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TIP OF THE DAY: Pour-Over Coffee At Home

Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex Coffee Maker

New Chemex Brewer

[1] The 1941 Chemex design, represented at the Museum of Modern Art and other museums (this photo is from the Brooklyn Museum Of Art). It’s $49.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond. [2] A freshly-dripped carafe of coffee (photo courtesy [3] The latest Chemex design, which adds a handle for easier pouring, was actually one of the original designs before the streamlined design was chosen. It’s $43.50 at Williams-Sonoma.


Waiting at a coffee bar recently, we overheard a customer watching her pour-over dripping into the cup. She said to the barista: “I wish I could do this at home!”

You can, it’s easy, and a lot less expensive than the pour-over, which took four passes from the barista.

In fact, in our youth…
…there were no specialty coffee bars (your take-out choice was Dunkin Donuts or a deli or diner),
…coffee at home was limited to a percolator or instant coffee, and
…people chose either Folgers or Maxwell House, but
…coffee aficionados made their coffee in a Chemex carafe with their favorite ground beans, usually from the supermarket although the real connoisseurs got mail-order beans from specialty shops.

If they were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee and tea shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world.

We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895 and still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

A visit to McNulty’s was a trip back to another age. Today, the journey is accented with modern coffee makers and gadgets that didn’t exist at the time.

But the aroma is still the same: an exotic mingling of the many aromas of coffees and teas from around the world, kept in large glass canisters. There were burlap sacks of beans and chests of tea with stenciled markings from far away lands. The brass scale was also from the 19th century.

Amid the tea and coffee was one ultra-modern brewing apparatus: the Chemex drip coffee maker.


Pour over, also called manual drip brewing or the drip method, is a fashionable new term for an old, low-tech method of coffee brewing.

Ground coffee is added to a ceramic or plastic cone that sits in a paper filter atop a glass carafe, ceramic pot, coffee cup or other receptacle. The Chemex system eliminates the need for a cone by creating a carafe with a narrow neck that holds the filter.
Melitta, The First Pour-Over

The pour-over technique was invented by a German housewife, Melitta Benz, in 1908. Displeased with the grittiness and murkiness of coffee as it was then prepared, she devised a paper filter from a sheet of her son’s notebook paper, and set the filter into a brass cup into which she punched holes for the coffee to drip through.

The commercial version was made in ceramic (today available in ceramic or plastic). As anyone who has used a Melitta drip brewer knows, it became a great success for its superior brew.

Fast-forward a few decades, to inventor Peter Schlumbohm, a Ph.D chemist who had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. He developed and sold his patents focused on heating and cooling systems, the thermos bottle and dry ice manufacturing among them.

In 1941, he released the Chemex drip coffee system with the coffee filter placed in a glass carafe.

Like the Melitta, the filter was filled with ground coffee and hot water, which drip-drip-dripped into the carafe.

Like the Melitta, it wasn’t the fastest cup of coffee around, but people with palates applauded the superior flavor. If you liked good black coffee, drip coffee was the way to go.

Its Bauhaus style design, elegant in thermal glass from Corning, received a big endorsement from the design community and was featured on the cover of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Useful Objects in Wartime” bulletin, making it “the official poster-child of [the] new emphasis on undecorated, functional simplicity [source]. It is included in the design collection of the Museum.


The Next Revolution In Home Coffee Brewing

In 1971, the first electric drip coffee maker to hit the consumer market, Mr. Coffee, revolutionized how many Americans brewed their coffee. Adios, percolator; bienvenidos, Mr. Coffee.

Mr. Coffee engendered shelves full of electric drip brands, which remained paramount until the Keurig single-serve beverage brewing system and the proliferation of K-Cup options too hold. In 2002, some 10,000 units were sold to offices, replacing the Bunn system and the need to clean the coffee pots and drink coffee that had been sitting on the burner for too long.

Consumers loved the Keurig system, and by 2006, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had acquired a stake, signed up leading coffee brands for the K-Cups

Gosh, has it only been ten years?

While the Melitta, Chemex and other pour-over apparatuses remained a niche product, our first experience with the modern pour-over took place in 2006 in San Francisco, where the line of customers stretched around the block to get a cup from Blue Bottle Coffee.

As our job is to know what’s new and wonderful in the world of food and drink, we waited for some 25 minutes. Sure, it was a good cup of coffer, but we didn’t do it again.

And we didn’t have to: The trend proliferated, and soon there was enough drip coffee in our own neighborhood to eliminate the line wait.

Which brings us to the present: pour-overs at home.

You can still buy a Melitta, and an improvement on it, the Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank Good Grips.

The water stays hot in the mini-tank instead of in an open filter. All you need is add ground coffee and hot water—no paper filter.

The set (photo at right) is just $15.99 at
Drip Tips

Drip coffee requires a particular technique to ensure that your brew is as good as Blue Bottle’s.

Here are Blue Bottle’s drip coffee-making tips.


Pour Over Coffee Oxo

Melitta Ceramic Coffee Maker

[4] It’s easy to make pour-over coffee at home with this $15.99 system from Oxo. [5] The modern Melitta system is $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also buy a $3.99 plastic cone to brew a cup atop your own cup or mug.




TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cold Brew Coffee With A French Press

The average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day. Collectively, Americans drink 4,630 cups of coffee each second. And September 29th is National Coffee Day.

Cold brew coffee, which has been around quite a while (we’ve had a Toddy cold brew system for 20+ years), has finally hit the mainstream.

Coffee drinkers find it has superior flavor; and in the summer, iced coffee is as easy as adding cold water to cold-brew concentrate from the fridge. (Here are some well-reviewed brands).

