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- Shop The Presses! -
Style Meets Function

The french press method for brewing coffee may very well be the hands-down winner as the preferred brewing method among true coffee connoiseurs. Many, in fact, will swear that coffee prepared in a french press is superior to coffee prepared using alternative methods.

There are few different versions of the history of the french press. The most interesting and entertaining version of the story tells of a Frenchman who invented the french press pot back in the last 1880s while travelling the countryside. He was set to prepare his coffee by boiling the coffee in water atop a campfire—a widely used brewing method for the time. As luck would have it, one day he forgot to put the coffee in the water, put the coffee in a jar and poured the hot water over it. The coffee floated to the top which made for an awful looking and unappealing drink. The Frenchman luckily had a piece of screen which he used to push the grinds to the bottom of the jar and poured a smooth and satisfying cup of coffee. According to www.coffeecakes.com, the french press as we know it today is attributed to an Italian designer named Calimani who took the french press coffee maker a step further by using a glass jar with a spout, much like a laboratory beaker, and fashioned a plunger with a filter on the end to press the ground coffee to the bottom of the pot.

Why does the french press method yield an extraordinary cup of coffee? Since the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the water instead of trapped in a cone or basket filter, the coffee's flavor and essential oils are included in the pour—not left as residue on the paper coffee filter associated with the traditional drip machines.

Fastforward to today and imagine the functionality that delivers delicious coffee combined with a variety of contemporary styles. Some outstanding choices include:

From Missoula, Montana comes a wonderful product line from Planetary Design—an innovative company dedicated to providing, preserving and perfecting the small things that make life more enjoyable. Their strength and success centers around cutting-edge innovation, commitment to using quality material, exceptional customer service and strategic partnerships. Their award-winning design team continues to improve on the French Press, French Press Mugs and other fine beverage and food related accessories. From table top to desk—and actually perfect for brewing tea too—there are many great options at www.planetarydesign.us.

While this newsletter’s “test kitchen” is not fancy, we all agreed that we just loved the sleek and stylish designs of the table top coffee presses and felt confident that they would add elegance or whimsy to any table setting.

More great stylish options are from the Liquid Solutions line from Pacific Cornetta www.pacific-cornetta.com. One of the “test kitchen” favorites was the chugg press shown here. It was tested with both coffee and tea and performed beautifully for each. It will yield a great cup of coffee or tea whether you are home, in the office or on the go! It was easy to clean and had a comfortable handle. Highly recommended.

Need instruction on how to make coffee using a french press? Click here for help from Sean Paajanen at About.com. Whether you call it a french press, a press pot, a coffee plunger, a coffee press or a cafetière à piston, you know that it will deliver a quality cup of coffee every time when you use this simple method, good quality coursely-ground coffee, and water just off the boil.


- Frostea Treats for Adults -
Runaway Hit at NYC Fancy Food Show

The staff of Wise Acre, Inc., traveled from their small coastal town of Blue Hill, Maine to New York City to introduce their unique frozen treats to attendees at the Fancy Food Show held earlier this summer…and what a reception they received!

Wise Acre's Frostbites™ and Frosteas™, are all-natural frozen treats, sweetened only with unrefined sweeteners such as wild honey or organic maple syrup. Frosteas contain organic, freshly brewed teas, such as: Jasmine Green Tea Delight, Cool Your Jets —an herbal tea mix of Chamomile, Lemon Balm, & Spearmint, and the rich and highly-caffeinated Yerba Mate from South America.

Two years ago, Wise Acre's president, Jim Picariello, started his fledgling business out of his kitchen and delivered his frozen treats to a small handful of co-ops and a farmers market. Since then Wise Acre has exploded into east coast distribution by United Natural Foods and Sure Winner Foods, and early acceptance into east coast chains such as Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Hannaford Supermarkets. "We're currently working on the midwest," Jim said, "the west coast is only a few years away."

Wise Acre Frostbites and Frosteas are packaged frozen in plastic sleeves and enjoyed 'squeeze up' style just like the ice pops you enjoyed as a kid, and sell in stores for around $1.49 each. When asked why aren't Frostbites and Frosteas found unfrozen on grocery shelves, Jim answered, "oh, you mean next to the shelf-stable ice cream? Our ingredients are fresh, without preservatives, and immediately frozen."

