Archive for January, 2011

Coffee Quote of the Month

January 31, 2011

He was my cream, and I was his coffee–And when you poured us together–it was something.   Josephine Baker


URLove It Link: Home Coffee Roasting 101

January 30, 2011

According to Sweet Maria’s, roasting coffee beans isn’t just for kitschy cafes and mega market retailers. What’s more, it’s nothing to be afraid of. If you can make popcorn, you can roast coffee…no, really. You know that Hot Air Popcorn Popper you were going to sell for fifty cents at your Memorial Day yard sale?  It’s actually a coffee roaster in disguise.

At our January URLove It Link,, you can access a virtual coffee library, take a sip back in time for a peak at the history of the home roasting tradition, and learn how to roast your own coffee. Sweet.

Update on Franklin Roosevelt’s Birthday Cake

January 30, 2011

As promised, last evening I hustled to the store for eggs.  The recipe for Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday cake did not include frosting, but a rich chocolate frosting made with espresso powder swirled on the cake is just right.
I did use freshly ground and brewed Tanzanian Peaberry coffee, which is a medium body, flora flavor. Make enough coffee to enjoy a cup yourself as the cake bakes.

Happy Birthday Franklin D. Roosevelt

January 29, 2011

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our only president to be elected to office four times, was born on a cold night in January 30, 1882.

Throughout his life, FDR brought devoted friends and family together to celebrate his birthday.  Furthermore, happy birthday celebrations served as occasions to raise money to fight against polio.  The National Committee for Birthday Balls was created to raise money for the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation by holding dances in every town throughout the nation.

Coffeesnobology discovered Franklin Roosevelt’s Chocolate Birthday Cake, and you guessed it—the recipe calls for coffee.
1-cup butter
1 ½ cup sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
1-cup cold coffee
2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 Tablespoon vinegar
Cream butter; add sugar, a little at a time.  Beat eggs and add to sugar/butter mixture.  Sift flour with salt, soda and cocoa together (3 times).  Add mixture to batter alternating with coffee.  Add vinegar and vanilla, mix well.
Bake in 9-inch pan for 25 to 30 minutes at 350.

This Coffeesnobology writer has been too busy enjoying this beautiful day and drinking coffee at my favorite coffeehoouse to bake FDR’s cake–but check in tomorrow for an update.

Coffee Facts Friday

January 27, 2011

Let’s hear a java- shout for Fun at Work Day.  Yippee!  Lucky us, it is also National Kazoo Day.  On Friday, January 28, do the grind and play your kazoo.
Fun At Work Day Activities
Grind. Brew. Indulge.  Forget about the giant urn of coffee sitting there for hours on end and treat your colleagues to freshly ground, freshly brewed real good coffee kazoo you deserve only the best.

Espresso yourself and play Kazoo Trivia
Hum a few work-related tunes on your kazoo
Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’

She’s a working girl, she is single and free
She’s a mother & wife and she’s proud to be
A working girl

Kazoo Facts
In the 1840s, Alabama Vest of Macon, Georgia, first invented the Kazoo based on an African instrument.  Thaddeus von Clegg, a German clock master, made the kazoo based on Alabama’s specifications.
*Kazoos are easy to play
*Hum a tune into a kazoo, and you are an expert
*Play a solo or join a workplace group
*Kazoos are inexpensive
*Kazoos represent the musical richness of American culture
*Kazoos can form many musical tones
*Paul Newman and Barbara Stewart started the first Kazoo Day in 1976


G’day Mate: Wordless Wednesday

January 26, 2011

Irish Coffee Day

January 25, 2011

The Answer…Irish coffee
The Question…What drink, in a single mug, contains all of the four essential food groups:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat?
Cheers to you on Irish Coffee Day!

Sympathetic to passengers who had to brave an often chilly and bumpy flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Joe Sheridan developed a drink to warm their hearts and spirits.  This special drink was first served, in 1942, to weary passengers at the Foynes Airport (Shannon International Airport).  As the story goes, thankful passengers asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?”   “No,” answered Joe, “It is Irish coffee.”

