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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Coffee & Tea

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Pumpkin Liqueur

Sip your pumpkin liqueur straight, mix into a
pumpkin Martini or other cocktail. Photo
courtesy SXC.


If you like to create something new, how about pumpkin liqueur? You can make enough for your own household and as gifts for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Then, pumpkin up your holiday cocktails and desserts.

This recipe comes from The Martini Diva.

You’ll need these tools:

  • Baking sheets
  • Large metal strainer
  • Coffee filters or cheesecloth
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Citrus zester
  • Large glass jar (infusion jar) for distillation process
  • Second large glass jar for filtering process
  • Decorative bottles and labels for finished liquor


  • 1 fresh pumpkin, 10-12 pounds or 32 ounces canned pumpkin (see note below)
  • 1 fifth 100 proof vodka
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Optional: orange food color (combine red and yellow—see note below)


    1. REMOVE seeds and fibers and cut pumpkin into chunks (about 8″). Place flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for about half an hour or until the flesh is tender. The baking time will depend on the size of your pieces.

    2. SCRAPE the cooked flesh from the shell and place into the infusion jar with the vodka. Reserve the vodka bottle to bottle your liqueur.

    3. ADD the lemon zest, pumpkin pie spice and sugar. Seal jar and place in the fridge. Let this distill for a minimum of one week and up to two weeks. Shake the jar up whenever you open the fridge, or at least once a day. After the first week you can test the depth of flavor until you get the intensity of pumpkin flavor you want.

    4. STRAIN the ingredients through a large sieve or metal strainer to remove the chunkier pieces.

    5. LINE the metal strainer with coffee filters or cheesecloth and place over the over the filtering jar. Filter the infused pumpkin liqueur through the strainer in stages (do not overfill the strainer). After each portion of the liqueur filters through, toss out the sediment that has accumulated in the strainer. When all the solids are removed, you’re ready to bottle.

    Use the retained vodka bottle for your own use. For gifting, purchase decorative bottles and add a label.


    You can also buy pumpkin liqueur. But where’s the fun in that? Photo courtesy Hiram Walker.

    Substitute pumpkin liqueur for vermouth to make a Pumpkin Martini, and create your own pumpkin cocktails.


    Canned Pumpkin: You can substitute 32 ounces of canned pumpkin purée can for the fresh pumpkin, but you’ll lose some of the great flavor. Think of fresh-baked acorn or butternut squash versus frozen squash.

    Color: If you want a really bright orange colored liqueur, Add a few drops of food coloring to the infusion jar. Use the proportion of 4 drops yellow to 1 drop red. Add it bit by bit, but don’t worry if you find yourself adding 12 drops of yellow and 4 drops of red food color.

    Rum Option: You can use white rum instead of vodka, but the pumpkin flavor will be less pronounced. Vodka is a neutral spirit, but rum has flavor. Try both and see how you like them.



    RECIPE: Gin Spiced Tea

    For spiced tea lovers, here’s a new way to enjoy spiced tea: with spiced gin. It’s an alternative to a rum toddy, also known as hot buttered rum.

    Look for Darnley’s View Spiced Gin, Edinburg Gin’s Spiced Orange Gin and Opihr, a London Dry Gin with oriental spices.

    Brew a cup of spiced tea and add a tablespoon of gin; relax and enjoy. Then, gather friends for a sophisticated cup of tea.

    No spiced gin? Check out friends’ travel plans: We had bottles brought back to us by a colleague who regularly visits England because we couldn’t can’t find them locally.

    Alternatively, you can infuse Old Plymouth Gin or a brand that doesn’t scream “botanicals!” to you. Add allspice, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel. Follow the directions for how to infuse vodka.

    If you’re a real do-it-yourselfer, you can make gin from scratch with this homemade gin kit.

    And then there’s the easy default: Use whatever gin you have on hand.


    A nice twist: gin with similar spices as you’ll find in Constant Comment and other spiced teas.



    Tanqueray Gin relaunched its Malacca expression earlier this year. The gin was discontinued after a short run from 1997 to 2001.

    Unlike Tanqueray’s well-known London Dry Gin—the juniper-infused style that most people think of as gin—Malacca is more like Old Tom Gin, a style that faded away in the 20th century but is enjoying a small renaissance (see below). Malacca is flavored with citrus and a hint of spice—though not as much spice as the spiced gins above.

    Tanqueray Malacca Gin was introduced in 1997 as a “wetter” (sweeter) alternative to the London Dry Gin. It was launched as a better gin for sweet gin drinks like the Gimlet and the Tom Collins. It didn’t take off as the company had expected, and was discontinued.

    But it was before its time. Over the last decade, the demand for the older style of gin has grown, as evidenced by the launch of several Old Tom-style gins, reviving a style popular in 18th-century England.


