Coffee and Tea Newsletter: February 2009
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Consumer Reports’Ground Coffee Tests Reveal Some of the Best Cost the Least

Eight O’Clock 100% Colombian coffee bests Folgers, Maxwell House, and Starbucks in recent Consumer Reports evaluation. The March 2009 issue (on newsstands now) includes an evaluation and clear winner in America’s best coffee taste test.

Eight O’Clock Coffee 100% Colombian at $6.28 per pound ranked number one in Consumer Reports’ tests of 19 ground coffees, besting Folgers, Maxwell House, and Starbucks— America’s best-selling ground coffees.

A CR Best Buy, Eight O’Clock costs less than half the price of Gloria Jean’s, Peet’s and other more expensive brands. CR’s coffee experts deemed it a complex blend of earthy and fruity, with a bright, pleasing sourness—a good thing in coffee parlance. Starbucks Coffee Colombia Medium, $11.53 per pound, didn’t place among the top regular coffees and trailed among decafs. While the Regular rated “Good,” testers noted it had flaws such as burnt and bitter flavors; though milk and sugar may help.

Following Eight O’Clock and also ranking “Very Good” were two Midwest brews: Caribou Coffee Colombia Timana, at $11.76 per pound, and Kickapoo Coffee Organic Colombia, at $14.33 per pound. Both had fruity aromas and beat an array of larger players among regular coffees. But both come at a hefty price.

Other trendy brands fared less well. Bucks County Coffee Co. Colombia, from Langhorne, Penn., tasted only OK, and Peet’s Coffee Colombia from Berkeley, Calif., was burnt and bitter, despite costing $14 per pound.

Among decafs, Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkin’ Decaf, $10.25 per pound, Millstone Decaf 100% Colombian Medium Roast, $11.59 per pound, and Folgers Gourmet Selections Lively Colombian Decaf Medium Roast were the frontrunners. But even the best decaffeinated coffees couldn’t match the best regular brews in CR’s taste tests.

“You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great cup of coffee, despite what some coffee snobs may tell you,” said Bob Markovich, home and yard editor, Consumer Reports. “Several of CR’s top coffees could save you $25 to $75 each year over pricier brands even if you just drank one 6-ounce cup a day.”

CR’s testers focused on 100% Colombian – a best selling bean – for regular coffee. Most of the six decaffeinated coffees tested are a blend of different beans. Testers consider a great cup of Colombian to have lots of aroma and flavor, some floral notes and fruitiness, a touch of bitterness, and enough body to provide a feeling of fullness in the mouth. Woody, papery, or burnt tastes are off-notes.

Weeks of sipping and swirling confirmed that even 100% Colombian coffee and its Juan Valdez logo don’t guarantee quality. CR’s testers unearthed other surprises: Chock Full o’Nuts and Maxwell House have pushed coffee that’s “heavenly” and “good to the last drop” since 1932 and 1907, respectively. But off-notes, little complexity, and for Chock full o’Nuts, variable quality, put both behind Eight O’Clock.

The full results of the coffee ratings are available in the March issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands now and online at


To celebrate Eight O’Clock Coffee’s 150th birthday, they are getting a packaging makeover and you can help choose it. Vote for your favorite new Eight O'Clock Coffee look and you’ll have a chance to win free groceries for a year! Plus, play for the chance to win one of over 150 instant prizes! The more often you vote, the more chances you get to win. Polls are open through March 15. Click here for details.



My Mother Loved Tea
How Ruth Bigelow Changed America’s Tea Culture

The year was 1946 and Americans were honing their entrepreneurial skills in order to take advantage of the booming post-war American economy. In her tiny New York City kitchen, Ruth Bigelow was experimenting with a tea recipe popular in the American South during colonial days. The historic mix called for black tea to be blended with orange peel and sweet spice. Ruth recreated the aromatic blend and offered a sample to a friend who in turn served it at a social occasion.

“Ruth, your tea caused nothing but constant comments,” the friend gladly reported. Mrs. Bigelow, searching for a name for her new brew, promptly deemed her creation “Constant Comment.” It was a defining moment in America’s long tea history and the genesis of one of America’s largest tea companies. Soon, tins of the new tea could be found on the shelves of Bloomingdales and Ruth’s story was featured in the New York Herald Tribune.

