Honoring Rhode Island’s special coffee-drinking tradition

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the U.S. in terms of physical size, but it has a big history. Not only was it the first state to declare independence from the British in 1776, but it was the first state to make coffee the official state drink---specifically ‘coffee milk,’ which combines sweetened coffee syrup with milk. The only other state that has proclaimed coffee as its official state drink is Washington State. However, Washington passed its resolution in 2016, while coffee milk has been the official state drink in Rhode Island since 1993. After spending a lovely weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, we stopped at Whole Foods en route to Massachusetts for vacation. Of course, I needed coffee for the 1.5-hour ride to Falmouth, but when I went to the coffee section, there were no people serving coffee. Instead there was a very inviting configuration of Franke machines offering up dairy-based and soy-based coffee, lattes, cortados, cappuccinos, flat whiles, mochas, and doub…

Trying Toccopuro coffee on a lazy morning in Oak Bluffs

In mid-August, morning temps are surprisingly moderate in Oak Bluffs, in Martha’s Vineyard---though later in the day heavy heat drives people to the beach in droves.In the morning, however, people are driven to find morning coffee. Only then can the day begin.

This morning, I was not satisfied with Keurig coffee. I needed someone to hand me a hot brew (very hot preferably).  As I walked up Circuit Ave, I was too much in dire need of coffee to properly appreciate the charming bungalows, gabled roofs, and cedar-shingled homes.  In fact, I went to the very first café I saw, Toccopuro, located at 45 Circuit Avenue.
Toccopuro is a café for coffee-lovers.There is drip coffee, cold brew, espresso-based drinks, pastries, and sandwiches. The interior is a peaceful seafoam green, with high-beam, wall-mounted shelves strewn with shells, and aquamarine espresso equipment on the counter. While indoor space is limited, there is some outdoor seating.

My drip coffee was pitch perfect and hot---just …
It's official: Asbury Park, NJ, is a destination for music lovers, boardwalk devotees, those who enjoy amazing mural art---and intrepid coffee drinkers like myself. Today was simply one of those epic early-August Sunday beach days in Asbury. Warm sun prevailed, but there were periods of overcast breeziness; people were sparkling with contentment. And the water was absolutely perfect. 
For me, a day in Asbury Park would not be complete without a trip to the Asbury Park Roastery. This small coffee roasting company, which has been around since 2007, has 2 locations---and they are both continually trafficked by coffee-lovers all summer long. 
The flagship location is downtown at 803 Second Avenue, and the boardwalk location is 1300 Ocean Avenue in the Grand Arcade of Convention Hall. They specialize in selling freshly roasted coffee, mainly fair trade and organic, to both retail and wholesale customers. They also offer loose-leaf teas and various vegan and non-vegan pastries. The vibe i…

Wanna lose weight? Here's why everyone is excited about coffee’s effect on brown fat

Last month, an analysis of two studies published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, confirmed what every avid coffee drinker knows---drinking coffee can help you lose weight. While the idea that caffeinated coffee can increase metabolism via increased thermogenesis is not new, what is new is the introduction of the acronym BAT into the discussion about diet and weight loss.

What is brown fat?
BAT stands for brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat. There are two types of fat---brown fat (which is full of mitochondria that turn on a fat-burning mechanism in response to cold, releasing both heat and sugar) and white fat (which is mainly stored in the body in the form of large droplets). White fat is plentiful in adults, in contrast to brown fat, which is found in abundance in infants and hibernating mammals.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. and at UCLA Medical School conducted two studies---one in mice (UK study) and one in human volunteers (UCLA study). The goal …

Hemp Milk---Hallelujah

Non-dairy milk is the new normal. Gone are the days when a few cartons of soy milk, or maybe almond milk, were relegated to the back shelf at the back of the bodega. It is now perfectly normal to cream one’s coffee with various types of milk made from plants, nuts, and grains.

One-third of all American households consume some type of non-dairy milk. The list of alternate ‘milks’ is long and growing. Options include coconut, soy, rice, almond, hemp, barley, cashew, and the ever-popular oat milk. At the same time, the Dairy Farmers of America reported a $1.1 billion drop in sales between 2017 and 2018 (from $14.7 billion to $13.6 billion), while the Plant Based Food Association reported a 9% increase in sales of nut- and plant-based milk, reaching total sales of $1.6 billion in 2018.
What does it take to be considered milk? Some people scoff at the idea that the white liquid that is extracted from plants, nuts, and grains is actually ‘milk’.The dairy industry has gone as far as asking …

And America’s favorite coffee brand is…(drumroll please)…

I used to be a Starbucks devotee. I lauded the flavors, the baristas, the brewing processes, and the politics of Starbucks. Like people, brands evolve, and Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) is no exception. Ten years ago, when I was doing research for a book, I looked at DD versus Starbucks and concluded that next to the mega-shiny branding of Starbucks, DD was a stalwart, supermarket-based brand that one drank out of necessity when traveling in New England, which is where DD is based.

But it turned out that I underestimated this 69-year-old American-bred, Massachusetts-based chain, which was founded by William Rosenberg.  Dunkin’, which dropped Donuts from its name as of January 2019, is in the midst of a $100 million brand overhaul.  The new branding goes along with how Dunkin’ has positioned itself---as the premiere, beverage-led, on-the-go brand. As part of this offering, Dunkin’ now offers a special pickup section for online orders, in addition to a bevy of espresso-based drinks, cold beverages…

Caffeine 2.0: How the 'eat your coffee' movement is getting it right

Happy spring!
It started slowly. First I noticed a few caffeine-bite products with clever names (VERB caffeinated energy bites; Eat Your Coffee caffeinated snack bar; Awake energy granola bars, etc.), and then it became a THING. As a coffee-lover, with a seriously caffeinated lifestyle, I personally like Wild Ophelia cold brew caramel latte bites. Think New England fudge meets morning coffee and Brach’s caramel, with a nice buzz---a little piece of caffeinated heaven.
The market for caffeinated food is not entirely new---there have been coffee- and/or caffeine-infused foods around for a while, but now there is a whole new level of caffeine awareness, as well as a lot of clinical evidence to confirm that caffeine is not only stimulating, but also health-enhancing.
What the data says about caffeine According to researchers at Stanford, caffeine makes people healthier on a molecular level. They looked at the health of two cohorts of adults over time, including a healthy group of 20- to 30-y…