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Showing posts from 2010

Coffee Prices Explode & Global Coffee Gratitude

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At the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of how grateful I am for coffee. Not only for its rich, soothing, energizing effects---but also because of its health benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. I am also grateful that increasingly the medical evidence is documenting these benefits with amazing contributions from European and American universities!

I am also grateful that most of the coffee-drinkers I know can still afford to drink coffee and enjoy its benefits. That is not insignificant, especially when you consider that coffee prices are at an all-time high for the past 13 years. In fact, coffee futures have increased 44%. According to pundits, a constellation of factors are contributing to coffee's sky-high prices, including bad weather in South America and low stockpiles in the United States. But, there's something else: Increasing demand from coffee drinkers in emerging economies. The largest increase i…

Coffee: The Great Equalizer That Reduces the Risk of Stroke

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Bump Alert: Embracing Coffee Moderation, Confronting My Addiction and Rediscovering Coffee

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Several months ago I had to cut my coffee consumption way back. Though, on any normal day, I drink 4 to 6 cups a day, for the first few months of my pregnancy, I had to cut back, because according to the medical literature, coffee is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.In a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2007, 1063 women were followed by Dr. De-Kun Li and his colleagues. Their goal: determine whether there was a correlation between coffee intake and miscarriage. Women were divided into three categories: no caffeine; some caffeine, but less than 200 mg per day, and consumption of more than 200 mg per day. The miscarriage rate among the 200 mg-plus group was 25%, compared with 12% for the non-caffeine drinkers. So it seems that 200mg, or two cups, is the safety threshold. Note that the results were adjusted to take into consideration other risk factors. For a long time, I was in deep denial about the correlation between drinking a lo…

Greek Coffee Drinkers Have Healthier Hearts, Less Hypertension, and a LOT More Phenolic Compounds in Their Bodies

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A study that included a group of men and women on an island in Greece highlighted several beneficial results that appear to be associated with the consumption of coffee---and these results, including reduced hypertension in coffee-drinnkers, are statistically significant. The study's researchers (published by the European Society of Cardiology in August 2010) were especially rigorous in their analysis, because for a long time there has been a widespread misperception that coffee consumption is linked to hypertension.

Let’s look at the study: The 435 subjects in this study, who ranged from 65 to 100 years old, were evaluated based on how much coffee they drink. Those who consumed 1 to 2 cups a day were healthier, compared with those who rarely drank coffee. There were several notable benefits. Coffee drinkers compared with non-coffee-drinkers had:

• A lower prevalence of diabetes (22% vs. 34%, P>.02)
• A lower body mass index (28% vs. 29 kg/m2, P=0.04)
• Higher creatinine clearance…

STARBUCKS Shows Up at Fashion Week: Doing it Their Way---See Live Reporting from Lindsey Murphy

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It’s September in New York City and spring is in the air---and on the runways. From September 9-16, 2010, world-class designers are unveiling their spring/summer designs in a new venue: Lincoln Center. With over 70 shows and 250,000 attendees, Fashion Week is a world-class event. This show attracts luminaries from around the globe, including actors, business people, writers, artists, and a pantheon of fabulous people from every walk of life.

This year, in the interest of keeping everyone pleasantly caffeinated, Starbucks has a major presence. The Starbucks Frappuccino® Shuttle is coursing through the byways of the city making frequent trips to Lincoln Center and various destinations in midtown. One of the major product categories highlighted during the shuttle expeditions are the bottled Frappuccino® drinks, including Frappuccino® LIGHT, Dark Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino®, and Bottled Vanilla Frappuccino®Coffee Drink ---made with lowfat milk. Watch reporter extraordinaire, Lindsey …

Lights, Camera, Sound, Coffee---and Action!

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From September 1st to November 14th, 2010, visitors can come to the Montclair State University amphitheater to enjoy an outdoor sonic/light installation by Christopher Janney---a well-known architect, who installs different types of interactive exhibits in public spaces. This exhibit, "Everywhere is the Best Seat," features 36 columns with light sensors that are thoroughly interactive. Visitors are enveloped in lights and sounds---including the melodious calls of rainforest birds and atmospheric electronica.

Better yet, while enjoying the exhibit, grab a cup of coffee at Cafe Diem, which is less than a 2-minute walk away from the amphitheater. The cafe, which is open until midnight on weekends and 24 hours a day during the week and on Sundays, brews Starbucks coffee drinks. One of their best drinks is the pumpkin latte. They are generous with the espresso!

