Colorado Coffee – What I’m Drinking Now

For this blog (and because I love being adventurous with coffee, food, drink and everything), I’m trying out new coffees all the time. Last month I tried and reviewed several Caribou Coffees, flavored and regular. This month I got a local Colorado Coffee to try, Boyers Coffee, Aspen Gold Medium Roast. I also purchased a couple of my long-standing favorites, Lavazza Perfetto Espresso Roast and Lavazza Classico Medium Roast.

Colorado Coffee – Boyers Aspen Gold

Going from Caribou Coffee I didn’t really notice anything special about Boyer’s, it just seemed like a regular, all-around normally-good coffee. But then I finished the Caribou Coffee and started in on my Lavazza, and I can tell a distinct difference between these two brands. I love Lavazza, it’s light and smooth. But sometimes I find the Lavazza is just a little too strong for me (like now during allergy season, or if I’ve already had a few cups). Then I switch to my Boyer’s Aspen Gold Colorado Coffee. It’s delicious, a perfect medium roast, not too dark and not too light. Where Lavazza has a lighter general tone to it, the Boyer’s tone is slightly deeper, which I appreciate.

Local Colorado Coffee Boyers Aspen Gold can be found at boyerscoffee.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com and at local grocery stores in Colorado.

Boyers Coffee – They’ve been around a while

Colorado Coffee Company Boyers Coffee was founded in 1965, but only local Colorado residents have known about them, as they’ve just been in our local Walmarts and grocery chains. Recently, they made a deal with Walmart and now are getting national exposure, not to mention on Amazon as well. They worked out a deal with Walmart to create a special, exclusive “Mash-Up” blends of coffees, mixing beans from Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia, Sumatra and Peru.

Boyer’s was already in local Walmart s and grocery stores around Colorado, but this new agreement with Walmart for the exclusive blends came recently as a special invitation. This big change came after the Barrow brothers bought the company from the Boyer family in 2015. The Boyer’s roastery is located in a 1927 schoolhouse on Washington Street in Denver.

Boyer’s is now part of several companies owned by the Barrows which includes Luna Gourmet Coffee and Tea Company, Boulder Organic Coffee and Boca Java. This company, Barrows, is committed to ethical and direct trade and environmental responsibility. Currently the company is funding construction of a school in the same Peruvian village where one of their farming suppliers is located.

But I also love my Lavazza

Lavazza is local to Italy – an Italian company. They really know how to make coffee, especially espresso. A friend got me onto them because their espresso is so smooth, that you can actually sip a pure espresso without sugar – there’s no bitterness to it. I’ve never come across a coffee that can do this, until Lavazza.

Currently I’m drinking the Perfetto Espresso Roast as well as the Classico Medium Roast. They both work amazingly well as cafe americano, and I share about how to make that here. The Perfetto is especially rich in full-bodied flavor – yum.

Ways I like to Make my Coffee

I use my trusty Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso & Cappuccino Maker almost every single day. You can read my review about it here. Lately I’ve really been into cafe americano, especially since I’m mostly following the Belly Fat Cure menu plan these days, and for that coffee with a little bit of half-and-half is recommended. My cafe americano tastes so perfect with a double espresso shot (with any of these coffees), diluted with just a little bit of hot or boiling water (see how to make cafe americano here), a little sweetener added (Truvia or flavored Stevia) and a little bit of real half-and-half. It’s filling and yummy, and I’m losing weight, too.

But these coffees are just as good as Turkish Coffee in an ibrik – which I’ve written about here, and if you don’t have an ibrik, read this post. When I need to make a cup of joe as quietly as possible (like recently when my older son spent the night, staying up late with his brother playing Warhammer, and choosing to sleep on the Living Room Couch so he can be near our cat all night – see below), I use my Bialetti Moka Pot – that’s also yummy, and I write about that here. Making it Turkish Coffee style is also extremely quiet and works well for that, too.

Of course, you can also just make any of these into a cold brew in your fridge overnight, which is obviously the quietest method of all, and very rich and delicious as well as healthful. I write about that preparation here.

Colorado Coffee if my local coffee – what’s yours?

I’d love to hear about other coffees local to your own city or state of residence. Please share what your local coffee company is, what their coffee is like – I crave your reviews for your local coffee. 🙂 Please comment below and let’s share together.

Okay, here is our beloved orange tabby cat, Spikey, next to whom my son slept all night long on the Living Room couch. Spikey is a funny cat, in some ways he behaves more like a dog, as he likes to hang out with one of his humans all day long (most days), and he likes daily attention from his different humans. Sometimes he’ll cuddle up in our arms like a baby. If there’s an empty box, suitcase, bag or other container, he’ll happily sit in it for hours – especially cardboard boxes or paper bags. He lays regular “cute traps” for us around the house, too. When my husband and I stretch or do yoga in our Den, Spikey comes and starts stretching with us, sprawling on the floor with his head upside down, reaching his front paws out to touch one of our legs or hands on the floor. Cat yoga!

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Falling in Love with Cafe Americano

I don’t know why, but Cafe Americano was never on my radar, and I didn’t really know anything about it. But when I had friends over last year, and I was making coffee for them with my Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino maker, one requested Cafe Americano. Real quick he taught me how to make a cafe americano. I tried it myself, and now it’s my new favorite coffee every morning, using my espresso maker.

What is Cafe Americano?

Cafe Americano is the Italian and Spanish phrase for “American coffee.” It’s an espresso shot diluted with hot water, making it more akin to a regular cup of joe, like from a Keurig or drip coffee maker. Legend has it that during WWII, American soldiers in Italy would order an espresso and then dilute it with hot water to make it more like their normal coffee back home.

