Tag Archives: coffee

Atlanta Starbucks to Sell Beer & Wine

Starbucks has long been the destination for a morning pick me up but soon it could be a happy hour spot as well.

The Seattle-based coffee company announced that it will be adding beer and wine to four to six of its Atlanta locations in 2012, according to the Reuters article published today. Atlanta will be among the first cities in the country to get the adult beverages added to its menu, along with a handful of Southern California and Chicago locations.

Seattle was the test market for beer and wine sales at Starbucks; in October 2010 the coffee chain introduced them to one of its locations. Currently there are five Starbucks in Seattle and one in Portland, Oregon that sell beer and wine.

Beyond beer and wine the extended menu will include cheese plates and hot flatbreads.

The Atlanta Starbucks locations that will offer the new items have not yet been announced.

Starbucks has nearly 11,000 cafes in the United States but does not expect to sell beer and wine in all locations.

Cup-Free Inhalable Coffee

There’s a new way to get your coffee fix any time of day without burning your mouth or staining your teeth.

Le WhifIntroducing Le Whif, a coffee that you drink by breathing.  With Le Whif you inhale the coffee into your mouth (in the form of hundreds of milligrams of tiny particles), and taste it without swallowing or chewing.  Perhaps best of all, you get a kick of caffeine without any calories.

Le Whif was developed by Harvard Professor David Edwards in collaboration with students, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs.  It uses particle engineering to form particles of natural food substances that are small enough to become airborne though too large to enter the lungs.

Each Le Whif has about 100 mg of caffeine, similar to drinking a light espresso.

If chocolate is more your thing, Le Whif makes inhalable chocolate as well.  Since each Le Whif has less than 1 calorie, you’ll get all the taste without any guilt.  In addition to chocolate Le Whif comes in raspberry chocolate and mint chocolate flavors.

A three-pack of Le Whif costs around $7.  To learn more about Le Whif and to purchase it visit www.lewhif.com.

Image from Le Whif’s website

A Pasion for Coffee

If you’re very particular about your coffee and your typical order takes an entire sentence to explain there’s a new coffee shop for you.  At Pasión del Cielo you order you drink exactly how you want it — right down to the coffee beans.

pasion del cieloPasión del Cielo is located off Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.  Whether you’re ordering coffee, espresso or cappuccino you can choose among eleven coffee beans from different countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Maintaining the unique characteristic of each country’s bean is part of Pasión del Cielo’s mission.  That’s why the beans are never mixed.  If you’re looking for a big flavor try Brazil; for a milder taste go for Honduras; if you like a lot of acidity try Mexico.  Hawaiian and Jamaican coffee beans cost a little extra.

pasion del cieloThe choice can be a bit intimidating.  On my first trip to Pasión del Cielo I was worried I was holding up the line while trying to make up my mind (I ended up going for beans from Costa Rica, a nice complement to the chocolate in my mocha).  Fortunately the varying intensities of the aroma, flavor, body and acidity of each are noted on the wall of beans behind the bar.  It’s fun to look at even after you’ve made your selection.

Besides coffee, Pasión del Cielo offers other drinks and standard coffee shop fare — muffins, pastries, desserts and pre-made sandwiches.  Pasión del Cielo is also passionate about the environment.  Coffee cups and sleeves are made from corn and recycled paper.

Pasión del Cielo is a great spot to meet for coffee or relax with a book on one of the comfy couches.  You can also bring your laptop and use the free WiFi.  The early opening and late closing times during weekdays make Pasión del Cielo ideal for your first cup of the day or an evening jolt of java.

Pasión del Cielo is located at 100 Giralda Avenue in Coral Gables.  It’s open from 6am to 11pm Monday through Friday.  On the weekends Pasión del Cielo opens at 8am and closes early on Sunday, at 6pm.  For more information visit pasioncoffee.com.

My Daily Grind: Cafe Milagro Dark Roast

My favorite coffee to brew and drink at home is Café Milagro’s Dark Roast. I discovered Café Milagro last December during a trip to Costa Rica. The café was located a short walk away from my hotel in Manuel Antonio. I went there almost every day; I had their coffee with the traditional Tico breakfast in the morning, coffee and a sandwich for lunch, or an afternoon espresso shake – a delicious blend of espresso and chocolate chip ice cream.

Café Milagro was created in the early 1990s by a couple of American college students who traveled to Costa Rica and fell in love with the country and culture. After being disappointed in the quality of coffee they found there, they decided to make their own. What started with a coffee roaster grew to a café and restaurant.

The café in Manuel Antonio is nestled into the jungle on a narrow winding road that leads down to the beach. The warm and inviting smell of freshly brewed coffee tempts you into the brightly decorated café. If you choose a table outside you may spot a group of monkeys climbing through the trees.