The Bigelow story is in many ways the quintessential American Dream. Ruth and David Bigelow enjoyed successful careers in the 1920s – she as an interior decorator in New York City and he in publishing. By the early forties, the couple decided to try something completely new – a business based in the food and spice industry. Starting with only a small office space, the Bigelow family began their business by packaging Asian seasonings for sale to businesses in Chinatown. The first few years were full of small successes and small failures. Using her wealth of business knowledge, her skills at designing, and her understanding of customer’s needs, Ruth persevered. The family’s tenacity began to pay off, and with the addition of Constant Comment, an American food and beverage icon was born.

David C. Bigelow, the son of Ruth and David Bigelow, chronicles his mother’s creative passion in the book My Mother Loved Tea. While working closely with his parents though the company’s early years, David acquired an understanding of the American tea industry and the contemporary tea drinker that is unequalled. His book is filled with recollections of the development of the Bigelow Tea Company – from its humble beginnings to today’s streamlined modern business with headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut.

R. C. Bigelow continues to expand their influence on America’s growing tea culture. The family-owned company stands alone in the American tea culture as the owner of the only commercial tea garden in America, The Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. The 127-acre garden attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year and produces a unique tea line packaged as American Classic Tea.

Readers will be fascinated by the great wealth of historical photographs and illustrations from the rich archives of the Bigelow Tea Company that fill the hardcover book. From family snapshots to early packaging designs and family tea recipes, the work will be a welcome addition to any tea library.

A highly recommended read—it would make a great gift too. 102 pages. Photos and illustrations. Published by Benjamin Press (2009). Available at


Jalima Coffee
Full of Flavor and Heart

When most of us think of a birthday celebration we think of a toast made with a glass of champagne or a glass of good red wine. Instead, in 2001 life-long friends Janet and Libe toasted their pal Marcela’s birthday with a brightly colored ceramic coffee mug filled with exotic Mexican coffee. Who knew that a birthday celebration on a trip to Mexico would change the lives of these three friends forever?

jalima coffeeUpon returning from the trip, the friends decided they wanted to share this incredible gift with others and soon dramatically changed their career paths. A business plan was developed and put into action (one of the partners cashed in her retirement savings to provide funding). They decided to launch a specialty coffee business, Jalima Coffee, to promote the most delicious coffee they had ever tasted and to support social and sustainable causes related to coffee and education.

“We operate in a fashion that highlights our commitment to the quality of our products, the quality of life for the people who produce them, and the quality of the environment where they are produced."

- Jalima's mission.

Respecting the environment and the coffee farmer, the Jalima beans come from certified organic and Rainforest Alliance growing fields. All the coffees are Fair trade from places where the air is pure and the clouds dip low enough to hug the beautiful exotic coffee landscapes. The soil at the coffee farms is rich, pure, and potent. The locations of the farms (called fincas) offer the perfect environment to grow an outstanding coffee bean—shade, humidity, volcanic ash, and high altitude. There are no pesticides or pollutants to make the coffee bitter and the fragrant fruit trees flourishing on the fincas not only add to the richness of the coffee, but keep the ecosystem flourishing by providing a home to migratory birds.

Jalima Coffee is hand picked and hand sorted using ancestral techniques passed down from generation to generation and all Jalima coffees are roasted in small batches to ensure superb quality. The Jalima ladies also believe in giving back—they support both ecological and social projects in the USA and Mexico. Jalima makes three types of specialty coffees, each with a slightly different flavor, in medium and espresso roast as well as a decaffeinated coffee.

Jalima USDA Certified Organic Coffee— the body of this coffee is well rounded. It has an intriguing complex aroma that, combined with its sweet taste and clean finish, lingers and creates a desire for more. Jalima Organic is assertive at first, with nut and spice overtones.

Jalima 100% Arabica Specialty Coffee Private Blend - because of its delicate texture and aroma, it is considered a Gourmet type of coffee. Its body is light and has a fine and accentuated acidity. This coffee is extremely aromatic and carries a smooth citrus fragrance. Also available in decaf, this smooth, delicate gourmet coffee delivers the full coffee flavor without the caffeine.

Jalima Rainforest Alliance Coffee Blend – This type of coffee has a clean fresh taste, and edgy acidity. Jalima Rainforest Alliance coffee is strong aromatic and flavorful even in a medium roast. This coffee leaves the consumer breathless and begging for more.

The story of this company’s evolution is as wonderful and satisfying as the coffee they produce. Jalima Coffee was selected in 2006 as one of Rachel Ray’s“faves” in her holiday gift guide.

