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Archive for Coffee & Tea

TIP OF THE DAY: How to Recycle Coffee Grounds

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You can toss your coffee grounds, or re-use
them in multiple ways. Photo courtesy
Tradebit.com.

 

September 29th is National Coffee Day. If you brew your own coffee, what do you do with the spent grounds?

Here are green alternatives from Folgers Coffee and our own archives.

WAYS TO RECYCLE COFFEE GROUNDS

BEAUTY

  • Body scrub: Add grounds to warm water or coconut oil and use as an exfoliating scrub.
  • Antioxidant facial: Mix two tablespoons of grounds with an equal amount of cocoa powder. Add three tablespoons of whole milk or heavy cream and a tablespoon of honey. Spread on your face; remove in 15 minutes.
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    CRAFTS

  • Dye clothing or “antique” paper.
  • Scented candles: Mix the grounds into the wax of homemade candles. You’ll get a coffee scent as they burn.
  • Soap: Add grounds to homemade soap. They work as an exfoliator also impart some caffeine through the skin.
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    KITCHEN

  • Marinate meat: The acid in the grounds is a tenderizer. A small amount added to a marinade gets great results without imparting the taste of coffee.
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    GARDEN

  • Use as plant food: The nitrogen-rich coffee grounds nurture houseplants and garden plants. Mix one part coffee grounds with four parts water, and water your plants with it once every other week. You can also sprinkle the grounds directly over the soil or blend them into the soil. Don’t use un-brewed coffee; it’s too high in acid and can burn the plants.
  • Compost, along with the paper coffee filter.
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    HOME

  • Touch up wood scratches with grounds and a cotton swab.
  • Clean the fireplace: Scatter grounds over the ashes to reduce the spread of dust as you sweep it up.
  • Use as a deodorizer, to remove strong smells (curry, fish, garlic). Rub some grounds over your hands or kitchen counter; then wash them off.
  • Remove unpleasant odors from garbage cans, closets, shoes, etc. Leave a cup of coffee grounds (or a smaller amount as appropriate) inside them overnight.
     
    COFFEE BONUS

    Folgers has an online coffee calculator to tell you exactly how much water and ground coffee you need, based on the number of people.

    Note that in the coffee industry, a serving size is 6 fluid ounces. An American mug typically holds 12 ounces.

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/coffee soap offbeatandinspired 230

    Homemade coffee soap. Here’s the recipe from OffbeatAndInspired.com.

     

      

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    UPDATES: New Flavors From Product Favorites

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    A nutritious, easy breakfast is just a crunch away. Photo courtesy belVita.

     

    If we reported on all the updates to products we’ve previously reviewed, we’d need another full-time staff. Each year flavors come, flavors go; and on an all-too-regular basis, packaging changes.

    While we can’t keep on top of it all, here are recent updates to some of our favorite products.

    ANGRY ORCHARD CIDER’S SUMMER HONEY

    There are seasonal ciders, just as there are seasonal beers. Angry Orchard’s Summer Honey is a perfect poolside drink—or it would be, if we had a pool. Instead, we’re enjoying it in the great air-conditioned indoors.

    Here’s our original review of Angry Orchard Cider. The company website is AngryOrchard.com.
     
    APPLEGATE NATURAL UNCURED BEEF HOT DOGS
    NOW GRASS FED

    Ever since we published our review of the best organic hot dogs, Applegate has become our brand of choice.

     
    Applegate has always used meat from animals that are humanely raised and antibiotic free. Made with only beef, water, sea salt and spices, the dogs are also lower in fat, with less salt than other brands.

    Now, the beef is 100% grass fed, something of interest to healthier eaters. Compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef typically has:

  • Less total fat.
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E.
  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks.
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    Learn more at Applegate.com.

    BELVITA BREAKFAST BISCUITS IN CRANBERRY ORANGE

    Since their launch by Nabisco in 2012, belVita has been a favorite breakfast and snack item at our office and a Top Pick Of The Week. We prefer the original crunchy biscuits to the subsequent Soft Baked and Biscuit Bites variations.

    Recently, Cranberry Orange was added to belVita’s crunchy flavors. Along with Blueberry and Chocolate, it’s a favorite. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Discover more at BelvitaBreakfast.com.
     
    HALFPOPS

    Halfpops, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has added two new flavors to originals Butter & Sea Salt and Aged White Cheddar.

    The newcomers, Caramel & Sea Salt and Chipotle Barbeque, are equally delicious. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU, and certified gluten free. Find the retailer nearest you at Halfpops.com.