Anytime, anywhere is the right time to enjoy an Irish coffee, but even more delicious is in an Irish pub.  We were met at the wharf by Ronan who greeted us with Tis a soft day, meaning—a light rain.  In Ronan’s trap we were off to explore the stark, beauty of Inishmore’s rugged coastline.  When the mist lifted, we settled down before a peat fire and enjoyed one of Ireland’s greatest gifts:  Irish coffee.  We enjoyed the cheerful Irish hospitality especially when our host Bridget asked if she could top off our coffee and then she did with another shot of Jameson!

Classic Irish coffee recipe
First, fill a glass mug with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty
Pour hot coffee into the glass ¾ full.  Drop in two sugar cubes.
Stir until sugar is dissolved
Add a full jigger of Irish whiskey
Top with whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon.
Above is the classic recipe for a well-made Irish coffee…Or as my Irish husband quipped
1 part coffee
2 parts Jameson whisky
Coffee optional. (Alex Levine)

Coffee Down Under

January 24, 2011

On January 26, Australians will celebrate what is great about Australia and being Australian.  From experience, Coffeesnobology can attest to their great coffee and great baristas who know a Flat White from a Short Black.  In Australia, the baristas go to school to increase their knowledge and competence and to improve the overall coffee experience.  Visit to read about the Australian Coffee Academy in Melbourne.  To back up Coffeesnobology’s testimony, here is my story of savoring a cuppa down under.

After forty hours of flight and a three hour nap, Chuck and I set out to discover our new neighborhood.  We were in search of a much-needed cup of coffee and toilet paper, two necessities missing at our flat. We didn’t have far to travel, for coffee that is, because Cappuccino Strip was just around the corner.  Cappuccino Strip in Fremantle, Australia, comes by the nickname honestly.  Coffee cafés, small and large, line a two-block stretch on South Terrace:  nine cafes to be exact.

Coffee reigns supreme in this festive city.  Some Aussies claim the robust coffee tradition honors the many Italian immigrants who long ago traveled to this port city.  Others claim the 1987America’s Cup Races held right here in friendly Fremantle, Australia, perked the revival of the city and coffee.

Coffee cafés are serious business and coffee drinkers are serious about their coffee, serious enough for one disgruntled mate to write a letter to the editor complaining about a bad cup of coffee.  Now, that’s a true coffee snob.

Up and down the strip we found umbrella tables cozying up to busy South Terrace while trams, buses, cars and motorcycles whizzed by inches from fellow coffee lovers gathering at the all-important coffeehouse.  In contrast to the speeding traffic, Aussies linger over their cup of java laughing and chatting.  We sat close to a man who spread his newspaper out wide on the round table while his well behaved dog slept at his feet.  Sleeping dogs nestled under the sidewalk tables are so common that merchants set out bowls of water for their canine customers.

No tap, tap of a laptop is heard at these bustling cafes.  You do hear “Have a seat Mate” and “No worries, I’ll have a Flat White.”  Cyclists, sporting yellow and orange neon-colored jerseys, prop their bicycles against the iron railings and cluster around having a natter—that’s Australian for a chat.

Typically, coffee is served with a bit of flair, fancy even.  I felt pampered drinking my latte from a slender, clear-glass cup capped with a swirl of froth; a triangle of a white napkin secured the cup; and a long-handed spoon rests on the saucer alongside a paper cylinder of sugar.  Always sugar, either served alongside the saucer in a paper cylinder or packets heaped in a bowl.  Winter or summer, the scene rarely changes on Cappuccino Strip: Coffee aficionados gather alfresco trading stylish boots for flip-flops and oblong scarves and leggings for surfer shorts and sundresses.