For the past couple of nights, my family has been compelled to walk over to the university and enjoy the magic of this exh…

Drinking a Celebratory Cup of Beanstock Coffee

Sometimes, things don't go as planned. The first few days of our annual August vacation were cold, rainy, and dismal. Instead of opting for cool spritzers, I found myself craving hot coffee. I found great comfort in Beanstock Coffee, a remarkable line of beans brewed by a company that started roasting coffee in 1996 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

Three days into our vacation, the sun came out. People swarmed the beaches, runners took to the streets, and there were glorious shouts of joy from the bike paths.

Like many others, we took to the beach to watch the sunset. I brought Beanstock along. It was satisfying on every level!

Here I am at Duck Harbor drinking combo hazelnut/Wellfleet blend, the best of all possible worlds--combined in one cup.

Happiness Is…Buying a New Coffee Maker & Getting a Refund for the Old One

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About a week ago, the unthinkable happened. One mid-August morning, my Barista AromaTM 8-cup coffeemaker broke. It became essentially unusable. My first reaction was denial. The large rubber lip of the thermal carafe had become completely unhinged. I tried to meld it back together, but this coffee maker was almost 4 years old. Indeed, if ever there was ‘planned obsolescence’ this was it---because it was definitely NOT abuse. Over the years, I have loved that coffeemaker.On some cold winter mornings, I would practically coo at it as it competently brewed my coffee. I loved many of its features. It’s black and silver sleekness, the gold mesh flat filter, the fact that I could yank the carafe away from the case before it finished brewing in order to pour myself half a cup. I loved the shushing sound it made as it brewed, the strategically placed water canister, and the digital read-out.Ours was a warm respectable relationship informed by my primal addiction to coffee.After I got through …

Calcium and Coffee---Getting to the Heart of the Matter

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Very big news from the British Medical Journal. It turns out that calcium supplements can increase the risk of heart attacks. In a combined analysis of 11 clinical trials that included almost 12,000 people with an average age of 72, people taking calcium had a 2.7% risk of having a heart attack over a 4-year period, compared with 2.2% for those taking placebo pills. A slight increase to be sure---but that translates into an approximately 30% higher risk and potentially a lot more heart attacks.

This study garnered a great deal of attention---and rightfully so. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study about coffee and heart health has not been as well publicized, but the results are interesting and instructive. A study of 374 patients who had experienced an acute coronary event showed that if they had normal blood pressure and they drank 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day, they decreased their risk of left ventricular systemic dysfunction (LVSD) by 88%, co…

Drinking Iced Coffee When its Hot, Hot, Hot...

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Stultifying heat. Blazing hot. Mercury-popping temperatures....We can honestly say that these descriptions are no hyperbole. It was scorching caliente today! Really. The temperature hit a whopping 103 degrees in Central Park.

So...it was a perfect day for drinking iced coffee. Though that wasn't the plan at first. I started the day with a hot brew. However, when Lindsey came over for a mid-morning chat, we decided to pour the morning's brew---Ethiopiam Limu---over ice cubes in brightly colored BPA-free plastic goblets.

The result: delicious-slash-refreshing The coffee was bold enough so that even with ice, a little skim milk, and one sugar it was really festive and good. Yet, we did not turn it into some overly sweetened beverage that reminds one of coffee but is actually a soft drink wannabe. It was coffee pure and simple, and it was really, really good!

Ethiopian Limu is a seasonal summer brew from Starbucks. According to the branding, this blend "has a rich complexity wit…

Another Reason I Heart Coffee So Much: It Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease!

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Once in a while you see a movie in which someone is all hyped up on coffee. They are agitated and grimacing, and then suddenly they grasp their chest and proceed to have a heart attack on screen. If you see this type of movie, it should seem grainy and perhaps a little off-color and uncontemporary. Because anyone who is aware of the evidence surrounding coffee and cardiovascular disease is also aware that coffee is not associated with an increased risk of heart attack. In fact, coffee is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
So says a recent study published on June 18, 2010 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association. In a study that included 37,514 subjects over a 13-year period, people who drank 6 or more cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of developing heart disease by 36%. Those who drank 2 to 4 cups per day had a 20% reduced risk. It's not clear exactly what the underlying mechanism is---but the nu…

Easy Breezy: Coffee of the Day, Seattle's Best Blend

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On a warm, late spring morning, full schedules beckoned---and I, like many, many others woke up to a pot of coffee.
The coffee of the day was Seattle's Best Blend. According to the packaging, this blend is "uncommonly smooth." I enjoyed the first cup, but had to drink it quickly and head off to an event in my first grader's class.
Afterwards, my friend, Lindsey, Founder of SEO-ME, and I came back vowing to uncover the "uncommon smoothness" of Seattle's Best Blend. My second cup was rich and had perfect depth--but admittedly it needed a little kick.
Lindsey's take: "The flavor's definitely bright, but I would not say it's uncommonly smooth. It's definitely coffee, but I feel like there needs to be something happening, like nutmeg or cinnamon. The good part though is I don't feel like I have coffee breath.
That being said, the day was beautiful and the morning was full of laughter. We were light and breezy--despite the fact that we b…

Today’s Coffee Review: The Organic Coffee Company

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Coffee News Update: From Pop Culture to the Hallowed Halls of Clinical Research Labs

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Recently, a headline made its way around the global media network in various exclamatory iterations. Composite results from 13 trials undertaken at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showed that coffee significantly improves performance especially among the nigh-shift crowd.

