Saturday, June 14, 2014

House BlAnd - Cold Brew Test 2

Get it? House BlAnd, instead of House BlEnd?

Yes, my second cold brew test consisted of a medium roast, house-blend coffee. Same guidelines were followed for creating the cold and hot brew coffees.

Generally speaking, I'm a dark roast lover. I tend not to like acidic, fruity, bright notes in coffee. BUT, this test was a surprise. Expecting to love the medium roast cold brew lacking the acidic side turned out to be disappointing. Instead, the coffee went flat. The best way to explain it is in the hot brew, the flavor was multidimensional. It had a voluminous body with curves, and crevices to explore on the tongue.

Cold brew on the other hand was lack luster. The cold brew was two-dimensional. The acidity didn't get pull out of the beans, which left a straight, simple, tired flavor. Won't do it again with this house-blend.

The unexpected results have left me with no option except to keep testing! If you are doing tests of your own, I want to here about it! Want to test, but need some direction? Check out the link for cold brew at the top of the post, and check this link out for info on cupping. (No, I'm not cupping for these very serious tests, but the characteristics are a good guide when testing!)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cold Brew vs. Hot Brew: Test 1

I used an espresso roast for the first official brew-off. Yes, brew-off is an official term, I'm sure of it. 

As guided by many self-proclaimed know-it-all sites on how to make cold-brew coffee, I course ground the espresso roast, dumped it into a ball jar and filled it with cold water. Then I left it on the counter to do its thing for the next 24 hours. That's correct. I did not put it in the fridge, as all the real sites directed me to leave it at room temperature whilst the magic happened. But, I did make sure to place it on the counter away from anything that gets hot. Occasionally I would do a little flip-to-do to the jar to stir it up, but nothing aggressive, nor with any methodical precision. This is my experiment, after all, and I have some guidelines. 

After 24 hours of excruciating wait time (I actually completely forgot about it because it was so beautiful outside) I plunged the cold concoction in a French press to make sure there were no floating grounds about. Yes, most of the grounds sink to the bottom, but I didn't want chunks swaying the judges!

The normal French press used water at ~200 degrees, and I let the water sit in the grounds for 4-5 minutes before plunging. 

Ok. Drum roll please! ... ... ... 

Yes, they did taste different. The cold brew was nuttier, hints of chocolate notes shone like never before, and it was smooth. 

The hot brew's acidity drowned out the rich notes tasted in the cold brew. 

So, there you have it. Cold brew won. BUT, the experiment is not over. Because like any good scientist (clearly I am), there needs to be many trials, more tasters and different roasts. You may be surprised with tomorrow's results! 

Happy drinking everyone!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cold vs. Hot Brewed Coffee

What's the big D?

Cold press coffee is becoming the next trendy thing, at least in the Burlington area, where college students are impressionable, hipsters constantly need to be trendy, women wearing tights and yoga pants need to pay too much for anything, and well...I suppose many of us don't know what's really going on out there!

When a three friends in the same week asked if I had heard about, and tried cold pressed coffee, I knew the trend was hear in full force. And I needed to see what the big deal was. In my world, this doesn't mean going to every coffee shop and polling whether or not cold press in on their menu. It means doing some web searching and heading to my kitchen. 

This week I'm conducting taste test comparisons between cold and hot brewed coffee. I use the same coffee beans, same proportions, let the cold press brew on my counter for 18-24 hours. Stay tuned to find out my results. Cause really, what's the big D?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hotel Romantic Santo Domingo - Izamal, Mexico

The highlight of our trip: Hotel Romantic Santo Domingo, Izamal, Mexico. Yes, the name is a bit much, but all the details were just right.

It was a ten minute walk to downtown, which really means your ten minutes from about everything in Izamal...the yellow city of Yucatan. There are goats and space and dogs. There's a pool, a common area with wifi under a palapa where you can order drinks. And the two prize winners for us: the garden shower in our room and the unbelievable breakfasts. Oh, and the owners were phenomenal too, despite the slow season. They were there to answer questions, give insider suggestions and advice, tell stories, and they also gave us plenty of privacy.

The hall leading to our room. The rooms are converted horse stalls from the old days of being a hacienda. 

Our room. Original, locally made metal work. Music and an iPod station, AC, windows...

Bathroom off the bedroom. Sun lights, and a separate room with the toilet (a must). 
Three steps down from the sink part of the bathroom, you have the garden bathroom. 
Stone floor and walls, shelves build into the walls and plants all around. 
Oh, and don't forget the open air roof to the bathroom. Good for the plants and good for you too!
The common area palapa. Pool in back with upper deck for sunning/hammacking and watching stars at night. Bar to the right (out of photo). 