This past winter I was wanting a milder coffee than my normal cappuccino’s and was actually looking into getting a drip coffee maker, but I really don’t want two main coffee makers on my counter. So this is the perfect solution. I was also wanting a break from consuming all the milk and non-dairy milks that were in my cappuccino’s – too much milk too often (I drink several cups a day). Making a cafe americano allows me to put in just a tiny bit of half-and-half or any milk I desire at the moment. Or I can drink it black for a no-calorie option.

“Long Black” is the Australasian term for a drink just like a cafe americano – only they pour the hot water first and then add the espresso. For a regular espresso they use the term “Short Black.”

As a kind of joke recently, Russia proposed they rename cafe americano a “Russiano” in their country. I don’t think it ever took, though, but maybe in their own country.

How to make Cafe Americano

Simply pull one or two espresso shots, and dilute it with boiling or hot water. I like mine boiling because I then add a smidgen of half-and-half. You’ll want to experiment – I’ve found that just adding a little bit of hot water makes for a full-flavored cafe americano – like about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Some people might want to dilute it a bit more, and the strength and flavor also depends on which grounds you are using. So far my favorite is Lavazza Perfetto Espresso Roast. When I want something a little milder I use my Lavazza Classico Medium Roast.

This is just one of the various specialty coffees we can make with an espresso and cappuccino machine.

You can find lots of great Lavazza coffees (one of my all-time favorite brands) at Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

Iced Cafe Americano

What if you want an iced cafe americano? Simply pull your shot(s), then dilute it with cold water and ice and any other additions you want (cream or sugar). Voila!

How to make Cafe Americano unique and different

This past winter when I was sometimes on the verge of a cold, I discovered (invented?) Herbal Coffees – check out my post here. I learned to make these with cafe americano – after all, adding boiling water is similar to making tea. I had fun letting my Herbal Cafe Americano slowly transform into tea, then I’d add another shot or two of espresso and transition it back into a cafe americano, etc.

If you do that method you can add all sorts of interesting and unique flavors to your cafe americano just by using interesting tea bags – like Blackberry, Blueberry, Lavender, Vanilla, Blood Orange or Cinnamon. Of course, you can always flavor your cafe americano with coffee syrups, flavored stevia and/or creamers.

If you want to really indulge, make your cafe americano with any flavors (or none), then top it with a dollop of sweet, vanilla freshly-whipped whole cream. I make my own whipped cream – take a cup of whole whipping cream, add a little sweetener (sugar, truvia, etc.), add a dash of vanilla, and whip it with your beaters until it’s thick and little peaks stand up on their own when you lift the beaters out. Yummm.

When you want your espresso maker to make a regular cup of coffee

I contend that a cafe americano from my espresso machine tastes much better than a normal cup of coffee from Keurig or regular coffee maker. There’s just nothing like a deep, dark, full-bodied espresso shot – and I can taste that even when it’s diluted with hot water. I also like how I can pour in boiling water, making sure it is really nice and hot. And right now, while I’m following the Belly Fat Cure eating plan, a tiny bit of half-and-half is all I need for a delicious cup of cafe americano.

Have you made cafe americano? I’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite methods, have you done anything fun and unique with it? Please comment below. 🙂

Hi, I’m Jerilyn Winstead and I’m a writer and coffee snob. You can find my author and writing news and tips as well as life hacks at www.jerilynwinstead.com and all things coffee on this blog. Besides coffee and writing, I love larping (live action role-play) and medieval re-creation, zombies, costuming, reading, all kinds of art mediums (visual art, knitting and spinning, crafting, performing arts), hiking, camping, yoga, hanging out with friends, movies and good TV shows, travel, horse-back riding, cooking, baking and eating gourmet foods and desserts, spirituality and unusual topics – like alchemy, as in my first novel. I am also a mermaid and swim in my mermaid tail whenever I get a chance – especially in our oceans. I also love history and am currently learning about Egypt (ancient and modern) as well as learning how to read and write Egyptian hieroglyphs – so much fun! Sometimes I think I should have been an archaeologist.

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Go Green – The best Coffee Travel Mugs to keep with you

There are a few simple steps we can take which will collectively make a huge difference for the earth. One is to stop using disposable coffee mugs. Learn to take a coffee travel mug with you (and there’s one for anybody’s purse or pocket – see below). Both regular and insulated coffee travel mugs work well. I was inspired when I spent a month at my parent’s home in Kentucky. My dad puts a normal medium-sized coffee mug into his leather briefcase-type carry bag (and yes, it fits!). Every Sunday at church he uses that instead of the Styrofoam cups offered. He takes it everywhere, even on his recent European trip hitting Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Since then, I’m learning to grab one of my own coffee mugs – either a regular one, or an insulated coffee travel mug. The nice thing about a coffee travel mug is they come in a variety of sizes, so you can easily find one to fit in your own carry-bag or purse (or just have one in your car).

Stojo Silicone Collapsible Cup

Yes, you can get a collapsible coffee mug made from silicone. This one is sleek, comes in a variety of colors, comes with a silicone straw if you want iced coffee, and collapses to 2.5″ thick – you can actually fit this into your pocket. For those who really don’t want a bulky coffee mug of any kind in their bag, this one is for you. Because it’s silicone it’s dishwasher and microwave safe. It comes in a variety of sizes, too, but most people will want the 16oz travel mug (4″x4″x6.5″).

You can find the Stojo Silicone Collapsible Coffee Cup at Amazon.com, Etsy.com and TheGrommet.com.

S’well Tumbler

If, like me, you want something that’s looks like a work of art, this insulated stainless steel coffee travel mug is the one for you. It holds 18oz too – the perfect size for a Starbucks Grande with a little bit of room at the top. The S’well Tumbler comes in gorgeous shades and designs – like white marble or natural wood – even though it’s a stainless steel travel mug. It also comes in some classic solid colors, too. It’s high-grade stainless steel and BPA free.

