Category: Coffee 101

Cooking with Coffee ~ HOT for Coffee!!

We all know that there is an abundance of myth and non-myth which carouse around that ubiquitous cup of coffee.  Like most Americans and others the world over, I look forward to my morning slug.  So much so, that I’ll set aside hard line brewer’s suggestions and get my pot ready pre nighty night  to start dripping at least 15 minutes before my internal alarm yells “Get up and make your kid some breakfast!”

While some may question the positive impacts of putting away a pot or two a day, it always turns me on to find affirmation for my little addictions.  My morning news review uncovered the following: “7 Surprising Health Facts about coffee” by Amanda Greene Kelly.  Since Wednesday has been selected as our “Cooking with Coffee” post slot, it seemed apropos and worth a read.

Rather than plagiarizing (I mean summarizing) this article, let’s keep it short and sweet and list just a few of the most appealing topics:

It may help ward off depression ~ my step tends to be a bit bouncier after a cup or two, especially in the a.m. hours AND after a trip to the ladies room.

It may help promote a healthy weight ~ please see above and make sure to reserve stepping on the scale until..ahem..after. 

It may boost fertility in men~ lookin’ to get knocked up?  Make him a cup of coffee and turn on Baywatch.

It may reduce the risk of skin cancer ~ this doesn’t mean whitey can hit poolside w/o the aid of UV protection, or a hat.   But that iced mocha may make you feel a little less guilty about absorbing  the ray’s of the sun and garnering that little glow that makes us all so much more…appealing.

The final three topics address the ideas that you’re really not addicted; that coffee isn’t the main culprit to your tummy ache; and the importance of regularly cleaning your coffee maker is not negotiable…think bottom of your purse kind of bacteria.

From what I’ve gathered here, my adoration of good old 40 weight just got…justified.  Not that I take the time to champion many behaviors in my life,  but hey, if you can be a happy, healthy, glowing, sexually active person all because of a few shots of java, why the hell not?  Excuse me, my coffee pot is calling me.

P.S.  since I decided to write a minor missive on this subject, we’ll skip the recipe this week and simply recommend one of our favorite blends from Village Coffee Roastery.  Oh, and they clean their coffee makers (and their bathrooms) regularly.  Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that there are always a few cuties hanging around the barrista station.  Bring on the bikinis!!!


Yirgacheffe is considered among the finest coffees from anywhere in Africa. A complex flavorful coffee, with hints of citrus and fruit in the top notes, Yirgacheffe’s rich flavor is balanced by its moderate body, while delighting the senses with its aroma and lingering aftertaste.

Coffee 101: Could a Cup a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

by Emily King

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who enjoys a cup of coffee or two every morning, you may be paving the way for a longer, healthier lifeor maybe not.

We’re definitely not the first to report on the controversy over coffee’s effects on the human body, so if you’re looking for ground breaking findings, consult your medical journals (and make sure you have a pillow nearby. Yawn). In fact, just about any internet search on the health effects of coffee will yield thousands of articles.

Still, despite hundreds of existing studies on the subject, scientists have yet to come to a consensus: Do the benefits of coffee outweigh the risks? The unsatisfactory answer is: It depends.

Are you ready to throw your insulated mug across the room yet?  Me too.

According to a particularly fair and balanced article by the Wall Street Journal, “an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups.”

Additionally, cancer researchers have found that people with coffee habits are far more successful at fending off cancer than their non-coffee drinking counterparts. Men who drink six or more cups of coffee per day substantially lower their risk of developing advanced prostate cancer (by 60%). Coffee consumption has also been linked to reducing the risk of getting colon, mouth, throat, esophageal and endometrial cancers.

Outside of the cancer realm, research suggests that coffee drinkers suffer from fewer cavities and gallstones, and are less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, there is the correlation between coffee drinkers and suicidal tendencies. Guess what? Those who “get their caffeine buzz on regularly” are far less likely to commit suicide. As a self-proclaimed non-morning person, somehow, this last finding doesn’t surprise me at all (insert morbid chuckle).

Now that I have made coffee sound like a miracle elixir and you’re already contemplating your next cup, I think it’s important to point out that there is a difference between causation and correlation. In other words, it hasn’t been proven that coffee is the cause of all these health benefits, but it is a factor that has been correlated with the lifestyles of the healthier research subjects.

