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A Gourmet Coffee Club Membership – What Are the Benefits?

Membership in a gourmet coffee club offers many benefits so discerning coffee drinkers can always have their favorite coffees on hand to brew and enjoy such as:

  • Large selection of specialty coffees from around the world to make coffee drinking a daily sensory experience
  • Freshly roasted to order with a choice of whole bean or ground coffee
  • Reduced costs from on line ordering without having to commute to buy ageing coffee on the shelves
  • Flexibility to make changes, special requests, hold shipments, send gifts, etc.

Gourmet coffee club membership appeals to coffee lovers who want more than the “premium” coffee choices available in the supermarket aisle or at the coffee house or specialty store. Specialty gourmet coffee clubs are very accepted and represent a growing segment of the trade. Let’s review some basics about these clubs and why you should consider joining one.

Specialty coffee is the term given to the top fifteen to twenty per cent in quality of Arabica coffee grown and harvested from select regions worldwide. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with “gourmet” or “premium” coffee. However, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, “...specialty coffee refers to coffees made from exceptional beans grown only in ideal coffee-producing climates. They tend to feature distinctive flavors, which are shaped by the unique characteristics of the soil that produces them.”

Many specialty coffee growing countries have associations of growers, companies, and agencies who deal with enhancements for cultivating, exporting, and marketing coffee. Such associations also lead efforts for rural community development (infrastructure, medical, and education), and for working in harmony with the environment. The 560,000 independent coffee grower members of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC) is an excellent example.

Nearly all, if not all, specialty gourmet coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans grown at higher altitudes. Select specialty coffee beans are roasted to perfection. The specialty coffee roast master knows the correct degree to roast the different types of beans to bring out their unique characteristics. These freshly roasted coffee beans are immediately packed and shipped to the customer to brew and enjoy.

Gourmet coffee is always prepared with select specialty coffee beans roasted fresh when ordered. The whole beans then are ground to the correct fineness or coarseness for the brewing method used, and brewed with fresh cold water heated to the correct temperature. Gourmet flavored coffees require one additional process before packing can take place.

One of the benefits of a coffee club membership is that top quality specialty coffee beans are roasted fresh after you order them on line. They are packed and shipped the same day they are roasted. Coffee clubs that feature the process of using only hot air to roast the dried, raw (or “green”) coffee beans deliver great coffee each time. The reason is this roasting method, known as convection roasting™, yields uniformly roasted beans for each batch. Master roasters are part scientist and part artist who know the appropriate amount of time to attain the desired roast level to bring out the best characteristics for that varietal or blend. The result, the club member can get the perfect cup of coffee every time.

Gourmet coffee club membership also offers such benefits as:

  • Having the coffee sent automatically each month at the time of month the member chooses
  • Ease of use – no need to enter the order information each time unless making a change
  • Convenience of having your own gourmet coffee when you want it, no more trips to the coffee house or waiting in line for the morning “premium” coffee
  • Cost savings of brewing your own gourmet coffee for about twenty-five cents per cup
  • Information on the best way to grind the coffee for the method used to prepare it
  • The recommended way to store the opened bag of roasted coffee to keep it fresh to completion.

For instance, whole bean Espresso blends should be ground to the powder-like fineness of espresso grind for preparing with an espresso machine. Conventional brewing methods yield great tasting coffee with the medium-fine grind known as automatic drip grind, while coffee prepared with a coffee press (French press) should use the coarsest grind for best results. To keep the coffee beans fresh once the bag is opened, simply press out the air while folding the bag over as many times as needed and secure with a strip of tape (packing or freezer tape). Then, place the bag in an airtight container (a freezer bag will do, if no container is available) and store at normal room temperature until the next time to brew your gourmet coffee.

Each gourmet coffee club member can tell you about other benefits to be enjoyed from the club membership. Those mentioned here should give you the motivation to find a gourmet coffee club and start enjoying your favorite gourmet coffees, freshly roasted and immediately shipped, at your convenience.

It is best to brew coffee using freshly roasted beans. Ideally speaking, use up your beans within a few weeks from receipt and get ready for your next coffee club membership shipment. You could literally look at a wall calendar and plan to drink coffee from Brazil, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Mexico, Java, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Kenya, and Celebes, for example, throughout the year. As a family, you could plan group activities to review basic geography, cultural traditions, music and travel information about each of the coffee producing countries. Who knows, you may really like one and decide to plan a fun vacation to that destination?

So, ready to enjoy a cup of Altura Superior specialty coffee from Mexico?