The official mottos of Wise Acre are: "No Fruit!" and "It must taste great in gin or vodka". By using natural sweeteners such as honey and maple, which are subtly different from season to season and from harvest to harvest, every freshly brewed batch of Frosteas and Frostbites is an exploration and discovery of unique deliciousness.

The exhibit halls of the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC’s Jacob Javits Center were just buzzing about these new products. Attendees were amazed at the quality of the products, the innovative idea, and they way it took them back to happier and carefree days of yore. Get your hands on one of these frozen treats! Find out more at: www.wise-acre.com.

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- Life's Sweet Treats -

Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. Why do we love them so much? Could it be because of the promise of great health benefits or maybe the way they make us feel?
Earlier this year, Starbucks Coffee Company invited coffee and tea lovers to experience something new—coffee and tea infused chocolates—when they launched a new portfolio of artisan-style chocolate inspired by Starbucks® coffee, Tazo® tea and other authentic coffeehouse flavors.

Enlisting the expertise from the master chocolatiers at the Artisan Confections Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hershey Company, Starbucks debuted a variety of chocolates that showcase flavorful cacao and blend it with authentic Starbucks coffee, Tazo tea and other authentic coffeehouse flavors. The result is an inspired collection of chocolates with artistic shapes, flavors and aromas that are uniquely Starbucks. The collection includes: signature dark, mocha and milk chocolate bars and tasting squares; Tazo Chai, Passion and Citron tea-infused chocolate tasting squares; Caffè Mocha, Chai, Espresso, Caramel Macchiato and Madagascar Vanilla Bean Truffles; and Milk Chocolate Covered Caffè Verona® Coffee Beans. 

“Chocolate has always been a special part of the coffeehouse experience,” said Wendy Piñero, Vice President, Consumer Products, Starbucks Coffee Company. “We are excited to extend the Starbucks experience into the world of premium chocolates with the same passion and care as we do our specialty coffees.”

Watch for Starbucks Chocolate to debut three new truffle flavors for the upcoming holiday season—Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte and Eggnog Latte. More info at www.starbucks.com.

Green Tea Chocolates From KEIKO
KEIKO combines two popular pleasure foods—green tea and chocolate—and creates a memorable “hot" new product. KEIKO chocolate is a wonderful mix of the highest quality cocoa butter and green tea powder! The result is a beautiful celadon-colored chocolate with an unforgettable taste appeal. Not only does it contains the organic green tea powder but the crunchiness that comes from the actual tea leaves as well. Find out more at www.toptasteinternational.com.

 

 

Tea-Infused Chocolates From Dina Khader
Blend organic 74% dark chocolate with organic sencha green tea and get ready for a delectable treat—one that is mild, creamy and sure to delight chocolate and green tea lovers alike. Even the most refined palate will find pure delight in each bite.

Nationally recognized nutritionist Dina Khader has developed her own unique blend of dark chocolate crafted from 100% Certified Organic ingredients.  Since organic foods are grown without pesticides and chemicals, they are better for your health.  And because organic techniques promote sustainable farming methods, they're better for the planet as well.  Dina's Chocolate is also dairy-free and low-glycemic, which means you can get all the health benefits of chocolate with none of the guilt. www.dinakhader.com

Coffee-Infused Chocolate Indulges From Torn Ranch
What could be better than coffee-infused milk chocolates matched with delicious coffee flavor favorites including Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Raspberry and Irish Cream? These Indulges are perfect to eat alone or tossed into your coffee for a flavored mocha treat.  The set includes one canister of each flavor with nine pieces of chocolate inside. $20 at www.tornranch.com. Perfect for gift giving or as a sweet treat for yourself. The Chocolate Indulgences are also available in wine-infused or tea-infused varieties—you just can’t go wrong with any of them. For more information visit www.tornranch.com.


- Green Tea Beer -
Perfect for the Summer BBQ

The thought of drinking tea at a summer barbeque might not be your idea of refreshing. But what if the tea wasn’t hot? What if it wasn’t iced like traditional teas? What if it was uniquely brewed, handcrafted, crisp, cool, and totally satisfying? What if you learned that it didn’t come from a teapot at all?  What if it was in the form of a craft beer?

beerCraft brewers produce flavorful beers that combine classic European recipes with bold American innovation. “America’s small brewers are part of a movement, a shift in consciousness, and the trading up of what beer people drink,” stated Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association for America’s small brewers. This is definitely true of BluCreek Brewing.