    Treat yourself to a bottle of Malacca, a
    sweeter, more citrusy style of gin for
    sweeter drinks (or neat). Photo courtesy



    Old Tom gin is popping up again in England, with brands such as Hayman’s and Ransom. (If you can’t find them in the U.S., ask a favor of a friend who travels to the U.K.)

    More citrusy and not as focused on juniper and other botanicals, Old Tom gin is a style that was popular in 18th-century England but faded away in the 20th century. It is currently undergoing a small renaissance.

    Old Tom is slightly sweeter than London Dry gin, but slightly drier than Dutch jenever, the original gin.

    The name is said to come from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an “Old Tom”) that were mounted on the outside wall of some pubs in 18th century England for passing pedestrians. After they deposited a penny in the cat’s mouth, they would place their lips around a small tube between the cat’s paws. On the other side of the wall, the bartender would pour a shot of gin into the tube. (Yes, it sounds very unsanitary to us moderns.)

    See the different types of gin.




    PRODUCT: Herbal Iced Tea

    Hot and humid, these dog days require additional thirst-quenching. If you’re not a water fan and don’t want the caffeine in iced coffee and iced tea, take a long, cool look at herbal iced tea.

    We’ve been brewing and icing quite a few herbal teas these days, including a sprightly assortment from Pukka, a U.K. brand that is expanding in the U.S. It hits what we call the food trifecta: fair trade and sustainable, certified organic and certified kosher (OU).

    To show yow much fun you can have with herbal tea, here’s a sampling of the blends (which are delicious iced or hot):

  • Green Chai: herbal tea with cinnamon and star anise
  • Lemongrass & Ginger
  • Licorice & Cinnamon
  • Love: rose, chamomile and lavender flower
  • Morning Time: rooibos, honeybush & red ginseng for a caffeine-free lift
  • Peppermint & Licorice
  • Refresh: peppermint, fennel & rose
  • Revitalise: cinnamon, cardamom and ginger
  • Three Ginger: ginger, galangal and golden turmeric

    Pick one, ice it, relax. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Three Mint: peppermint, spearmint and field mint tea
  • Tulsi: green tulsi, purple tulsi and lemon tulsi tea, used to uplift and restore
  • Vanilla Chai: herbal tea with cinnamon and sweet vanilla
    The company pays close attention to the quality of the plants they blend, finding the most potent, vibrant and flavorful herbs. Best sellers include Three Mint, Peppermint and Licorice, and Lemongrass and Ginger. See all of the blends at

    If you use ice in your iced tea, make ice cubes from the same tea as well: The flavors won’t get diluted.



    RECIPE: Jamaican Iced Coffee & Other Coffee Cocktails

    Jamaican Iced Coffee, made with rum,
    liqueur and brewed coffee. Photo courtesy
    Appleton Estates.


    Turn iced coffee into a cocktail for summer entertaining. Here’s a recipe from Appleton Estate rum, produced in the lush countryside of Jamaica.

    Jamaican Iced Coffee can be enjoyed with brunch, post-dinner or whenever you want your cocktail to provide a jolt of energy instead of putting you to sleep.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ ounces Appleton Estate Reserve
  • ½ ounce Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 1 ounce vanilla syrup (see below)
  • 3 ounces cold brewed coffee
  • Fresh hand whipped cream (recipe)
  • Garnish: cinnamon

    Vanilla syrup is simple syrup flavored with vanilla. You can purchase regular or sugar-free vanilla syrup, or make your own with this recipe.


    1. BUILD rum, Grand Marnier, vanilla syrup and coffee over ice into a highball glass.

    2. GARNISH with fresh whipped cream and dust with ground cinnamon.

  • Substitute coffee liqueur or chocolate liqueur for the orange liqueur.
  • Garnish with nutmeg instead of cinnamon.


    tFATHER’S DAY GIFT: Bialetti Espresso Maker

    The Bialetti Mini Espresso: It’s neat, petite
    and produces great espresso. Photo courtesy


    We’ve been enjoying our Bialetti Mini Express espresso maker every day for the last six months. So if you’re looking for a great gift for an espresso-loving dad, check it out.

    A no-mess capsule machine with a modest footprint—7.5″ wide x 10.5″ deep—it fits easily onto the kitchen counter. At $149.95 on, it’s much more affordable than other options.

    We like the different espresso blends, and decaf is one of the choices (great for that midnight latte!). We also like that:

  • It’s easy to brew as short or tall an espresso as you want (we always like a double). The cup platform easily holds an eight-ounce-size American cup.
  • The water reservoir is on the side. It’s so much more convenient than the typical reservoir-in-the-back design, which requires pulling the machine away from the wall to check the level and refill the water.

    It’s a gift that keeps on giving every day, at breakfast, after dinner and for a cappuccino or latte in between.



