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Monday, November 22, 2010

Keurig B60 Single K-cup Brewer

Ideal for entertaining, this 1500-watt appliance brews a fresh cup of gourmet coffee, tea, or cocoa in less than a minute. The unit uses patented K-Cups, which offer over 70 varieties of pre-measured gourmet coffee, tea, and cocoa from a variety of premium brands. Its patented one-touch technology provides precise control of brewing, and there's no messy grinding or clean up. Simply open the lid, insert a K-Cup, close the lid, and select a cup size. Three brew-size options include a 5-1/4-ounce robust cup, a 7-1/4-ounce regular cup, and a 9-1/4-ounce travel mug. For full control over brewing time and temperature, the unit allows for choosing from the standard brew temperature of 192 degrees F or a cooler 187 degrees F. In addition, the appliance comes equipped with a programmable bright-blue backlit LCD message center that displays a 24-hour digital clock and a programmable on/off timer. Other useful features include a descale indicator, a removable 48-ounce water reservoir, and a removable drip tray for quick cleanup. A complimentary 12 K-Cup variety pack is included. The single-cup brewing system measures 13-1/4 by 10 by 13 inches and carries a one-year limited warranty.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Buying Coffee

There are two basic species of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are commonly grown in altitudes above 3000ft and are a higher quality bean (more aromatic & flavorful) which are used in most specialty coffee shops. Robusta beans are grown below 2000ft and are more inferior and less expensive beans. They are most often used by large roasters in blends to significantly reduce the production cost. One exception for Robusta use is for creating espresso blends to draw more crema (Italians do this). This requires roaster expertise in the blending techniques. Robusta also has more caffeine content, almost twice that of Arabica. For premium home coffee purchases, we recommend purchasing Arabica coffee beans only.

The ideal time to buy the coffee is when it’s coming right out of the roaster (so you know when it was roasted!); but buying it within a few days of the roasted date is fine if packaged properly (i.e., air tight foiled-sealed bag with one-way check valve). The peak taste time for coffee is about 1 to 3 days after the roast (fresh roasted coffee beans need 12-24hrs to complete the degassing process from roasting. Maximum aroma is attained after degassing (1-2 days after the roast). If stored properly (see below) the coffee will last 7-10 days (ungrounded state). Old coffee will have no aroma and will even have a stale smell. So, buy just enough coffee to last approximately a week. Finally, we advise not to buy coffee grounded, as increased surface area contact to air quickly degenerates freshness of coffee (grounded coffee may last 2-3 days max). As a side note, 'vacuum' packed freshness is a marketing myth, as coffee must thoroughly complete the degassing process before it can be vacuum packed (i.e., it has past the tasting prime time). We highly recommend your purchasing a grinder and buy whole bean coffee, and grind each time as needed.


Contrary to popular practices, NEVER store your coffee in a freezer or a refrigerator. Coffee is like baking soda; It absorbs aromas from surrounding foods in your refrigerator (actually, you can use coffee to freshen your frig!). Freezing the coffee also alters oil properties and ultimately changes the final taste. We recommend storing your coffee beans immediately after initial opening in an "air-tight" container (canning jars work great), and keep it in a cool/dry and dark place (e.g., cabinet).


Grind just the right amount of coffee you plan to brew. Once the beans are ground, the coffee immediately begins the deterioration process and begin losing its flavor (For the best flavor, avoid using automatic 'timer' brewing machines that let coffee beans sit out overnight for the next morning's brew.). There are basically two types of grinders for home use: blade and burr. The most common is the blade type that basically spins a blade to crush the beans. These are inexpensive and generally fine for normal auto-drip use. Use it in an 'pulse' fashion where you spin for 2-3 seconds and then stop, repeating this 3-4 times. Most people mistake its use by letting it just spin for a prolonged period of time. This causes premature heating of the beans by the spinning blade and also the entire mass tends to spin around together defeating the grinding (crushing) process. The second type of grinder is a burr type, which actually 'grinds' beans between burr blades. We recommend these type grinders if you plan to use a Freedom press (known as French press) or a home espresso machine where you need a more 'consistent' and 'controlled' grind particle size.


The basic rule of thumb is that a brew/drip cycle should take 4-6 minutes with your coffee maker. If it's less than four minutes, grind your coffee finer. And if more than 6, coarser. As far as the amount of coffee, it is generally recommended to use 2 to 3 level tablespoons for each 6 to 8 ounces of water. It’s basically up to each individual to vary this proportion based on his/her liking. Remember, you can make a stronger brew and add hot water to make a weaker coffee without impacting the quality of coffee. Also, if you pour unused coffee immediately into a thermos, you can retain its freshness for another 1-2 hours. Never leave the coffee pot on the burner. Here are other grinding and brewing tidbits: The longer the water extraction time (e.g., > 6 min), the higher the caffeine content in your coffee, and also the bitterness. You can also substitute a metal screen filter (usually gold plated wire screen) instead of disposable paper types. This adds more body to coffee and often gives a more enjoyable coffee drinking experience.

Freedom (French) Press

This method is probably the best method to make the finest coffee 'at home.' In my opinion, the Americano is the best tasting coffee (the espresso machine method). Anyhow, same rule stated above applies here. The key is to have the coarser grind (larger than the screen size of the Press. Boil hot water (~190-200 deg F), pour desired amount of fresh ground coffee and mix. Let it sit for 4 to 6 minutes (I recommend 4 1/2 min.), plunge down the filter to separate the coffee particles, and serve. More tidbits ... you can make frothed milk with your Freedom Press. Heat a cup of milk (not to boil (~150/160deg F) or you will scald the milk). Pour the milk into the Freedom press and repeatedly plunge up and down for few minutes. The milk will expand and increase in volume by three or four times, creating beautiful frothed milk for cappuccinos and lattes!

Interesting Coffee Facts


- Coffee is the second largest world commodity only to oil.

- Brazil is the largest coffee producing country in the world (~1/3 of world's consumed coffee). Brazil + Colombia together produce ~45% of the world's consumption.

- Hawaii is the only state in the US which coffee is commercially grown (Kona)

- Until late 1800s, people roasted own coffee at home.

- There are about 45 mg of caffeine in a can of Coke; the average chocolate candy bar has 80mg; an average cup (8oz small cup) of coffee contains 184 mg. A single shot of espresso (1 oz) contains 90-150mg of caffeine (depending on blend type). So the saying goes... less caffeine in espresso vice a cup of coffee.

- Regular coffee drinkers have about 1/3 fewer asthma symptoms than noncoffee drinkers (Harvard Research on 20,000 people). How do you stop an asthma attack? - drink a cup of coffee (The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies).

- MIT research indicates a 30% increase in alertness after only 30mg of caffeine is consumed. Studies also say the body will absorb only 300 mg of caffeine at a given time. Milk coats the stomach lining slowing the absorption of caffeine.