Companies from Folgers to Blue Bottle sell cold-brew coffee. You can buy large bottles of concentrate; you can buy grab-and-go 16-ounce bottles.

Yet, if you have a French press, you can make trendy cold brew coffee without purchasing a special cold brew system or a bottle of ready-brewed. The French press recipe is below. But first:

A French press is a coffee-brewing device consisting of a pot with a removable plunger made of fine mesh.

Coarse-ground coffee is added to the pot, followed by boiling water. The plunger device is placed on top. The coffee grounds float in the water.

When the coffee is ready to be poured, the plunger is employed. As it is pushed down, the grounds are pushed to the bottom. It does not use electricity; although you likely need it to heat the water.

If you have a French press, there’s no need to buy a cold brew system, or pricey bottles of cold brew coffee at retail.

Today, you can find coffee presses in stainless steel, in a stainless holder with a glass beaker (photo #1), and in plastic.

French presses are made in sizes from 1-2 cups to 10 cups or more. There are travel mug versions, of course: We use this coffee press “mug” from Bodum.

French press or coffee press is the name in English; although in In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the apparatus is known as a coffee plunger. In France it is called cafetière à piston; in Italy it is a caffettiera a stantuffo.
Brewing Tea In A French Press

You can use a French press to brew loose tea as well, but don’t use a press that is used to brew coffee. Even after washing, microscopic bits of coffee oil can cling to the glass or metal, imparting an unwelcome undertaste to the tea.


Classic French Press

Cold Brew Coffee  Concentrate

[1] The classic design of the modern French press (this one is from Bonjour). [2] One of the artisan cold-brews sold at retail (photo courtesy Jittery John’s).

With both coffee or tea, be sure to pour it soon after brewing. Letting the grounds or tea leaves sit under the brewed beverage creates a bitter brew, not a better brew.
Conceived In 1852

The first known design for a plunge-type brewer was patented in 1852 by two French designers, Mayer and Delforge. You can see their design at

Per Brooklyn Roasting it was ahead of its time; manufacturing was not precise enough to snugly fit the filter within pot of the design.

Others tried their hand, but the first iteration of brewer that we know today was patented by Italian designers Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. They employed a rubber seal around the edge of the filter.

The design evolved, with improved the function of the rubber seal.

The design we know today was patented by a Swiss designer, Faliero Bondanini, in 1958. It was manufactured in France and called a chambord. With a compact design and no required electrical outlet, it became a very popular brewing method.


These instructions are proportions for an 8-cup French press. Remember that the “standard” cup size used by manufacturers was set long before coffee mugs and modern insulated travel mug containers were in use. So if you use a large mug, you’ll get 4 mugs worth from an 8-cup press, or three 16-ounce travel mugs.

Use only coarse-ground coffee. Smaller grains will slip through the mesh filter and produce unacceptable coffee.


  • 1 cup coffee, coarsely ground
  • 3 cups water, room temperature

    1. PLACE the coffee in an 8-cup French press. Add the water. Stir the grinds to integrate with the water.

    2. PLACE the French press plunger on top (do not plunge into the water) and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

    3. PRESS down on the plunger, which pushes all the grounds to the bottom, underneath the mesh filter. Pour and enjoy cold with ice, or warm in the microwave.
    TIP: Depending on how well the coffee is ground, a few grounds may escape into the coffee. Our mom further poured the coffee through a piece cheesecloth. We don’t.


    Stainless French Press

    Manual Coffee Grinder

    [3] Fashionable restaurants bring coffee to the table in a French press (photo courtesy Kabuki Japanese restaurants). [4] It’s easy to grind your own beans for a French press, since the coffee is coarsely ground (photo of manual coffee grinder from



    We start with an important fact for the many people who want more or less caffeine:

    There is no association between caffeine levels and flavor (e.g. strong coffee). The major difference comes from amount of coffee used and, most importantly, the brewing technique.

    Cold brew has the most caffeine, followed by drip coffee and espresso.

    Take this fun coffee trivia quiz.

    Here are more fun facts from THE NIBBLE and

  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth, after oil.
  • Coffee beans are actually the seeds of berries, which grow on a shrub or small tree.
  • Teddy Roosevelt is said to have consumed one gallon of coffee a day.
  • The first webcam was invented by scientists at the University of Cambridge, so they could monitor when their coffee pot was full.
  • It is not true that light-roasted coffee has more caffeine than dark-roasted coffee. In terms of the ground coffee, light-roasted has more because the roasted beans are denser. However, once brewed, darker roasts have more caffeine.
    Facts About Decaf

  • The amount of caffeine in coffee varies a lot. It can depend on the beans (robusta has much more than arabica), the portion size, but most importantly the brewing technique.
  • Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free. According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97% of its original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. Drink 5-10 cups of decaf a day and you’ll likely be consuming the equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee in terms of caffeine content.
  • While a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some decaf cups that still packed in more than 20 milligrams of caffeine. But the difference in a cup of brewed coffee is truly minimal.
  • A minority brew: According to the National Coffee Association, just 10% of coffee drinkers in the U.S. opt for decaf. At a coffee house or cafe, the percent can be almost double.
    Here are more decaf coffee facts.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Tea Party Ideas, Part 2

    Tea Sandwiches

    Modern Tea

    Tea Party Crostini

    [1] Tea can be classically staged, like this one from Tea Time Magazine, or [2] modern service, like this at the Langham Palace | New York. Instead of classic British tea sandwiches on crustless bread, you can substitute tartines—French open-face sandwiches—or Italian crostini. Here’s a close-up from Honestly Yum.


    Yesterday we tendered the idea of a monthly tea party. That list covered January through July. Today: the rest of the year.

