Archive for January, 2009

Coffee Master

To help me prepare for getting my Coffee Master I created this kind of cheat chart thing– just something to help me study, kind of like you would in college.


It has 35 of the Starbucks coffees we sell. Our little store certainly does not sell anywhere near all of these and some are seasonal anyhow, but I did want to be as familiar as I could be with all the coffees, so I’ve included them all. It also includes a dozen or so Tazo Teas, but I’m mostly at this point concerned with the coffees.

Each laminated, business-size card includes a picture of the coffee stamp, the name of the coffee [of course], whether it’s Mild, Medium, Bold or Extra Bold, it’s origin, key term, and a brief description on the front. On the back is the food pairing and any other helpful information I could find, like the fact that Caffe Verona is actually 80% Yukon Blend and 20% Italian Roast.

They are all nicely arranged in alphabetical order on a ring and I can keep it tucked away in the pocket of my green apron. If a customer has a question about a particular type of coffee that I don’t know the answer to, I can whip it out and have all this knowledge at my fingertips — KNOWLEDGEABLE!

I showed our district manager last week and he asked that I make him one to show to the regional manager. He was impressed.

I figure the whole thing cost me about $20 to put together. Kind of expensive but priceless to me– it’s such a help. I really wish Starbucks could put something like this in the hands of every barista– especially in little stores like mine where there is no Coffee Master.


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Struggling with Faith & the Unknown will of God

After our ordeal with Thomas’ collapsed lung over Christmas the thought still lingers in the back of our minds, “Will it happen again?”. It could, it might or it might not. Only God knows. But we have some friends who have over the last year faced a much more serious situation as their young daughter has battled cancer. Their blog has been a great encouragement to me over the past months. It has strengthen my faith and made me realize even more just how big a God we serve and that no matter what happens, our God is always big, always right, and always in control. From their last post:

Hi all. We spent the morning with Ashley’s doctor for him to check her over and review the scans with us. Everything looks really good – he even mentioned that he’s having a hard time identifying a residual mass. All good news!

He then spent some time talking us through next steps. Ashley will have quarterly scans thru this year, every four months next year, semi-annually after that, and so on until we get past five years. Technically we don’t even have to go back to him until next quarter, but Elaine needed some peace of mind between now and then so we’ll have a check-up in 6 weeks.

More immediately, she’ll have her port removed in an outpatient surgery next Tuesday. Ashley’s take on that is, “Can I go back to gymnastics?!?!” Yes sweet baby, you sure can!

So what does all of this mean? Is it gone? Will it come back? Would be great to have solid, definite answers on those, but its just not to be. She looks really good. We’re thankful for that and continue to monitor her. She’s in God’s hands and we entrust her to him.

In typical man fashion, I wasn’t going to get into emotions but Elaine’s holding a gun to my head and forcing me. So here goes: We feel great that things are clear. We take faith that she’s in God’s hands and are encouraged by clear scans, how well she’s responded to treatment, and high cure rates. We love her, are excited about how things look, and so appreciate all of your love and support thru this. At the same time, we are dealing with those nagging fears in the recesses of our minds – what if it comes back? We wish we could know she’s cured and that there won’t be any effects from the chemo and radiation. We’ll keep walking in faith and hurdle any obstacles if and when they arise.

And I’d like to share a lesson (under strong recommendation from my lovely wife) that God provided for me really early on in this battle. After Ashley was diagnosed we annointed her with oil, laid hands on her and prayed over her as the Bible instructs us. I struggled with having complete faith in her healing; wondering whether I should just be able to completely believe that God would completely heal her. If my faith were strong, shouldn’t I be able to believe that?

I was encouraged by the three Hebrew boys facing the fiery furnace. See, they refused to bow down before the king’s idol even in the face of the gruesome punishment of being burned alive. When the king asked them who could deliver them from the fire, they replied that they served the God who could deliver them from the flames. However, EVEN IF HE DIDN’T they still refused to bow.

Interesting they didn’t say they knew they would be delivered isn’t it? I believe that the outcome was beside the point. Their great faith – despite the outcome – was the point. And boy was that drilled into my heart. I don’t believe faith is about trusting in outcomes. It’s about being faithful within the trail, through the pain, despite the outcome.

In our world with Ashley’s cancer, we know we serve the God who can deliver us from the fire. But even if he doesn’t, we won’t succumb to anything less that serving him and living our faith. And we know that his desire is only the best for us – despite the circumstance or outcome.

And here’s the best part of the story of those Hebrew boys: The king threw those boys into the furnace and saw a fourth person in the flames that delivered them from the fire – WITHIN THE FIRE. The king’s words about that fourth person were that he was “like a son of the gods.”

