Conscious Coffee- Part One

“Coffee- the favorite drink of the civilized world.”- Thomas Jefferson.

 

Every morning millions of people around the world wakeup to a morning cup of coffee. #Coffee is one of the most trending hashtags on Instagram whether it may be a latte from a hipster cafe or a regular cup of Jo.

 

Coffee

One day as I was browsing in the grocery aisle to buy coffee, I came across a bunch of different brands. Some of these said Bird friendly, Rain Forest Alliance & Fair Trade affiliated. I thought these are environmental friendly. I decided to give a try even though they are tad bit expensive than my regular coffee. The next day morning when I had a cup of coffee its different and tasted better. So I decided to delve deep into where those beans came from.

A Little History:

Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia by an animal herder Kaldi. He noticed that his goats became very active through out the day after eating certain berries.

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He took those berries to the local monastery where the monk prepared a drink which helped him stay active during his evening prayers. The knowledge is shared among the communities. Soon the coffee trade began between Africa and Arabia.  In Arabia the coffee beans were first roasted and brewed. Coffee was later introduced into India and Europe in 16th Century.   The 1773 Boston Tea Party changed American consumption of coffee forever.

About the Beans:

Coffea arabica(Arabica) and Coffea canephora (Robusta Beans) are two main species grown in the coffee trade today.

Arabica beans are rich in flavor ,aroma and quality compared to the robusta beans. They are grown  in shade grown on hilly terrains. They are vulnerable to diseases and pest manifestations. The yield is low.  Arabica Beans contribute to 70% of the coffee production.

Coffee canephora(Robusta) beans have high caffeine content  low in quality, it tastes bitter and burnt.  The high caffeine content makes them resistant to disease and pests. They are grown in warmer climates, flat lands and the yield is 3 times more than Arabica beans. Robusta beans account for 20-30 % of the coffee trade. These beans are used to make Instant coffee. Vietnam is the largest producer of robusta beans and Starbucks is its undisputed largest purchaser.

Arabica Robusta

 

Farming & Processing :

The traditional method of producing coffee is to plant seeds in the soil directly before the rainy season. Half of these seeds don’t sprout.Brazil adopted a more efficient method by planting the seedlings which are grown in the nurseries for 6-12 months before being sowed in coffee plantations.

CoffeeSprout

Before reaching the roasters coffee berries undergo thorough processing. Coffee berries are picked based on ripeness which is a more labor intensive method. They are also strip picked and harvested regardless of ripeness.  After harvesting they are processed either by dry method or wet method.

Strip Picked Berries

Dry Method:

The ancient method of processing coffee uses dry method. The harvested berries are cleaned by winnowing to remove dirt and damaged berries.  They are then sun dried and sent to a mill. In large plantations they let the beans dry in the sun for a few days and then they use machine drying. Those beans are sent to mill for hulling , grading and bagging.  This is practiced in Brazil, Ethiopia,India, Haiti & Paraguay where Arabica beans are produced.

Wet method:

The berries are sorted by ripeness and the flesh on the berries is removed with the help of a machine.  The seeds are then fermented  and  washed thoroughly. This produces massive waste water. The beans are dried on patios and sun beds. Later sent to mills for hulling and bagging.

 

Roasting :

The green coffee is then sent to roasting. Roasting influences and alters the taste of the coffee. The light roast coffee has high caffeine content ,aromatic flavors of its origin with complex acidity. Medium roast coffee has muted acidity.

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Dark Roast has no original  aroma, acidity  and the roast character dominates the coffee. Contrary to the popular belief dark roast coffee has less caffeine compared to light roast.

 

Many opine that the coffee sold at Starbucks , Peets is over roasted. This over roasting of beans mask original characteristics and inferior quality.

Small boutique roasters don’t over roast their beans.  They also specialize in high quality beans and roast them to their suited roast profile. This helps them bring out full flavor of the beans.

Roasting

 

Encourage your local roasters and get a high quality coffee for your buck.

Credit:tumblr, unsplash

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Conscious Coffee- Part One

White Russian Cupcakes

Inspired by “The Great British Baking Show”, I decided to bake this weekend. I have the perfect occasion, party at a friend’s house. I started “Pinteresting” and  narrowed it down to White Russian cupcakes. This is pretty easy to make as every ingredient is available at home except for the Kahlua.

White Russian cupcakes are based on “White Russian Cocktail”. The drink is made with vodka, coffee liqueur (Kahlua) and cream. It is the signature drink of “the Dude”in the movie “The Big Lebowski”.

White Russian Cupcake 2

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg and 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl beat together the sugar and butter until combined using a hand mixer. Add egg and egg white, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, Vodka, and 1/8 cup of Kahlua. Gradually add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, ending with the flour mixture.

Bake 18 -20 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcakes comes out clean. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush the tops with the remaining 1/8 cup Kahlua. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Kahlua Frosting
1 stick of butter, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar(depending on your sweet tooth)
pinch of salt
3 – 4 tablespoons Kahlua

Beat butter until creamy. Add salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mix until combined. Add Kahlua 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

I  grated  Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate on the frosting  that gave a texture to the cupcakes.

I was way too generous with the vodka and Kahlua in the batter and in the frosting. I name them “ The Crocked Cupcakes”.The vodka gave an extra kick to the cupcakes . “The Dudes” really loved it.