  • Iced Tea Party. What could be more refreshing in the dog days of summer than a iced tea with strawberry shortcake scones topped with vanilla ice cream? Offer guests the choice of black, green and herbal iced teas, with lemon and lime slices.
  • Iced Tea & Sorbet Sundae Bar. Cut up the many luscious fruits in season and create a fruit salad bar. Sorbet is half the calories of ice cream and frozen yogurt.

  • Teen Tea Party. Take your teenager (or someone else’s) out for a tea experience and ask him or her to bring a friend. Share your love of tea and some good conversation as you give them a glimpse of the past and a custom enjoyed by everyone from kings to common folk.
  • Book Exchange & Tea Party. Ask everyone to bring a favorite book that they’ve read and are ready to trade. Each person gives a two-minute presentation about why they loved the book. Names are drawn from a hat and each participant selects his/her new book in the order the names were drawn.

  • Tea O’ween. Celebrate Halloween for the whole month of October with cinnamon spice tea, pumpkin scones and midnight chocolate double layer cake. Try Constant Comment, the original American spiced tea recipe invented by Ruth Bigelow (available in supermarkets and from Decorate your midnight chocolate cake with candy corn or other favorite Halloween candy; or serve midnight chocolate cupcakes and provide different Halloween candies so guests can decorate their own.
  • Harvest Tea. Serve fall harvest foods for tea: pumpkin muffins, apple pie, nut tarts, cookies or nutted cream cheese sandwiches on zucchini bread.
    Bonus: Provide oranges, pomanders and optional ribbon, and let guests make their own party favors: pomanders!

  • Pumpkin Tea. Start Thanksgiving early with a “Pumpkin Tea” consisting of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin scones. Have a some cranberry scones or muffins for those who don’t like pumpkin. Serve your favorite black tea, or try the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Bigelow Tea, Zhena Gypsy Tea (organic, Fair Trade and KSA kosher) or (rooibos).
  • Thankful To A Tea. No matter how busy we are, we all can lend a hand, and we all could use one. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, host a “Wish List Tea.” All the participants submit in advance one reasonable request they hope someone else in the group can fulfill. It can be a night of babysitting, a bicycle, the loan or donation of a black cocktail dress or size 9 red pumps, someone to explain home equity loans, etc.

  • Tea & A Christmas Tree. ‘Tis the season to enjoy cinnamon spice tea with your favorite holiday goodies. Invite friends over to enjoy your tree, or decorate with a couple of non-denominational poinsettia plants. ‘Tis also the season to call people you haven’t been in touch with in a while, and mix new friends with old.
  • Chari-Tea. Help your favorite local cause. Ask friends to bring something to donate—“like new” clothes that they no longer wear, some canned goods, toys and books for the hospital waiting room—whatever your cause can use (call them and ask).
  • Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. This and a second “tea party” on March 7, 1774 were a prelude to the Revolutionary War. In honor of American Independence Day, you can hold a commemorative “Boston Tea Party” with the kind actually destroyed on that day. It was Britain’s oldest tea merchant, Davison, Newman & Co., whose tea chests were dumped at the first event. Still in business, the company sells Boston Harbour Tea (certified kosher), a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling teas. Or, simply dump loose leaf tea “overboard” into a tea pot as you read the story of the Boston Tea Party. Serve colonial cookie favorites: benne cakes (sesame cookies), coconut macaroons, gingersnaps, jumbles, molasses cookies and sugar cookies.


    Perhaps the most fun of planning a tea party is deciding on the goodies. Just search online for “tea party recipes” and you’ll find enough for a lifetime of teas. The basic categories:

  • Cake. Here’s your opportunity to serve special things that most people don’t have often enough. They can be simple, from sponge cake to layer cake to bite-size madeleines and individual cheesecakes. Should you serve your “Death By Chocolate” cake or rich chocolate brownies? It’s a personal choice. We prefer to keep tea on the light-to-medium side, since, after all, dinner is in a few hours.
  • Tarts or tartlets. Fruit tarts and lemon tarts rule! You can make them quickly with tart shells and fruit curd. Tortes Almond, chocolate and linzer tortes are popular and less rich than layer cakes.
  • Cookies. Tea is a wonderful reason to get out your favorite cookie recipes: butter cookies, gingerbread or gingersnaps, linzer cookies, shortbread—the sky’s the limit.
  • Scones.
  • With curd or jam and clotted cream, they’re a classic favorite. It’s easy to bake your own moist scones with gourmet mixes from King Arthur Flour or other quality producer. They also sell gluten-free mixes.

  • Tea Sandwiches. These can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In the top photo, the sandwiches are simply ham and radishes, with spreads. The key to tea sandwiches is smaller size and fanciful cuts. Triangles and finger sandwiches are easiest, but get out your cookie cutters and go to town.
    Healthier Tea Party Foods

  • Lower-Sugar, Unfrosted Cakes. Angel cake, Bundt cake, carrot cake, sponge cake and zucchini bread, among others, have fewer calories than frosted cakes. They also can be with a heart-healthy oil instead of butter. butter—and no frosting. You can serve them with fruit purée (sweeten with a dab of agave) and/or Reddi-Wip, which has so much air that it has just 15 calories.
  • Pavlovas. These meringue cups (egg whites and sugar only, lots of air, no fat) filled with fresh fruit or brandies fruit. If it’s winter and the fruit selection isn’t great, citrus salad with mint is delicious!
  • “Slender” Tea Sandwiches. On Whole Grain Bread Slice bread ultra-thin and serve with healthy spreads: hummus, tuna and olive tapenade, turkey with marinated cucumbers and curried yogurt spread instead of mayonnaise.