You can find the S’well Tumbler Insulated Coffee Travel Mug at Amazon.com, Swellbottle.com and Revolve.com.

Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug

If, like me, you have a “drinking problem” and end up getting coffee on your clothes almost every day, this is the travel coffee mug for you. It’s classic looking, and the superior Autoseal lid technology won’t let stray drops decorate your outfit. It comes in both 16oz and 20oz in a large variety of shiny and matte stainless steel colors. With this Thermalock insulated coffee travel mug your drink will stay hot up to seven hours and cold up to eighteen hours.

You can find the Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug at Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com.

Kinto Travel Tumbler

This is a chic fashionable insulated coffee travel mug which keeps your drinks hot up to seven hours. It comes in several neutral shades with a Feng Shui modern-art vibe – minimalist and professional-looking, in two different sizes. The lid screws off so you can sip it like a regular coffee mug.

The Kinto Travel Tumbler is found at Amazon.com, Kintostore.com and at the Museum of Modern Art store (store.moma.org).

Okay, if nothing else, you have to check out the Museum of Modern Art store website. All is can is WOW.

Yeti Rambler

For people who love the power of Yeti – like their camping cooler – you will love this double-walled insulated coffee travel mug. It features a mag-slider lid – using magnets to keep your lid closed – and comes in a large variety of fun colors. The sweet thing is that the entire mug – all of it – can go in the dishwasher. It’s insulated stainless steel. Yeti has a variety of coffee travel mugs in different sizes.

You can find the Yeti Rambler at Amazon.com, Yeti.com and EBay.com.

Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Flask

This double-walled insulated classy coffee travel flask comes in several sizes and will keep your drink hot up to six hours and cold up to twenty-four. As a flask it has a wide-mouth opening with a flip-cap, so you can sip it like a regular mug or like a normal coffee travel mug. It comes in a bunch of pretty color options, is made of stainless-steel and is BPA free.

The Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Flask is found at Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, HydroFlask.com and REI.com.

Or just a regular coffee mug

Another option is to purchase a local coffee shop’s travel mug – the bonus is that you get a good discount at that shop every time you refill your mug. I did this with Pike’s Perk Coffeehouse – they offered a smaller size than normal coffee travel mug. I love the smaller size as it fits well in my purse, it’s a “Small” at the coffee shops, and it keeps my coffee hotter longer while I’m enjoying my writer’s group at that coffee shop every week. This is the one I grab to take to church, too, as I don’t worry about it breaking. But you can use a travel coffee mug, any of them, at chains like Starbucks and get a cup discount.

Plus coffee travel mugs are just so much prettier than disposable cups.

Of course another option is to do like my dad and simply carry around your own favorite coffee mug from home. Be careful if it’s ceramic and might break. For my fitness program I love to larp (live action role-play), and for that I bought a beautiful, small wooden coffee mug from EBay.com. It won’t break through all my fantasy adventures, I loop through its handle to hang on my belt, it looks medieval being made of actual wood, and my larp character, a dryad, hates metal, so its perfect.

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Best Espresso Machines for Home Use 2019

Nothing starts your day better than a perfectly smooth, rich espresso or cappuccino. If you want one of the best espresso machines for home use, here are several to consider. Espresso machines can go super-high in price, as we know, so the ones here are in affordable ranges – starting with the best espresso machine for $600, to some almost-as-good espresso machines for home use under $200 and under $100. You can find the one that best fits your budget.

I’ve done my online research and these machines came on top out of ten machines and eighty hours of testing. Keep in mind that if you go for something super cheap, like less than $50, you’re going to get a machine that works the same as a moka pot – making strong coffee, but not a true pulled espresso shot.

The Best Espresso Machine 2019: Breville Barista Express

This is the around-$600 model, but look at what it does to achieve the ultimate espresso: it automatically grinds the beans for each shot, it doses the grounds directly into its portafilter, and it has a decent milk frother. This machine is larger (13.25″ x 12.5″ x 15.75″) and looks like a professional machine at Starbucks. It doses a higher 9-22 g of ground coffee instead of the weaker 11-13g that other home machines do – this makes it taste like the shots you get at cafes. It has a grind size dial and monitors precise pressure and temperature at the right moment to make the best shot of espresso.

This machine has over 2,400 reviews on Amazon with 73% five-star ratings – people really LOVE this unit. But with the few bad reviews (10% 1-star), some of it was due to the burr coffee grinder component breaking, and the customer service at Breville is so bad it’s practically non-existent in the reviewers’ experience. So it may be that on a few models the grinder doesn’t last long – maybe buying an espresso machine without this feature (and grinding your beans yourself) is the best way to go. One reviewer did finally get a replacement machine from Breville, and the new machine worked so much better overall he believes the first one was just faulty all through.

Another negative review mentioned it only lasted about two years. Another said the machine is inconsistent with the quality of its shots. But again, 73% gave five-star reviews with lots of tips and details and they love this machine for home use.

NOTE: Breville makes a stand-alone burr coffee grinder that works amazingly well – the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. It’s $180, however. If you get your own grinder, make sure it is a burr grinder – those grind the best grounds.

The Breville Barista Express BES870XL is found on Amazon.com

Best Espresso Machine for Home Use under $200: Cuisinart EM-100

It’s interesting that this one, second only to the Breville Barista Express, is a third of the cost. The Cuisinart EM-100 is smaller at 12.6″L x 8.2″W x 11″H. This one won’t grind your beans for you, but its powerful enough to brew espresso from even fine grounds. This espresso machine has a milk frothing arm and a built-in cup warmer – not bad. You won’t find these pulled shots quite as strong and perfect as the Breville one, but this affordable model came in second. I’d say this is an excellent value for the price.

