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Coffee Shot GlassesA true Italian espresso cup is made from thick porcelain with a narrow curved bottom. This is not just because it looks stylish, like something Sophia Loren might have drunk from in Rome in the 1970s. The shape helps the crema, the velvety top layer, to rise, giving the espresso a more satisfying texture.

In many modern coffee shops "espresso" is served in straight-sided cups with a wide base. Hopeless! This is just one of many grievous errors being perpetrated against Italian coffee, as I learnt at the Espresso Italiano barista championships, which for the first time were being held outside Italy, at the grand Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall. Three hefty coffee machines – each weighing 80kg to 90kg – had been shipped from Italy for the occasion, because – obviously – there was no machine in London authentic enough.

The competition was hosted by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano (INEI), whose mission is to "protect" true Italian espresso against imposters. Espresso, explained Carlo Odello, its communications manager, has "mathematical parameters". The beans are a careful blend – never the single-estate roasts favoured by hipster cafés. The coffee must be ground to a certain fineness. It is "extracted in so many seconds" to yield a potion that is neither too acid nor too bitter but redolent of citrus and almond: Italy in a cup.

Most of the so-called espresso drunk around the world is nothing like as purist as this. Either it is drowned in milk or served as a double – which doesn't exist in Italy – or experimented upon by "tattooed bearded artisans", as one Italian at the event complained to me. The INEI offers certification to cafés that still make the "original" espresso. But how can you "protect" something as universal as espresso? It's like trying to recork a bottle of champagne.

I like "bearded artisan" coffee, myself. And yet the INEI is surely right that there is something lacking in the paper buckets sold by the chains. I've noticed that in Britain, ordering a single espresso and a glass of tap water often provokes raised eyebrows, even though it's a far more controlled way to ingest caffeine than a giant mug of latte.

Author:  Bee Wilson

Telegraph.co.uk

Coffee Culture Book SmallCoffee Culture is the latest publication from MapStudio, the publishers who brought us the fantastic Farm Stall to Farm Stall – a book mapping all the interesting and some fairly unknown farm stalls, including what they have to offer, along the roads of our gorgeous country.

Coffee Culture, the book about coffee for those of us that can truly appreciate excellent quality coffee and want to learn more about where we can get our hands on these cups of coffee, is now available at leading book outlets. Apart from pointing out where to find great coffee, coffee philosophy and brewing styles of establishments are also discussed.

MapStudio compiled this gem of a book, because as they put it, “Coffee has become more than just a ‘cup of filter coffee’ it has become a culture, and finding a good cup of coffee, is that much more important to many of us”.

Some light is shed on the history of coffee, cultivation, brewing equipment and methods as well as cleaning and maintenance of equipment.

Well done to Peter Primich and the Mapstudio team on a great publication!

For people who need a caffeinated kick in the morning or crave a cup of strong coffee when they are far from a kitchen or coffee shop, there is now a unique handheld espresso machine.

MinipressoUnlike other portable coffee systems, the Minipresso doesn’t use batteries or a plug and instead relies on users pumping the device to brew the coffee to their liking. It uses coffee grounds or capsules along with precisely 2.4 ounces (68ml) of hot water, which is poured into its main chamber.

The Hong Kong-based company behind the design – which also includes a cup – says: ‘you won’t find better gear to travel light and enjoy a quality espresso away from home.’ The Minispresso machine creates coffee at 116 psi, which is the same pressure produced by traditional espresso machines.

It doesn’t use compressed air or coffee cartridges because experts say they blow cold air into hot water. Instead, the device uses a semi-automatic piston to inject small quantities of water into the coffee adapter. After a few pushes, the optimal pressure for extracting the coffee is achieved and ‘a rich and bold espresso is extracted,’ the company says. Users can pump the machine 13 times for a tiny shot of coffee, 18 times for espresso and earn a double espresso by pushing the pump 28 times.

There is minimal distance between the water tank and coffee chamber, to avoid losing hear during water displacement. ‘As a result of our cares to build the perfect device, Minipresso produces at ambient condition 24°C (75°F), an espresso at perfect temperature 67°C (152°F in cup) with a nice compact and persistent crema on top,’ the company says. The pump can be easily locked in place and pushed to release and the whole device has been designed to be as compact as possible, measuring 9.7 inches (25cm) tall and weighing 0.8lbs (363g).

‘Minipresso has been designed to be the smallest, lightest and most versatile handheld espresso machine. It's also the first of its kind to integrate an espresso cup,’ the company says. The makers of the machine recommend that users clean the cup and coffee adapter after each use, but stressed that the device will not be dishwasher proof.