Delicious Jalima Coffee can be purchased at, Zabar’s, Garden of Eden (NYC), D’amico Foods (Brooklyn) or at the Moravian Book Shop (Bethlehem, PA). It is also available at 20 Whole Foods Markets in the Mid Atlantic region of the US and at

Come sample Jalima Coffee at the Coffee & Tea Festival: NYC. April 18-19, 2009. Marcela Zuchovicki, one of the most respected women in the coffee business and one of the founders of Jalima Coffee, will be leading an interactive coffee cupping at the 4th Annual Coffee And Tea Festival. Check the festival website for details.


Deliciously Dunkable And Gluten-Free
Shortbreads from BISCOTTEA™

BISCOTTEA's popular line of tea-flavored, Scottish-style shortbreads has expanded to include three flavorful gluten-free varieties—Chai, Blueberry with Organic White Tea, and Earl Grey with Organic Darjeeling Tea. Introduced to market at the recent Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the positive feedback continues to swell. The delicious, new, gluten-free shortbread cookies were selected as "Top Pick of the Week" by the editors of The Nibble, who called them "a real find for anyone in need of a gluten-free treat".

The gluten-free varieties join BISCOTTEA’s existing highly praised line-up, including Mint, Chai, Honeybush, Earl Grey, and the popular Blueberry. Click here to see BISCOTTEA owner, Laurance Milner, and his BISCOTTEA cookies on the Food Network hit show Unwrapped.

The decision to launch a gluten-free line came from co-owner Nicci Milner's work with autistic children. "It was evident in my work with kids with autism that they show great progress when they are on a gluten-free diet. The increasing number of children with celiac disease needing gluten-free diets motivated us to develop sophisticated gluten-free shortbreads that replicate the crunchy mouth-feel and rich flavors of our wheat-based BISCOTTEA," said Ms. Milner. The new line of gluten-free cookies provides safe, delicious treats to a growing population of people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Each batch is tested for gluten by an independent testing agency, and BISCOTTEA reports that its gluten-free shortbreads have less than four parts per million of gluten. A portion of each sale will benefit autism research.

Seattle-based BISCOTTEA has experienced rapid growth since opening 16 months ago thanks to the uniqueness of their product. BISCOTTEA cookies are baked with organic and all-natural ingredients and combines the richness of a traditional Scottish shortbread recipe with the health attributes of the teas. The new gluten-free varieties are sure to follow in the success of the predecessors. For more information about these deliciously dunkable delights, visit


Tall Skinny Latte Leads to Love
Full of Flavor and Heart

On March 8, 2008, Laura Strain ventured into her local Starbucks and left with a tall skinny vanilla latte and the man of her dreams.

It was on her very first trip to her local North Carolina Starbucks that Ms. Strain met Allan Tortorice, quite by accident. You see, after processing the extensive menu of coffee choices and getting a recommendation from the barista on duty, Laura, turning away from the counter, crashed into the well-dressed Mr. Tortorice, spilling coffee all over his shirt.

Mr. Tortorice, who, oddly enough doesn’t even drink coffee, had stopped in that day for a piece of coffee cake to satisfy his self-reported sweet tooth.

After apologies and a quick clean up, the hot and steamy year-long romance began. The couple married earlier this month, on Valentine’s Day, at the Cary, NC branch of the coffee mega-chain. One might say that Allan Tortorice left that fateful day with the sweetest thing in Starbucks.


RITI Printer Uses Your Coffee Grounds For Eco Ink

One of fifty top entries in this year’s Greener Gadgets Competition, the RITI printer takes the leftover grounds from your morning coffee or tea and plugs them into an ink cartridge to create an eco-friendly source of ink.

The RITI printer is an eco-friendly printer based on the concept of a new ink system. Jeon Hwan Ju (Korea) focused his contest entry on the ink cartridge since it is one of the problems when using a printer: it's often difficult to replace, costly to refill, and can stain your hands if mishandled.

The RITI printer uses coffee or tea dregs. The user places the coffee or tea dregs into the ink case located on the top of the printer, then insert a piece of paper in the middle. Moving the ink case left and right will print your image, and as you draw on the paper, dregs print on the paper just like ink.

The winners of the Greener Gadgets Design Competition will be announced later this month at a special event at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York City.

Open to the Public and the Trade
4th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival: April 18-19, 2009

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For exhibitor information & booth reservations, contact


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