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Quick and Easy Lunches for the Cooking Challenged

Let’s face it, cooking is not a top priority in the lives of every man, woman, or child on the planet. In fact, far too people have made learning to cook a priority in their lives. This means that we often exist on convenience foods and boxed mixes rather than taking the effort to prepare healthy meals for our families and our own personal enjoyment.

The same holds true for lunches when we often resort to a can of soup or box of macaroni and cheese or some other such product rather than putting our creative efforts into making a quick and easy yet delicious lunch. You will see many ideas in this article and the hope is that these ideas will not only get you off to a great start for ending the lunch rut we all seem to find ourselves in at some time or another but also to try new things on your own.

First of all, not all great lunches require actual cooking in order to prepare. Some of them will require the use of the microwave and some of them will need to be cooked or at least prepared before hand and reheated. The choices are virtually limitless once you understand the creative concept that must be in place. You should also find that many of these ideas are so simple you will wonder why on earth you have never thought of them. I certainly hope that some of these ideas will become main features within your own home.

Lettuce wraps. These mike delightfully delicious lunch treats and the filling can be prepared ahead of time, which leaves only reheating the filling and wrapping when you’re ready to eat. This is a fun lunch to share with your little ones and it teaches them that lettuce is much more versatile than people often give it credit for being. Some people choose to go with a teriyaki inspired filling; my family likes taco inspired fillings for our lettuce rolls. You are perfectly free to come up with a favorite filling of your very own.

Try sandwiches with different breads. Believe it or not, my children love trying new things. It’s a rare trait for which I am extremely grateful. Believe me I understand all too well how fortunate I am. My youngest however, has a little difficulty with thick or crusty bread. Her favorite sandwich choice has become Hawaiian sweet rolls. We put the meat, cheese, mustard, and pickle in her roll as if it were a bun and she’s thrilled. Other great ideas include hollowing out crusty rolls and filling them with roast beef and cheddar. You can broil this in your oven for a few minutes for a rare sandwich treat. The cooking part is very minimal and you do not have to have in depth knowledge of anything to prepare or enjoy these simple treats. Other great bread ideas include croissants with ham and cheese or chicken salad, taco pitas (another great favorite in our household), and paninis (this works really well if you have a George Foreman grill or a panini press).

While this is by no means the end all be all guide to cooking quick and easy lunches it is good food for thought. The hope is that this will get your own creative juices flowing so that you can prepare wonderful lunches for your family without needing to do too terribly much heavy cooking in the process.

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Physical Fitness and You

Physical fitness is to the human body what fine-tuning is to an engine. It is not a race, it’s a pursuit. In its most general meaning, physical fitness is a general state of good physical health. It is a foundation for a long and successful life. (more…)

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Get the Best Tasting Coffee

When you want to get the best of your coffee then you should know about the different blends of coffee. You should also understand about acidity, aroma, bitterness, and nuttiness. Knowing these differences will make a big difference about how you pick your coffee.

There are many different types of coffee from all over the world. Coffee tastes differently from each of the different countries. Some of the most well known coffees are from Columbia, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauna Loa, Europe, and Italy. (more…)

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Coffee Facts – The Different Types of Coffee Beans

All over the world, people drink coffee from basically one of two types of coffee beans: Arabica beans (“Coffea Arabica”) and Robusta beans are aromatic, flavorful coffee beans used for gourmet, specialty coffees. The term refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species named for the genus responsible for about 75% of the world’s commercial coffee crop. Coffea Arabica is a woody perennial evergreen that belongs to same family as Gardenias.

Robusta beans contain twice the caffeine as Arabicas. Robusta beans are somewhat bitter and lack the flavor and aroma of Arabica beans. Robusta beans are used to produce blends, instant and freeze dried coffees.

There are other types of coffee species but they are very rare or non-existent in the export market. As a result, the fact is that we all drink either Arabica or Robusta coffee. Sounds simple, right? Not quite.

There are many “varietals” within Arabica coffee trees which yield coffee beans with distinct flavors and characteristics. This is where the fun begins. To name a few,

ETHIOPIAN COFFEE: Ethiopian Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. Each is named after their region of origin and they have very distinct flavor characteristics. For example, Ethiopian Harrar is known for its medium body, earthy flavor, almost no acidity and a very smooth mouth feel. This is a complex coffee with light spicy tones and a fruity flavor that some people compare to the taste of dry red wine. As the ‘birthplace of coffee,” Ethiopia has a unique place in the coffee world.