    Sandwich Cake

    Sandwich Cake Slice

    [4] This beautiful sandwich cake yields a wedge [5] of savory sandwich. Here’s how to make it from

  • Fruit With Diet Yogurt Dip. Cut up fruit and serve with a dip made of fat-free yogurt, no-cal sweetener and cinnamon. If you don’t want to use a noncaloric sweetener, use agave syrup. The glycemic index is 21 compared to sugar (65) honey (56) and maple syrup (58). Baked Apples Bake apples with a bit of agave syrup—it’s very sweet, so a little goes a long way. Cinnamon and nutmeg provide wonderful seasoning.
  • Crudités. Low-calorie and fiber packed, serve a platter of raw or blanched vegetables with a yogurt-herb dip.

    Etiquette expert Arden Clise erases common ideas of “proper” tea behavior. She says:

    “People often think proper tea drinking means sticking your pinky out. That’s actually rude and connotes elitism. It comes from the fact that cultured people would eat their tea goodies with three fingers and commoners would hold the treats with all five fingers. Thus was born the misguided belief that one should raise their pinky finger to show they were cultured. Tuck that pinky finger in.”

    Find more of her comments at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan An Afternoon Tea Party, Part 1

    Tiered Tea Stand

    Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford

    [1] You don’t need a tiered stand, but you can find inexpensive ones. —This one is less than $20 (photo Chef Buddy | Amazon).[2] Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, inadvertently invented the custom of afternoon tea in 1840 (photo courtesy Woburn Abbey).



    In the U.K., afternoon tea is a longstanding tradition: a light meal in mid-afternoon, between lunch and dinner. It can be simple or elaborate, consisting of a pot of tea plus finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes and pastries.

    September 3rd is the birthday of Anna Maria Russell (1783 – 1857), the seventh Duchess of Bedford. In 1840 she inadvertently created the British custom of afternoon tea, a midday meal.

    As their main meal of the day shifted from midday (luncheon) to evening, English high society didn’t dine until 8 p.m. The hungry duchess needed something to tide her over during the stretch between lunch and dinner.

    She ordered tea with small sandwiches to be brought to her room. Over time, her friends joined her, and “afternoon tea” expanded from her circle to all of society.

    It was an elaborate social and gustatory affair with sweet and savory delicacies, special tea cakes and even tea gowns to bridge the fashion gap between casual afternoon and formal evening dress. As the custom spread downstream, tea rooms and tea gardens opened to serve tea to all classes (no change of clothing required).

    Be the Anna of your circle: Plan afternoon teas as regular get-togethers, quarterly or more often. People can take turns hosting; and it can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

    While today’s ladies are more likely to work, consider afternoon tea instead of Sunday brunch. Feel free to invite the gentlemen.

    Afternoon tea is not the same as “high tea.”

  • High tea is a hearty working class supper traditionally served in the late afternoon or early evening (in modern times generally around 6 p.m.). It is the main meal for the farming and working classes in Britain, a world away from the fashionable afternoon teas enjoyed by the upper classes.
  • The name may sound elegant to Americans, but this is not an upscale repast. It comprises a main dish (generally roast beef or leg of lamb), bread and butter, a pudding (pastry or custard) and tea. It is sometimes called meat tea.
  • In a seemingly ironic reversal of terms, the afternoon tea of society is sometimes called “low tea,” after the late afternoon feeling of low energy.
    Can You Serve Alcohol With Afternoon Tea?

    While it is not part of the tradition, you can add a modern “pre-cocktail” touch. Go for light and/or fruity:

  • Liqueur
  • Pimm’s Cup
  • Sangria (red, white, rosé)
  • Sherry: dry or cream sherry
  • Sparkling wine



  • Tea & A Spree. Take advantage of post-holiday sales with a pre- or post-shopping tea party that’s rejuvenating and relaxing. Green tea whole wheat finger sandwiches will help to keep those New Year’s resolutions. A plate of crudités with yogurt dip also helps.
  • New Year’s Resolution Tea. Who doesn’t resolve to lose weight in the new year? Have a “spa tea”: different kinds of green tea and healthy munchies.

  • Tea & Bent Knee. Propose over a luxurious tea service, featuring imported Earl Gray tea, Champagne, fresh strawberries and cream and luxurious chocolate cake. If your town has a venue that serves afternoon tea, check it out and reserve a cozy table.
  • Valentine Potluck Tea. If there’s no proposal at hand, you still deserve a celebration. Have everyone bring their favorite Valentine treat. You supply different teas, from flavored teas like hazelnut and vanilla to elegant Earl Grey and smoky Lapsang Souchong. Everyone can vote on their favorite tea-and-treat pairings.

  • Tea & A Shillelagh. Pronounced shuh-LAY-lee, a shillelagh is a walking cane also used as a cudgel or “fighting stick.” It’s named after Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland, from whence the wood originally came. But there’s no fighting here: After a pot of Irish tea, shortbread and scones, go for a lovely stroll, with or without your walking stick.
  • Tea & The Rites Of Spring. Celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring (March 21st) with pastel frostings on the cakes and cookies, optional iced tea, fresh tulips and daffodils. If people ask what they can bring, say “tulips” and be prepared to have a room full of them—very springlike! Think of happy spring music, too: Chopin’s works for pianoforte say “spring” to us.


  • Tea & A Tree. Help celebrate Earth Month with green tea, vegan cookies and fresh organic fruit.
  • Tea With A Bunny. Host an Easter Tea with plain, frosted cupcakes and the fixings to decorate them (jelly beans, easter candies, traditional cupcake decorations). Everyone gets to decorate cupcakes and the group can vote for winners in different categories (prettiest, most creative, most festive, etc). Send the winners home with small tea gifts.