Source:  dailymail.co.uk

Starbucks recordA Florida woman has broken the record for the most expensive drink ever ordered at Starbucks with a Frappucino that cost nearly $61. Sameera Raziuddin, a 23-year-old medical student, beat the previous $54.75 record set by a Dallas, Texas man in May with her caffeinated cocktail that contained a whopping 60 shots of espresso.

The $60.58 also contained white mocha, hazelnut, soy milk and caramel syrup. And Sameera didn't pay a dime for it. Sameera first got a few bucks knocked off her considerable total by scanning her Starbucks loyalty card, bringing the cost of her concoction to $57.75. She then used a coupon for a free drink, bringing her total to $0 and it was clear she'd put some thought into her record-breaking Starbucks visit.

The Indiana native even brought her own container for the drink, since even the chain's massive Trenti cup only holds 31 ounces and Sameera's sixty shots could hardly fit in that. Sameera also invited the press to the Pembroke Pines store, which seems to have angered Starbucks corporate.

Starbucks informed Consumerist that drinks like Sameera's are against company policy since Frappucinos may not be made in cups larger that the 24-ounce Venti. What's more, Starbucks said that no drink at all may be made larger than 31-ounces.

In addition to the rules of Starbucks, Sameera suggested that some critics point to the medical student's hijab and say she's even broken the rules of her religion. She told MailOnline: 'I've been seeing a lot of comments about the fact that this month is Ramadan and that I should be fasting...Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and the drink was made at 11:02PM.'

Sameera also quashed any suggestions that she may have chugged the dangerously large beverage herself. 'I am still working on the drink and have been sharing it with my friends,' she revealed. 'As a med student, I know better than to try to consume 60 shots of espresso in one sitting.'


SmileIf you want to have healthier teeth, you might want to take a look at the kind of coffee that you're drinking. It appears that brushing and flossing your teeth properly are not the only means to have smile-worthy teeth. A new study suggests that drinking black coffee may also help you maintain a healthy set of teeth.

For the study "Antibacterial effect of coffee: calcium concentration in a culture containing teeth/biofilm exposed to Coffea Canephora aqueous extract" which was published in Letters in Applied Microbiology on June 7, researchers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil found that coffee which contains high amounts of caffeine can destroy bacteria that cause dental plaques.

"Dental plaque is a classic complex biofilm and it's the main culprit in tooth decay and gum disease," said study researcher Andrea Antonio, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to enjoy the dental health benefit of coffee if you like yours with sugar, milk or cream because these will give your teeth the opposite effect. You should drink your coffee black, strong and unsweetened if you want it to have a positive effect on your oral health.

For their study, Antonio and colleagues used bacteria in the saliva to cultivate biofilms in fragments of milk teeth that were donated by children. They then treated the teeth daily with an extract of the coffea canephora. Also known as Robusta coffee, this particular variety of coffee, which makes up about 30 percent of the coffee produced worldwide, is mostly grown in Vietnam, Brazil and Africa. Earlier studies showed that Robusta coffee contains high amounts of polyphenols, compounds that are known to prevent and treat oral diseases.coffee extract appeared to have been lysed, a process wherein the polyphenols destroy the bacteria on the teeth by bursting them open. After a week, the researchers also observed that the teeth that were exposed to coffee extracts appeared to be in better condition compared with those that were treated only with filtered water.

Despite the study finding association between strong coffee and dental health, Antonio warned against drinking too much coffee. Although coffee can help destroy plaque-causing bacteria, she said that excessive coffee consumption may also cause staining and the coffee's acidity may negative impact the tooth enamel.

Other food products that are known to have a positive effect on dental health include cheese and yoghurt because of their calcium content, as well as green tea, grapes and coffee because of their antibacterial properties.

The makers of a new kind of plastic lid are hoping to ride coffee's growing "Third Wave" movement by appealing to consumers who would appreciate a better smell—and hence better taste—from their daily to-go cuppa joe.

Vaporlid 1The Viora Lid—the product of a 20-year-long coffee obsession by its inventor Doug Fleming—is designed with a three-times-bigger-than-average mouth hole and an enlarged center steam hole. The goal is to give coffee and tea drinkers much more aroma from their beverage of choice by better exposing the liquid below to their nostrils.

"The overwhelming science is that what you characterize as flavor or taste is predominantly contributed by odor," said Fleming, a lawyer by trade whose company Vaporpath introduced the Viora Lid this week at the Specialty Coffee Association of America trade show in Seattle, where his company is also based.

"Our lid is designed to essentially that target, the opening, right below your nose," said Fleming, 49, whose lid also has a "well" around the top of the mouth hole, which pools liquid as the cup is tipped, further enhancing the aroma effect.

