Showing posts from 2009

Glad to be Back, Living Life with Via (TM), and More Good News About Coffee

Very nice to be able to blog again after a longer-than-appropriate absence due to travel, remarkable opportunities, and a myriad of personal reasons...needless to say during that time, coffee kept me aloft. But more on that later. Now, I'm all about ViaTM---or at least trying hard to be an enthusiastic supporter---it's definitely not Sanka or Folger's. Starbucks' introduction of their new “instant” coffee on October 2nd was advertised as a significant event in coffee history. Admittedly, the “taste test” was a great way to roll out their latest brand innovation. And from a branding perspective, the early execution was perfect. In the great tradition of “Coke vs. Pepsi,” “Tide vs. the leading competitor,” and “Apple vs. PC,” the baristas handling the taste test used suspense, ironclad methods to guarantee blinding, and lots of hype to entice people to partake. Brewed vs. instant---which is which. I'm happy to say that I identified the Colombian brew in contrast to t…

Drinking Coffee in the Summer----Bittersweet Reveries & New Cafe Venues

Whether you're sipping mistos while on vacation or hunkering down for a home brew, drinking coffee in the summer can be just as satisfying as it is in the winter.
This has been a bittersweet summer of drinking coffee, with a real emphasis on value blends ($10.99 for 24-ounce, 365 gourmet blends from Whole Foods, including my favorite Pleasant Morning Buzz). Starbucks is now offering $2 afternoon cold-coffee drinks, with presentation of a receipt from an earlier purchase. As always, coffee facilitates getting to work, trekking to the pool, showing up for tennis lessons, sitting down for a friendly chat, or simply being awake in order to rise to the demands of daily life.
Coffee not only stimulates and energizes, but it soothes, as well. Coffee-drinking is a fallback ritual that makes it ok to sit down and do nothing but contemplate life and the things that life brings. Honestly, that is a lot to do---often harder than being in constant whirring motion. Earlier in the summer, I caffe…

Drinking Coffee While Ruminating on Spring, Community Updates, and an Interesting New Publication about Coffee's Connection to Reduced Risk of Cancer

Spring played very hard to get this year. We talked about how "brutal" and "relentless" the cold weather was, but little by little, spring arrived. There were days of radiant sun and clear blue skies---quickly followed by plummeting temps and brisk winds. And there was always the unspoken threat of snow, which at this late date brought no delight, not even for the kids... So what did we do (besides burrow inside)?
We drank coffee!
We've been drinking coffee non-stop since February. While it was cold, we drank hot coffee with dollops of skim milk to warm ourselves, and when it warmed up, we gulped it down---hot and iced---with a zeal that only exists when the weather gets warm in normally cool climates.

Coffee-drinking in the spring is pure celebration---and for me, this was the spring of drinking coffee for every occasion---Columbian on Passover, Maxwell House on Easter, Pike's Place during Light's Out Earth Hour in Montclair, and Sumatra on Mother'…

Coffee, Fitness & Hip Hop: The Evolution of Dance (in Montclair)

It’s a crisp, bright, spring morning in Montclair, New Jersey. Angel Williams (pictured in the front row on the right) stands in front of the students in her hip-hop class at New York Sports Club. She starts demonstrating a series of moves that evoke the rarefied world of hip-hop glamorama. Suddenly, forty bodies are moving in sync—and it is energizing, enchanting and downright funky. In fact, it is hard to articulate how much fun it is to hip-hop with Angel. The class, in its exuberance, diversity, and intense love of dynamic movement, is in its own way a metaphor for life in Montclair. By way of full disclosure, I will say that I’ve resisted hip-hop dancing, leaving it to people like those in the video posted here (from the hip hop class at NYSC), but it’s been in my world forever and I love to dance---especially when I drink coffee! Today, after several cups of coffee, I went to hip-hop and now there’s no turning back.

Many days, I’ve had the privilege of drinking coffee with Angel …

Alma's Coffee Tragedy & Building Community One Cup at a Time

Most of us know what it feels like to be desperate. It's an uncomfortable, breath-stifling feeling that can take hold with an uncomfortable intensity. Henry David Thoreau famously wrote about desperation in "Walden" which was published in 1854. "Most men (and women) live lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation..." He then repeated his sad observation that "Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

On a day to day basis, there are many ways to overcome a sense of desperation or an uncomfortable feeling that something is not right. One way is through community. There is nothing like sharing coffee to abet any sense of gloom and doom. A well-made cup of coffee, rounded off with edifying and meaningful conversation, can uplift us and prepare us for the tasks at hand. Beautiful, wonderful coffee!

