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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

From The Perspective of a Coffee Bean - Happy Bean Coffee

Posted: March 23, 2009
by: T.Alexander

The poets tell us that the mysteries of life may be discovered through a blade of grass or a grain of sand. What about a coffee bean? Why not? The team at Happy Bean Coffee believes that you should know the soul of the coffee bean so they have written about its life as if it had awareness and destiny. The article is masterfully written starting with the beginnings of the bean in the equatorial mountains:

“The coffee bean stirs within and, to the first sounds of birds and the morning rituals of nearby inhabitants, the rain forest awakens around it.”

Coffee Beans

The bean takes on personality with great expectations:

“It will be a gourmet Arabica bean or it will be nothing; it will taste rich and be aromatic or existence will be meaningless. Dreams of lattes, French roast, decaf, espresso and perhaps, flavored hints of hazelnut, chocolate, or vanilla, may fill the time, but ultimate satisfaction is yet a long way off. For now, the gourmet coffee bean is tucked in the caring hands of the plantation farmer and there it will stay, until inevitability pulls it from its cozy mountainside home.”

The process of harvesting, transporting and roasting is romanticized:

“A bath in pure mountain water awakens energy stored within it, and a fresh, new, green coffee bean emerges from the red pod in which it had nestled for so long.  As though it has passed this way a thousand times, the gourmet coffee bean bumps first down the mountain trails and dirt roads of its little corner of the world --joined gradually by others of like origin and destiny. Together they fill baskets, bags, vehicles, and the holds of freighters destined for the worlds four corners, and the coffee roasters there of the highest standards.”

And finally it fulfills it’s purpose – ultimately providing you with a nice experience that you just might take for granted:

“The bean has now given all of itself. Yet what has been given remains delicately within. The essence lingers and is cooled. In its state of grace, the gourmet bean is delicately and proudly packaged by the roastmaster--bag by bag--to be whisked off on a its final journey.”

How cool is this? I never stopped to think about this level of awareness in agricultural products; especially a commodity that we take for granted. Bravo Happy Coffee Bean team!

You might also want to check out their line up of fine coffee including Colombian, Premium Espresso, Organic and Sumatra Mandheling. I was intrigued by the coffee jelly especially the Vanilla Latte and Crème Brulee. Sounds yummy. Great work Happy Bean Coffee.

Happy Bean Coffee Logo

French Press - For Coffee Lovers Only

Posted: March 24, 2007
by: T.Alexander

Thanks to The Gourmet Retailer for sharing some history and tips on the French Press for in home coffee brewing. Trivia: 1933 was the year that the first French Press patent was applied for although the method was said to be developed in the 1850’s.  French_press

So what’s the big deal about a French Press? It’s simple – achieving the perfect cup of coffee – consistently – without a lot of effort. The Gourmet Retailer reminds us that there are 4 key ingredients to brewing an excellent cup of coffee: 1) high quality, freshly roasted ground coffee 2) maintaining water temperature between 192 – 204 degrees F 3) proper surface area contact between water & ground coffee 4) contact time. I’ll add a 5th – sparkling clean equipment. The French Press method achieves optimum results for all these criteria. And because coffee oils are not trapped in a coffee filter, the flavor is richer – not necessarily stronger – just more, well..original.

Ease of use – It’s easy. Start with coarsely ground high quality coffee and about one rounded tablespoon per four-ounce cup. Add hot water. Stir the coffee grinds, replace the lid and let stand for four minutes. Then just push the plunger down slowly and firmly to insure even distribution. The rest is pure ecstasy – you, your perfect cup of coffee and your quiet time.

Try Espresso Zone for a nice French Press selection ranging from $29.99 to $69.99.

Coffee and Conservation

Posted: September 1, 2006
by: T.Alexander

If you’re looking for a resource to identify coffee producers that are environmentally and socially conscious, here you go. Coffee and Conversation. This particular post discusses Cafe Femenino Peru – “Out of Peru comes a story of strength, unity and hope. A new niche coffee, Cafe Femenino Peru, has evolved that is changing the role of women in rural coffee communities.”

A similar coffee is not available from Mexico - "...grown, processed and traded exclusively by a group of women in southern Chiapas state. The women control the proceeds from the sale of their crop and are fully involved in planning for the next year. Grounds for Change will donate 25 cents for each pound of Cafe Femenino Mexico sold directly back to this women's coffee growing project.

Coffee Conscientious consumers are also demand quality and flavor. This product appears to meet the criteria with a medium body and bright, nutty flavor with subtle sweetness. I believe I’ll try it!

