Showing posts from 2008

The World is Our Village---Coffee is the Elixir of Joy and Prosperity---Happy New Year

Where would we be without coffee? There’s a reason that it’s a cultural icon. During the winter months, coffee takes on an even more vital role. It energizes us, warms us, and can even decrease inflammation in the body---that’s because of its ability to decrease insulin and uric acid levels in the body over the short-term, according to an article published in Arthritis and Rheumatism . That’s why we all take it so seriously. Turns out that folks at Villa Vosilla in the Catskill Mountains are very serous about coffee consumption, as is Maggie, owner of the Krooked Café in Tannersville. While hanging out at Villa Vosilla, I experienced coffee-related kindness around the clock. In the morning, we were offered a carafe full of coffee to take back to our rooms while we dressed for a day on the slopes. Later, during the après-ski, pre-dinner, post-appetizer phase of the day, I requested darker coffee than I originally got—and to my utter delight Bart the waiter showed up with dark, ste

Blogging Against Hunger

I would like to use this post today not to talk about coffee, but to talk about hunger---or rather to use this as yet another forum to participate in a blogging against hunger campaign. Everyone deserves a good, nutritious meal. Please see below: Hillside, N.J., Nov. 11, 2008 – Legendary music icon Bruce Springsteen will be lending his voice to the fight against hunger in New Jersey by appearing in a major advertising campaign for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey – the largest food bank in the state. With bare shelves and demand for food among state residents far outpacing supply, the FoodBank is in danger of being unable to meet the needs of New Jersey’s hungry. Consumers are encouraged to visit or call 908-355-FOOD (3663) to learn how they can help Also, here is a really cool fact sheet giving us every bit of info we need to know about what is going on with the foodbanks in NJ. Please check it out and help if you can. Community FoodBank of New Jersey Fact Shee

Highbrow, Lowbrow and Points In Between: Coffee Connects Us All

Comfort, reassurance, respite…all of those lovely words represent the very best things. These much sought-after states assume that many, many things are ok. But does that assumption hold? How about the dynamic minute-to-minute quality that life can have? Life can be simultaneously dynamic and restful. Things can be ok, even when they are not. No where is that tension as evident as when people are sitting down together over a cup of coffee. Coffee is the common creature comfort that unites everyone across all divides. Two examples: a scene from the New Yorker and a small snippet of dialogue from an episode of E.R., a long-windy program that is finally wrapping up after 10 years (or is it 11) of relentless, hospital-based drama on NBC. Writing in the 12/08/08 issue of the New Yorker, Jenny Allen fixates on coffee during her trip to someone's country house as a guest. Her Shouts & Murmurs piece entitled "I Have to Go Now" captures the panic of being in someone's hom

Wake Me Up! Caffeine, Creativity, and Chocolate...

Part of the romance of winter is seeking respite in warm places with warm drinks. It's the cold/warm contrast that makes it so exciting. Think apres-ski mocha latte. Think late-night decaf cappuccino with a hint of cocoa on the low-fat whip-cream topping. Think coffee in the winter, sitting by the fireplace and watching frost gather on the panes, while traffic lights beckon, sirens wail, and passersby chat just on the other side of your window. It's very energizing. One reason we crave coffee during the winter is that the caffeine helps us stay motivated, even as the sun sets early. Caffeine has gotten a bad rap. But a comprehensive review of clinical data shows that healthy adults can consume 400 mg of caffeine per day without negative side effects---including no general toxicity, no cardiovascular effects, and no bone problems. Caffeine is also not associated with an increased risk of cancer. Caffeine works: It is a powerful antidote to morning fogginess. One sip of caffeinat