  • Tea & A She. May honors all of the important mothers in our lives. Even if you’ll be with your own family for Mother’s Day, call up other moms and invite them for tea. Enjoy Lady Gray tea, pecan scones and raspberry velvet cheesecake.
  • Women’s Health Week. It’s the second week in May. Companies like Republic Of Tea sell special “teas for the cure,” with profits going to cancer research. Serve high-antioxidant foods like berries and dark chocolate with tea sandwiches on whole-grain breads.

  • Fits To A Tea. With bathing suit season at hand, we’re all watching calories. Enjoy chai tea with fresh fruit salad. The spiciness of the chai requires no milk or sugar.
  • Fruit Tea Party. Serve fruit teas (hot and iced), fresh fruit salad and fruit tarts.

  • Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773. This and a second “tea party” on March 7, 1774 were a prelude to the Revolutionary War. In honor of American Independence Day, you can hold a commemorative “Boston Tea Party” with the kind actually destroyed on that day. It was Britain’s oldest tea merchant, Davison, Newman & Co., whose tea chests were destroyed at the 1773 “tea party.” The company sells a Boston Harbour Tea (certified kosher), a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling teas. Serve it with all-American favorites such as brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Loose Leaf Tea Party. Commemorate the Boston Tea Party by dumping loose leaf tea “overboard” into a tea pot as you read the story of the Boston Tea Party. Serve colonial cookie favorites: benne cakes (sesame cookies), coconut macaroons, gingersnaps, jumbles, molasses cookies and sugar cookies.
    We placed the Boston Tea Party teas in July because of Independence Day; but you can as easily have them in December or March.


    Tea Sandwiches

    Makeshift Tiered Stand

    [2] Yesteryear: Tea sandwiches were cut into fingers or triangles. Today: Add some pinwheels (photo courtesy [4] There’s no need to buy a tiered stand. This one was put together with regular plates balanced on tea cups. Clever! (photo courtesy




    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Remove Food Stains On Teeth, Hands & Fabric

    If you’ve ever drunk more than a few glasses of red wine; eaten lots of beets, berries or carrot purée; you know that food can stain teeth, as well as the hands used to prepare it and the clothes worn to make or eat it.

    Even white wine can stain: It has both acid and some tannins that make teeth susceptible to pigments in other foods.

    According to Web MD, tooth stains are caused by:

  • Acids, which make tooth enamel softer and rougher, so it’s easier for stains to set in.
  • Chromogens, compounds with strong pigments that cling to tooth enamel.
  • Tannins, plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth.
    Red wine is a triple threat, with all three.

    Tea stains teeth more than coffee: In addition to the acid they both share, tea also contains tannins.

    Fortunately, there are remedies.

  • Brush right away; use a paste with a bit of whitening agent. Keep a toothbrush at work.
  • Swish water around in your mouth if you can’t brush. It’s not as effective as brushing, but better than nothing.
  • Use a straw. The liquids are sucked to the roof of your mouth, so bypass your front teeth.
  • Get your teeth cleaned professionally. A professional cleaning and polishing helps to smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel where color gets trapped. Regular polishing also helps to reduce the amount of staining.

    Baby Beets

    Orange Beets

    Except for the uncommon white beets, beets stain (photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Good Eggs | SF).


  • Use a salt or sugar scrub. Some people buy them for skin exfoliation, but you can sprinkle coarse salt or sugar on wet hands and rub to exfoliate. You can also use olive oil instead of water. After rubbing, rinse off the scrub off and wash your hands with liquid dish soap. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
  • Clean fingernails with baking soda. Make a rub by adding some lemon juice to the baking soda. Scrub with a nail brush.
  • Prevent them in the first place. Get a box of plastic food-prep gloves for a song: 500 gloves for $9.

  • Immediately blot, not rub, with a paper towel. Then use a laundry pre-stain stick or liquid detergent. Wash ASAP in cold water (the sink is fine).
  • Soak in cold water with chlorine or oxygen bleach if the stain persists.
  • Launder in cold water if needed.
  • Use a fabric-appropriate bleach: Chlorine bleach is preferable if it is safe for the fabric.

  • Get an adult bib from Dress Tiez. We have two and love them: They’re waterproof and easy to clean.

  • For red wine and other stains, we’ve had great success with Wine Away spray. It aso removes coffee, blood, ink, fruit punch, sauces, red medicine stains, even pet stains. Try it on anything.
  • There’s also a pocket size for dining out.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Cold-Brew Coffee

    If you’ve been anywhere near an upscale coffee shop lately—Caribou, Peet’s, Starbucks and many others, you know that the latest trend is cold-brew coffee.

    Rather than brewing ground coffee the traditional way, cold-brew creates a coffee concentrate by steeping the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water, for 12 hours and up to twice that if you like strong coffee. Starbucks steeps their cold-brew for 20 hours.

    For this reason, cold-brew is pricier than a regular brew. But it’s easy to steep at home. The benefits:

  • You enjoy a smoother cup of coffee. Because the water is never heated so it doesn’t precipitate as much acid or bitterness. The Toddy Cold Brew System produces coffee with 67% less acid than hot brew methods.
  • Make a cup of iced or hot coffee simply by mixing some of the concentrate with cold or hot water.
  • Like caffeine? Cold-brew has more of it.
    But cold-brew isn’t a new invention. We’ve been making it for 20 years with a Coffee Toddy. We keep the concentrate in the fridge, ready to create iced coffee with water and ice cubes. Producing hot coffee is just as delicious, and an easy way to prepare coffee for a group.