On the Best Buy site there are only thirteen reviews, but they are 54% five-star, 23% 4-star and 23% 1-star. One complaint is that the machine is very loud. Also, one customer went through two units with both having significant functioning issues – Cuisinart admits that they’ve had some recent quality issues with some of these units.

The high reviewers love the machine, it’s affordable and tasty, though considered a basic espresso machine.

You can find the Cuisinart EM-100 at Best Buy.

Best Espresso Machine for Home Use Under $100: Mr. Coffee ECMP50

If you’re on a tight budget, this is the espresso machine for you. Though the flavor isn’t quite as strong or smooth as the Breville or the Cuisinart, it still pulls beautiful shots full of flavor with good crema. The frothing wand is a bit short for frothing, however, and this unit does not come with an included milk frother pitcher (unlike the others) – but again, a small milk frothing pitcher is an inexpensive accessory and you can get one at Amazon (or even use any little pitcher you have on hand – if it’s not metal, you can even pre-warm your milk in the microwave first). This one is 12″L x 11″W x 12.5″H.

The 289 online reviews are mostly five stars (157), but the few lower ratings (33 1-star) are because this machine is said to last only about 1.5-2 years in general.

The Mr. Coffee ECMP50 can be found at Walmart.com.

Other Espresso Machines for Home Use

These are the machines tested that didn’t make the cut for the top three of 2019:

  • Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista (though this is the one I use and I LOVE it – especially the milk container that heats and froths your milk of choice.
  • Mr. Coffee Cafe 20-oz Steam Automatic
  • Mr. Coffee Four-Cup Steam Espresso System
  • Aicook 3.5Bar Espresso Coffee Maker
  • DeLonghi EC702
  • DeLonghi EC155
  • DeLonghi EC3420
  • Capresso Four-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
  • Brentwood GA-125 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
  • Imusa Four-Cup Electric Espresso & Cappuccino Maker

Conclusion

For the best espresso machine for home use, there are so many options, but this tried and tested short list gives you the best of 2019 (and I’d include the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista as a fourth option). I suggest you get the most expensive one you can buy, as the higher the price the higher the quality of the espresso shots – and you’ll notice the difference in taste and texture. It seems, in my experience and of other reviewers, that most espresso machines for home use last around two years – even these here. If you’ve had a machine last longer than that, please comment below – I’d love to see if there’s one that actually goes the long haul.

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Caramel Flavored Coffee – Review of Caribou Coffee

This past month I tried out Caribou Coffee from Amazon. I ordered their regular medium-roast coffee, their Chocolate Wonder mocha-flavored coffee and their Caramel Hideaway caramel-flavored coffee. I bought all of these already ground (I was extra busy so needed something quick).

Caramel Flavored Coffee

The first thing I noticed was the strong aroma of caramel with this Caribou coffee. It smelled wonderful! Yet when I brewed and tasted in with my Mr. Coffee Cafe Cappuccino maker, I noticed immediately the fake flavoring taste – it’s not natural caramel, but imitation flavor added to the grounds. Though it smells wonderful, the taste has that chemical fake-flavor quality, which I hate. But I’d already bought it, so I’ve been drinking it over the past month, usually adding my caramel-flavored stevia (which is delicious) to give it extra caramel. Sometimes I added my English Toffee-flavored stevia, but for some reason that one didn’t mix well with the imitation caramel flavor in the grounds.

I found myself avoiding this one generally, opting almost every morning for the regular Caribou Coffee so I could get that natural, unadulterated coffee taste.

Mocha Coffee

The same thing happened with the mocha-flavored Caribou Coffee. The almost overwhelming delicious scent of chocolate wafts from the packaging and the grounds, but when you drink it you get that awful chemically imitation-chocolate mocha. Not good. I finally discovered, though, that this does work with my cinnamon-flavored stevia – then it’s like Mexican Mocha, and that one tasted pretty good. Overall, though, I found myself reaching for the regular unflavored Caribou Coffee so I could enjoy the non-chemical pure coffee taste.

Iced Mocha Coffee

Since it’s still winter-like weather here in Colorado (in April and May), I’ve been drinking my mocha and caramel flavored coffee hot, but in hot weather it would be easy to add ice and have iced mocha or caramel coffee. Make it extra-rich with whole cream or half-and-half or coconut creamer.

Caribou Coffee

The regular non-fake-flavored Medium Roast Caribou Coffee is actually very good. Not too strong nor too light, this one was just right. I’ve learned from this experience to flavor my coffee AFTER it’s brewed – with coffee syrups, flavored stevia, herbal teas, even regular flavoring used for baking (try a dash of pure almond flavor) – see below for recipe ideas. If I really want a true mocha, I can add some ground cocoa to the coffee grounds before brewing. Or I can add Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup to it afterwards for sweetening and flavoring. This is the way to go for adventures in coffee flavors.

Caribou Coffee from Amazon

It’s easy to order coffee from Amazon.com, and each time I order I try something new. Caribou coffee is good – the pure, unadulterated coffee (no flavors added).