Across from my university office, in Fremantle’s heritage district, I frequented Blink, a café so narrow that if you bink—you will miss it.  But I couldn’t miss the caffeine lovers queuing outside chatting with co-workers waiting for their chance to step over the threshold.  One step in, one customer at a time, one steaming brew served.  A scene that would make the “Soup Nazi” envious. 
Everyday we had coffee at one favorite coffeehouse after another.  Tucked on Essex Street is Fidel’s Café’ boasting the sign Still serving the Best coffee in the whole world…ever!!  As voted by one guy who came here—one time.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Pie

January 22, 2011

“Pie and coffee have a lot of symbolism in people’s lives. Coffee symbolizes musing and discussion – chit chat between friends…Pie is the sweet thing that ends a meal. It adds a sense of peacefulness and closure…” ~ Dorian Scott Cole

The only thing better that I can think of deviates from the Americana tradition that comes from mother and apples. (Before reading on, note here that I am a Midwestern anomaly: I was born without a sweet-tooth and generally prefer savory to sugary. When my husband asks me to pick him up some cookies at the grocery store I stare, nose wrinkled at the bakery selections unable to make a selection. Eventually someone bumps my cart and I move to another aisle, coming home with a prepackaged bag of ginger snaps.)   

No, when I think of dessert it is in the forum of an after dinner trilogy: dark chocolate, espresso, and red wine. Not everyday fare and not pie. But, in honor of National Pie Day –  and a party I’m invited to – I decided to combine the concept of pie and coffee with chocolate mousse.

 My initial searches for a recipe did not give me what I was looking for. I narrowed my focus to chocolate mousse and found a good baseline  by Tyler Florence  (Recipe is at and my adaptations are listed below this post) that uses egg whites and a little less cream than some of the others.  The crusts I found mostly consisted of the crushed chocolate cookies type. (Go for it, but you know I’m not going that route.)  If I’d had time I might have made a tart crust with cocoa in it, another good alternative. As it happened, the day escaped me and I used a pre-made roll out crust. 

The end result is not for children. Serve up a small piece and nobody get’s seconds. It is a grown-up dessert, one had I made on New Years Eve would have helped me greet 2011 instead of my pillow.  Finally, this pie pairs beautifully with a Ripassa style wine or dry Italian…but that’s just me.  A Syrah or Scotch works, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Recipe Notes:

  • Use 4 oz bittersweet and 2 oz semi-sweet (Those who taste buds have been dipped in the Candyland well can use all semi-sweet).
  • Add one and a half shots of brewed espresso to the melted chocolate and butter.
  • Temper the eggs.
  • Prick pie crust with a fork lightly, put parchment paper over, add dried beans or stones and bake for 15 min. Remove parchment and stones for remaining cooking time: golden in color.
  • Spread mousse into cooled crust.
  • Top with fresh whipped cream (There’s a time and place for Cool Whip, but this isn’t it). I used powdered sugar rather than granular for both the egg whites and the whipped cream.
  • Crush milk and dark chocolate covered espresso beans and sprinkle on top.
  • Make sure the pie is very chilled before serving

 Last word…

For a wonderful history of pie go to to read the Hearth to Hearth article by Alice Ross, Pie Crusts: From Meat to Fruit (search in “articles” if link goes to main page). And for a celebration of pies and more history

Coffee Fact (?) Friday: Squirrel Appreciation Day

January 20, 2011


 (The original photo was taken by David A. Sommers, a photographer for the Saginaw News. Note:found photo at

 January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day. But do squirrels for a fact partake in a morning cup of joe? Other than the random photo or YouTube video, there is no documented proof that as a species squirrels drink coffee. Still one wonders…

Throughout the year, while we sip our morning jolt, we watch the squirrel’s circus antics: backyard high wire sprints without a net; comical theatrics of chase without the clown paint; feats of great daring, such as hanging by their toes on a downward-arching tree branch while their dexterous paws raid the squirrel-proof bird feeder. It seems as though their movements are motivated by more than nuts. These energetic activities indicate a buzz. Case and point: have you ever seen a sleeping squirrel? Exactly.

So one can either regard their tail-twitching behavior as a cautionary tale illustrating the effects of too much caffeine, or one can pour oneself a second cup and, for just today, sit back and be inspired by the squirrel’s tenacity and talents.  Tomorrow you can begin your 364 day personal war anew.

(If you would like to share your squirrel sightings go to . Also, Christy Hargrove, the founder of Squirrel Appreciation Day, has tips on squirrel management at her website .)