     

    NONNI’S THIN ADDICTIVES, NOW IN MANGO

    Nonni’s Thin Addictives, a lower-calorie alternative to biscotti, has released Mango Coconut Almond Thins.

    It joins Banana Dark Chocolate, Blueberry Oat Almond, Cinnamon Raisin, Cranberry Almond and Pistachio as a crunchy side to coffee and tea.

    The line is certified kosher (parve) by MK, a Montreal certifier (the product is made in Canada). Discover more at Nonnis.com.
     

    PRETZEL CRISPS, GLUTEN-FREE

    Flat, crunchy Pretzel Crisps are another favorite snack. We used the Dark Chocolate & Peppermint and White Chocolate & Peppermint flavors as stocking stuffers last December, and extolled the Sriracha & Lime flavor more recently.

    Now, there are four gluten-free varieties that taste just as good as the conventional versions: Gluten Free Original Minis, Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Flavored Crunch Minis, Gluten Free Salted Caramel Minis and Gluten Free Vanilla Yogurt Flavored Crunch Minis.

    From Deli Style to Minis to Modern Classics to Everyday Indulgents and Holiday Indulgents, there are quite a selection of Pretzel Crisps. See the whole line at PretzelCrisps.com. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

     

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    Chipotle Barbeque joins Caramel & Sea Salt in the Halfpops line. Photo courtesy Halfpops.

     
    QUAKER OATS’ 3-MINUTE STEEL CUT OATS

    Quaker has introduced new Quick 3-Minute Steel Cut Oats, which delivers the same hearty texture and nutty taste that has made steel cut oats our favorite—but with a far more convenient cook time.

    Available in plain oats in canisters, and flavored individual pouches: 3-Minute Blueberries & Cranberries and Cinnamon and Sugar. Discover more at QuakerOats.com.
     
    SAMUEL ADAMS SUMMER BEERS

    Some people like a lighter brew for the hot weather, and Samuel Adams offers a good selection. Two new lighter brews for summer refreshment include Downtime Pilsner, a “laid-back” golden pilsner, and Rebel Rider IPA, a hoppy West Coast-style IPA with a lighter body. These new brews are joined by traditional summer favorites, Boston Lager, Porch Rocker and Summer Ale.

    Also new, from the Small Batch Collection, is Honey Queen, a blend of mead and beer. Dating back to the 12th century, this combination is known as a braggot—a new word for our Beer Glossary. It’s brewed with three different honeys, complex hops and chamomile for a tart sweetness with a lovely honey finish.

    Learn more at SamuelAdams.com.

      

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    GIFT: A Camera Lens Mug

    Here’s a special gift for a mom, dad or grad who’s into photography: This camera lens is actually a mug!

    Totally detailed, it looks and feels like the real thing and holds a hefty 15 ounces of beverage. The lens cap sip top doubles as a coaster or a dish for nibbles.

    A stainless steel lining keeps beverages warm longer (like a thermos), and the screw top lid (the lens cap) provides spill-free transporting. The lid’s sip-top slides and locks to prevent spills.

    The Camera Lens Travel Mug is $29.95 at WhatOnEarthCatalog.com.

    We promise: Everyone will ask where you got it.

     

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    Drink from the camera lens—it’s a mug! Photo courtesy What On Earth Catalog..

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Decaf Coffee Facts

    According to the National Coffee Association, 10% of coffee drinkers in the U.S. opt for decaf. Counter Culture Coffee, a coffee house in New York City, reports that 18% of its coffee sales come from decaffeinated coffee.

    There are good things about decaf, and less good. First, the good: In addition to avoiding jitters and helping you get to sleep, decaf in general is better for your health*. Here’s some reporting from Diana Villa at Care2.com. It’s not a comprehensive discussion, but we offer it as a starting point to those who wonder if decaf might be better for them.

    Decaf coffee is good for your liver.

    In a study of more than 28,000 participants over 10 years, one study found that people who drink at least three cups of coffee a day had lower levels of four liver enzymes often linked to damage and inflammation.
     
    Decaf coffee reduces diabetes risk.

       

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    At least one in 10 Americans opt for decaf. Photo courtesy Filicori Zecchini.

     
    In another study, compared with people who drink no coffee, those who drank six cups of regular coffee a day had a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. But those who drank one cup of decaf per day had a 6% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.
     
    Decaf coffee cuts prostate cancer risk.

    In a study of 47,911 men by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that those who consumed six or more cups of coffee a day—regular or decaf—had an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and were 60% less likely to die of it. The results suggest that it’s the coffee antioxidants, not the caffeine, that offer the protection.
     
    *This article is not a medical advisory; people with certain conditions or the potential to develop them should restrict caffeine. Discuss your caffeine intake with your healthcare provider.

