Showing posts from 2013

Coffee Rust Threatens Coffee Farmers Across Central America

Two months into the start of a new coffee-growing season, coffee rust is still destroying coffee crops and the dreams of coffee farmers hoping for a better harvest than last year. Coffee rust is a fungus that shows up as yellow patches on coffee leaves. It attacks the leaves and reduces the plant’s ability to feed itself. As a result, the coffee fruit will never mature and the harvest will be lost.
                Predictably, this has an impact on coffee prices, but more important, it can literally force farmers into poverty and leave them and their families hungry. In mid-2013, 437,000 coffee farmers were affected across Central America, including farmers in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador and Honduras---the largest coffee grower in the region.
                One positive exception has been Colombia, which actually saw a 26% increase in its national coffee yield year over year. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia d…

Jazz and Coffee, Coffee and Jazz. Alive and Well at the Jazz Standard. And Everywhere Else too.

Jazz is alive and well and living in New York City---and in San Francisco---and in Paris, and in the other places I love to be... Likewise, wherever you happen to be, you will most likely tell me that jazz is right there, where you are, living and breathing, and attracting devoted followers, who often feel passionate beyond words when they hear the opening strains of “Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis, or “My Favorite Things,” by John Coltrane, or maybe “A Waltz for Debby,” by Bill Evans.

So it was, recently, on an October night at Jazz Standard right on 27th Street….I was there with someone very nice, listening to the Vijay Ayer Trio, and enjoying the music of this 42-year-old MacArthur Fellow, who along with his trio creates music thoroughly within the tradition of classical jazz, with a sense of brand new energy that makes you want to drink wine and coffee at the same time…so you can wake up your senses in every possible way to drink their music in all night long. 

D.C. Dowdell,…

Drinking Coffee, Alone Together, at the Whitney Museum

Drinking coffee late at night is a time-honored tradition for coffee-drinkers and a rite of passage for most ambitious young people, who pull their first all-nighter in high school. There is evidence of coffee-drinking in Edward Hoppers’s 1942 oil-on-canvas painting, “Nighthawks.” This famous painting was on view in early fall at the Whitney as part of a major exhibition that surveyed the drawings and paintings of Edward Hopper, while focusing on how he developed his work, conceptually and artistically, from idea, to drawing, to revision, to painting.

“Nighthawks” which portrays four people in a late-night diner, situated on the corner of three intersecting streets in the West Village, pays homage to urban anomie, personal freedom---and late-night coffee-drinking.

And while Hopper’s ability to masterfully present light and illumination is on full display in this painting, rife with shades of maroon, taupe, and chestnut brown—with a dab of bright red and canary yellow---it is the se…

Drinking Coffee as an Autumnal Rite of Passage

                Martha’s Vineyard ferry boats, idyllic Jersey Shore beaches, summer stock theater, watching movies under the stars on warm nights, going for a midday swim at the town pool. Good bye to all of that (at least for the next nine months)!
                Remember the (very recent) days of surfing warm waves on a boogie board, cooling off in mountain grottoes and riding the subways late at night without the benefit of a “just in case” sweater? Well until next summer, those days are over. It’s mid-September. Summer is gone---though that doesn’t discount an oddly sweltering afternoon, quickly followed by a cool evening, now and then.

                And though we must say goodbye, at least for now, to beach balls and maillots and destination t-shirts, fall brings its own joys. Sweaters and squash, matzoh balls and maple syrup, academic calendars and extracurricular activities…And one of the very best things of all: Fall brings an all-out, no-holds-barred commitment to drinkin…

Already Nostalgic for August 2013: Here’s to Sivasana Pose and All-Season Coffee Consumption

Om shanti! How is it possible that it’s already August? Summer, which we spend half the year contemplating, is slowly, stealthily starting to fade. More than half of the season’s barbecues are over, many people have already returned from vacation and the mums are just starting to peek though the ground. On cool evenings, it’s not hard to envision fall, with its medley of oranges, yellows and browns. Back-to-school sales are starting, and parents are already making granular decisions about the upcoming year’s extracurricular activities.