Caribou Coffee I recommend:

  • Medium Roast
  • Daybreak Morning Blend Light Roast
  • Mahogany Dark Roast
  • French Roast
  • Real Inspiration Espresso Roast

Caribou Coffee I DO NOT recommend:

  • Caramel Hideaway Flavored Coffee
  • Chocolate Wonder Mocha Flavored Coffee
  • Flavored Vanilla Hazelnut Dreamstate
  • Any other Caribou flavored coffees

Coffee Recipe Ideas for Adventurous Flavors

  • For my newly-discovered Herbal Coffees (with flavors ranging from Honey-Vanilla to Lavender-Lemon), see this post.
  • For flavors which are also sweeteners, use coffee flavor syrups (try Toasted Marshmallow, Almond or Lavender) – there are so many options you can play. Avoid fruit-flavored syrups, unless it’s berry (blueberry coffee is delicious).
  • For non-sugar flavors which are also sweeteners, there are a wide variety of flavored liquid stevia that are delicious. Only if you’re okay with stevia in your coffee, my BFF cannot stand stevia in coffee. The trick is to not put in too much – one drop too much and you get that bitter stevia after-taste.
  • For a more subtle but pure flavor, put ground mocha or cinnamon (or both) into your coffee grounds before brewing. You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin spice or chili powder on top of your coffee. Mocha with a sprinkle of chili powder is a true Aztec coffee – yum.
  • In the evening when you’re ready to relax, use alcohol to flavor, sweeten and give your coffee an extra kick – I’ve made my own Lavender, Strawberry and Cranberry Liquors, or Anise Liquor; the traditional Irish Cream or whiskey or bourbon, of course, is wonderful.
  • For more links and ideas, try:

Hi, I’m Jerilyn

and I started drinking coffee in my 30s – right when I decided to give up my sugar vice, so I added a new vice – coffee – as a substitute. My strength of will didn’t last real long, however, and soon I had simply gained the new vice, adding it to the old. Still, when going sugar-free (which I do on a somewhat regular basis), drinking coffee is a great way to help make it through and satisfy my sweet tooth with sugar-free sweetening and flavor options. I don’t mind stevia in my coffee and love experimenting with all the available flavors. I like experimenting with adding baking flavorings to my coffee – like a dash of almond or Mexican Vanilla, or coconut or maple. Blueberry or Lavender tea bags make a great way to add a sugar-free flavor to my coffee (with which I can use plain stevia for sweetening). This past year (2018) I even made my own Lavender, Strawberry and Cranberry Liquors, just to put in my coffee of an evening. In the past I’ve made Anise Liquor as well, and homemade Vanilla flavoring.

I became a true coffee snob when I had my first espresso at an Italian restaurant, and I never looked back. Since then I’ve been brewing my own espressos and cappuccinos at home, there’s nothing else like them.

You can find all this and more on this, my coffee blog, and more on me as an author at my author site: www.jerilynwinstead.com.

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Herbal Coffee – My New Love – Especially When I Have a Cold

Recently, while fighting a cold, I accidentally discovered a whole new way to enjoy coffee – Herbal Coffee!

NOTE: Coffee substitute made from chicory root and other herbs is also sometimes called herbal coffee. What I’m referring to here is coffee with herbal infusions added – like a herbal tea-coffee combination, which I recently discovered by accident, when I had a head cold.

What is Herbal Coffee?

For thousands of years we’ve made healthful and tasty infusions of herbs with boiling water and tea leaves. Generally, I turn to drinking tea full-time whenever I have a cold – not only to cut back on the acidity of coffee, which weakens the immune system, but to take in medicinal herbs specifically to help with my ailments. My favorites are from Celestial Seasonings and both the Sinus Soother and the Throat Tamer really make a difference with those symptoms. In fact, they are so popular they sometimes sell out at the store, so stock up. My other perennial favorite is Honey Vanilla Chamomile – this makes a nice sweet treat in the evenings with a touch of honey and cream or milk.

Once in a while, I venture into new and interesting flavors, like Cinnamon Apple Spice and Peppermint. My husband surprised me with a brand-new one the other day: Lemon Lavender Lane. It’s now become a favorite, which I’ll have year-round.

So what is Herbal Coffee? I accidentally made it up when I had my cold. I wanted a coffee very badly, despite my sinuses, so I allowed myself one cup of coffee, with the Sinus Soother tea bag in it. I placed the tea bag in my mug, used my Mr. Coffee Cafe Espresso Maker to pull two shots of espresso directly into the mug, so the herbs could begin infusing right away. Then I manually added the frothy cashew-milk foam on top.

Boy, was I surprised at how delicious it was! Sinus Soother is an effective combination of spearmint, licorice, peppermint, tulsi, stinging nettle and fennel. It also has some chamomile, lemongrass, menthol and tilia flowers. Many of these medicinal herbs are known for aiding against sickness, and it really works on cutting down overactive sinus activity.

I didn’t realize the spearmint, peppermint and licorice would make my coffee taste so good. It’s not overpowering, just a delicious, subtle hint of mint and licorice.

Sometimes I make a Cafe American and pull my espresso shot with the tea bag, then add boiling water – similar to tea. It’s delicious and uses no cream. I always add a little honey in my coffee as sweetener when I’m fighting a sore throat or cold.

You can also use a French Press. In this case I placed the tea bag with the grounds, then removed the tea bag to put into my mug before pressing the filter down.

The Combinations are Endless

This opened a whole, new coffee-tasting adventure for me. I’ve only just begun, but it’s my new favorite way to make coffee – with a flavored, herbal tea-bag in it. These are the flavors I’ve tried so far that work amazingly well with coffee:

  • Cinnamon Apple Spice. Try it with caramel or cinnamon stevia!
  • Lemon Lavender Lane: I’ve always loved Lavender Coffee, which until now, you could only get by adding lavender coffee syrup – lots of sugar. Now I make Lavender Coffee with my tea bag instead: sugar-free. I sweeten it with a touch of honey or plain stevia.
  • Blueberry Green Tea. I’ve always loved blueberry coffee, but it’s an elusive flavor, hard to come by. No longer!
  • Honey Vanilla Chamomile. Need I say more? Sweeten with honey.
  • Sinus Soother. Spearmint, Peppermint, Licorice – yum. Sweeten with honey if you’re fighting a cold.
  • Throat Tamer. Chamomile, Licorice, Ginger, Tilia Flower, Slippery Elm. Again, sweeten with honey if you have a sore throat.

