14 Dec 2009
I realized it had been a while since I’ve done a coffee review. I’ve visited some great local coffee shops (Coffee Social – see review and Taste Cafe - review coming soon) and I’m excited about the local scene.
I was in a small local market picking up some wine for review and saw a display stand of coffee I’ve never tried. Moka Joe roasters is from Bellingham, WA. They import and roast only Fair Trade sustainably grown coffee. While some coffees designated as ‘Fair Trade’ may be a marketing ploy, the concept does provide greater profits to the local co-ops of farmers that participate. Traditional imported coffee is largely controlled by middle eastern religious groups that only funnel 1-2% of the profits go back to the local farmers. Farm profits for fair trade coffee run around 10%.
The coffee’s tasted in this episode are both $10.95 for 12oz and can be purchased online at http://shop.mokajoe.com
Why review? I think these reviews not only help me, but they help YOU decide what to buy. These are my opinions. I often taste things I have little or no experience with. The side by side comparisons facilitate the decision-making process when you see the product in the store.
Cafe Feminino Peru – Medium Roast
- The Swirl: Milk chocolate in color, cloudy
- The Sniff: Mild aroma with characteristics of earthiness, mocha, and nutty. Decent, but only a medium low on the wake me up in the morning meter.
- The Sip: Smooth with mild acidity.
- The Score: If you like smooth coffee I would give it a 3+. Typically a higher premium for Fair Trade coffee, so at $10.95 per 12oz you may want to look for a better deal.
After the review, learned from the web site that this coffee is made by Peruvian women high in the Andes: (From Web Site) This is the story of women. Not just the women of rural Peru, but women throughout developing nations. Many of these women have no rights, are abandoned, are abused, and alone with children and no income.
Bolivian – Medium Dark Roast
- The Swirl: Darker than the previous coffee with less cloudiness
- The Sniff: Much more aromatic. Hints of cocoa, woodiness, and cherry fruit. Scores much higher on the wake me up in the morning meter
- The Sip: BAM – this coffee woke me up. While the other was boring to me, this one had spice, acidity, and a more bold nutty chocolate flavor.
- The Score: At $10.95 per 12oz I score this coffee a 4- I would buy it again to try in my single brew machine to see what flavor I get there.
Both coffee’s can be purchased at the Rocket Market on 43rd and Grand in Spokane or on the company web site.
Brew some coffee and enjoy life with friends and remember to DRINK.HAPPY!
01 Dec 2009
“You can’t be greater than Elvis, change things as much as The Beatles, or be as original as Led Zeppelin. All you can do is rip them off.” Billy Corgan
As promised, here is part 2 of my rock n roll wine pairing (See Part 1). Thanks to the comments and suggestions from my fellow bloggers (1winedude, vinegeek, weeklywinejournal, rocknrollwine and coffeenate). Part one of this post was viewed more than any other post I’ve contributed to this point.
The rules: These are my pairings from my experience with wine and music. The pairings all come from music that I listen to and wines that I drink. BUT – I would love to hear how you would pair the music you listen to. Would you put Josh Groban with Sauvignon Blanc or Aligote. Would it be Dave Brubeck or Dave Mathews with Grenache? Is Carlos Santana a Tempranillo or is that too cliché?
Malbec – One of the noble Bordeaux varietals that has experienced a resurgence in popularity, even as a stand-alone grape. It is rich, and dark in color and juicy with tannins for structure. Malbec tends to be fickle and doesn’t always produce the highest yield. Young wine drinkers are consuming cases in quantity from Argentina (due to the lower price). This old classic blend is making a comeback tour. MY ROCK-N-ROLL PAIRING: Aerosmith - The bad boys from Boston are rock nobility. Like the Malbec taste, their music is rich, bold, classic, and part of the blend of classic rock from the 70′s. After disappearing from drug abuse in the 80′s, Aerosmith made a comeback in the 90′s and today with the younger generation providing poppy rock jams. The band is still volatile and their latest records don’t produce the consistent high quality yield but still offer some good tracks.
