olive pitter is a fun tool that most home chefs do not own, but can make the task fun for those who are not usually cooking. You can also purchase a hand held citrus juicer, a pineapple cutter that makes perfect rings, a frozen drink mixer, cake decorating pens, an egg slicer, a can crusher, several tools to make mini hamburgers, a waffle maker, a peanut butter maker, pancake molds, or even a yogurt maker. New gadgets in the kitchen can go a long way towards making cooking a lot of fun for you and your family.

When it comes to getting help in the kitchen, most of the time all you have to do is ask. Nearly everyone is happy to help in the kitchen, at least occasionally, if they think that they are wanted and can be of help. You family may just be avoiding helping you because they think they will be in the way. Give every member of the family a task to help prepare each meal. Even small children can learn to set a table or mix batter under supervision. Cooking together makes every meal better, since everyone at the table eating the food will take a small sense of pride in it.

23 Aug

Coffee Beans and Coffee Concerns – Enlightening All Coffee Buffs

The seeds produced by the coffee plant are the coffee beans. Though these are referred to as beans they are not really beans in the true botanical sense of the word. The coffee plant bears red or purple fruits which are also called cherries or berries of coffee and the stone that lies inside is the ‘bean’ which is the source of coffee. Two stones lying with their flat sides together usually constitute the coffee bean. It is from this bean that coffee is produced that can be used to produce a variety of coffee beverages like espresso, latte and cappuccino using the right coffee makers- espresso machines etc. It may be mentioned that a small percentage of any crop of coffee cherries contain a single bean in the cherries instead of the usual two. Such berries are called pea berries.

Coffee beans facts Some 0.8% to 2.5% caffeine is contained in the endosperm of the coffee seed or bean. This caffeine content gives them the characteristic flavor for which the plant is cultivated. Several species of the coffee plant are there and the seeds of each species produce coffees having slightly different tastes. Variation can be observed in the flavors of different genetic subspecies also and the coffee varietals- where the coffee plants are being cultivated.

Coffee beans are a major item of export of many countries. Coffee Arabica is the species that makes up the major portion (70-75%) of the world trade. The other important coffee species of coffee cultivated is the Coffee canephora. This is grown where the Coffee Arabica does not thrive.

Processing of coffee beans The coffee beans are processed before they are readied for use in preparing espresso, latte, cappuccino and other special coffee drinks using coffee makers- espresso machines and the like. The processing begins with the beans being removed from the coffee cherries. The fruit is then discarded or made use of as a fertilizer. The bean or seed of coffee is then ground and used in the preparation of beverages of various kinds using a coffee maker or espresso machine.

Coffee beans and espresso beans A difference between ordinary coffee beans and the espresso beans is there. The espresso beans tend to be a concoction of beans. These are almost always a relatively dark roast like a Vienna or light French roast. This is seemingly a trade secret. So, even though the formula of the blend can be discovered the exact amounts or proportions in which the constituents are to be blended cannot be easily found out.

Flavoring of coffee beans There is also the process of flavoring the coffee beans in an attempt to work upon their natural flavor to meet some purpose. Natural oils are usually used to achieve this. Half an ounce of oil is usually to be added to a pound of beans for the flavoring to be done.

The primary concern of all coffee lovers being the flavor of the drinks, special attention needs to be given to ensure that the best flavor is obtained from the coffee beans. This is of crucial importance in case of preparation of espresso, cappuccino, latte and all other special coffee beverages. The superior coffee makers and espresso machines can also deliver the best results i.e. brew the perfect drinks only if the best flavored ground coffee beans are used. Many of the world class coffee makers [http://www.finest-coffee-makers.com/index.html] and espresso machines of the day has been reported to be failing to deliver desirable brews owing to the use of coffee beans that were not up to the mark.

The real flavor of the coffee beans starts developing with the growth of the plant and is influenced by the climate of the place where it is grown. Of course, the particular species of the coffee plant also matters in the developing of the flavor. The processing of the bean i.e. the processes that the coffee beans are made to undergo through after they are extracted from the coffee fruits also affects their taste and flavor.