On the flipside, the caffeine that coffee contains has been linked to high-blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and elevated levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. This amino acid is associated with stroke and heart disease.

 Doctors do not recommend that pregnant women consume caffeinated coffee, as it has been linked to higher rates of miscarriage and lower birth-weight babies. Elderly women should also avoid caffeine to minimize bone loss and the development of benign breast lumps.

Finally, among the minor, but undesirable side effects of coffee-drinking for some people, are feelings of anxiousness or irritability, heartburn, and sleeplessness. Unfortunately, these side-effects can lead to more serious conditions like obesity and its accompanying complications.

The point is, we are all genetically different and enjoy different lifestyles. There are those who can drink 10 cups of coffee and take a nap, while others are ready for a power-lifting session after just one. Coffee may be a health safeguard for some, and a hazard for others if consumed in excess.

One thing that all researchers preach is moderation. While six cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, other negative effects of all that caffeine could mitigate the benefits.

Parting words for my coffee-drinking peers: Stick to 1-3 cups o’ joe per day and limit the whipped cream, half and half, sugar, and syrups. Take the stairs when you can, eat your leafy greens, and wash your hands frequently.

Click here for an informative article on coffee and health by Melinda Beck in The Wall Street Journal

For More Coffee 101, click here

Brought to you by Village Coffee Roastery, turning Science into Art

Coffee 101: The Science Behind The Roast

by Emily King

There’s something a little different about Village Coffee Roastery. One of my first observations is that it’s just 10 o’clock in the morning and the joint is packed with people pounding coffee-rubbed short-rib sandwiches along with their cappuccinos. I pull up a barstool next to an older gentleman; he has a kind smile and a little bit of grease running down his chin.

“It’s that good, huh?” I say.

“It’s THAT good,” he confirms.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but something about this place makes my mouth water and my taste buds itch for a latte. The aromas of caramelized sugar and rich, earthy notes of fresh coffee linger in the air and head straight to my olfactory factory. This is how a café should smell.

Owner Lisa Stroud passes off her last order to another barista and we grab the only empty table in sight. It’s appropriate (or is it ironic?) that we’re sitting in the shadow of a large, blue, Sasa Samiac Roaster. Our topic of conversation today is, you guessed it, coffee-roasting; and I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this machine is looking over my shoulder, double checking my fact sheet.

“Sasa” Fierce

Lisa begins by showing me the different parts of the beautiful drum roaster imported from France. The raw beans are poured into a wide funnel-like piece that is connected to the drum. Hot gasses heat the drum and the drum begins to spin. The beans roast as they tumble around in the spinning drum. When the roasting process is complete, the beans are quickly removed from the drum and completely cooled within two minutes. Lisa emphasizes that this is one of the most important steps of the procedure; if the beans are not cooled immediately, they will continue to roast in their residual heat and the batch will be ruined.

Drum Roaster (Top View)

All of the beans at Village Coffee are medium-roasted except for the espresso beans (a slightly darker roast). I ask her why she doesn’t offer the fancy-sounding “French Roast” or “Italian Roast” like I see at some chain-coffee spots. She explains that at Village Coffee, “The roaster isn’t the star, the coffee is the star.” She pays top-dollar for the best shade-grown, high-altitude beans she can find and dark roasts destroy their innate flavors and antioxidant properties. In a medium roast, the sugar is gently caramelized—not burnt, resulting in a coffee that is sweetened naturally.

So how do they achieve this perfect medium roast? Well, that’s the scientific part of the process!  Before the Village Coffee experts begin roasting, they plug many factors into their top-secret equation, including the weight of the batch to be roasted, humidity, outside temperature, and altitude. Based on this information, they determine the optimal temperature and roasting time for the beans. 

While many roasters rely on “first crack” (the popping of the beans as they heat) or color (which can be affected by the age of the beans), the experts at Village Coffee use a mass spectrometer to ensure a consistent product. The mass spectrometer reads the reflectivity of the beans as opposed to variable characteristics like cracking and color. The beans are then allowed to rest for 72 hours before they are ground and brewed. As it turns out, freshly ground beans do NOT produce the best cup o’ joe!

According to Lisa, the quality of the beans begins to deteriorate after 7 days and they should not be kept (or used) beyond day 14. Of course, filtered water is another must when brewing great coffee. Even the best beans cannot stand up to the harsh minerals in Arizona tap water. Village Coffee is equipped with a phenomenal filtration system which is strictly maintained.