So it came as a surprise during a visit to my friend Alma Schneider's …

Drinking Coffee in Bali & Waiting Patiently for Spring to Arrive

Some days, it feels like spring, but clearly---winter is still here. Inevitably and mercifully, spring is coming. So why not enjoy the last few weeks of winter 2009? Steamy, nourishing coffee drinks are one of the best ways to stay alert, happy, and warm inside….and new coffee options are always appreciated!

Enter Kopi Bali coffee. Indonesian Coffee is famous worldwide for its depth, its flavor and its smooth taste. Kopi Bali, which is nicknamed “the legend” based on its longstanding reputation since 1935 as a reliably delicious coffee, has finally made its coffee available on the Web at

Kopi Bali is a third-generation family business owned by the Tjahjadis. As a family, they are constantly seeking to improve their coffee by modifying the processes and methods of cultivation and production. Kopi Bali can be found at 5-star hotels throughout Indonesia, at duty-free shops, and of course, on the Web site. The Tjahjadis take pride in the precision of how they cultivate their c…

He Died Carrying a Tray of Coffee

When I think about how Joseph Lunetta died on Monday, January 26th, the fact that he was struck by a van is front and center , as is the fact that he was on his way home to meet his friends. I am struck by the idea that given what we have learned about Mr. Lunetta from the Montclair Times, his thoughts were probably focused on the beauty of the morning. When Mr. Lunetta's untimely death was reported in the Thursday hard-copy edition of the Montclair Times, snippets of his poetry revealed more. It turns out that he wrote poetry---like so many others in Montclair, he loved the power of language. Based on snippets alone, we learned that he liked seeing “falling snow” and enjoyed “quiet mornings”.
We also learned that he liked coffee very much---and that he liked sharing coffee with his friends. In fact, the thing that sticks with me is that Mr. Lunetta died carrying a tray of coffee. Adam Anik's front page photograph captures the quiet pathos of how that gesture of goodwill was pe…

Coffee Can Make You Smarter Now---and Later: New Dementia Study From Sweden

The National Coffee Association has reported that 61% of coffee drinkers say that coffee makes them more mentally focused.

Many of us feel that coffee makes us more alert and happier too.

And now a group of researchers have published an article in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reporting new data on the coffee-mental health link: Drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of developing dementia by 65%. These statistically significant results are based on data compiled over a 21-year period on 1,409 middle-aged adults.

The Study was conducted in Sweden by Dr. Miia Kivipelto, an associate professor of Neurology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Like the rest of Scandinavia, Sweden has a robust (and, in my opinion, enviable) coffee-drinking culture. Average per capita consumption per year is 7.9 kg, compared with 4.2 kg in the United States.

Like other researchers, Dr. Kivipelto is not 100% clear on why coffee has positive effects on mental health. She does, howeve…

Drinking Coffee (and Cocoa) in Honor of MLK, Jr.

For two cold, snowy days in mid-January, groups of friends gathered together to drink coffee (and cocoa) in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Moms, dads, grandparents, friends, and kids got together to raise a cup in honor of a man, who enjoyed comfort, community, and coffee as much as any of us.

We honored him by energizing ourselves with coffee (and cocoa).

The history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), which was established in 1983 and then implemented in 1986, reflects a long struggle for recognition. In fact, it wasn't observed in all 50 states until 2000. In 2007, only 33% of employers gave the day off.

With President-Elect Obama coming into office on Tuesday, January 20th, the 2009 take on the holiday is certainly different---and in many ways the same. Some people will be home from work. Many people will need to or choose to work. In our community, all schools will be closed, but that's not the case everywhere. We are fortunate to live in a well-educated and super-tol…

Coffee and the Wayback Machine: Drinking Coffee in the 1970's

At this very moment, we are all deeply and beautifully mired in one huge "historical moment" also known as "a time of historical significance" and it is really wonderful. It feels very good. It's as if you want to capture it and then pause and replay at will to keep this feeling that anything is possible. That is not to say that there aren't terrible, harsh reminders of an equally disturbing reality---just that right here, we will soon be celebrating the inauguration of a new President.

Pondering the notion of thousands of years can be depressing and maybe even disorienting, but when I find myself in that space, I brace myself with a cup of coffee. Coffee itself boasts a history that is long, vivid, and celebrated. This august beverage was first "discovered" by the Ethiopian goatherder Kaldi in 850. Starting around 1000, the Turks took over by cultivating coffee and by 1475, there were signs of a burgeoning coffee shop trend when Kiva Han was opene…