    PRODUCT: Keurig Vue Custom Brewing System

    The tag line of the Keurig Vue single-cup custom brewing system is “Brew Stronger. Brew Bigger. Brew Hotter.”

    We’d like to add: Brew Sustainably. The Vue cups (an improvement on K-cups) are made from recyclable #5 plastic (polypropylene). While it doesn’t matter to some people, we strive to do our small part to help the environment. Finally, with Keurig Vue, we can enjoy a K-cup-type system with the improved Vue cups.

    We’re excited about this appliance for other reasons, too, including the total control it gives you to customize your brew exactly as you wish:

  • Hot enough for you? The Keurig Vue lets you decide how hot you want your beverage. We like ours hotter than other single-cup systems and conventional coffee makers deliver.

    A great addition to the kitchen, a great gift. Photo courtesy Keurig.


  • Cold enough for you? You can brew iced coffee or iced tea directly from the machine into your glass. Terrific!
  • Large enough for you? The intuitive, color LCD touchscreen lets you customize brew sizes from 4 to 18 ounces, to accommodate everything from espresso cups to travel mugs.

    Vue cups: Take your pick! Photo courtesy Keurig.

  • Strong enough for you? Touch the screen to produce a more robust cup.
  • Looking for a great Father’s Day gift? Keurig Vue gets our vote.

    Keurig makes the biggest-selling line of single-cup brewing machines, and the capsules (K-cups and Vue cups) used to make coffee, tea and hot chocolate. As is common knowledge, it’s more costly to brew a single cup of coffee than a carafe of it; but with no hassle or mess, and perfect coffee every time, Americans have more than embraced single-serve.

    In fact, single-serve coffee is one of the fastest-growing segments of coffee sales worldwide. For busy people, no fuss or mess is a valued tradeoff for economy.

    Head over to to browse the options. Hopefully, there’s a Keurig Vue in your future.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sparkling Water & Espresso

    The chaser, a time-honored custom of alcohol consumption, is glass of water or a milder beverage consumed immediately after a strong drink. The term developed around 1897 from the French chasser, to chase.

    But it took some etymological evolution to create the chaser we know today. Originally, the term referred to a drink of liquor consumed to kill the aftertaste of coffee or tobacco.

    Say hello to the reverse of the modern chaser: There is no term for it, so we’re calling it a “leader” (leading is the reverse of chasing). It’s a glass of sparkling water served before a coffee or liquor, to clear the palate.

    We didn’t invent the idea: It came to us from Ferrarelle, Italy’s favorite naturally sparkling mineral water, which is readily available across the U.S.

    Ferrarelle caught the trend from Italian baristas.


    Enjoy a “leader” of sparkling water before your espresso. Espresso cup courtesy Illy. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    Baristas, who want to deliver a perfect espresso experience, have found that serving a small glass of sparkling water first, cleanses and enlivens the palate. The thousands of tiny bubbles help wake up the senses, and the dissolved minerals in the water can add a new taste dimension to an espresso.

    The trend seems to have begun in coffee bars in Milan, Italy. Order an espresso and a small glass of sparkling water appears first.

    So, be the trendsetter in your crowd. You may even teach your local barista a thing or two.

    Check out our Espresso Glossary. You’ll discover the different types of espresso drinks and the history of espresso.



    NEWS: Get Your Latte At Burger King

    Would you like a latte with that burger?

    Has America gone latte crazy? If not, why would Burger King add a 12-ounce “coffeehouse latte” to its menu?

    Enough with the questions:

    Starting today, you can kick-start your morning or take your coffee break at Burger King. The menu includes caramel, mocha, plain and vanilla lattes in regular and nonfat varieties. The lattes are brewed with 100% Latin American arabica espresso from Seattle’s Best Coffee.

    The suggested retail price starts at $2.29, but for a limited time, you can try them for just $1.00.

    It’s time to round up the gang and head to BK for your coffee break!


    Coffeehouse lattes are now on the menu at Burger King. Photo courtesy Burger King.


    Coffee cherries. Photo courtesy



    Caffe latte, called latte (LAH-tay) for short, is a shot of espresso with steamed milk in a 3:1 ratio of milk to espresso. In France and Italy, it is a breakfast drink. In America it also serves as the base for flavored lattes, where a sweet syrup is added in any variety of flavors—caramel, hazelnut, mocha, vanilla and a long list of specialty flavors.

    See all the different types of espresso drinks in our Espresso Glossary.


    The fruits of the coffee tree are called cherries, and you can see why in the photo: They look just like Queen Anne cherries. Other varieties can be solid red or burgundy.


    Inside the fruit are two seeds: the coffee beans. The seeds are a pale green color, and turn brown when they are roasted.

    There’s a sweet, sticky pulp surrounding the seeds that tastes like a delicate blend of watermelon and hibiscus. But this is not an eating fruit: Most of the cherry interior is taken up by the seeds.