Stroud and her team run a tight ship. Espresso machines are calibrated constantly and the chimneys are cleared of soot every other day. They do everything in their power to make sure that their customers get a premium brew with every visit, and judging by the constant flow of people into Village Coffee Roastery, their efforts are most appreciated.

Click here to see Heidi and Jason of Village Coffee Roastery make coffee-rubbed prime rib.

Still thirsty for more? Click here to see Julie and Emily get their caffeine fix at Village Coffee Roastery in Scottsdale.

For More Coffee 101, click here

Brought to you by Village Coffee Roastery, turning Science into Art

Coffee 101: Cooking with Coffee

by Emily King

It has been a growing epidemic for years. While we were going about our “day-to-day,” minding our own business, it was creeping into our ice cream and other desserts.  Soon, it was showing up in our milk and yogurt. Now, I’m afraid there is no escaping its clutches as it has infiltrated cereal and even barbecue sauce!

No, I’m not talking about trendy ingredients like cranberries, fiber, or probiotics, I’m talking about the real-deal: The original, no-nonsense alternative to a vanilla-chocolate-strawberry world. I’m talking about COFFEE.

We love it so much that we can’t fathom confining it to a mug. Americans have been enjoying Jamoca® ice cream from Baskin Robin’s since 1956 and Ben and Jerry’s reports that its Coffee Heath Bar Crunch® -flavored ice cream is its 8th best-selling product. Add to that a seemingly endless array of coffee-chocolate confections, cookies, and cakes available to us in stores and restaurants worldwide, and it’s clear that bakers and chocolatiers have mastered the art of coffee-infusion.

But why stop there?

It is true that dessert ingredients tend to augment the rich, dark, nutty tones of coffee, but coffee’s flavor characteristics also make it a valuable flavor booster in its own right. In recent years, chefs and cooks have been considering coffee’s potential in savory contexts and the results of their experimentation have been nothing short of delicious.

Perhaps the inspiration to use coffee in savory dishes came from the Southern invention and truck stop-diner favorite known as “red-eye gravy,” a zippy sauce made from the pan-drippings that accumulate after frying ham or bacon, a bit of flour, and strong coffee. 

Don’t worry—you can still get red-eye gravy at your favorite seedy diner. Coffee is unpretentious; it may be “all the buzz” in gourmet circles, but it embraces its origins as a lowly substitute for tea. Still, gourmands can’t keep their hands off of it. They use it in braising liquids, marinades, and spice rubs. Barbecue enthusiasts and grill-masters brush their meat with coffee-infused barbecue sauces. Even your Italian Grandmother might be in on this trend: if her Bolognese sauce tastes more robust that usual, coffee might just be the culprit!

Because of its strong, rich, bitter, and roasted flavors, coffee is an asset to marinades and rubs for strongly flavored meats. Lamb, beef, fatty portions of pork (like pork shoulder or ribs), and dark-meat chicken are great companions for a rub or marinade that includes coffee. For the veggie-inclined, coffee can be a great deglazing liquid.  A sauté of garlic, onions, and spices, deglazed with coffee serves as a perfect foundation for a marinara sauce with depth, or you can add more stock and vegetables for a gorgeous tomato-based vegetable soup.

Okay,  I can see the wheels turning in your head.  You’re eyeing your coffee-maker and thinking about what you can do with the damp grounds that remain from your morning pot.  But before you go there, STOP! First consider the flavor you want to attain…and then go buy some better coffee. For the best result, most recipes recommend that you use finely ground coffee for rubs since it spreads more evenly and packs the most flavor. Espresso and coffee liqueurs are preferable for baking and desserts, while strong, pressed coffee is best for braising liquids and marinades.

Of course, if you don’t feel like messing with the whole cooking process, this DOD girl can point you in the direction of Village Coffee Roastery where coffee-rubbed short rib sandwiches are the Thursday special.

See you there?

Click here to see Heidi and Jason of Village Coffee Roastery make coffee-rubbed prime rib.

Still thirsty for more? Click here to see Julie and Emily get their caffeine fix at Village Coffee Roastery in Scottsdale.

For More Coffee 101, click here

Brought to you by Village Coffee Roastery, turning Science into Art




Coffee and Covert Operations

Whether you brew a fresh pot at home or drop by a local coffee shop to get your fix, that steaming cup of java is the life-blood of non-morning and morning people, alike.  Whether mind and body are prepared to rise and start the day, that a.m.-jolt has been a habit for millions of people for thousands of years!