Calling All Coffee Superheroes

I am a coffee superhero. Mornings find me bleary-eyed, with a slumping spirit. But the first sip of coffee is transformative. Brightened eyes, tightened muscles, and a new-found vigor: that is the daily promise of coffee. November 2008 Consumer Health Reports have weighed in on coffee’s health benefits. Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes Better gallbladder function---decreased risk of developing gallstones Prevention of Parkinson’s disease due to increased dopamine supply in the brain And, we already know that coffee improves mood and enhances concentration and function. Got a test? Drink coffee. Feeling down? Drink coffee. Need a boost before kick-boxing? Drink coffee. The standard researcher response to the question “Why does coffee prevent so many diseases and how does it improve health?” is “We’re not exactly sure, but we have some ideas.” Some of the elements in coffee that improve health: Cholorogenic acids—an antioxidant that is foun

New Coffee Data, Coffee Cake for the Winter Holidays, and Longer Life For All

Like everyone else, I want to live forever. And I want everyone I love to live forever. That fact makes me completely ordinary. With that unconscious thought buzzing in my back brain, news from the Annals of Internal Medicine that regular coffee-drinking is associated with longer life jolted me into a state of subdued ecstasy! At long last, data on the impact of coffee on mortality . About the Study There were almost 130,000 people altogether, including 41,726 men and 86,214 women. At the beginning of the study, everyone was healthy---no cancer, no heart disease. Over the next 18 years, however, some people got sick. The researchers wanted to know how drinking coffee affected the risk of developing cancer or heart disease and death in general (during that 18-year period). In men, drinking less than one cup of coffee a day was associated with a 7% higher risk of death. The stats got better as they drank more, however. Drinking 7 cups of coffee a week decreased the risk of death by 3% co

Virtuous Addictions?

Waking in the morning, the desire (ok the need) for coffee, is unassailable. However, it’s important not to position coffee as simply another vice. When Peter Martin, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Director of the Institute of Coffee Studies took the stage on October 21, 2004, to talk to a group of journalists, he mainly talked about the health benefits of coffee. But when the issue of addiction came up, he was ready. In most regular, serious, hard-core coffee-drinkers, coffee deprivation leads to serious symptoms : Within 12 to 24 hours, those denied their daily java get headaches, become drowsy and irritable, feel weak and tense, are unable to concentrate, and may even vomit. Fortunately, after about 48 hours, the symptoms start to improve. It sounds serious. In fact, some psychiatrists suggest that coffee withdrawal should be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So after admitt

Soaring Heights and Economic Concerns

In a recent issue of Good (Oct 16-22), Starbucks addressed the issue of the economy. The subtitle “booms, busts, and everything in between” aptly captures the gamut of terms and concepts that comprise economic understanding. There were many interesting definitions and facts cited. A few, in particular, stood out for me: The very first Internet trade was in 1994 In 1999, the Dow hit 11,000 In October 2007 (just over a year ago), the Dow hit 14,164 The national budget is financed by taxes and fees for public services From 1845 to 1945, the typical boom or bust lasted 21 months. Since World War II, expansions have averaged 50 months and contractions have averaged 11 months. At the moment, the intensity of economic news is counterbalancing the surge of joy around the recent election. Despite the economy, Starbucks continues to be a destination. During the tediously long, and equally enthralling election cycle, Starbucks kept us cozy and caffeinated, while encouraging us to VOTE. Then it m

Education is "Good" and Coffee Can Help

“ Good ”—the publication available at your local Starbucks is continuing to tackle the challenging issues. Its format aims for maximal communication in a simple, to-the-point way. Looking at the issue dedicated to “Education” is a great by-the-numbers way to understand the issue that rocks us to the core and literally drives almost all real estate decisions among those who have children. There are, for example, a total of 98,905 public schools in the United States , with the largest enrollment in California and the smallest in Wyoming . New Jersey boasts the highest total annual expenditures per student ($14,954), while Utah ($5,464) spends the least amount per student. We also learn that on average 56% of students in the U.S. go on to college. That percentage is highest in South Dakota where 69% of students go on to higher education after high school. What would a conversation about education be without weighing the pros and cons of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the

Election Day Poem by Nicole Gray (note the coffee love & rock the vote)

FALL 2008---Waiting for the Election By Nicole Gray-Chan It’s fall. Skaters head west past the brunching swarms The sun is bright, but not too warm On 45 th Street , the horses and their coaches Amble gamely---Election day approaches The annual renaissance of cultural forays Heralds longer nights and shorter days A season to view recent oils and the masters you know Fashion forward with pleats and a-line stitching--- It’s all about flow. Bikram yoga to soothe your soul Natural elixirs help you stay in control Apple and lavender, coffee and jazz Now joy, peace, and comfort---at long last .