Like those Hebrew boys, we have the Son of God in Jesus to deliver us WITHIN the fire. No matter the circumstance or outcome, we have the Son of God to deliver us WITHIN the fire.

I do hope that blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

We’ll update after her surgery to remove her port next Tuesday.

What is a French Press anyway?

I’ve put away my expensive drip coffee pot [it was a nice one] for my new Frenchfrench press, which I must write, I picked up on a recent trip to Barnes & Noble for 75% off– yes, the same one we sell in the store for $39.95 I got at B&N for less than $10! NICE!

So, what is a French Press? I’ll have to admit, when I first heard the term “French press” it was quite daunting and sounded like something you might need a Culinary Art degree to operate. However, it’s so easy a child could do it! Now, of course we are talking HOT water here so I would advise to keep children far away but it’s really, really easy and will provide you with the most authentic cup of coffee one could make. There’s no paper filter to soak up all those wonderful oils and flavors. No deep, dark crevasses inside of a coffee pot that could be dirty and growing who knows what. Just a clean, clear glass container that you can see all the goings on and never fear for what might actually be lurking inside :-/

So, here’s how simple it is [seven easy steps to a perfect cup of coffee]:

  1. Heat your water to just about boiling temperature in a pot [not the French press]. I prefer filtered water– not purified, just filtered drinking water.
  2. Place your freshly ground coffee into the French press. At the store we use .12 of a lb. for an 8-cup French press. However, I do not [yet] own a digital scale so I measured out .12 at the store from my markout last week, took it home and guess what? It’s exactly 3/4 cup. Whala! So, seeing that I still don’t own a digital scale I just measure 3/4 cup of beans into my coffee grinder and grind the beans on the French press setting which is a course setting.
  3. Pour the hot water over coffee grounds. That was easy!
  4. Put the lid back on the French press, leaving plunger up.
  5. Leave your coffee to steep for 4 minutes. [I just bought this nifty 4-minute timer we sell at the store, but you certainly don’t have to have a special timer– I’m just a gadget junky :-o.]
  6. When the 4 minutes are up, slowly press down the plunger, straining out the coffee grounds.
  7. Serve & ENJOY! Even after you’ve pressed down the plunger, your coffee will continue to grow stronger. If you let it sit too long in the pot, it will get bitter. Serve immediately. 20 minutes is about the maximum life expectancy of French press coffee 🙂

It really is just that simple!

I’m One in a Million


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The difference between Guatemala Antigua and Guatemala Casi Cielo

You can tell a lot about a coffee if you know where it’s from, because every bean has a distinctive flavor particular to its land of origin. Coffees from Latin America are celebrated for their great balance, medium body and clean finish. Both of these coffees come from Guatemala’s Antigua Valley. Antigua is a lush green region in South Central Guatemala, nestled among three volcanoes. Its coffees are nurtured by farmers with vast knowledge and passion.

So, what’s the difference between Guatemala Antigua and Guatemala Casi Cielo? Both Latin American coffees [obviously], both cultivated high in  Guatemala’s Antigua Valley, both medium roast, “elegant” coffees, but with supple differences.

gua_aGuatemala Antigua, with it’s refined acidity, subtle cocoa texture and gentle spice flavors, is considered an elegant treasure. Care for some chocolate? This is a favorite coffee [as is Caffe Verona] to enjoy alongside a chocolate croissant or chocolate-dipped biscotti. Caramel and apples highlight Guatemala Antigua’s subtleties and bring out it’s spicy undertones. I think of this coffee as having a little hit of spicy undertones that Casi Cielo does not.

On the other hand, Guatemala Casi Cielo has amazing character and greatcasicielo_a2 depth of flavor. [It’s currently my favorite] It’s smooth and versatile to please a variety of tastes. Every sip begins with an elegant floral aroma and surprising lemony flourish, and finishes with deep, satisfying dark cocoa notes. The key term for this coffee is “Elegant”. With its remarkable depth and versatility, Guatemala Casi Cielo is perfect with a variety of dishes and desserts—particularly those containing savory herbs or cheeses, rich chocolate or berries. I think of Guatemala Casi Cielo, which by the way means “almost Heaven” in Spanish, as being a smoother more elegant coffee with a cleaner finish than it’s predecessor Guatemala Antigua.

So, what’s the difference? Guatemala Antigua- a hit of spicy undertones, great with chocolate, caramel and apples. Guatemala Casi Cielo- an elegantly smooth coffee with a clean finish, great with savory dishes as well as chocolates and berries. What coffee isn’t great with chocolate?

We have both available for sale at our store right now in the whole bean form. If you don’t own a grinder, you should! But we’ll happily grind it for free for you 🙂

January 2009
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