Sauvignon Blanc – I like a good Sauvignon Blanc. This amazingly talented grape is grassy and sometimes sweet and tropical. It’s lighter in color and sometimes lighter in body and structure than wish it was. This Bordeaux / Loire Valley grape for some reason reminds me of California. MY ROCK-N-ROLL PAIRING: One tweep suggested Janis Joplin or Hendrix, but I went with the more modern John Mayer. Mayer’s guitar playing is among the best alive, but under-rated. His records are often a blend of retro earthy sounds and sweet pop. I always come away from a studio record wanting more substance (which is how your high volume Sauvignon Blancs fare). Get John live and he shines! A well-made Sauv Blanc will rock your pants off.
Sangiovese – This Tuscan Italy super-grape, best known for Chianti can range from strawberry and mild cinnamon to very oaky, musky and thick. Sangiovese is Italy’s most planted grape and is quickly becoming popular for superblends in CA. I really like well made Sangiovese. MY ROCK-N-ROLL PAIRING. I’m going to go with the supergroup Cream. With Jack Bruce on Bass, Ginger Baker on Drums and the incomparable Eric Clapton on Guitar, Cream influenced Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rush, Black Sabbath and more. Their music ranged from the pop, I Feel Free, to the dark White Room. If it’s been a while since you tried a Chianti or listened to some Cream – try them both together and rediscover the appreciation.
Viognier – This once nearly extinct grape is the only approved varietal approved in Condrieu of the Rhone Valley. It’s scent is floral and sweet but the sip is rather dry. I think this is a sexy varietal. It pairs very well with spicy food. I think hot, I think Viognier. The lower alcohol and mid-high acid are great to cut through the spice of Thai or Spicy Tuna Roll. You’ll find this grape planted in WA, VA, CA and Australia. This wine also blends will with other varieties too. MY ROCK-N-ROLL WINE PAIRING is the hot, sexy Alicia Keys. She is smooth and flowery but her amazing talent is hot. She can be dry and raw or silky and sultry. Miss Keys is getting the credit she deserves but, similar to Viognier, I think we’ll see more from her in the future. Lately, she has lent her talent through ‘pairing’ collaboration efforts too!
Zinfandel – My final pairing is my favorite varietal. To me, Zins are floral and fruity in smell, big and bold fruit and spice in taste, high in alcohol, and pair well with the food I like (BBQ, Pizza, Steak – although a good Cab is preferred, and Pasta). I’m not a fan of the White Zin, but always will choose a big red Zin from the wine list if I don’t feel confident in the other choices. MY ROCK-N-ROLL WINE PAIRING: KISS! Bwahahahaha. While Kiss doesn’t get the respect of other bands, they have stood the test of time and with world wide record sales approaching 100 million, they, like Zin, are a household name. They are the kings of commercializing themselves and never believe in overexposure. They are big and bold in everything they do. Like the red production of Zinfandel, they provide just enough sweet and sap but are not overly offensive (okay maybe sometimes). Through their glam phase (especially Paul Stanley), they could be compared to a white Zin. Most importantly, like the Zin, they tend to be the group I can count on to power me through a run, push me through a slow afternoon, and pump me up.
What about you? What wine would Lady Gaga be? Is there a wine that is similar to Michael Jackson? I would love to hear it. Comment below!
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY
23 Nov 2009
Inspired by mega wine blogger 1WineDude (@1WineDude) and Rock and Roll Wine (I decided to put my Rock-n-Roll perspectives on the wine varietals (types of grapes) that I’ve had the pleasure of ingesting. Wine itself, doesn’t get its due in rock music. The most common reference is to cheap wine (ala Billy Joel and Neil Diamond). True rockers (and hillbilly) go for beer and whiskey references. The best props to wine, at least the Champagne variety, comes from the hip-hop world.
Below are my rock-n-roll reviews of the basic wine grapes from music that is on my Zune (yes, I own a Zune and not an iPod). Feel free to pass this along as a form of reference and awareness to your beer swilling, martini sipping, Jack and Coke slugging friends. (Part 2 is here)
Merlot - The Merlot grape is very palatable and an easy to drink red. Can be paired with lots of foods and rarely is it found offensive. My music pairing is Bon Jovi. Their music is still relevant and tasty, but rarely is there anything memorable from their recent records. They can make a crossover to other genres, their music is rarely bold or offensive and they reach a broad audience.