Honoring the Starbucks Barista, Improving Dental Health, and Weighing in on the Issues Like It's 1705

In July, the news that Starbucks closed 600 stores rocked the coffee-drinking community (and stockholders). But, Starbucks is still a go-to destination. I was grateful that none of the locations in my community closed. We are surrounded by Starbucks and they are always busy. Starbucks is an important part of our community, and I was grateful that none of the locations in my community closed. I love my local baristas---they are some of the most incredibly friendly, well-educated people I’ve ever known. Between them, they are planning trips to Japan, waiting to hear about early-acceptance applications to NYU, traveling to Oregon to work in other stores, raising children, exercising strenuously at NYSC, developing their yoga practices, pursuing professional dance careers, quietly nurturing their dreams, and generally being exceptional human beings. Starbucks is a consistently good experience. The service is top-notch, the communication is upbeat and straightforward, and the coffee drinks

Apples, Coffee, Jazz---Embrace the Struggle, Feel the Joy

In the early fall, New Paltz, New York, one of the coolest Hudson Valley towns, is pure joy---apple-picking, mountain-gazing, and serious coffee-drinking. 60 Main -New Paltz Cultural Collective is the quintessential new-school-meets-old-school café. It’s really right there---energy, diversity, Obama buttons, great sofas, old-school games like Connect 4, and a huge space right in front of the window where bands can play, people can do yoga, and drummers can sit and drum for hours. As the night goes on, the percussive buzz becomes hypnotic. There’s always something going on---education night, movie night, yoga on Tuesdays, open mike, live music, and jazz---serious jazz. When the owner Mario Torchio serves coffee, you choose your mug size. Each mug is its own creation. When I was there the last time, I had the best mug. It was large, terracota and gravely on the outside, with a tactile, touch-me, drink-coffee-now vibe that made the coffee so good. There was a young guy who smiled

Smiling Through It: Honoring David Foster Wallace

Today was soggy and gray. The perfect fall-day prototype. A full-house day at Starbucks, and a day in general that demanded hot drinks and some type of brisk exercise. In one way---a very romantic, potentially productive day. On the other hand, this was also a day when, with only a little inclination, it would not be difficult to give into gloomy feelings or even existential despair. Before hearing about David Foster Wallace's death earlier this month, he wasn’t on my radar. But after reading about him in the New York Times twice in one week, I find myself pondering the nature of the depression that led to his suicide. He enjoyed early fame (at age 24). As a writer, he reaped the benefits of his massive talent combined with the ability to produce. His prolific output was aided by hyper-intense, anxiety-laden discipline. Photos of Wallace evoke a sense of tender familiarity. Already he was somewhat iconic---a troubled, sensitive, admittedly depressed creative person, whose liter

Coffee & Optimism

The only way to contemplate the hard-to-fathom sum of $700 billion, especially while listening to the unbelievable early-morning good humor of Adaora Udoji and John Hockenberry on NPR’s “ The Takeaway ,” is with a strong cup of coffee. In fact, contemplating anything profound or mind-engaging or challenging often requires coffee. At least it does for me. The National Coffee Association reports that I am in good company----82% of Americans drink coffee. And in this respect, we are decidedly global, international, cosmopolitan---we help consume the 400 billion cups of coffee that are consumed each year worldwide. And, of course, coffee is overwhelmingly good for us ---significantly decreasing the risk of suicide from depression, diabetes, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and liver cancer (especially if you are an alcoholic). And apparently, there are other, more subtle physical benefits that over time have a largely positive impact on us biologically. For those of us who dep