White Russian Cupcakes

Staples in Slow Fashion 2

“The difference between style and fashion is quality.”– Giorgio Armani

 

Coats:

 

Coats are made of silhouettes which are timeless. Its an investment you will never regret.A wool coat for the quiescent winter months. Hobbs London has beautiful coats. Labels that make timeless silhouettes include  A.P.C, Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent.

 

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Designed for the wet weather of UK, trench coat soon became a staple in everyday style. The trench coat is also regarded as the transitional coat. The art of trench belongs to Burberry alone.

 

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 Shoes:

 

“Give a girl the right shoes,  and she can conquer the world” – Marilyn Manroe. I totally agree with her.

 

A classic pair of ballet flats are go to for any woman. They are highly functional and durable. Repetto ballet flats are stylish and yet efficient.

 

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The essential footwear for the dormant cold months would be the boots(ankle & all weather ).  I have a penchant for ankle boots. All weather boots are highly utilitarian.

 

For a night in town invest in a leather/suede black pumps. M.Gemi has a comfortable leather pumps.

 

 

Accessories:

 

For a lean closet  quality handbag is a necessity.  Invest in a bag which lasts,budget friendly and suits your lifestyle, and also in a durable wallet. Long champ ‘s Le Pliage, Tory Burch’s Perry Tote & Mulberry Bayswater Tote are few options.

 

Every “It girl” adds scarf to her outfit no brainer. Choose a cashmere scarf for winter and  a printed scarf for spring and summer.  Lora Piana for Cashmere Scarves.
Revel in the classic jewelry like pearls but try adding pieces that are in season to your outfit. It will make you look ultra cool.

 

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Credit: Style Du Monde

Staples in Slow Fashion 2

Staples in Slow Fashion

“The turnover of fashion is just so quick and so throwaway, and I think that is a big part of the problem. There is no longevity.
-Alexander McQueen

 

For those of us who want to embrace slow fashion and lean closet, here is a  check list of essentials to start building  your wardrobe.

 

 Basics:

 

I would prefer to have three high quality basic t-shirts which I can wear until they fall apart.T-shirts and tanks in white,gray & black. I personally like Madewell Tees, if you want to go for a high end tee Acne studios make really good ones.

 

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Tops:

 

A silk blouse, a white button up shirt, breton stripe shirt  and a cashmere sweater . Everlane makes a really nice silk blouses. I personally love Equipment blouses.

 

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A crisp white shirt brings a sophisticated feel to the outfit . Rochelle Behrens makes beautiful button up shirts, if you are ready for a splurge I recommend AnneFontaine’s Larry Blouse. Breton stripe shirt is considered a neutral as it goes with any outfit .SaintJames sailor shirts are the best, but you can buy at ME&EMas well.

 

 

 My favorite top is a cashmere sweater. Reformation is making beautiful cashmere sweaters under $100. To  indulge in luxury, the knitwear I would go for is  Isabel Marant sweaters.

 

 

Bottoms:

 

Fit is your friend when is comes to bottoms.Try to invest in pants which are in style not the ones which are trending. The staples would be a pair of skinny,cigarette and boyfriend jeans which are above your ankles(not capris & culottes).The same goes for tailored pants.  Frame DenimPaige, and Citizens of Humanity comes to my mind when speaking of denim. A pair of dress pants makes your outfit look chic.  Avenue Montaigne makes beautiful pants which suits all shapes and sizes.

 

 

Dress:

 

A dress makes a woman look feminine. Its a must have in every woman’s closet.When Vogue published Coco Chanel’s little black dress in 1926 it was called “Chanel’s Ford” as it was accessible to every class. Its elegance still prevails. Navy is also another option.

 

 

Jackets :

 

A denim jacket is a must for those warm sunny days and cold evenings.
A leather jacket is versatile. Its perfect for work,happy hours and weekends. IRO is a classic .A well tailored blazer gives you a polished look. Theory does great blazers so does Topshop. Choose  colors which work well with  your skin tone and climate.

 

 

to be continued…….
Staples in Slow Fashion

Redwood Regional Park

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”– John Muir.

 Started of the weekend with jumpstarting our car and went to get a cup of Jo. Then  me and Vikram planned to go to Muir Woods but given the condition of the car (we were afraid we need to jumpstart the car in the  middle of nowhere) we dropped the idea. Then we ended up going to Redwood regional park in Oakland just 15 minutes away from home. We  walked down the trail and started to take pictures. Our plan was to take pictures spend 20-30 minutes walking down the trail and head back. The park ranger drove up to us and suggested we can get good pictures if we head up to Prince trail where they  are lot of lady bugs. Hence the pursuit of the bugs began.

Leaf

 The 30 minute walk turned out to be a two hour hike. As we were walking down the  trail ,we were amazed by the beauty of the park. It rained a few days ago, the trail looked like a red carpet.The trail is covered with the redwood foliage. The wet moss on the trees, cool breeze and the mist looks like  a picture taken from nat geo magazine. After a hour long hike we found lots of lady bugs on the prince trail.This park is rich in flora and fauna. 

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Bug

Walking back to the car I felt calm and blissful just like after an hour long session of Vinyasa Yoga.

Path
Redwood Regional Park