Chardonnay - Popular and hearty. Grows in a number of climates Can come across mis-understood by some and smooth and buttery by others. Overall, a decent white wine to cut your teeth on and an overall classic. My musical pairing, U2. Making chart topping AND socially conscience music for over 25 years, U2 can be smooth but also abrasive. Wide appeal but losing their former luster.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Rich, bold red that is considered the king of red grapes. Very strong flavor, tannins and acid that cut through food, often overpowering to be consumed without food. Can be offensive to some but to those who understand its brashness is very much appreciated. Music pairing - Was torn on this one, so I chose ACDC and Led Zeppelin. Both bands are kings of their genre. Hard hitting, in your face, and often under appreciated. Can be tough to listen to in their entirety, but very much a delight when a song comes up on shuffle. The bands are huge in sound but still have an amazing appeal. Some are completely turned off by their sound.
Riesling - In some regions this wine provides a dry flavor that is great with fish, chicken and pork. California Riesling tends to be sweet and lacking acidity and balance. Liked by many and a great crossover wine grape that tends to be popular among the female crowd for social drinking. Music pairing – Taylor Swift; While I don’t have any Taylor on my Zune (I swear), you can’t help but notice that her music is sometimes dry, sometimes sweet and sappy, lacks balance and has a hugely wide appeal…just sayin’.
Pinot Noir - This difficult to grow grape is rarely blended with other varietals. Can range from sweet and fruity to rough and earthy. The Noble Pinot Noir is either loved and cherished for its complexity and terroir specificity or disliked for the same reasons. Musical Pairing – Beatles (specifically the later years). While I have yet to discover a palate for Pinot Noir, I am a huge Beatles fan. In my interactions with people, I find they either are passionate about them or could take them or leave them. Regardless of their like or dislike people always respect their influence in music and popular culture. While their early success was based on hysteria and less substantive music, their best stuff came as they explored the boundaries of music and what was considered ‘popular.’
I think I’ll make this post a two parter. I would love to hear your thoughts. For my wino friends, what musical pairings would you offer to the varietals you enjoy.
DOTD? (Drink of the Day) – Finished of the last of the 2004 Brassfield Estate Bottled Round Mountain Zinfandel. You?
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY
21 Nov 2009
Combine passion, a lifelong dream, and social consciousness and you have Coffee Social. Owner Rachel Young pursued her dreams and has a hit on her hands. Centrally located near Gonzaga University and the bustle of Division / Ruby, is a coffee shop with a conscience.
Spokane transplant, via Post Falls then Seattle, Rachel opened Coffee Social 14 months ago. Through the economic down turn and recession she has managed to grind and brew her way to success. In my opinion, part of that success comes from providing a good, consistent product. Coffee Social makes all its products with organic locally sourced ingredients. From what I tried, that formula equals yummy! Check out the NectarView review and read more of my review below!
Coffee Social sits in an older, non-descript renovated building just 1 block West of Division (113 W. Indiana to be exact). Parking is tight on the sides, but there is more around back. Upon entry, you are greeted with a warm simple interior that will perk you up as much as the coffee. Beyond the lobby and register is a fantastic seating area where you can enjoy games and the free WiFi with your coffee and food. The space is cozy without being overly opulent and large without feeling cavernous.
Wow! I purposely did not eat breakfast because I had a hunch that I would find “all kinds of yumminess” (a direct quote from Rachel). Coffee Social keeps their menu simple and direct with a selection of quiches, sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. Follow them on Twitter (@coffeesocial) and you know exactly when the good stuff comes out of the oven. My ham and cheese Quiche was a perfect choice for breakfast. The texture was perfect with the dish cooked all the way through (which is tough for a Quiche sometimes) and the crust still light and flakey. While looking in the food case, an egg nog chocolate pie captured my attention. “All in the name of being a good reviewer,” I told myself, “I must try it.” This is truly a must have! If you’re reading this, STOP, and head straight to Coffee Social and order a slice – in fact, I bet you could order the whole pie for Thanksgiving dinner if you hurry.