But really, for us what made this place a gem was the breakfast. You could choose your time, and it was all home-made and fresh. Really fresh. And, last, but certainly a huge win, was the amazing coffee. Nicely done Romantic Hotel Santo Domingo!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trying to remember...

I seemed to have lost my voice and my way in the world. Anyone have any suggestions on how to regain it??

An excerpt from The Asian Quest blog when I had my voice: 

I have my friends and family to thank for pulling me out of my pathetic, privileged, depression and over-introspection of the meaning of MY life while creating space for this new normalcy.  It took seven weeks of an internal quarrel to realize that asking the meaning of MY life was not the right question. It was the egocentric question that we are taught to ask. Pray about. Teach about. Preach about. Read about. Talk about. Slit wrists over, starve over, get high over, binge over. It is a selfish, lonely question. Pulling the camera out of my bag that day and leaving it on the bed gave me nothing to hide behind. Nothing to create a wall. Nothing to make me different. All of the sudden, I could see the whole picture, and although I still didn’t have the answers, somehow I know knew the question to ask was "what is the meaning of life?"  Exclusive turned inclusive. Answers were right in front of my. Every day. Every night. Every moment. Changing the question meant that I could share laughs, and smiles, and love and tenderness with strangers. I became a character in the photos. I became part of the memories and stories. I found new places and talked to travelers from around the world. I got drunk on Chilean wine on the roof of a Swiss hotel in Cambodia while learning and relearning and learning, yet again, how to attempt to say one word in Khmer from the female bartender “សន្តិភាព,” which means peace.  At the market, my green eyes met the soulful brown eyes of the woman selling fish…and she laughed with me. I ate sour beans dipped in msg with the young, pregnant manager of Jed’s Bar. And finally, we could recognize our exotic differences and obvious similarities. And we could laugh at them all. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Coffee, Oh My!

I have a love-hate relationship with Coffee. I write it with a capital "C" because I respect it immensely. While in Yucatan, we eagerly awaited the thick, delicious Mexican delight...knowing deep down that there was a very good possibility we would get instant. Most specially Nescafe.
You have understand that I had just been clean off coffee for the last three months. It was mandated by my doctor after having dizzy spells and numbness and...and...I'm one of those people with quite active metabolisms that don't mix well with Coffee. But when I'm tired and the smell lingers into my nostrils  there are many times that I can't resist the intriguing bean.
Truth - my favorite coffee to date locally is Vermont Coffee Company Dark Roast. Huge shout out to them!
But back to our Mexico adventures...or lack-there-of.
Our first two days we spend at Hotel Oka'an (more to come later). The first day's coffee was watery and bland. I would have preferred to instant coffee. The second day it was slightly stronger, but still quite watery. To me a truly good cup of coffee doesn't need cream or sugar. The coffee at Hotel Oka'an needed both...
And then, at last, we found some of the most delicious coffee I have ever experienced in my life at Hotel Romantico Santo Domingo. 
Thank you Harald!!! You made our vacation in many ways!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Beans

First, I want to thank my mom for cooking and teaching us to cook growing up.
Second, I want to thank my significant other who loves to cook and when I think we have nothing in the house, he can whip up a delicious, healthy dinner in a half hour. He’s a creative genius in the kitchen.
Lastly, I want to thank a good friend of mine that always offers breakfast burritos to me on mornings when we hike.
Food really is quite amazing. And culture around food is fascinating.
Now, I am anything but a foody. When asked the question: Would you rather watch an amazing sunset or eat a delicious meal?” I will always hands-down choose to watch a sunset. This is somewhat fascinating to me since I have a fast metabolism and when I don’t eat I literally stop functioning. Some people very close to me even might say I get nasty and short and illogical. I would have to agree with them (him).
But today, I really want to share the gratitude I have for black beans. Yes, that’s right, that’s what I said. Black beans. The more you eat, the more you toot. Those ones.
Why black beans, you might ask?
We recently got back from a short trip to Yucatan, Mexico, where we ate black beans at almost every meal. Generally they are smashed – served thicker with breakfast, and thinned out for dipping chips for the starter of lunch and dinner. (Yes, there is a story where I had 12 meals in a row with only black beans, eggs and tortillas and had major digestive issues…I was living with a Guatemalan family at the time. That’s another story completely!)
They are delicious, easy, a protein + fiber and a healthy carb.
When I eat black beans at home (rather than in Latin America), I generally eat them for a special weekend breakfast, like I did this morning. Saute onions and garlic, then dump in beans with at least half of their own juices. Cook while stirring and smashing along the way. To add some complexity, I like to add chili powder, paprika, and turmeric. If you want to start with the dried beans, here’s a great recipe from the New York Times.
If you haven’t had some black beans lately, grab a can or a bag and enjoy the delightful legume!