Flavors that did NOT work at all:

  • Peppermint. Surprisingly, this one did not work with coffee and I had to throw it out. I think it’s because it’s the actual peppermint herb. Peppermint flavoring or syrup always tastes good in coffee.
  • Lemon. I tried a Persian Dried Lemon, good for tea infusions to help with colds – straight with my coffee. It did not work by itself either. A little lemon or lemongrass in the other herbal teas work fine, but not straight lemon.

Flavors I’d like to try:

  • Country Peach Passion
  • Vanilla
  • Black Cherry Berry or Black Cherry
  • Chai tea bag
  • Tangerine Orange
  • Bengal Spice
  • Mandarin Orange Spice

Health Benefits

Of course, for us herbalists, we can always experiment with our own herbal combinations, like cinnamon, licorice, ginger, dried orange peel, etc.

Making and drinking herbal coffee increases the health benefits of coffee, especially if you’re fighting a cold. It’s still much healthier and less acidic (more alkaline) to primarily drink tea or herbal infusions when you’re sick. But I allowed myself one cup of herbal coffee a day, because I just wanted my coffee!

But instead of just an acidic, caffeinated drink, you’re now also getting the medicinal benefits of the herbs. Cinnamon and other sweet spices especially helps against colds. So does Stinging Nettle, but that one doesn’t taste good by itself – it tastes kind of like grass – and I wouldn’t put that one alone into coffee.

Just as I do with a tea bag, keeping it in my cup and refilling with boiling water, I placed the tea bag into my coffee mug and top off my coffee with another espresso shot, or boiling water to make a Cafe American. This way you get at least two cups for every tea bag. (I actually just keep my tea bag in my cup all day with each refill, the flavor gets lighter and lighter.)

Starbucks now offers a Juniper Sage Latte, the featured drink for Christmas Season of 2018. I tried it and the flavors are a little too subtle for me, but I did enjoy it and will get it again.

Herbal Coffee for when You Have a Cold

So if you’re fighting a cold, keep drinking tea and herbal infusions, for the most part. But if you really want a coffee, make a healing herbal coffee for yourself.

What are Your Favorite Combinations?

When you’re not sick, the combinations are endless. Give it a try and find out which ones you like best. Please comment below on herbal coffees you have tried and which you like and do not like. I will do the same as I experiment.

Celestial Seasonings and many other teas are found at your local grocery store, as well as Amazon.com.

 

 

 

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Stainless Steel Moka Pot – Get Yours While You Still Can

stainless steel moka potThe Bialetti Classic Stainless Steel Moka Pot coffee maker – this iconic espresso maker is known to be in every house in Italy. But the news is out now that the Italian company, Bialetti, is facing possible bankruptcy. Our days to get an original Italian Bialetti moka espresso pot may be numbered.

Moka Espresso Pot

I originally bought one of these little beauties to take with me camping. You use it right on the stove or campfire, it’s small and sturdy, and makes a delicious espresso coffee.

Bialetti started making these in 1933, when the economy was struggling and people couldn’t afford to drink their espressos out as often. This easy little espresso maker is affordable and makes a delicious espresso right at home. It has become the mainstay of Italian homes – it is claimed that every home in Italy has one of these. When I heard that, I bought mine and have loved and used it ever since.

Now, with Starbucks and coffee shops opening in Italy, with automatic one-cup coffee and home espresso makers, like Nespresso and Keurig, Bialetti is losing sales and struggling. Let’s hope and pray they do not go bankrupt! Here is the news story where you can find more information.

Moka Pot vs French Press

I use both my Bialetti moka pot as well as my French Press, and my Mr. Coffee Cafe Cappuccino Maker. When I compare the moka pot vs French Press, overall the strength and taste of the coffee is similar. With the moka pot, you get a generally higher and stronger, more espresso coffee. French Press makes a delicious regular coffee. But with each of them, how strong the coffee is depends on how many tablespoons of grinds you put in, how strong is the coffee bean you’re using, which type of bean (espresso roast or regular roast), etc. The moka pot obviously works better for camping than the French Press, since it is a stainless steel moka pot instead of a glass container.

I like that with the moka pot it brews and then you immediately pour and drink, nice and hot. With the French Press, the coffee sits in the grind for at least three minutes, sometimes up to five depending on your preference, so you have to find a way to keep it hot. I usually pour my French Press coffee into a pre-warmed coffee thermos – I can then pour and drink at my leisure, and it remains pretty hot, but not as steaming as pouring it directly the brew from the moka pot.

The other main difference is that the moka pot only makes a small amount of espresso, depending on which moka pot size you have, whereas the French Press makes several American mugs of coffee each time. French Presses also come in several sizes, but most people use the standard size.

There is also the difference in how the coffee is made. The moka pot percolates your coffee, infusing the grind with moving, boiling water – which I think makes a more delicious and smooth cup of coffee. The French Press has the boiling water poured over where it then sits with the grinds in a more static infusion.

As far as timing for your coffee, the moka pot is slightly quicker. My moka pot takes about three-five minutes, depending on how hot the heat source is, before the water percolates up into the upper chamber. The French Press takes a while for you to get water boiling, depending on how hot your heat source is, then it sits for 3-5 minutes, so it takes a little longer.

The Moka Pot is easier to clean, too. None of it goes in the dishwasher. The three components come apart easily and you simply rinse under hot water – it is a stainless steel moka pot, so very simple. With the French Press, I usually rinse it out, too, but the glass doesn’t clean as easily as stainless steel. Occasionally I remove the glass part and run that and the filter lid through the dishwasher.

