Showing posts from 2018

Coffee-drinking, art-loving, word-smithing & SNOWBOUND

Have you ever been so distracted by the pursuit of coffee that you lost track of time---and then found out that all the while you were coffee-klatching, a potential disaster was unfolding? That was me on Thursday, November 15---the day of the nor’easter that we all underreacted to until we were stuck in Penn Station, and our children were stuck on buses, while thousands of people were stuck in gridlock that lasted up to 12 to 14 hours, forcing them to deal with their biologic needs the best they could.

After a full morning of working alone, I met up with two of my colleagues (2 amazing women-editors), at News Bar Café near Union Square, to work on a project and drink endless cups of coffee, while enjoying various soups, breads and sweets. News Bar has a traditional wooden exterior, and a café-pub-like feel, with large plate glass windows at the front of the café.  
The best way to describe the feeling of being in News Bar at midday as the snow innocently swirled around outside is ‘fi…

Raise your cup to Veterans---coffee-fueled heroism has always been a ‘thing’

In honor of Veteran’s Day, many coffee chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, have been giving free coffee and coffee drinks to Veterans. This is just one way to show respect to these hard-working individuals, who have served our country faithfully. It may seem like a small gesture, but ask any military man or woman about coffee, and they will tell you that coffee is a HUGE deal when it comes being in the service---whether you’re on the battlefield, or in a supportive role.
Coffee is the lifeblood for most demanding professions, from doctors, to traders, teachers, and construction crews---the day cannot start properly without a strong infusion of coffee.Add to this list, soldiers and other military professionals, who drink coffee, frequently, in large amounts.

Coffee-obsessed Soldiers
NPR aired a segment in 2016, which revealed that coffee was an obsession during the Civil War. In fact, according to Smithsonian curator, Jim Grinspin, during the Civil War, letters from soldier…

Mystic seaport: Exploring the coffee-drinking habits of whalers

1871 was a fortuitous year in the United States.  In 1871, John Arbuckle and his team invented a machine that led to the mass production of coffee---a machine that could fill, weigh, seal and label coffee in paper bags.  While this was happening in New York City, the Charles W. Morgan commercial whaler was being completed in New Bedford, MA. At 106-feet long, with 7,100 square feet of sail, this massive, fully rigged whaler was a workhorse on the seas.

Why we care about whalers
In the fall, there’s nothing like a weekend getaway to look at the leaves, hike a few trails, and drink a lot of coffee. A recent trip to Mystic, CT, got me thinking about what life on a whaling ship would be like. Mystic Seaport Museum, which has been the permanent home of the Morgan since the early 1940’s, does a great job of bringing a reconstructed mid-19th-century New England whaling village to life.

The Morgan is massive and visually impressive. You can board the boat and see the cargo hold for the whale …

A coffee-drinking workers’ paradise

Happy Labor Day! The joy of Labor Day is its focus on pursuing leisure, enjoying the outdoors, and hanging out with friends and family---but Labor Day, like most things of value, was hard-won. It started as a municipal ordinance in the mid-1880’s, and slowly took hold as individual states passed laws celebrating Labor Day. Finally, in June 1884, the United States Congress passed a federal law making the first Monday of September an official holiday celebrating working people.
So what does Labor Day have to do with coffee? A lot it turns out. Starting in the early 20th century, drinking coffee in the middle of the day became a major cause celebre for working people and the unions that represented them.
1900 was a very auspicious year for American workers. That was the year that the Hills Brothers Company introduced vacuum-packed coffee, making it possible for people to brew coffee at home, and even at work. However, even before coffee was mass-produced, it was consumed regularly, in…

Drinking coffee in the land of fika and geothermal geysers

When it comes to drinking coffee, Icelanders are over-achievers.They rank #3 in the world in terms of per capita consumption, with Finland and Norway taking the top 2 spots. And although this small Nordic island country only has 350,000 people, there are cafes everywhere. In fact, Iceland’s home-grown café scene is so robust that there is no need for Starbucks in Iceland.
Coffee permeates Iceland’s culture, affecting every aspect of life, from work, to play, to love. Although coffee didn’t come to Iceland until 1703 (very recently given the long, long history of Europe), by the mid-1700’s, virtually every household in Iceland had a coffee grinder and roaster.