Historians and scientists identify 800 AD as the start-date for human consumption of coffee in its purest form.  Africans combined coffee beans with animal fat to form energy-packed snacks that would sustain them during rigorous daily activities.  Consider that the next time you take a sip of your seasonally flavored pumpkin spiced latte or bite into your chocolate-peanut butter Power Bar ™!

Coffee made its grand entrance in Arabia around 1000 AD. The Arabians began experimenting with the beans and found that roasting and boiling them resulted in a satisfying “bean broth.” The Muslims became particularly fond of coffee and its energizing properties, thus the beverage became an integral part of their culture and as Islam spread, so did the coffee-drinking tradition.

The Arabians were savvy businessmen who saw great potential for wealth in monopolizing the coffee-trade. They went to great measures to isolate coffee growth in Arabia by boiling or roasting all exported beans in order to prevent outside cultivation. They successfully dominated the coffee-production market until the 1600’s when a clever smuggler managed to leave Arabian borders with fertile seeds.

Slowly but surely, coffee began to spread throughout Europe by way of travelers and traders. Europeans were often wary of Eastern products and coffee was no different. While some embraced the new drink, others turned up their noses. Some even called it “the bitter invention of Satan.”  I like to think the devil would be pleased with this credit.

When coffee arrived in Venice in 1615, Pope Clement VIII decided to sample this beverage to determine whether it was an acceptable, Catholic libation. Perhaps Pope Clement hit the communion wine a bit too hard the night before and felt the therapeutic effects of “the caffeine buzz”, but he enthusiastically deemed it satisfying and gave it Papal approval.

In “the New World” (North America to all of you who were drooling on your desks during history class), coffee became the preferred “pick-me-up” of the Colonists who refused to pay the high taxes the British had imposed on their tea.  Just think, if not for the Boston Tea Party (and the ensuing Revolutionary War), Americans might be trading-in their coffee breaks for tea time!

By the 17th century, the Dutch had their own coffee plantations on the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, and Celebes. The Dutch aspired to corner the European coffee market, but failed to convey that message to the Mayor of Amsterdam who gave a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France for his Botanical Garden.  Oops! 

Sure enough, in 1723, a naval officer by the name of Gabriel de Clieu managed to sneak a seedling from the coffee plant and successfully transport it to the Island of Martinique in the French West Indies. The seedling thrived and soon its offspring were flourishing throughout the islands of the Caribbean.

South and Central American leaders soon took notice of this Caribbean cash crop and were eager to get their hands on the magical bean. In 1727, Brazil’s Emperor sent Francisco de Mello Palheta to Cayenne, French Guiana with an overt request for some fertile beans. The French governor flatly refused him; however, the governor’s lovely wife, had her own ideas. No woman can resist a man from Ipenema, tall and tan, and young and lovely – you get the gist.  In a covert act of retaliation against her stingy-husband, she gave a large bouquet of flowers to darling Francisco in which she had sewn the precious seedlings. Today, Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and is becoming a significant player in the specialty coffee industry. Hope he was worth it!

It seems coffee has been coveted for generations with well-documented occurrences of covert operations, Papal acceptance, and misguided Mayors.  Roll it in fat, cover it in chocolate, or simply wake to that gorgeous aroma every morning – folks played hardball for that cup o’ joe – enjoy it!

For More Coffee 101, click here

Brought to you by Village Coffee Roastery, turning Science into Art

Coffee 101: Plantation to Palate

By William Taylor Hytinen

For younger generations, it is difficult to remember a time when there wasn’t a coffeehouse on every corner. A world without cappuccino machines in every convenience store seems unfathomable, and waiting in line at the grocery store would be a much greater imposition if it weren’t for the rack full of tabloids covered with photos of strung-out movie stars sucking down iced coffee-concoctions. But while coffee seems to have only become a national addiction in recent years, it has long been lurking in the shadows, waiting for Americans to recognize its delicious potential if selected and brewed correctly.

Coffee beans have a long journey from plantation to palate, but for the benefit of all you non-baristas and coffee-novices out there, we’ll keep this journey as straightforward as possible.