Moka Pot Sizes

Like most Europeans, the Italians drink tiny cups of strong espresso. So you’ll find the 1-cup Moka espresso pot, making 2 oz of espresso to fit a tiny espresso cup. Then there’s the 3-cup size stainless steel moka pot, which makes 4.4 oz of espresso – enough for 2 espresso cups, or one small American cup of coffee.

For myself, I chose the 6-cup moka pot, as it makes about two cups of American-size coffee, just enough for me, and is a comfortable size to take camping at 4″x4″x 9″ tall. It produces 9.2 oz of coffee. Keep in mind, when I say it makes me two cups of American size, I tend to drink from a slightly smaller coffee cup than most Americans. If you’re using the large coffee mug popular in the US, this 6-cup moka pot will probably fill one of those with a little left over to top it off.

From there you can choose the 14.2 oz moka pot for espresso, it fills two large American coffee mugs. Lastly Bialetti offers the 12-cup moka pot, making 22.7 oz of espresso – just under three full American mugs. This one is for gatherings and is 11″ tall.

Moka Pot Instructions

Using the moka pot for espresso is very easy. First you unscrew the top chamber from the bottom chamber. Remove the filter piece. Pour water into the bottom chamber up to the fill line. Nestle the filter piece in, and put as many tablespoons of coffee grinds as you like – I usually use 1 Tablespoon per cup of coffee – so about 2 Tablespoons in my 6-cup Bialetti Moka Espresso Pot. I recommend a medium grind, same as for the French Press.

If you like to add a sprinkling of cinnamon or other spice, as I often do, put it on your grinds. Next just screw on the upper chamber.

Place the moka pot on your stove or campfire, whatever you’re using for your heat source. I put my stove at about the 6:00 position – medium heat. Then you wait. After about five minutes or so, you’ll hear it percolating into the upper chamber. I lift the lid to check when the upper chamber is full, then I know it’s done. Remove it from heat, pour and enjoy.

Grind Coffee Moka Pot

Various coffee makers work best at different grinds of coffee. For the moka pot I recommend a medium grind of coffee beans, like you would use in any espresso maker.

Do you use a Bialetti or other moka pot coffee maker? Please comment below how you like it, how you think it compares to French Press coffee, and any other thoughts below.

Where to Buy a Moka Pot Coffee Maker

I bought my stainless steel moka pot coffee maker at Amazon.com

You can also get it directly from the manufacturer at www.Bialetti.com

 

 

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Kona Purple Mountain Coffee

I ran into someone who said the best tasting coffee they’ve ever had is Kona Purple Mountain Coffee. I was excited to try it, so I ordered it off of Amazon. It took over a week to get to me from Hawaii. Kona Purple Mountain Coffee is organic and naturally made and roasted on the mountains of Hawaii, so already I was impressed.

Note, there is a separate company called Kona Mountain Coffee with shops in Hawaii, but I’m reviewing here Kona Purple Mountain Coffee, a brand of coffee bean made in Hawaii.

Kona Purple Mountain Coffee

Upon opening the bag I delighted in the lovely fresh coffee aroma coming from the beans. I ground some and made coffee, trying it in my Bialetti Moka Pot as well as a French Press, and later I used it in my Mr. Coffee Cafe Cappuccino Maker.

This company, Kona Purple Mountain, started in 1976 and is a family-owned coffee estate. They grow 100% pure organic beans in the high altitude of Honaunau Mountain at 2,000 feet. The farm is located on the western slope of Mauna Loa, on the kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii. They have an optimal prime location for growing excellent beans. They do all the processing themselves using traditional methods, from harvesting to shipping. The beans are sun-dried on “hoshidana,” a wooden platform deck with an obviously Japanese name. The hoshidana is covered with a thick plastic greenhouse tarp to protect the beans from the afternoon rains. They add no chemicals or pesticides of any kind. The coffee is roasted fresh right at their farm.

On their website you will find lots of photos of the steps they do to make this delicious coffee.

They are certified organic, which means no blends, flavors, pods or decaf. The beans are 100% sun dried and hand-picked and they offer green or roasted coffee beans.

Their motto is “With passion and respect for the aina (land), we practice sustainable organic farming and are “Certified Organic.” Their philosophy alone is worth giving this company our coffee-loving support.

What is Kona Coffee, exactly?

Kona coffee refers to coffee specifically cultivated on the mountain slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. These are found in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island. Kona Coffee is one of the most expensive coffees to buy in the world today. Only coffee grown in the kona districts are allowed to use the prestigious name. The ideal conditions for growing coffee stem from the sunny mornings, the rainy afternoons, mild wind and nights, and the volcanic soil rich in minerals. There is nowhere else just like this for growing the unique coffee.

Because of the price of pure kona coffee, some merchants sell “kona-blends.” Be aware that these are kona coffee blended with less expensive coffee, like Colombian, Brazilian or other coffees from around the world.

The word kona is the name of a southwesterly winter wind in Hawaii. This kona wind is usually strong and it brings rain.

Another company, voted by Forbes as having the best kona coffee in the world, is Koa Coffee – be sure to check them out. I’ve read that each kona farm produces their own distinct arabica coffee bean, the micro climate of each farm plays a part. So trying out the various kona coffee company’s beans would be a fun and interesting challenge.

Save on Kona Coffee when you buy a Triple-pack!

Unusual Taste

Before this I’d been drinking dark Turkish coffee and some Lavazza, my favorite. I also enjoy Bustelo Cuban Coffee and Starbucks, all of which sport a smoky coffee flavor. Starbucks’ coffee beans have a dark, slightly burnt taste.