    For those who prefer convenience, bottles of cold-brew coffee concentrate ready to turn into hot or iced coffee, as well as individual ready-to-drink bottles of cold-brew, are sold at better stores from coast to coast.

    In the late 1960s, a garden nursery owner and chemist named Todd Simpson was on a plant-gathering trip to Guatemala, when he was served a delicious cup of coffee made from concentrate. Impressed, he developed the Toddy cold-brew coffee maker in his garage (source).
    Kyoto-Style Japanese Coffee

    But wait: While doing research, we discovered Kyoto-style Japanese coffee, a cold brew that originated in the 1600s. Thus, according to Daily Coffee News, cold brew coffee originated in Japan four centuries before Todd Simpson came across it in Guatemala.

    Coffee in Japan in the 1600s?

    It turns out that Dutch traders needed their coffee. Back in the 1600s, there was no electricity; coffee was brewed by dripping hot water through the grounds.

    Cold-dripped or hot-dripped coffee concentrate—“coffee essence”—would have been a means of transporting prepared coffee to be heated and consumed on-board. The traders brought the technique to Japan, where it became known as Dutch coffee.

    Japanese artisans created elegant, tall glass brewing towers that were popularized at shops in Kyoto, Japan, the earliest record of cold-brew coffee.

    Over the centuries, Kyoto-style brews have become highly artistic. Instead of submerging grounds for hours, the coffee is brewed drop by drop. A single bead of water is let down through the coffee grounds at a time, creating a process that takes just as much time as using a Toddy, and beautiful to watch.

    As the Japanese were cold-brewing tea at that time, the process was in place to cold-brew coffee (source).

    How extensively was the technique used beyond Japan? The record is not clear; but in days before electricity, when tending fires and boiling water was a lot of work, cold-brewing may have been a method used in coffee-drinking elsewhere.


    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Toddy Cold Brew Coffee

    [1] Toddy, the original cold brew system (photo courtesy Toddy). [2, 3, 4] The Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker is less expensive and smaller but produces less coffee concentrate (photos courtesy Takeya).


    Kyoto-Style Coffee Brewer

    The First Canned Coffee

    Cold Brew Concentrate

    [1] This three-tiered Kyoto-style cold-drip brewer is more than two feet tall (photo courtesy Yama Glass). There are versions that are even larger and more elaborate. [2] The first canned coffee with an English-language label (photo courtesy AsianFoodGrocer). [3] Straight from the supermarket: a bottle of cold brew concentrate (photo courtesy Seaworth Coffee).



    According to an extensive article in The Guardian, there are indications that cold-brew coffee might have first been made in Peru, Guatemala or Java. But the documentation is sparse.

    Some of the earliest documented coffee concentrates originated as military rations.

    The Americans, the French and the Brits all simmered down a coffee concentrate for soldiers to reconstitute in the field.

  • The French provide the earliest example of a coffee concentrate served cold, along the lines of today’s iced coffee today. This was the original Mazagran, consumed by French Foreign Legion solders at the Mazagran fortress in Algiers: coffee concentrate sweetened and mixed with cold water. Versions spread internationally after the soldiers returned to France and introduced the concept to cafés (source “All About Coffee,” William H. Ukers, 1922).
  • The Americans: In the book “Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book,” which compiled recipes from the popular 19th-century women’s magazine, has a recipe for “coffee syrup,” a sugary concentrate with the consistency of treacle (golden syrup).
  • The Brits: In the mid-20th-century, British manufacturers successfully bottled a crossover version called Camp Coffee, advertising that “There’s no comparison for economy, flavor, and quickness.” It’s still available.
    Why did it take centuries for coffee concentrate to become widely popular, at coffee shops and the shelf-stable, ready-to-drink brewed coffee and concentrates in stores?

    The breakthrough, according to The Guardian, happened in Japan in the late 1960s.

    At that time, canned flavored milk, including coffee-flavored milk, was popular in Japan at that time. Businessman Ueshima Tadao thought to flip the ingredient ratio into a can of coffee with just a small amount of milk and sugar. He subsequently created a black coffee version.

    Thus, the final chapter of cold-coffee history was made by Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.; although it took a decade for UCC Coffee With Milk to really catch on.

    Shortly thereafter, in the 1970s, Italian coffee giant Illy introduced ready-to-drink black coffee in a can. The concept continued to expand until…well…check out the bottled coffees and concentrates on the shelves of the nearest market.

  • Coffee terms and the different types of coffee.
  • The history of coffee.
  • Espresso and the different types of espresso drinks.
  • The history of espresso.
  • The Toddy Cold Brew System.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramel Macchiato At Home

    One of our team makes two runs a day for a Caramel Macchiato at the corner Starbucks. This one’s for you, Christina.

    There are numerous types of espresso drinks, from Affogato (espresso served over ice cream) to Vanilla Latte (3:1 steamed milk and espresso with vanilla-flavored syrup).

    “Macchiato” means marked or stained in Italian (in France, it’s called Cafe Noisette). In Italy, Caffe Macchiato is made in an espresso cup, from steamed milk which is “marked” by the addition of espresso. The espresso, poured into the center of the foam, sinks down and leaves a brown spot on top. In Italy, it’s a mid-morning drink’ many Italians add a bit of sugar.

    The chief difference between a Macchiato and a Latte is that the Macchiato has aesthetically pleasing layers of color. With a Latte, the espresso and milk are completely integrated (see photos at right).

    As adapted to American tastes, the Macchiato became a larger drink. A Caramel Macchiato starts with steamed milk and vanilla syrup, adds the espresso, and tops the drink with a drizzle of caramel syrup. (Starbucks says that its 16 ounce size is 250 calories.)