Coffee plays an important part in love rituals in Iceland. In a famous Icelandic novel, published in 1935 by Halldor Laxness, coffee-drinking took center stage.This novel depicted the hard-scrabble life of Icelandic peasants, oppressed by debt-bondage and an inhospitable landscape. There were moments of sweetness, however, incl…

Drinking coffee at a British pub

According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), there are 10,500 pubs in the U.K.Pubs are an important part of British culture. They are known for their warmth, coziness, and camaraderie, as well as their drink and menu of savory foods, including ‘pies,’ chips, burgers, salads, and rich, deeply satisfying desserts.
 I don’t really go to pubs very often (though I remember going to some nice ones several times when I was a student at Middlebury). However, during a recent trip, I decided that when in London, one must experience British pub life. I simply concluded that while I could happily spend all my time at cafés, I didn’t want to miss out on such an iconic experience. 

I chose Warwick Arms, located at 160 Warwick St. in Kensington, because it was close to my hotel and had an interesting twist (which I will get to later). It did not disappoint. The interior was welcoming and warm, outfitted with leather tufted chairs, wooden tables, and a fireplace.
Warwick Arms has a men…

Summer Nights at MOMA

In the summer, Thursday nights at MOMA are dedicated to listening to music in the Sculpture Garden. Last Thursday the featured group was OSHUN, two young women, who create Afro-futuristic music that combines hip hop, R&B, acoustic harmonizing, heavy drum and bass, and EDM. (If you listen carefully, you might just hear woven-in samples from 90’s conscious hip hop groups, like Tribe Called Quest).

The garden was abuzz with Afropunk aficionados, the after-work crowd, beautiful people with big afros, MOMA members---and random people like us, who love MOMA and enjoy drinking coffee when we’re there. 

Thandiwe and Niambi Sala are recent NYU graduates, who chose the name OSHUN for its multifaceted meaning. Oshun is a West African deity---a goddess, also known as an orisha, who is the deity of fresh water, luxury, love, destiny, divination, pleasure, and sexuality. She is revered as the goddess of the Osun River in Nigeria. Their goal is to channel “the spirit of their ancestors in orde…

Friendship, Fireworks and Fair Trade Coffee

What do you think of when you think of July 4th? Parades, fireworks, fun in the sun, lots of barbecue and grilled veggies---and fair trade coffee.  Why not?

This year, the friends who hosted me and my family served up an amazing spread (as usual) replete with grilled lamb and chicken, hot dogs, grilled veggies, and roasted potatoes. I brought a vegan cake (from Asia B) and grapefruit San Pelligrino. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we swam in the saltwater pool, and then we ate more. Finally, it was time for coffee---but I was shocked to learn that everything, even Starbucks, was closed. (Gasp…what could we do?)

As it turned out the only option was to “brew” a coffee pod in an old-model Keurig---and I was happy to have it. The coffee was brewed in a large cup…and it was delicious.

At first, to me, it was just another box of k-cups---until I tasted it.The coffee was an organic French Roast from the Rogers Family Company, a San Francisco-based company that has been around for 3 generation…

Birthday musings: My lifelong love affair with caffeine

Because my birthday is at the end of May, I usually end up celebrating on Memorial Day weekend, as I did this year. I have been drinking coffee since I was 15, and have always loved coffee with cake. This year, my birthday cake, a vegan cake made by Asia Bullock, owner of Asia B’s Sweet Treats, was a 3-layer yellow cake with chocolate icing---à la vintage Betty Crocker. It was my dream cake.
When I tasted the cake it reminded me of when the kids in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (written by C.S. Lewis & published in 1950 as part of the Chronicles of Narnia series) first tried Turkish delight, a traditional starchy confection, made with powdered sugar and rosewater, which was rendered magical in the story. The cake was so good, so sublime, and so otherworldly that the only way to make it better (at least for me) was with coffee.
My friends and I celebrated at Trend Coffee and Tea House, which has become Montclair, NJ’s go-to coffee hot-spot, with a schedule of musicians p…