Introduced in September 2006 by the award-winning BluCreek Brewery in Madison Wisconsin, the Zen IPA is an English-style Pale Ale created with a mouth-watering blend of fresh Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial hops infused with an invigorating all-natural green tea.

“With the success of our award-winning Blueberry Ale, we realized that craft beer drinkers were interested in a healthier alternative, and the health benefits of green tea are undisputed,”said Runi Hadiprajitno, Co-Owner of BluCreek Brewing. BluCreek found that beer drinkers, those who enjoyed the specialty beers (often referred to as microbrews), were interested in something that offered a benefit for the body in addition to great taste.  BluCreek had another hit with its green tea beer. 

The Wisconsin locals flocked to this new green tea brew, showing praise for BluCreek and their bold and creative concepts.  Local retailers and national chains like Whole Foods stood up, took notice, and have stocked the popular brews. 

The Zen green tea IPA “is a beer that transcends beyond anything you have ever experienced before, the smooth and subtle green tea aroma and taste perfectly compliment the refreshing crispness of an English IPA” said Hadiprajitno. “The result will satisfy those who are looking for something more mystical... magical...wonderful” she added. 

Distribution is limited but growing. For more information about the BluCreek Zen IPA (or their Blueberry Ale) visit www.blucreek.com.

For coffee lovers, try the coffee infused ale called Espresso Stout from Southampton Ales & Lagers (www.southamptonbrewery.com).

 

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- Used Tea Bags Lift Women -
From Poverty

The artists from Original T-Bag Designs live in an informal settlement located in Mandela Park, South Africa, just outside of Cape Town. Their homes are nothing more than bits of tin and wood nailed together and they have had no formal schooling. But what they do have is grit, imagination, talent, and a desire to make a better life for their families. Leading them on their self-improvement journey is Jill Heyes.

tbagAfter suffering a brain aneurysm at the age of 35, Jill Heyes, an art teacher was just lucky to be alive.  Not long after Jill’s struggle and recuperation, her husband’s job transferred him from England to South Africa. So, with her two small children in tow, the family was now on their way to a new life in a new country.

Driving through town on the way to her beautiful new home, Jill was shocked by the poverty she witnessed and was determined to do something to help. Thelma, a neighbor's maid, saw an opportunity for additional work when Jill and her family moved into the neighborhood.  Jill wanted to help Thelma, not by hiring her to clean, but by teaching her a craft to market and sell.  Thelma gathered five women and started meeting weekly with Jill at the community center.  The group started working with paper mache, moving on to potato printing, and finally, after three years, to creating crafts with used tea bags. Original T-Bag Designs was created!

tbagUsed tea bags come from individuals and groups from all around the world—most come from South Africa where drinking a cup of tea is a ritual that takes place about five times every day.  The bags are then dried in the African sun, emptied of their leaves and carefully ironed. Finally, each tea bag is painstakingly hand-painted with warm shades of bronze, gold, silver, and black—colors that celebrate African culture. 

Finally, the group gathers together to assemble the finished products to create greeting cards, notepads, journals, ornaments, candles, coasters, trinket boxes, and tea light holders. They'll make special designs by request, but ordinarily they just paint "what is in our heads". 

  tbag

One of the artisans, Nomsa, recently earned enough money from painting tea bags to move from an inadequate shack to a solid new house. Nomsa said, “The most wonderful thing in the world is hearing the rain on the roof and knowing that my children are warm and dry.”

tbag“Everyone earns a very good daily wage,” says Heyes. “We can see the difference in many of their lives as they begin to gain confidence and have pride in themselves.”

The original group of five artists now numbers 23 and supports 125 people. They still make the coasters and greeting cards but continue to expand their offerings. They recently finished a private commission for Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy. They hope to open an on-site teashop where tourists can visit while they paint; eventually, they plan for other craft groups to work at the location.

To learn more or to place an order, visit www.originaltbagdesigns.com.

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- Save The Date for 2009! -
4th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival: April 18-19, 2009


coffee and tea festivalMark your calendars and join us next year,
April 18-19, 2009 for the 4th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival: NYC!

For exhibitor information & booth reservations, contact lyndac@starfishjunction.com

www.coffeeandteafestival.com

 

 

2009 Exhibitor Info Now Available

 

 


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