All coffee beans share a similar beginning because coffee only grows between 23.5° North and South latitudes, and at elevations between 1,500 and 5,000 feet. While there are over 900 species of coffee, the two that we most commonly encounter are Arabica and Robusta. Of these varieties, Arabica is by far the better-quality product. Independent coffeehouses and retailers usually use Arabica beans, while major corporations (you know—the coffee that comes in a big can?) use Robusta.

Now that we have established where coffee comes from geographically, we can take a closer look at th e coffee-plant itself. Many people are shocked to discover that coffee beans are actually the “pit” of the coffee berry which ripens to a vibrant red-color. These berries are harvested, and the beans are extracted from the pulp of the berries through one of two methods—wet processing and dry processing. In countries with high levels of humidity and rainfall, wet processing is preferable. It includes dumping the berries into huge vats of water. The ripe, good coffee sinks to the bottom of the vat, while the defective beans float to the top. The good beans are then stripped of their outer-layer of pulp and dried by the sun or in huge dryers. The dry-process method consists of laying the berries out in thin layers on large concrete slabs. They are frequently turned and separated with large rakes to aid in the drying process and separate the high-quality, big beans from the small beans. In either instance, when the drying process is complete, the beans emerge a dusty, white-green color with internal moisture content of 10%.

Ripe Coffee Berries

The dry beans are now ready for roasting. This is perhaps one of the most important parts of creating great, flavorful coffee because the heat causes the starches and amino acids in the bean to react and caramelize, adding nutty, chocolaty notes. The Maillard reaction takes over at the end of the roasting when the beans are hottest, imparting that full, distinct, bitter flavor that makes coffee—well—coffee.

Bean roasting is done by one of two main methods. These include drum-roasting and the fluid-bed roasting. Most local roasters are drum-roasters. In this method, the green coffee beans are dropped into the drum of the machine and roast for somewhere between 12 and 17 minutes at the preferred temperature of the roaster’s operator. In a fluid-bed roaster, the beans are heated and kept in constant motion by jets of air and pressure that “lift” or “float” the coffee. Fluid-bed roasters are preferred by some coffee-sellers because they decrease the roasting time of the coffee and may increase the rate that the finished beans are ready for market.

And now we have reached the final leg of our journey of the coffee-production process—brewing! There are a number of ways to make a cup of coffee and what you choose depends entirely on your personal taste. For simplicity’s sake, I will focus on the three most popular: Drip, Espresso, and French Press.

Drip coffee lets gravity do the work and if done properly, produces a ground-free clean brew. The general ratio of coffee grounds to water in this process is 2 level tablespoons of ground coffee to 8 oz of water. The water should be in contact with the coffee for about 5 minutes, though it varies depending on the fineness of the grind. Finer grinds require less contact time while larger grinds require more. Water temperature is also important. An ideal water temperature for brewed-coffee is 205 degrees, but you don’t need a thermometer! Just boil water in a kettle, take it off the heat, count to 5, and your water should ring in at just around 205 degrees.


Espresso shots with a perfect, foamy head

Espresso is a special treat most of us can only enjoy at a coffeehouse. It is a pressurized extraction in which water is forced through finely ground coffee at a specific rate and pressure to extract the yummy flavors and leave the acrid, bitter flavors behind. Espresso should only be served in a small demitasse, and have a nice thick, creamy head similar to a Guinness. 

Finally, my personal favorite, the French Press, is great for making top-notch coffee at home. The French press allows the coffee grounds to be submerged in water for a short time, and then when pressed, the grounds are pushed to the bottom of the pot, the finished product stays at the top, and the coffee is ready to serve. The press does not have a paper filter, but instead relies on a fine mesh screen to separate the water from the grounds. This method of straining leaves a considerable amount of total dissolved solids in the cup, but the coffee generally has a heavier or more robust mouth feel. The other perk of the French Press is that you make the call on the strength of your coffee because you control the water’s contact-time with the grounds. Is a stronger brew more to your liking? Let that puppy steep longer.

A French Press


So that’s coffee in a nutshell—ahem—berry (as you should have learned by now). There is plenty more to come on this subject, but we thought we’d provide you with some of the basics. Stay tuned to for more articles on coffee brought to you by Village Coffee Roastery in Scottsdale, or better yet, enjoy them with a cup o’ Joe in-store (they have Wi-Fi!).

For more information on Village Coffee Roastery, Go to the Website

Or just walk right in:

8120 N. Hayden Rd. #E104, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Also, follow them on Twitter: @villagecoffee

And find them on Facebook!





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