But, wait, it’s only August! There is still time to go to the beach and the pool, play tennis, frolic with children or chill with friends---and drink lots and lots of coffee (and wine too if that’s your thing). I love drinking coffee while the hot summer sun shines overhead, or when it rains in fat, warm pellets, causing people to seek shelter at the closest Starbucks.There is no right one season to drink coffee. Drinking coffee is part of daily life.…
I  love coffee. It is so good. 


Summer Updates from Today's Guest Blogger...and Coffee Helps Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Happy summer! Finally, school has ended, the pools have opened and the barbecues have begun in earnest. It has been a season of celebrations---July 4th, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and graduations. The drink of choice for many of these events has been iced coffee! 
And based on all available evidence, that’s a good thing… According to an article in the New York Times, published on June 6, 2013, coffee not only reduces the risk of diabetes, prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence, but new data shows that having circulating caffeine in the bloodstream reduces the risk of full-blown Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.
Also, let’s be honest about one of the major benefits of coffee---a sense of rejuvenation. Coffee keeps us young! And there is nothing quite like the exuberance of a young spirit….like that of one of my best friends, Noah, who is 13 years old, and looking forward to when he gets to start drinking coffee. He is today’s Guest Blogge…

Clinical Data from the Mayo Clinic: Coffee has Anti-inflammatory Effects—Plus, Tips for Drinking Coffee in the Summer

Dr. Craig Lammert, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, recently completed a study showing that drinking coffee can decrease the risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare, but very serious, autoimmune disease that affects the liver. In people with PSC, the bile ducts---the tubes that carry liquid bile from the liver to the intestines--- become inflamed and hardened. Eventually, patients develop cirrhosis of the liver and often cancer.  Most patients are diagnosed between 20 and 30, and die within 25 year, unless they have a liver transplant. 
This study looked at the impact of coffee drinking not only on PSC, but also on primary biliary cirrhosis. Coffee drinking had no impact on PBC, but a noteworthy impact on PSC. Healthy controls were more likely to drink coffee than the patients with liver disease---and they also drank more coffee overall. When it came to not drinking coffee at all, 13% of the healthy controls were non-coffee-drinkers, compared with 21% of PSC pati…

Love is in the Air at Java Love Montclair

It’s spring. Finally. And love is in the air. And if you love coffee, you will love the fact that Java Love Coffee Roasters (founded in 2011 by Jodie Dawson and Kristine Petrik in Bethel, NY) has opened in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. This funky little café is located at 244 Bellevue Avenue, right next to the Bellevue Theater and Anderson Park. 

It’s been open about a week and there’s already a scene building. First and foremost, the coffee is good. Jodie and Kristine only source green beans that are sustainably farmed, organic, fairly traded, rain forest certified—and in the case of decaf bean, water processed. Plus, in addition to coffee, tea, espresso drinks, chai and juices, there is a nicely stocked array of gluten-free vegan, healthy, yummy food---from baked goods to salads to sandwiches. The vegan orange cranberry organic cookie is especially delicious. 

According to Jodie, “We try to source as many healthy, natural products as possible. Freshly baked goods, sandwiches, and sa…

Paradoxical Musings from a Coffee Lover/Medical Writer (Generic Coffee & a Breast Cancer-Coffee Update)

Spring break is a special ritual for many families, including mine. Often, it means a chance to travel, a bit of sun, and the perfect chance to combine leisurely fun with purpose.  We look forward to it all year long. Last year, we basically stayed home because my husband had a major work project. The previous year, we went to Paris—when my youngest was only four months old. This year, we went to Washington, D.C. and to Virginia. It was a great trip. We stayed in decent, but not super- fancy, hotels and had an absolute blast, once we got past the initial drama of not being able to check into our first hotel in Dupont Circle due to plumbing problems.
At Hotel Harrington on 11th and E in D.C., we were literally only a few walkable blocks away from the Smithsonian Museums, the Supreme Court and the Metro. We woke up early every day and packed in quite a bit---the zoo, the National Museum of Natural History, the Supreme Court, the Museum of American History, even D.C. Coast—an exceptional…