The Viora Lid, which is protected by several patents both issued and pending, is landing in a huge, established market, where billions of plastic lids for paper coffee cups are sold each year by companies such as Dart, and where java giants such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts pay wholesalers just several cents per lid, at most.

So to get a foothold in that vast space, Vaporpath at first is marketing the Viora Lid to smaller fry—the relatively tiny specialty coffee chains or one- or two-shop operations, who would be willing to spend 6 cents per lid because their customers are much more discriminating about the taste of the coffee that they're consuming from their to-go cup.

Vaporpath's president, Barry Goffe, a Microsoft veteran and Fleming's college classmate, said that at those specialty java joints, "People realize this piece of plastic that sits between you and your precious cup of coffee has a huge impact on how you experience this custom of coffee."

But, noted the 47-year-old Goffe, "There's so many of these 'Third Wave' shops that put all this time and effort brewing this cup of coffee, and then they put this 30-year-old product on top of it and push the customer out the door and hope for the best."

"Third Wave" is the coffee world's term for the burgeoning trend treating coffee as a high-quality drink. Third Wave shops are focused—often obsessively—on the sourcing and roasting of their beans as well as the painstaking way they brew espresso-based drinks: without push-button espresso machines, or pods of preground beans.

Third Wave stores also are largely responsible for the rediscovery of the joys of so-called pour-over coffee: java made one cup at a time, with specialized cone-shaped drippers and filters.

Vaporlid 2But espresso-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos as well as pour-over coffee can cost customers as much as four times per cup as they would pay for a cup of standard drip coffee at a gas station or a store such as McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts.

Despite that price premium, and despite the fact that coffee snobs prefer to consume such drinks out of ceramic cups if they have the time, the majority of Third Wave shop customers get their cups of joe to go, in paper cups with a plastic lid.

"You spent $4 on a cup of coffee and $3 is trapped inside," Goffe said.

Fleming said that "the vast majority" of those lids "involve what we call 'straw-like'" holes—a small, raised opening that drinkers suck the brew out of into their mouths. Not only does that minimize the amount of coffee they can smell as they drink, he said, it also concentrates a hot liquid into the mouth.

"People tend to burn their tongues," Goffe said.

To solve those problems, Fleming, who had been inventing coffee-oriented products for years, focused on creating a bigger mouth hole for the Viora Lid.

He realized that making it bigger, without creating the opportunity for unpleasant spills when the cup was jostled, would require that much of the hole would have to be on the vertical, back edge of the lid, with the smaller part of the hole forming a smiley face on the top of the lid.

"That opening on the side, it's really difficult to manufacture, it turns out," Fleming said. "We were initially told it can't be done."

The bigger hole, as designed, had another effect that went beyond making the coffee easier to smell for drinkers. It made the coffee pour more smoothly out into the mouth than conventional lids.

"You experience the familiar comfort of an open mug on your lips," Vaporpath's promotional material boasts.

When the company had people try the lid, there was "a very large number of folks who appreciated the aroma aspects of the lid," but a substantial minority didn't care about the way their coffee tasted, Goffe said.

"For them, gas-station coffee was good enough because it gave them the kick they wanted in the morning, but even those folks liked the lid ... it felt like they were drinking out of this regular ceramic cup," Goffe said.

That gave him and Fleming hope that the Viora Lid would have wider appeal beyond just hard-core coffee geeks.

So they did a taste test of the Viora Lid last year at a Seattle shop, where more than 90 percent of the respondents said they liked the lid "a lot" or just liked it, while "zero percent said they disliked it," Goffe said.

And when drinkers were asked, given the choice between going to the same kind of high-end coffee shops, the only difference being that one shop a block farther away than the first used the Viora Lid, about one-third of the respondents "said they would walk the extra block based on the lid alone," Goffe said.

Although they're targeting primarily Third Wave shops for now, Goffe noted that "the rest of the industry pays attention to what they do."

He expects that if the Viora Lid gets picked up by a number of those shops, and it draws interest from bigger coffee retailers, Vaporpath has the ability to scale up its production capacity, and also would be willing to license its technology to larger lid manufacturers.

Phil Patton, a design historian who has written about coffee lids, and whose own collection of java lids was displayed at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 2007, said that coffee devices and products is "one area in our society where there's unbelievable innovation."

But, Patton noted, "I think it's fair to say that lid innovation is something of a trailing indicator of these changes."

He said the Viora Lid, which he was not personally familiar with, could gain a foothold among gourmet coffee shops, because it "would allow this highly competitive world of these Third Wave shops to distinguish themselves."

—By CNBC's Dan Mangan.