The headlines were unequivocally upbeat: “Why Caffeine is the Perfect Addiction for a Worker Bee Society;” “Coffee Improves Productivity and Safety at Work;” Coffee Improves Work Efficiency;” “Coffee is Best Perk for Sleepy Workers;” and many, many more. News about coffee is big news---if only because coffee is a $60 billion-plus industry and the world's most widely consumed psyhoactive beverage worldwide.

The scientific community continues to study coffee seriously. One major recent development is the devotion of an entire supplement of The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. This supplement, "Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Dise…

Drinking Coffee at Disney: When it Comes to Coffee, It's a Small, Small World

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Disney World in late March is a dream come true---especially if you are between the ages of 5 and 7. Finally, I decided that my job as a mom was to indulge that dream. From the beginning, it seemed that this trip of a lifetime for my young daughter would be a test of endurance for me. My husband was staying home to work, so for the first part of the trip we would be on our own. However, we were excited that we would be meeting my sister and her family there.

From the very beginning, the challenges were rampant. The plane did not depart until 10pm, with an arrival time after midnight. Upon arrival in Orlando, we were told that our hotel rooms were suddenly “oversold” and that we were being “upgraded” to a hotel about 7 miles further away from Disney World.

When I got to the hotel, I had to forge a plan to compensate for the woefully inadequate shuttle service of the hotel. I immediately set up my 5-star coffee maker and made a quick pot of Colombian brew. Meanwhile, my 7-year-old pore…

Drinking Coffee With the Tiger and Reinvigorating Coffee’s Proud Tradition of Liberalism

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Last month, the year of the Tiger came roaring in. Chinese New Year celebrations were held around the world---and though coffee is not traditionally a beverage widely enjoyed in traditional Chinese culture, there were lots of people participating in the festivities drinking coffee. I was one of them. En route to my mother-in-law’s house in Brooklyn, I made my husband stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. I love the young baristas there, who are constantly telling me that Dunkin Donuts is as good as Starbucks. “We have skim milk,” they exclaim. I smile and say, “Great. Please put a little in my large cup of coffee. No sugar…and thank you.”

I don’t need to be convinced. I have drunk coffee all over the United States and Europe. Though I like good coffee, I tend to be pretty broad-minded, especially when purveyors are willing to stand by their coffee. I also have a weakness for good copy. In fact, recently, while driving with my husband, we passed an Exxon where there was a mini-billboard advertising …

Let it Snow, Let it Pile Up, and Let us Drink Coffee: Plus More Good News From International Coffee Researchers

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"Happy February, fellow coffee lovers! February is a wonderful month, with lots of celebrations---Black History Month, Valentine’s day, Purim, and, at least this year, a flurry of snow days, with lots of sledding, get-togethers, and coffee-drinking.

I am pleased that my daughter has chosen to focus on Martin Luther King, Jr. as the subject for her Black History Project at her elementary school in Montclair, NJ. Making good use of a silver-metallic blendy pen, black poster board, and wikipedia, she has put together an interesting project focusing on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, his civil rights work, and the fact that he was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 1964. A month ago, when we hosted our annual MLK, Jr. coffee-drinking party, she was responsible for hanging up peace-signs everywhere (her idea). Not surprisingly, her MLK, Jr. poster is festooned with peace insignias and happy faces.
Apparently, Dr. King was a coffee-lover.…

Drinking Coffee in 2010: New Year, New Challenges, Good Things on the Horizon

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Before you read this post, please allow me to mention the incredibly disastrous event that occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010. The earthquake wrought a great deal of devastation. You can donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to 90999. You'll see the charge on your phone bill.....

Happy New Year, Fellow Coffee Lovers! Largely due to the energizing effects of coffee, I have been very, very busy writing, traveling, parenting, working out, and hanging out drinking coffee. Now I'm back. Please note: One of my resolutions for 2010 is to share my coffee-related insights more frequently. I appreciate your readership. Thanks!

Speaking of resolutions, last year one of my resolutions was to go to Seattle to experience the city, its natural beauty, its cultural landscape, and its abundance of coffee-drinking experiences. So I went in December 2009, with my husband and little girl in tow. It was amazing. Over the coming weeks, I will be unfurling the experien…