     

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    Decaffeinated coffee has more benefits than simply avoiding the jitters. Photo courtesy Filicori Zecchini.

     

    Now for the caveats:

    Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free.

    According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97% of the original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. If you drink five to ten cups of decaf a day, you can still be consuming the caffeine equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee.
     
    The amount of caffeine in decaf coffee varies significantly.

    While a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 mg of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some cups of decaf that had more than 20 mg of caffeine. In this study, a cup of decaf from Dunkin’ Donuts had 32 mg of caffeine!
     
    Decaf might raise your cholesterol.

    According to the American Heart Association, decaffeinated coffee may raise your LDL [bad] cholesterol. Researchers tracked three groups of participants: those who drank three cups of regular coffee a day, those who drank three cups of decaf, and those who drank no coffee. Three months later, the decaf group alone experienced an 8% spike in apolipoprotein B, a component of LDL cholesterol.

     

    Not all decaf is created equal.

    There are different ways to decaffeinate coffee; some use chemical agents. Look for a Swiss Water Process or a brand that uses the CO2 method to decaffeinate. These two are also the only certified-organic methods to decaffeinate.

    And now, it’s time for our first cup of coffee of the day. We’re going for an espresso, caffeinated.
      

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    PRODUCT: Keurig 2.0 Coffee System

    The Keurig 2.0 was launched this past fall, and was on Christmas wish lists for more than a few Keurig fans. If Santa didn’t bring you one, it may be the time to pick one up.

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    Make single cups with smaller capsules, or a
    small carafe with a larger capsule. Photo
    courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.

     

    The 2.0 is a game changer in the single-serve coffee category. It makes both single cups, and 28-ounce carafes; the latter provides a bit more than four six-ounce pours into eight-ounce cups. (Alternatively, it will fill almost three mugs, if you pour ten ounces of coffee into a 12-ounce mug.)

    Here are the changes that may or may not affect you:

  • It requires a new size of K-Cup. The original Keurig K-Cups won’t work in the 2.0. The K-cups for the 2.0 are larger, similar to the Keurig VUE cups, which will work in the 2.0 for as long as the company keeps producing this green packaging (which for whatever reason was made in a different size and required a different Keurig machine entirely, which has been discontinued).
  • You can’t use cups not manufactured by Green Mountain, owners of Keurig. The 2.0 has an RFID reader that reads an RFID chip in the new cups. Nothing else will work. Keurig’s K-Cup patent expired in 2012, which made way for lower cost, third-party cups (also called “aftermarket” cups). Keurig could decide to sell aftermarket manufacturers a license, but don’t expect the lower prices if they’re paying a licensing fee.
  • The K-Cups seem to cost the same. Individual K-Cups run $17.99/$16.19 for 24 cups, or 75¢/67¢ per cup.
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  • Similarly, there are no coffee filter baskets for outside coffee. If you have been using a refillable cup with your favorite, non-Green Mountain coffee, it won’t work with the 2.0. Hopefully, Keurig will manufacture a compatible basket down the road.
  • You need still other cups to make a carafe. These are called carafe packs, and they’re larger than K-Cups. The new opportunity: You can brew a carafe and stick it in the fridge for iced coffee. The carafe packs are selling on the Keurig website for $14.99/$13.49 for members, for eight units. That’s $1.87/$1.68 per carafe, or 47¢/42¢- per cup.
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    THE THREE KEURIG MODELS

    The Keurig 2.0 Brewing System comes in three sizes, with an option that includes a variety of K-Cups and K-Carafe packs for an additional $10.

  • All three models brew single cups with K-cups and carafes with the K-Carafe Pack.
  • All three have “strength control,” allowing you to brew a stronger or weaker cup.
  • You get another 10 ounces of water in the reservoir, or another mug of coffee, with each size increase.
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    The differences:

  • K300/350, $149.99, 60-ounce water reservoir. The clock is not programmable and the touch display is monochrome.
  • K400/450, $169.99, 70-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings.
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    The coffee cup isn’t included, but the basic package includes the carafe. Our suggestion: Upgrade to the sampler kit. Photo courtesy Keurig Green Mountain.

  • K500/550, $199.99, 80-ounce water reservoir. The touch display is in color and large, the clock is customizable and you can save favorite settings. There’s a customizable night light and wallpaper, and a feature called hot water on-demand, if, for example, you need hot water to use with your own teabag or hot chocolate mix.
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    Our philosophy is, when offered decisions like these, spend the extra few bucks and go deluxe. If you’re counting your dollars, you shouldn’t be paying more for coffee via a single cup system.

    For more information, visit Keurig.com.

      

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