Roasting helping bring out best flavors Roasting of the beans is an important process that helps bring out the real vibrant flavor of the beans. The carbohydrate and fat content of the coffee beans get transformed to aromatic oils by the heat of the process. This gives rise to the great coffee flavor which is cherished by the people from all corners of the world.

Different types of roasting of the coffee beans also have different effects on the coffee produced i.e. varying of the composition. So, while light roast produces light flavored coffee the medium roast leads to preparation of a sweeter and fuller-bodied coffee. Again, dark roast that requires a long roasting time produces a spicy and sweet deep tasting coffee. The characteristic flavors of coffee that are a result of particular roasting are produced in the brews prepared by the coffee makers [http://www.finest-coffee-makers.com/index.html] and espresso machines of the day too.

Selecting best coffee beans and ensuring their freshness It is the best coffee beans that are to be selected. This is determined from the region where they are procured from. The coffee planted in a particular region and influenced by its climate produces a distinctive flavor in its cherries and beans (seeds). The Arabica coffee is considered as the very best. Gourmet coffee drinks are made using this coffee. Other varieties like the Robusta beans have been known to have more caffeine content and lesser flavor. These are also prepared cheaper.

Keeping the coffee beans fresh is also very important. These are to be kept sealed in an air tight container. To take care of freshness in the coffee beverages that you make using your coffee maker or espresso machine you need to purchase whole beans of coffee from specialty shops. These beans are to be used within a week of purchase. Only then can you get to enjoy perfectly flavored coffee drink. It is always preferable to gave a good coffee grinder at home and prepare freshly ground coffee for your brewing purpose. Pre ground coffee often lacks much of the flavor and aroma that are the hallmark of premium coffee. On the other hand freshly ground coffee provides more nutritional benefit and ensures the best flavor.

22 Aug

Tips for Quick and Easy Iced Coffee

Coffee is a fantastic drink at any time of day, during any season of the year. That being said, a steaming hot cup of java isn’t always welcome once summer rolls around. Don’t let the summer heat deprive you of your favorite beverage when you can switch to iced coffee!

During the warmest months of the year, iced coffee makes for a refreshing change of pace. While most cafes and coffee shops serve these cold concoctions, you may be wondering how to get iced coffee at home. Here are my tips for serving up delicious iced coffee without having to break a sweat:

o Get ice.

This may seem obvious, but you need ice to help you make iced coffee. If you don’t plan ahead by freezing some cubes, you won’t be able to make iced coffee when you want it. While plain old frozen water will do, I prefer freezing several of my favorite Keurig coffee brews in an ice cube tray. When combined with your freshly brewed coffee, these coffee cubes won’t water the drink down.

o Brew coffee.

Next, brew your favorite coffee variety. While you’re welcome to use a regular drip brewer or instant coffee, I prefer my Keurig single cup coffee maker. To make a cup of coffee in less than a minute, all I have to do is pop one of the K Cup portion packs into the machine and press a button. This allows me to brew multiple cups and different flavors very quickly – which means I can pour the fresh coffee over the coffee cubes and start drinking iced coffee that much sooner!

o Mix things up.

Once you’ve poured your freshly brewed coffee over your frozen coffee cubes, you can either drink it straight or add a splash of your favorite liquor. I recommend the flavors of coconut rum, Irish cream, butterscotch schnapps or crème de menthe. If you’re in the mood for extra flavor but don’t want alcohol, try adding a few drops of vanilla or adding some Italian-style flavored syrups.

o Try something different.

If you’d like a more slushy drink, skip the hot coffee. Simply throw a cup of the frozen coffee cubes into a blender and give it a few pulses. Don’t over do it with the blender or you’ll end up with soup. Pour the crushed coffee cubes into a mug and serve with a straw or spoon.

Another fun idea is to create a coffee dessert by freezing your favorite brew in an ice pop mold. If you don’t have an ice pop mold, freeze plastic spoons into the coffee cubes you make in an ice cube tray. Once your coffee pops are frozen solid, remove them from the tray and enjoy. Be careful not to consume your chilled treats too quickly – it might be the first time you get brain freeze from your coffee!