KENYAN COFFEE: Kenyan AA. This coffee comes from the area surrounding Mount Kenya, a region with fertile red volcanic soil. The coffee is known for its very acidic taste you taste right away in the mouth, and then followed by a medium body with an aftertaste of earthy flavor.

TANZANIAN COFFEE: Tanzanian Peaberry focuses on pea berry instead of traditional coffee beans. Coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree. Each fruit has two seeds facing each other. On the coffee tree, there is a percentage of the fruit that has a single seed or peaberry and the rest will have two flat beans for the usual two (2) seeds per fruit. The single bean peaberry occurs in less than 5% of any crop and is generally considered to produce a more concentrated flavor.

COLOMBIAN COFFEE: major cultivars of Arabica beans include Bourbon, Caturra, Maragogype and Typica. Colombian coffees also include the name of the growing regions such as Cauca, Nariño, Amazonas, Bucaramanga, etc. Colombia accounts for more than a tenth of the world’s entire coffee supply. Colombian Arabica coffee is perhaps the most well-known, partly due to its “living” and successful coffee advertising iconic symbols recognized worldwide, Juan Valdez and Conchita, the mule. The more generic Colombian coffees are rated as Excelso and Supremo. These terms simply refer to the size of the coffee beans, not necessarily to better coffee grades.

COSTA RICAN COFFEE: Costa Rican Tarrazu is a prized Arabica coffee. It is named after the San Marcos de Tarrazu valley, one of the four premium coffee growing districts surrounding the capital city of San Jose. The other varietals include Tres Rios, Heredia and Alajuela. Costa Rican coffees are balanced, clean, with bright acidity featuring citrus or berry-like flavors and hints of chocolate and spice in the finish.

BRAZILIAN COFFEE: Brazil Santos Bourbon comes from the hills of Sào Paulo state in the south-central portion of the country near the port of Santos. Historically, these Arabica coffee plants were brought to the island of Bourbon now known as the Island of Reunion. Brazil Santos Bourbon is a light bodied coffee, with low acidity, a pleasing aroma and a mild, smooth flavor.

INDONESIAN COFFEE: Java is the most famous Arabica varietal from the island of Java. The top grade of Java coffee is cultivated on former Dutch plantations and is called Java Estate. This is a clean, thick, full body coffee with less of the earthy characteristics that other Indonesia coffees feature, such as Sumatra or Sulawesi. The Java coffees provide a smooth complement to the Yemen Mocha which is very intense. The traditional Mocha Java blend is the combination of Java and Yemen Mocha.

SUMATRAN COFFEE: Sumatra Mandheling and Sumatra Lintong. Sumatra Lintong originates in the Lintong district of Sumatra near Lake Toba. This coffee has a medium, bodied coffee, low acid, sweet with a complex and earthy aroma. Sumatra Mandheling has a rich, heavy body, subdued acidity and unique complex flavor. This coffee actually does not originate in the Mandheling region but is named after the Mandailing people in the north of Sumatra.

HAWAIIAN COFFEE: closer to home, in Hawaii, the best known Arabica varietal is Hawaiian Kona coffee. This Arabica bean grows on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa which makes it not only exclusive to Hawaii but also to the Kona District specifically.

JAMAICAN COFFEE: the Arabica varietal that grows predominantly in the Blue Mountain region of this island is called Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The Blue Mountains stretch between Kingston and Port Maria in Jamaica. This region enjoys a cool and misty climate. Due to its limited production quantity, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is expensive.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA COFFEE: located just north of Australia, Papua New Guinea coffee cultivation was started in 1937 using imported seeds from Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain region. As a result, Papua New Guinea has noticeable similarities to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The rich volcanic soil and excellent climate produce a mild and mellow, full-bodied coffee with moderate acidity, broad flavor and very interesting aromatics.

Is this all? No, there are many more varietals, brands, and special flavors of Arabica coffee to try and discover.

For now, what about a cup of Ethiopian Harrar or Papua New Guinea coffee?

Solazyme

Your Guide to Fitness

Fitness is something our culture knows about, but doesn’t activity participate in. Our lifestyles contain too much fast food and not enough exercise. Fitness is essential for your well being and overall health. It can make you age slower and live longer. Fitness keeps the blood pumping in your body and your heart healthy. Those who participate in fitness activities for at least 30 minutes each day significantly reduce their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. (more…)

Solazyme

Choosing a Personal Fitness and Nutrition

A personal fitness and nutrition trainer can help you enter a race where there’s no engraved cup or money award at the finish line. Unlike the Thoroughbreds racing at the local park, you will be running for your very life instead. Fitness and nutrition are the keys to a quality long life.