DOMA coffee roasters provides the eco-friendly coffee for Coffee Social. (Check out their site to learn more about their roasting process and vision). Their certified organic, fair trade coffee was exceptional. I ordered their Columbian roast, and as always drank it black. The flavor was good with caramel and vanilla undertones. What struck me most was how smooth the finish was. There was zero bitterness on the aftertaste. My next trip to the Social, I’ll have to test Rachael’s barista abilities with a latte or macchiatto.
The restroom was basic and could use some updating. Being a young business start-up, I’m sure Rachel wanted to put her money elsewhere.
Coffee Social truly does support going ‘green.’ Several discounts are offered if you show proof of arriving via bus, riding your bike, or walking (honor system). Rachel also gives back to the community by supporting several local programs with at least 5% of the profits.
This business is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for a number of reasons! Great food, great coffee, supporting local businesses and farmers, eco-friendly, and a great location. Spread the word! Not only will you get a great cup of coffee, you’ll feel good doing it.
As always – enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY!
16 Nov 2009
Vegas hotel, 9:30 AM after a very long and mildly successful evening at the Craps table – I was in need of coffee. My choices, wander around the hotel with my hair mussed up, breath smelling bad, and slightly stank from the night before; order $3 room service coffee while my caffeine withdraw headache starts to set in, turn the tap water on super hot and use the convenient VIA packet for the starter cup of the day.
Scenario two – corporate America, anywhere USA. Employee needing an afternoon pick me up heads into the breakroom only to find the last ounce of coffee boiling on the hot plate. Need I say more?
Let me start by saying this is not a commercial for Starbucks VIA. I’m not here to debate the atrocities of big corporate america. In fact, I’m quite impressed with the Starbucks model, although they have taken some wrong turns that show their vulnerability. Most owners of drive up coffee stands, local coffee shops, etc have Starbucks to thank for the immense rise in popularity of the huge margin $5 coffee drink.
With that out of the way, it’s time for the honest review of Starbucks VIA. Since I bought my DeLonghi espresso machine, I’ve probably only spent $50 at Starbucks in the last 2 years. Recently, they have given me a new reason to visit their store. In mid-October, I went into Starbucks to exhaust a gift card received for my birthday. Like most patrons I was invited to participate in a ‘blind’ taste test. After tasting the brew versus the roast, I made my selection only to learn that I selected wrong. Don’t discredit my review from that statement. In hind sight, both drinks were so dang hot that it was truly difficult to identify the flavors. I decided to buy a three pack.
The next day, I investigated my purchase. I heated up some water and put the cute, convenient packet to the test. This is NOT gourmet coffee. This is NOT my normal strong Americano with a hint of crema on top. This is, however, a quality instant coffee that rivals what most people get from their Mr. Coffee.
In spite of the recent negative press the VIA push is receiving, my taste buds say that Starbucks has a good product here. Do they risk alienating their customers with the sales push? Are they diluting their custom coffee brand? Are they weakening the brand or providing an on the go alternative that will give them more strength? Only time will tell, but it seems obvious that Starbucks is committed to this promotion (their first ever single product promotion campaign).
- The swirl (ok, no swirling the coffee, but…): Good color, no crema upon stir, good consistency, all coffee seems to dissolve in the water
- The sniff: Good earthy smell, caramel and little spice
- The sip: Smooth, good flavor, acidic, probably worthy of the name Starbucks
- Value: I’m not sure at $1 per packet is a good deal for the convenience. Get it down to .60 cents per packet and I’d probably have 4-5 cups of it per week in various situations.
I not interested in the story on how they did it (some micro-grind technology). I’m not swayed by the clever packets and earthy icons telling me all they ways I can drink VIA. I care that it tastes good. If it tastes good and is a good value, it will sell. Bottom line, the taste is there. The value is almost there.
If anyone at Starbucks is listening – skip the hard sell, save your money on the TV, media blitz. Capitalize on your millions + daily customers and get it in the hands of the consumers by giving them a free three pack. If they like it, they’ll be back
DOTD (drink of the day) – Tonight – dinner at mom’s house. Wine was your basic 2008 Yellow Tail Cabernet Merlot blend. Not much to say about it other than it was very fruity on the front end and spicey on the back end. A very young wine that obviously did not spend much time in the wine-making process and rushed to market. You?