With Kona Purple Mountain Coffee (I got medium roast), I noticed right away it has a completely different flavor profile. At first I didn’t like it at all, but I’m getting used to it and starting to enjoy it now. It has a kind of brassy, coppery tone to it, almost like caramel. At first it reminded me of cheap coffee I’ve had at places like Village Inn, or like Maxwell House. But this coffee is expensive to buy. I wonder if this flavor profile comes from it drying in the Hawaiian sun, and from the volcanic soil? Or maybe because this is a medium roast?

It is still a strong coffee, like the others I’m used to. Now that I’m adjusting to the different taste, I’m starting to quite enjoy it. It is kind of caramelly, a flavor I often prefer in my coffees.

I’ve read warnings that many companies will try to trick you by using the word “kona.” Be sure to double-check if the beans you are ordering are actually grown in the kona districts of Hawaii.

Have You Tried It?

Let me know, in the comments below, if you have tried Kona Purple Mountain Coffee (or any kona coffee brand) and if you understand what I mean by the different taste profile.

It took me a few cups to come around, but I am starting to enjoy this unusual taste. I like to add some kind of creamer, either coconut creamer from the store, or my homemade cashew milk creamer, along with some caramel-flavored liquid stevia. The caramel stevia enhances the slightly caramel taste of the coffee and they go very well together.

If you have tried other kona coffee brands, please leave your impressions in the comments below. Do they all have the same, basic taste profile? It would be fun to compare.

Monthly Coffee Club

This family-owned business offers a monthly Coffee Club. It’s a standing monthly order that gets charged to your card and shipped out the 1st of every month. Your regular order is sent out, but you can contact them anytime to add to or change your order, if you wish. With this club you will get a discounted price on the coffee.

Where to Buy Kona Purple Mountain Coffee.

Other Trustworthy Kona Coffee Brands Recommended to Try.

  • Koa Coffee
  • The Hawaiian Coffee by Keala
  • Volcanica Coffee
  • The Hawaii Coffee Company
  • The Koa Coffee (Peaberry Kona)

 

 

 

 

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Compostable Keurig pods – Yummy Southern Pecan

  At last! Coffee makers are coming out with compostable Keurig pods / K cups. Waste was one of my biggest factors against owning a Keurig. But I love using one, they are so convenient and awesome.

I recently got to try Cameron’s Southern Toasted Pecan, in compostable K cups coffee pods. (Yes, it’s technically a pod, but people are used to calling all things Keurig as “K cups.”) I found mine in Safeway, but Amazon.com carries it, too.

Toasted Southern Pecansouthern-toasted-pecans

I love flavored coffee. I don’t buy my dad’s maxim that “People who want flavors in their coffee, don’t like coffee.” Truth is, I love coffee, just the regular flavor of delicious coffee. But I’m also a culinary adventurer, and I love nothing more than to try new flavors in all of my foods and drinks, especially coffee (well, duh, hence this site).

Keurig Compostable Cups for Coffee

We now have more and more choices for compostable Keurig pods and compostable K cups for our Keurig coffee. I discovered Cameron’s Southern Toasted Pecan, it was on sale, so I decided to give it a try. (I was staying at my friend’s house and enjoying her Keurig.)

No After-taste

One of the problems I have with the various Starbucks K Cups flavors, is that many of them have a nasty after-taste. It’s similar to the after-taste you get when you add too much Stevia. This is found only in some of their flavors. Others of their flavors taste better without any cream or milk, by the way. You will have to experiment to see which you like best.

Cameron’s Toasted Southern Pecan has no after-taste. It is pure deliciousness with the nutty sweet flavor of pecans, like what you get in homemade Pecan Pie (one of my favorites). The aroma alone will delight your senses as it is brewing into your cup.

Compostable Keurig Pods

This is the best part – the coffee pod is compostable. Note the fine print, however, to double-check with your own composting rules in your community, some places are equipped and some may not be, just yet. Also, it is not suitable for backyard home composting. But in the town where I was staying, they compost everything, even meat and bones, so I knew they could handle a compostable coffee K cup.

More to Come in Compostable Coffee K Cups

With more companies offering compostable K cups for coffee, our caffeine habits are getting greener every day. This is great news.

Have you tried some Keurig compostable cups or pods? Tell us in the Comments what you think and which are your favorite.

 

 

 

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Honey Coffee Healthy Benefits – Delicious Together

Honey in coffee? Do they even go together?

Yes they do, and for a while Starbucks even offered a Caramelized Honey Latte – this one sold out in my area at all Starbucks. I’m still waiting for them to bring it back…

Honey in Coffee

Surprisingly, sweetening hot coffee with honey works deliciously together. Honey is very sweet, so don’t use too much. This sweetener is natural, especially if you get raw, local honey, and is even allowed on some diets like Paleo (small amounts, not too often).

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is an all-natural sweetener with a low glycemic index. If you buy local, raw honey, it will help you to resist pollen allergies to your local flora. Honey also gives long, sustained energy. It is so sweet you only need a tiny bit. It is already used often in teas to help with sore throat. A long-time home remedy for sore throat is to take a spoonful of warm honey with lemon juice and swallow. Honey coats the throat, easing the soreness. The lemon juice helps to kill germs and to detox.

Honey Coffee

We know coffee also has health benefits, and I like my coffee every morning. But when I’m struggling with sore throat or a cold coming on, I always use honey in my coffee (and also drink lots of tea). They taste amazingly great together. I use honey in my coffee at other times, too, like when I need the extra, sustained energy boost.

Give it a Try

Try it and see for yourself. Here’s a thought, what about playing around with flavored honeys? Like Cinnamon Honey, Berry Honey, Clover Honey? Let me know how you like it and which ones you’ve tried, below.

 

 

 

 

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