    You can make your own at home in five minutes and double the recipe if you like. But try the single size first in case you want to adjust the proportions.

    You can buy the syrups or make your own (recipes below).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 shot espresso
  • Garnish: caramel sauce

    1. WARM an empty cup (we microwave it for 10 seconds) and add 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup. Froth the milk and add it, along with the foam, to the cup.

    2. Pour in the espresso. Drizzle the caramel sauce to garnish, and serve.

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Caramel Macchiato Recipe

    Caramel Macchiato

    Regular Latte

    Top: A homemade Caramel Macchiato (photo courtesy Tassimo). Center: A Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Bottom: A latte from Costa Coffee.


    1. COMBINE the water, sugars and salt in a heavy saucepan, add granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring slowly until the syrup reaches full a boil.

    2. REDUCE the syrup for 5 minutes over a simmer. Remove from the heat, let cool and stir in the vanilla extract.

    We store the syrup in a squeeze bottle in the fridge.

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream, cold
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

    1. ADD the sugar to a heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. The sugar will liquefy; watch it closely because it burns easily. When the liquid starts to turn amber, remove the pan from the heat and immediately…

    2. WHISK in the butter and fully incorporate it into the sugar. Quickly whisk in the cream (bubbles and foam are natural).

    3. STIR in the vanilla and salt. Let cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle (or other container).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Coffee Flavor Wheel

    Coffee Flavor Wheel

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Flavor Wheel 2015 SCAA detail 230

    The new Coffee Flavor Wheel offers essential training on how to understand the flavors and aromas of coffee. Photos courtesy


    One of the ways you get to be expert in a category—beer, chocolate, coffee, olive oil or wine, for example—is to learn to identify the flavor elements.

    We do this with a flavor wheel: a chart that identifies the different flavors and aromas of the particular food. Then, as we taste the food, we learn to identify its specific flavors and aromas by referencing the wheel.

    Take a look at THE NIBBLE’s Chocolate Flavor Chart and Olive Oil Flavor Chart, plus the seminal Wine Flavor Wheel developed at UC Davis, which not only identified all the flavors but grouped them for the first time.

    Twenty-one years ago, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) created the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel to help professionals identify the sensory attributes of any particular [brewed] coffee bean. It became one of the most valued resources in the industry.

    Earlier this year, the SCAA released an updated version, which is a valuable tool for any coffee lover who wants to better understand it. The Coffee Wheel is instrumental to understanding flavor attributes—what we call flavor notes.

    Using the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon as a foundation, dozens of industry professional—sensory experts, research scientists, coffee tasters, buyers and roasters—collaborated for more than three years to update the Lexicon and the Wheel.

    The SCAA notes that this is the largest and most collaborative piece of research on coffee flavor ever completed, and provides a new set of vocabulary for industry professionals.

    “This groundbreaking new tool will shift the way our industry thinks about and utilizes coffee flavor,” said the news release.

    Here are more details about the research and development that went into creating the wheel.



    An 18″ x 25″ poster of the wheel is $20 at

    We have a much more simplistic list of coffee aromas and flavors on

  • The History Of Coffee
  • How To Make A Good Cup Of Coffee
  • Illustrated Glossary Of Coffee Terms
  • Illustrated Glossary Of Espresso Terms
    Here’s a truly great product:

  • Coffee OFF Stain Remover

    Black Coffee

    Master the chart and you’ll become the coffee version of a wine expert: able to analyze any cup off coffee. Photo courtesy OgawaCoffeeUSA.




    RECIPE: Peppermint Mocha Coffee


    Peppermint Mocha Holiday Coffee. Photo courtesy Tylers Coffee.


    You could spend $5 at Starbucks for a Peppermint Latte, or make this over-the-top cup from Tylers Coffee, a Tucson-based specialist in USDA organic, acid-free coffee.

    It’s one of Tylers* most popular seasonal recipes.

    The culinary term mocha refers to a mixture of coffee and chocolate flavors. But the original mocha did not have have anything to do with chocolate.

    It was a term that referred to the fine coffee (what we now call arabica) that was traded in the once-vibrant port of Al Mokha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen.

    Al Mokha was the major marketplace for coffee from the 15th century until the early 18th century, selling beans that were grown in the central mountains of Yemen.

    By the early 19th century, Yemen been supplanted by Ethiopia as the principal trader of coffee. (The coffee plant originated in the highlands of Ethiopia.)


    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 5 ounces espresso or French Roast coffee
  • 1 ounce chocolate shavings
  • 1 ounce candy cane powder (grind up candy canes or striped peppermints)*
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Optional garnishes: mini candy cane, chopped candy cane, holiday sprinkles
    *In terms of why Tyler leaves the apostrophe out of is name: You’ll have to ask them!


    1. POUR the coffee into an eight-ounce glass or mug. Add the chocolate shavings and stir until dissolved.

    2. STIR in the candy cane powder. Finish with whipped cream, a mini candy cane and/or chopped peppermints and holiday sprinkles.
    *If you don’t want to grind candy canes you can use a drop of peppermint oil.
    Here are recipes for other peppermint-mocha beverages.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Special Christmas Punch

    When we first received this recipe, we thought: Readers of The Nibble won’t want to buy or make the oleo saccharum. Holiday season is busy enough as it is.

    But we loved the recipe, and decided to make it for our own holiday celebration. We tasted the test batch and thought: We’ll be shortchanging our readers if we don’t share this.

    The recipe was created by Masahiro Urushido, an award-winning New York City bartender. He used Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur and Lejay Creme de Cassis.