Racing for Fitness

Almost 60% of people in the United States are overweight or obese. The consequences of having too much fat on your body can be severe. Obesity is a major cause of many serious illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and even certain forms of cancer. (more…)

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Sahara Desert Tips and Restaurants

The Sahara is considered as the largest and hottest desert situated in Northern Africa. Many restaurants located near the Sahara offer different specialties that would range from the meat of lamb, chicken or even a mixture of other delicacies. They also love to eat vegetables. They even prepare salads, in form of tuna and vegetables.

Most fine dining restaurants from all parts of the world serve a dish influenced by North African recipes. The restaurants along the Sahara desert offer their best in culinary cuisine. The unique flavors come with the unique way of preparing it. The way they cook in these regions, until after the preparation of foods on the plate are similar to contemporary catering.

Customers always leave the dining areas very satisfied and fulfilled. Some tourists who visit the Sahara also go to fine restaurants nearby or near their hotels in order to experience that extraordinary African cuisine. In fact, they are more recognized for the quality and great tasting sauces as well as the mixture of spices they put in every dish.

There are also numerous restaurants along the Sahara that serve seafood. Most of these restaurants are still influenced by the culinary masterpieces of a North African chef.

Tips while Traveling to the Sahara
People may find restaurants near the Sahara either through tour guides or by looking at a travel guide book. As a general rule, if you are not familiar with the places around or even within the desert, it is best to hire a tour guide or a local who can take you to the places of interest near and within the area. Aside from the dialect, a guide can help you get the best lodging accommodations and they can take you to the most popular dining spots. They can also translate words or conversations you find very difficult to understand.

When you leave your hotel, make sure that you keep all the important documents in a safe place. Make sure that you have photocopies of these important documents and you have left copies at home.

Make sure you also bring some loose change when you tour the area. Never bring lots of money when you leave the hotel but don’t just leave your money inside the hotel. It is wise to check in a hotel that has a safety deposit box where you can put your valuables.

Although it is practical to check in to cheap hotels, it is best to inspect the hotel. If you think it is not a safe place to stay in or your valuables are at risk, then it is better to go with a hotel that you are familiar with. You’ll never go wrong with a rated hotel.

Sahara Restaurants
There is a restaurant near a fuel station along the Western section of the Sahara, between Guergarat and El Dakla. They have a great selection of foods. They also have an autogril and a rest shop. This fuel station restaurant offers breakfast, lunch or even snacks. It is not that expensive since a meal will only cost you $10 USD.

Another stop-by restaurant is found along the south section of El Dakla. It is located near a fuel station. They serve delicious omelets, breads and yogurts. They have a cafeteria that serves a very popular type of mint tea. You can spend less than $10 USD by visiting this restaurant called brunch en route.

Lastly, there is a resto-bar that lies within the western section of the Sahara. They serve food and drinks. You can experience fine dining dinner or you can just stop by to have a couple of wines and liquors. Their menu includes dishes like Chicken Tanjine and many other great tasting recipes. They also have the best cold drinks and mixes. This is located along the north section of the Mauntritrian Border. It is called the Bar Restaurant Barbas. They accept all major credit cards as well.

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In Search of the Best Coffee Makers

Coffee may be the most popular beverage in the world. Recent statistics indicate that over 50% of the American population are coffee drinkers and this number would more than likely hold true in many other countries as well. This more than any thing else helps to explain why there is such a wide range of coffee makers available for purchase today.

With such a diverse range of coffee machines, there is more choice for the coffee drinking public than ever before. Main stream popular styles include the Automatic and Manual Drip, Pod, Automatic Espresso, French Press, Percolator, Stovetop Espresso and the Vacuum. Each one of these styles has some unique characteristic that are sure to appeal to a certain segment of the coffee drinking public.

Automatic and Manual Drip Coffee Machines

The most popular style of coffee maker continues to be the automatic drip coffee maker. The basic design is very simple and efficient. Add fresh water to the built-in reservoir, insert a filter in to the handy filter holder, measure your favorite coffee grounds and pour into the filter and then press the start button. Within minutes your senses are excited by the smell of freshly brewed hot coffee! Most models also have a built-in timer and a pot warmer included so that you can set your coffee to brew and be ready at any hour of the day or night, and kept constantly warm as well.