There are Moments When You Must Wait for Coffee---Just as People Wait for Justice

There are many interesting things to know about the Supreme Court. Any good docent will tell you that it was built in 1935, when Justice Taft insisted that the Supreme Court should have its own building---after 146  years of residing in various locations (including the Capital Building). 
What is difficult to capture in words, however, is the ineffable sense of majesty of this building. The power of inclusive democracy, with all of its gravity and rigorous discipline.

This is where Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka was argued in 1954---the case which would eventually officially desegregate education, and change our lives forever. The karma of that decision and that energy lives in that building. You feel it like a strong breeze when you walk in, enter the front hall and see the portrait of Thurgood Marshall (the lawyer who argued the case and later became the first African-American justice.) With Chief Justice Warren at the helm, the court decided unanimously on May 17, 1…

Celebrating the Spring Holidays By Drinking Coffee and Tea Against the Backdrop of a Green-and-White Landscape

March in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) has been an interesting hodgepodge of green and white.  Buds started sprouting during a welcome mild spell a couple of weeks ago, and then a sudden snow storm (the second in two weeks) weighed down the saplings with heavy white flakes. As beautiful as it was (and still is) to look at, it was inconvenient, messy and dangerous.
Snowflakes even fell as revelers marched through the streets of Manhattan on St. Patrick’s Day---a happy day where many people I know drank a lot of coffee. And other stuff too!

We bought more firewood, drank more coffee and tea---and tried to hunker down in small doses before picking up our shovels and laptops and heading back out into the wild, wild world of eclectic weather. Perhaps we got healthier as we tried to stay warm by consuming more hot beverages…I think that most likely we did.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on March 15th 2013, confirmed something good about coffee and gre…

The 2013 MLK, Jr. Coffee-Drinking Party:Brewing up Happiness and Fun in Honor of MLK and Obama

It’s become a tradition: Each year, on the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), we host a coffee-drinking party. There is also tea, hot chocolate and sweet treats. We do it for several reasons. It gives us a chance to honor MLK, Jr., who loved coffee, in a way that is human, inclusive and festive all at once. We also enjoy seeing friends and neighbors and letting the kids play.

Over the years, the party has grown from a handful of friends posing for a picture in Starbucks, holding up cups in honor of MLK, to more than 60 people at our house this year, including lots of families.  This year was extra special, because in addition to celebrating MLK Day, we were also celebrating the second inauguration of President Obama. It was impossible not to feel good about the perfect intersection of persistent striving, high-minded ideals and concrete ceremonial reality---Obama being sworn in for another four years.

The party was great. People arrived early with little gifts and sw…

It's 2013: Make Your Resolutions Stick---and Use Coffee to Get Moving and Stay Healthy

Only a couple of weeks into the New Year, and we are still hoping for the best. Resolutions---both documented and unacknowledged---drive us to achieve our goals and make good on the annual quest to have a “happy, healthy (new) year.”
When I woke up this morning, I was still fatigued despite 8 hours of sleep, eating healthy food and daily exercise. I just wasn’t feeling like myself. Immediately I thought, “Time to get that flu shot, for myself and everyone else.” It’s that time of year---and the flu has been especially difficult this year. In fact, the CDC reported that there were 22,049 cases of flu between September and the end of December 2012, compared with only 849 during the same period in 2011---and the pace and intensity have continued.
So in order to kick-start my engine, I brewed not one, but two pots of coffee, starting first with Seattle’s Best Breakfast Blend, and then moving onto Allegra Espresso Coffee Blend. I added a bit of skim milk and allowed the hot, antioxidant-l…