Coffee Gifts & Tea Gifts

Posted: March 8, 2006
by: T.Alexander

A while ago the team at GourmetStation decided we should add tea as a beverage option for GourmetStation’s four course dinners.  At the time the company was offering only St. Ives European Blend Coffee made especially for GourmetStation international cuisine. While the coffee received excellent reviews, tea was requested from time to time.

So GourmetStation went on the hunt for the best tea. The result – Numi Organic Tea. What was interesting was how naturally the Numi collection aligned with the four GourmetStation menu lines. Simply Mint for Parisian, Earl Gray for Tuscan, Gunpowder Temple of Heaven for Cajun and Rainforest for Fusion.

At the same time GourmetStation saw a great opportunity to offer both coffee gifts and tea gifts.  One St. Ives coffee gift set includes a beautiful mahogany lacquered basket with three flavors of 2 oz. St. Ives coffee, a campy coffee mug, and four 10 oz. Bags of Columbian Supremo, Costa Rican La Lap, Kenya Kirinyaga, and Guatemalan coffee, a good value at $69.99 plus shipping.

The Numi Flowering Tea Gift is probably the most unique of the offering. Tea_pot A delicate glass teapot allows flowering teas to literally bloom before your eyes. The tea gift comes in a mahogany bamboo chest with the glass teapot and the following tea – Starlight Rose, Jewel, Dragon Lily, Lavender Dream, Emerald Sun, Jade Fortune, Jasmine Pearl, Midnight Peony, and Black Beauty. If you can’t think of a friend, family member or gift occasion to give this tea gift, I suggest you simply give it to yourself. Find a quiet moment, brew your flowering tea bag, then watch it unfold as you find a moment’s peace.

A Total Tea Experience

Posted: December 22, 2005
by: T.Alexander

When the weather turns chilly I often find myself brewing an afternoon cup of tea. On days when the sky is overcast and I need a little extra comfort, I fill my favorite mug with cinnamon and orange spice tea.

It may sound silly, but especially when I drink tea, the cup is an important part of the total experience. An over-sized mug is a must for strong flavored teas and only a delicate cup will do for Jasmine tea.

In the spirit of the holidays, Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea blog has a fun recipe for Candy Cane Tea. This tea definitely calls for a snowman mug!Snowmanmugsgreen

1/2 stick of cinnamon
1/2 t grated orange peel - dried or fresh
1 t tea leaves

Steep cinnamon, orange peel and tea leaves together for 5-minutes. Pour into a cup. Drop in one small candy cane.

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History of Tea

Posted: August 21, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Tea's history is as interesting and complex as the drink is seductive. Shen Nung was an early emperor of China. He was also a skilled ruler, scientist and a patron of the arts. As a hygienic precaution he required that all drinking water be boiled. While visiting a distant region of his empire on a hot summer day, he and his court stopped to rest. Tea_flowering_pot As the servants began to boil water for drinking, some dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water making a distinctive golden brown liquid. The scientific side of the Emperor emerged and he was driven to experiment with the new liquid. He drank it and found it quite refreshing. And so tea was created. Serendipity at it's best - wouldn't you agree?

If you're looking for soothing organic teas for yourself or a gourmet tea gift for someone special, remember GourmetStation's tea collection.

My Coffee - My Dear

Posted: August 20, 2005
by: T.Alexander

Tradition. Sometimes I love it; sometimes I'm bored by it. In the case of coffee, it's love, my dear. Every morning, no matter what the day holds, the cup awaits me. My fortification - my motivation to take on the day. Is it the same with you? Did you ever wonder about coffee, it's origins and history. Well, here are some great links and trivia.

Koffee Korner gives a nice timeline going back to circa 850 when goat herder Kaldi of Ethiopia noticed he was friskier and happier after eating shrub berries. Now this is a long way from our Sharper Image cappuccino machine, but interesting beginnings nonetheless.

Socialization around the coffee cup did not begin until 1475 when the first coffee shop opened in Constantinople. That's when the fun started. Mr. Cappuccino tells us how in 1675 the Turkish Army surrounded Vienna. Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viennese who lived in Turkey, slipped through the enemy lines to lead relief forces to the city. The fleeting Turks left behind sacks of "dry black fodder" that Kolschitzky recognized as coffee. He claimed it as his reward and opened central Europe's first coffee house. He also established the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk. There you have it; a little history to go with your next cup! Coffee_cup If you're in a coffee buying mood for yourself or if you are thinking about a gourmet food gift for a coffee lover, remember GourmetStation's coffee gift collection.