    Thank goodness: Otherwise, we’d need to buy even more tiny beans to make a cup of coffee.



    EVENT: Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge

    How well do you know your coffee?

    Counter Culture Coffee wants you to get to know it better. You’re invited to take part in The Counter Culture Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge 2013, held on March 15 in:

  • Asheville
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Durham
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
    Events in all regions start at 7 p.m. E.T., 6 p.m. C.T. in Chicago.


    Taste the coffee black to discover the differences. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.


    Known in the industry as “coffee cupping,” this is the process professionals use to assess different coffees—for example, to decide if and how to improve the roast or blend, or which beans should be served/sold by the establishment.

    The Counter Culture event, though, is a consumer contest for a regional title win. The overall winner gets a chance to go to the Specialty Coffee Association of America conference in Boston this April, to compete in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship.

    For a $5.00 entry fee, participants get to taste delicious coffees: multiple sets (flights) of three cups each. To win, you’ve got to correctly identify which cup is different from the other two in each set.

    Ready to put your palate to the test? Registration information is at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Kitchenware For Valentine’s Day

    For food enthusiasts, Valentine’s Day isn’t solely about chocolate and cupcakes. Look in the housewares department for Valentine gifts.

    For every price range, red items abound. From a burger/pancake flipper or “spoonula” set (spoon/spatula) to a CrockPot, hand mixer or stand mixer, the housewares department yields bright red gifts that will grace the kitchen every day of the year.

    We received an early Valentine gift yesterday: a Bialetti Mini Express single-serve espresso machine. It uses capsules that produce a perfect taste of Italy every time.

    The machine is $199.00, not expensive for a good espresso machine. If you enjoy just one espresso a day, you’ll break even in about two months, including the cost of the capsules.

    And the Bialetti Mini Express has a modest footprint: 7.5″ wide x 10.5″ deep. It fit easily into the small available space on our kitchen counter.


    Treat yourself or your Valentine to a bright red espresso machine. Photo courtesy Bialetti.


    We love espresso, and previously had owned a conventional Italian espresso machine. It looked like a work of art, but we found that it was cumbersome and messy to grind, tamp and insert the group head (the device that holds the ground coffee). Too often, we found ourselves either out of fresh espresso beans or tossing out the ones we’d had for weeks (the flavor of the beans declines with each day after they’ve been roasted, and is even more noticeable in a strong-brewed drink that is drunk black).

    Instead of the chore of making espresso, we started brewing French roast coffee in a regular coffee maker. We gave the espresso maker to the first person who said, “Wow, I’ve always wanted an espresso machine.”

    But we are espresso-less no more! The Bialetti Mini Express is a great little espresso machine that produces a terrific cup. It delivers authentic espresso in no-mess capsules, in about 15 seconds—a bit more if you want a double. We couldn’t be happier.


    Enjoy a rich cup of espresso whenever the mood strikes. Photo by Luke S.Z. | SXC.



    Bialetti may not yet be a household name in the U.S., but the company is the world’s leading espresso maker.

    It put its technical know-how into a small, single-serve espresso machine that has all the pressure needed to make a perfect espresso: a 20 bar high pressure system. Easy-to-use capsules load and expel with one motion. And it’s a great price for such a fine espresso machine.

    The Mini Express has these other features that we really like:

  • The water reservoir is on the side. It’s so much more convenient than the typical reservoir-in-the-back design, which requires pulling the machine away from the wall to check the level and refill the water.
  • It’s easy to brew as short or tall an espresso as you like (we always like a double). The cup platform easily holds an eight-ounce-size American cup.


    So you thought there was only one type of espresso? No: Espresso is not a type of bean but a roasting style (see our Espresso Glossary for more information). Each region of Italy has its preferred blend of beans. Bialetti offers four different styles plus a decaf—a boon for espresso lovers who are off caffeine.

    All of the styles are rich and round with the most wonderful aftertaste that you can enjoy the cup long after the last drop is gone. The variations are in the body and intensity, with subtle flavor nuances.

  • Milano is a smooth and light-bodied espresso style favored by the Milanese.
  • Venezia, a light roast preferred in Venice, is a round and delicate espresso.
  • Roma, a rich, bold style preferred in the Eternal City, has complex flavors.
  • Napoli, a full-bodied and intense espresso in the Neapolitan tradition, is bold style, what many Americans think of as espresso.
  • For decaf drinkers, there’s a velvety medium roast.
    The Bialetti Mini Express comes with a “starter kit” with two of each capsule, so you can quickly decide your favorite. It’s easy to buy capsules online (, or at retailers such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Kitchen Kapers and Sur la Table.

    A box of 16 capsules is $11.95. That’s less than 70 cents for a rich, delicious cup of espresso. And it will make you or your Valentine happy for years. Can you say that about a box of chocolate?



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