Coffee, acrylamide, and the cult of false-equivalence

It seems the anti-science movement has gained some momentum lately, as lawmakers, disdainful of evidence-backed data, make decisions that are at best stupid, and at worse, harmful to public health. Such is the case with the pending judicial decision in California, related to Prop 65, which would require coffee sellers to post warnings about the fact that coffee contains acrylamide---which according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a probable carcinogen in humans. Note that this conclusion is based on studies involving rats mega-dosed with acrylamide in controlled pre-clinical studies.

Acrylamide Schmahilatide What exactly is acrylamide? According to the American Cancer Society, acrylamide is a chemical byproduct of frying, baking, or roasting certain starchy foods at high temps (microwaving and boiling don’t produce acrylamide). Not only is acrylamide found in roughly 40% of all calories consumed by humans, it is also found in cigarette smoke and some adhe…

The Starbucks debacle heralds a new era in corporate citizenship

Once upon a time, racial profiling at a coffee shop would not be considered unusual, even if it was considered unfortunate, evoking a few platitudes from the silent majority. But the idea that an act of discrimination involving black people, coffee culture, and a racially biased store manager, would provoke national outrage would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. But then the Internet happened and a new generation, specifically millenials, came of age, bringing with them their tech savvy and progressiveness.
Last week, the video of Philadelphia policemen arresting two young, black men (for apparently sitting too long without a making purchase in a Starbucks on 30th and Spruce) went viral quickly, igniting a wave of fury and becoming a hot topic on news networks and social media.

Indifference and silence---two strategies that normalize racism---help to preserve the illusion of innocence. But those days are over. It's true: Racism is alive and well in the U.S., but the democrat…

Hyperion Espresso to the Rescue: From darkness to light

Easter in Fredericksburg, VA, with my family, was great.For us it meant an early-morning egg hunt at church, lots of park time, and really strong morning coffee.

But for me, morning coffee is just the beginning. Coffee for me is an all-day affair. After an afternoon of playing with the kids, kicking a soccer ball and running after a basketball, I decided that I really needed coffee. I made the request to my father, who was driving, and he mentioned Starbucks (after he sighed, since I had been whining about coffee for a couple of hours already).
I assumed that given the holiday and the small-town commitment to family life that Starbucks would be the only coffee option in town. Turns out it wasn’t true.

I spy a coffeehouse After leaving Pratt Park, as we drove into town, I spied a group of people standing outside of a refurbished colonial that houses Hyperion Espresso.
Hyperion, located at 301 William Street in downtown Fredericksburg, was founded in 1994, after taking over the site of an o…

Romancing the green bean: Coffee-and-love haiku

Coffee is an object of passionate love and extreme affection. Late-night coffee is a nice capstone for a lovely evening out, while morning coffee is an elixir---brewed to sate a universal thirst. And since coffee is both healthy and energizing, drinking it can fuel romantic adventures. And speaking of romance, coffee lends itself to poetry, including haiku. Here are a few odes to our beloved black brew.

Ritual of Joy-by Markus Heyder Lifting it--- the coffee cup leaves a ring
I love you-by Caroline Risman Never enough sleep Children wake so damn early Coffee, I love you
Morning Coffee-by Nicole Gray Cold rays of sunshine You make my morning coffee Thank you very much
Recipe for Irish Whiskey (While I'm not a drinker, I'm learning to enjoy once in a while---and this is a GREAT way in!) Here's the short-version recipe: Cappucino (lots of foam) and whiskey or Bailey's (even I know what that is). 

According to Kiely Healy, who is an expert in many things:  "You can feel jittery and ti…