Café Milagro’s Dark Roast is big and bold with a clean and creamy finish. If you don’t like the bitterness of coffee, this is the coffee for you. There’s absolutely no bitterness, which makes it very easy to drink. Even if you take your coffee with sugar, I’d recommend trying the coffee without sugar at first because the natural flavor is so good. I like drinking this coffee black or with a little bit of milk.

I brought home a few bags of Café Milagro from Costa Rica and have reordered it a couple of times online. The coffee is $7.95 and the shipping charges are very reasonable. The quality of the coffee is not lost in transit. It’s just as delicious brewed in your own coffee maker as it is at the café in Costa Rica. It’s idiot-proof as well — I’ve used varying amounts of grounds and it’s never been bitter.

I highly recommend ordering a few bags of Café Milagro’s Dark Roast to try, I think any coffee drinker will really enjoy it. To order beans online or to learn more about Café Milagro, visit CafeMilagro.com.

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My Favorite Mocha

One drink I cannot live without is my grande nonfat no whip mocha from Starbucks.  Espresso tastes much better when there’s chocolate – though like any chocolate lover I’d tell you pretty much everything tastes better when there’s chocolate.

My absolute favorite mocha is served at a chocolate shop and cafe in Cambridge called L.A. Burdick.  It’s a company based in Walpole, New Hampshire, the location of their only other café.  I tried their mocha for the first time on a brisk New England fall day.  It was at once warming and filling.  It’s so thick you feel as if you’re drinking a warm milkshake.  It makes Starbucks’ mochas seem like you’re drinking water.

It was sunny and warm when I stopped in last Saturday.  Still, I had to order a mocha.  L.A. Burdick’s mochas are made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate syrup, and come out nice and frothy.  The flavor is so rich and chocolaty, it doesn’t taste like there’s any espresso in it.  I ordered mine with skim milk but it tasted just as thick and creamy as if it were made with whole milk.  This is not something you grab and drink on the run; you need to savor it.  It’s too rich to drink quickly.  I actually had to get a glass of water to drink along with it.  Like a rich chocolate dessert, you need something to wash it down.

L.A. Burdick sells all sorts of chocolates as well, some in the shape of animals.  My favorites are the white and dark chocolate penguins and the mice that come complete with silk tails.  You may not always be able to stop in for a delicious mocha, but at least you can have their tasty chocolates shipped directly to your home.

L.A. Burdick is located in Harvard Square, on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cuban Coffee in Miami

I’m back in Miami and I’ve been craving an afternoon espresso. While in Paris I had at least one each afternoon, so I guess you could say I’m having a little bit of caffeine withdrawal.

It comes as no surprise that the best coffee in Miami is Cuban coffee. I don’t usually put sugar in my coffee, but there’s something about that ultra sweet taste and supercharged shot that really packs a punch. I’ve survived many late nights and early mornings at work because of Cuban coffee.

Thanks to Miami’s large Cuban community, there are great Cuban restaurants and cafés all over the city.

My favorite is a no frills hangout and takeaway spot on Northeast 1st Street, one block west of Biscayne Boulevard, right in downtown. I actually thought it didn’t have a name, until I saw “Café Manolo y Rene” on their takeaway menus. The cafe is open 24 hours a day – and you’ll see people hanging out there 24 hours a day. It has just enough room for a bar and a handful of stools, so the crowd often spills out to the sidewalk.

My favorite drink there is café con leche. Their version is the perfect mix of creamy and sweet, like thick hot chocolate minus the chocolate flavor. And like anything creamy and chocolaty, you may want a drink of water at the end to wash it all down. The combination of caffeine and sugar is just the jump start you need to be going strong for hours.

If you’re hungry this corner café is one of the most wallet-friendly places to eat. There’s a wide variety of sandwiches costing $5.50 or less. My recommendation: skip the Cuban sandwich and go for the medianoche instead. You’ll get a generous serving of ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese, along with that traditional pickle, all toasted on yummy semi-sweet bread. It’s the sweet taste of that bread that I’ll find myself craving. The sweet plus the saltiness of the meat and the acidity from the pickle always makes for a delicious combination.

I’ve found medianoches seem to taste better around medianoche – or midnight, for non-Spanish speakers. When you’re hungry after a night of barhopping or clubbing it’s the perfect snack.

A Cafe Culture

In London you have pub culture, in Paris it’s the café culture. Hundreds of cafes line the streets of the city. They’re great spots to meet friends for coffee or to sit by yourself and people watch.

It’s my last day in Paris and I’m feeling like a real Parisian. It’s a rainy afternoon, I’ve got my French newspaper, and I decide to stop in to Café de Flore. It’s a well-known café on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, right next to Les Deux Magots. Years before I was born, this was the place for artists and intellectuals. Sitting at the small table by the window I imagined I could be in the same spot where people like John-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus discussed philosophy.

