Showing posts from September, 2020

Who is Juan Valdez and why I drink instant coffee

Instant coffee gets a bad rap. But like it or not, instant coffee---a freeze-dried, powdered concentrated form of coffee--- is coffee. And like other types of coffee, it is full of antioxidants. The obvious downside for many people, however, is that instant coffee has a different flavor profile than traditionally brewed coffee. But that does not mean that it can’t be good. In fact, there are now second- and third-generation instant coffees that have gained a following.  However, this post is NOT about the most au courant instant coffees. This post is about an old-school, first-generation instant coffee. Specifically, Juan Valdez Café instant coffee (which I recently received as a gift from good friends). The Juan Valdez Café brand represents coffee produced by Colombian Coffee Farmers---500,000 strong, who are devoted to continuing a coffee-growing tradition that many say produces the best coffee in the world. Amazon reviewers tend to rate Juan Valdez Café coffee with 4.5 to 5 stars (

Nestling in at Nat’s Nook in Vineyard Haven, MA

In late August, in any little town in Martha’s Vineyard, finding a coffee shop or café is generally not a problem. The island abounds with coffee-drinking options, from very basic coffee you get at the market, to sublime experiences featuring lavender lattes and other epicurean pleasures. But 2020 shifted the paradigm, favoring coffee-serving establishments with outdoor seating (and wifi of course). So one day in late August, I ended up spending an afternoon at Nat’s Nook (38 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, MA—open from 9 am-3 pm) where I nestled in a shade-covered nook, surrounded by earthy maroon walls, shade canopy from large, sheltering trees, patio seating, and just the right amount of sunlight peaking through. The main menu selections include sweet and savory crepes; Rao’s coffee, espresso, and tea; baked goods and bagels from Pain D’Avignon. There are also vegan and gluten-free options.  And then there are the little add-ons that bring the crepes to life---nutella, apple butter,

To grind or not to grind--taking time to think it over

  Some things are the kind of things that I only think about on vacation. Whether or not to grind fresh coffee beans versus buying pre-ground coffee is one of them. For me, morning coffee consumption is driven, in order, by need, convenience, habit (is that the same as need?), and, of course, taste/experience. Given my priorities, grinding my coffee ahead of brewing is not on top of the list.   Full disclosure: Despite my reputation as a coffee connoisseur, I don’t habitually grind my coffee. Yes, I have a grinder, but sadly, I have not created a structure in which habitual coffee-grinding works for me. But the evidence is in---grinding coffee is a game-changer. Perhaps it is time to level up. While on vacation this past August, I contemplated this very issue, using Google as my guide. One post from Coffee Confidential was very convincing. Further research only confirmed my hunch that grinding coffee fresh, just ahead of brewing, was the key to getting a great cup of coffee---not j