Manual drip coffee brewers do take a bit more work since you need to boil the water using another heat source, but after that it is basically the same coffee making process of putting coffee grounds in the filter and pouring the hot water through the filter so that the coffee liquid is collected in the pot or container below. One great advantage of the manual drip coffee machine is that is can go most any where with you as it is not dependent upon having electricity to operate so it is great for camping and other outdoor activities.

Pod Coffee Machines

These are becoming very trendy and popular in recent years. Working similar to the automatic drip machines, they feature the ability to use pre-packaged containers or pods of specialty coffees to brew great tasting coffee. With many reputable coffee chains such as Starbucks now selling their most popular coffee blends in the pod format, consumers can get the same tasting cup of specialty coffee at home that they had to go out and purchase before at a much higher price.

Automatic Espresso Coffee Brewer

Espresso coffee makers have become much more affordable in recent years and because of this, they are gaining in popularity amongst serious coffee drinkers wanting something more than just a normal cup of coffee. There are currently three types of espresso coffee brewers to choose from, namely semi automatic, fully automatic, and super automatic. As a rule, the more automatic the espresso maker is, the less you need to do to brew your coffee, but unfortunately the more expensive it is to purchase. For example, where a semi-automatic model will tamp the coffee grounds, brew the coffee, fill your cup and eject the old grounds, an entirely automatic model will also grind the coffee for you as well, and the super automatic espresso coffee maker will do all of the above plus having additional features such as built-in water filters and self-cleaning.

Stovetop Espresso Coffee Maker

The stovetop espresso coffee brewers are basically a manual method for preparing espresso coffee when you do not have access to an automatic version or an electrical source of energy. This makes it an ideal coffee maker for taking outdoors on camping or fishing trips if you feel the need to make an espresso cup of coffee. First water is placed inside the underside boiler and then a cone filter is situated inside the boiler and filled with coffee grounds. Next the top is lightly tightened and the brewer is place over the heat source. After a few minutes, once the top of the boiler is filled with the freshly brewed coffee it is removed from the heat supply and the coffee is ready to be served. Here again, the absence of any warming feature means the coffee has to be served immediately.

French Press Coffee Maker

Also known as “press pots” or “plunger pots”, the French Press coffee makers are not as common as they once were. Preparing coffee is more work than it would be using any of the coffee makers already discussed as it is a manual coffee machine. The pot is actually a glass or porcelain tube consisted of a stainless, mesh plunger that acts like a filter. To make the coffee you must first measure the coffee grounds into the pot, then pour in almost boiling water. After allowing the coffee mixture to steep for a few minutes, the plunger is then pushed downwards and the liquid beverage is forced into the waiting cup or container. As there is no built-in heating plate or element beneath the coffee container, you must serve the coffee beverage immediately or place it into an insulated container to keep it hot for later.

Percolator Coffee Maker

At one time percolator coffee makers were the standard type of coffee brewers in most households, a role now held by the automatic drip machines. Although not as popular today, they still have their place when a coffee maker is required that can brew large volumes of coffee rather than the 10-14 cup limit or less in most other popular coffee machines sold these days. Modern percolators are available as stove top models and electric and can be programmed like other automatic coffee machines. The coffee making process is based on running water continuously over the coffee grounds, held within a metal filter, as the water is boiled. One drawback of this method is that the coffee often gets stronger and more bitter tasting the longer it goes through the brewing cycle.

Vacuum Coffee Maker

Perhaps the strangest looking type of coffee machine is the vacuum coffee maker. Looking like something from a science fiction movie, the apparatus is made up of two overlapping containers connect by a siphon tube. The filter is located in the bottom section of the upper container. To brew coffee, the user first adds coffee grounds to the upper container, then pours water into the lower container. Next the brewer is placed on top of a stove where the water is then boiled and the resulting steam is passed along through the siphon tube into the upper container. After about 3 minutes the container is removed from the heat source and the steam condenses back into liquid water which is forced through the filter and back into the lower unit. Your fresh pot of coffee is now sitting in the lower unit. An interesting way to brew a cup or pot of coffee!

Needless to say, coffee lovers can select from a wide variety of coffee makers. From cheap stove top coffee pots to high end super automatic coffee machines, there is a coffee machine for every inclination as well as for every budget. Fantastic news! Now here is the unpleasant news. With all the many coffee machines to choose from today, even knowing the style you favor is not enough. Within each of the coffee maker styles noted above there are numerous different brand names and models to choose from.