An older waiter came over carrying a silver tray. “Un café, s’il vous plait,” I said. “Oui,” he responded. Somehow I felt he could still tell I’m not a real Parisian. Minutes later my espresso arrived, along with a small piece of solid dark chocolate and a packet of sugar. It reminded me of my first trip to France with my family, when I was 7. My sister, who at the time was 4, and I would play with the sugar cubes at restaurants while waiting for our food. Each restaurant had its own wrapper for the sugar cubes. We’d take one from each restaurant. By the end of our trip had quite the colorful collection. The sugar at Café de Flore is in a wide, white packet, not a fancy looking cube – not worth saving. There’ve only been two worth saving so far – a thin packet with the recognizable logo from Les Deux Magots, and bright pink sugar cubes from Fauchon.

While the cups of coffee have been abundant and have always tasted good, it’s been harder to find a good tasting glass of wine. It seems most people order bottles or half bottles, so some of the wines by the glass taste like they’ve been open for a day or so.

I found my favorite glass of wine (and favorite wine of the entire trip) at a place called Willi’s Wine Bar. I thought a place with ‘wine bar’ in its name would be a good place to find a good glass of wine.

Willi’s Wine Bar is located near the Palais Royal, on Rue des Petits Champs in the first arrondissement. It was opened in 1980 and named after the owner’s dog. They had a fairly extensive list of wines by the glass from all over France, and the good vintages weren’t only reserved for full bottles. I ordered a glass of the 2001 Chateau Issan from Margaux. I wasn’t familiar with the wine, but it tasted delicious. The blend of cabernet and merlot was a dark red color. It had ripe red fruit on the nose, the taste of blackberries and black currants, followed by a finish of tobacco and cloves with soft tannins. Definitely a wine I’d like to drink again.

Istanbul: Day 1

The Sights, Sounds and Tastes Along the Bosphorus

We arrived in Istanbul 5 hours later than scheduled after an unplanned stop in Paris so we hit the ground running. Our first stop was the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. It’s a long hallway of bright colors and even brighter personalities peddling their hundreds of varieties of Turkish delight.

Stalls were filled with red, brown and yellow spices, all sorts of nuts, dates, and snack foods that combined fruits and nuts.  There were giant colored stumps with some sort of jellied fruit with pistachios inside that vendors would cut slices from – almost like a dessert gyro.  Another type of candy was a long, cylindrical looking thing with a solid fruit jelly made from raisins surrounding a center of pistachios.  I’m not a big fruit-and-nuts-as-dessert fan, plus the not so appetizing dark brown color – needless to say I held off on buying any of this candy.

Next stop: the Grand Bazaar.  The name says it all.  Anything you wanted you could find there – jewelry, hookahs, clothing, pashmina scarves, decorative bowls, musical instruments, Turkish tea sets, even knockoff bags and wallets like you’d find on Canal Street in New York City.  There are so many rows of stalls, each row has a street name – in case you get lost.  If you want to buy something, you’re expected to haggle.  Apparently whatever original price they tell you, you’re supposed to end with it costing about half that.  I don’t know if it was the jet lag or the bright colors on the hand painted bowls that were distracting me, but it turns out I’m not so good at haggling!

We took a break from shopping and popped into Fes Café for some coffee. I figured when in Turkey . . . so I had to get Turkish coffee. It looks unassuming in an espresso-style cup, but the taste is enough to wake even the most tired person up. It’s full bodied and strong with such a unique taste that you wouldn’t want to ruin it with sugar or lemon (though I’m sure non-coffee fans might feel otherwise!). But the real fun is when you get towards the bottom of the cup. After all the liquid’s gone there’s a thick layer of sludge with a concentrated coffee taste. Any coffee you have to chew to finish is good in my book!

After the two bazaars we checked in to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  Being a Saturday night, we had to check out Istanbul’s nightlife.  We began by taking a boat up the Bosphorus.  We zigzagged between the Asian side and the European side, enjoying the sounds of the calls to prayer coming from the many mosques that pierced the skyline with their minarets.

As the sun set, we arrived by water at Reina, a restaurant-club compound.  The club itself was open air, facing the Bosphorus, and had two stories of restaurants surrounding it in a U-shape.  We had dinner at Park Samdan, a restaurant that put an upscale touch on traditional Turkish dishes.  My main course was a smoky, spiced beef in a watered down, unpasteurized-tasting yogurt.  Though it may not have been the most visually-appealing dish, the tangy-ness of the yogurt paired really well with all the spices in the beef.

After dinner we walked downstairs to Reina.  If you ever visit Istanbul, or if you’re into nightclubs, you cannot miss this club.  After midnight the club was packed with people dancing and singing along to dance music I had never heard, in languages I couldn’t pick out.  We sipped champagne while looking at the Asian side of Istanbul lit up across the Bosphorus, and underneath a bridge that was illuminated with constantly changing colored lights that danced up and down the cables.  We left around 2 am, not particularly looking forward to our 9 am wakeup call.