    This punch is inspired by traditional Scottish Christmas pudding, made with dried fruits such as raisins and apricots.

    Masa calls his recipe Pepperdier Christmas Punch, adapting the name of a friend. But since that can be confusing to the rest of us (we tried to research “Pepperdier” online), we’ll rename it slightly to Scotch Christmas Punch, acknowledging both the country of inspiration and the Scotch whisky in the recipe.


    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 1/4 cup raisins or sultanas
  • 6 ounces Scotch Whisky
  • 8 ounces Scottish Breakfast Tea (it’s malty Assam tea, but you can substitute any classic black tea)
  • 6 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Dubonnet Rouge (substitute sweet vermouth)
  • 2 ounces apricot liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cassis
  • 3 tablespoons oleo saccharum syrup (citrus sugar syrup—see below)
  • Sparkling wine*
  • Garnishes: rosemary sprigs, whole cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves

    Christmas Punch

    Oleo Saccharum Syrup

    TOP PHOTO: Christmas punch. Photo by Gabi Porter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Oleo saccharum, a big-sounding name for citrus sugar syrup. Photo courtesy Cocktail & Sons.

    *We happened to have a good bottle of Lambrusco—a red sparkling wine—on hand and it went great with this recipe. Most people will use Cava, Prosecco or another sparkling white wine.

    1. SOAK the raisins in the Scotch for several hours or overnight.

    2. MAKE the oleo saccharum if you aren’t purchasing it (recipe).

    3. MIX all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a punch bowl. Garnish with rosemary, cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves. Top with sparkling wine and serve.
    No Punch Bowl?

    If you don’t have a punch bowl, mix all ingredients except the sparkling wine in a pitcher. To serve, pour the punch into individual glasses, top with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange slice.


    Harney Scottish Breakfast Tea

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/scottish breakfast tea blend jenierteas 230r

    Both of these are Scottish breakfast teas, yet
    look at the difference in the blends. The top
    photo is Scottish Morn from Harney & Sons.
    The bottom photo is Scottish Breakfast tea
    blend from Jenier Teas.



    Oleo saccharum is citrus oil blended with sugar. In Latin, oleo means oil and saccharum means sugar. It became prominent in the 19th-century as a way to provide a subtle citrus flavor and aroma to sweetened drinks, instead of plain sugar syrup (simple syrup).

    Oleo saccharum is made from orange and/or lemon peels (lime peels have too much bitterness) that are muddled (crushed) to release the oils. Sugar is added to the muddled peel and mixes with the citrus oil that emerges from the skins. The peel is strained out, leaving sugared citrus oil.

    You can use it to add an elegant citrus note to any cocktail that requires sugar/simple syrup, and can blend it with club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

    The bottled oleo saccharum from Cocktail & Sons, featured in the photo above, is a citrus syrup enriched with fresh lemongrass, toasted green cardamom and ginger. You can buy it on

    Or, it’s easy enough to make your own. Here’s a recipe.

    Here’s something that few people outside the tea industry realize: Breakfast teas, notably English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast, are simply strong black tea blends.

    The blends have more flavor to stand up to milk or cream, complement British breakfast foods (eggs, porridge, ham, bacon, etc.) and provide heartiness (more body and caffeine) to energize the drinker in the morning. Afternoon tea blends tend to be lighter and smoother, to pair with sweets and tea sandwiches.


    The British first imported tea from China in the 17th century, to great public appreciation. Coffee was available at the time, but otherwise beer and stout were drunk by everyone, including children, because of contaminated water sources.

    The British became avid tea drinkers, and since the 18th century have been among the world’s greatest per capita tea consumers.

    In China tea is drunk plain, but in the 1720s, the British began to add sugar and milk or cream to create a more comforting beverage. Black tea came to exceed green tea in popularity, as it goes better with sugar and milk. (The same pattern occurred in the Thirteen Colonies.)
    The Different Types Of Breakfast Tea

    In order of robust flavor and body:

  • English Breakfast Tea is the mildest of the strong teas. It can be a blend of teas from Africa, India (Assam), Indonesia and Sri Lanka (Ceylon), with a base of Chinese congou tea. Originally, before tea cultivation expanded beyond China, it was unblended congou tea.
  • Irish Breakfast Tea has a good amount of Assam, giving it Assam’s malty flavor notes and reddish color. It often contain others black teas, including Darjeeling, to balance the intense flavors of Assam.
  • Scottish Breakfast Tea is the strongest of the three, with a base of Assam plus the smoother Keemun tea from China, among other teas in the blend.
    It’s important to note that there is no standard formula for any of these blends and no governing body specifying what each should contain. The blends evolved over time, likely as one vendor sought to copy a popular blend offered by another vendor.

    Thus, teas of the same name—English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Jasmine, etc.—can vary slightly in taste, aroma and appearance from vendor to vendor, and country to country. Names can also vary for the same type of blend. [Source]

    For example, fine tea vendor Harney & Sons calls its Scottish Breakfast Tea “Scottish Morn.” Describing the blend, which was made to the specifications of the American Scottish Foundation, Harney says:

    “A mixture of dark brown leaves, the smaller pieces of Assam and Ceylon and [the] CTC (cut, tear, curl) method make for a stronger tea. This is one of our darkest teas, brewing a very dark brown color. Many Scots would lighten it with milk. Aroma is not the point of this tea, so there are only hints of suggestions of malt. It is caffeinated [and] a very full bodied tea…perhaps the strongest tea we offer. Strong and simple, this tea is meant to be drunk with milk.”

    And now you know about Scottish Breakfast Tea and its kin, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. Enjoy the teas…and the punch!



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