Vietnamese Coffee

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College Reunion

Last week, I met up with two of my best friends from college, Amy and Jean for lunch. They were gushing about their recent trip to Vietnam. I was only half-listening to what they were saying because in my head, I was also humming the song “The heat is on in Saigon…”  after they mentioned Vietnam. Did it just happen to you as well? Lol!

 

I was giggling by myself, and when they both noticed that I was not listening to them, Jean playfully pinched my arm, and asked me to focus, or else they won’t give me the loot bag they got me from their trip. So, I tried to shake off the tune in my head, and listen to their story.  

 

You see, these friends of mine, both decided to resign from their corporate jobs to start off a business that they had brewing in their heads for about three years now. They both wanted to open a small specialty coffee shop. They had been doing a lot of research on where they should source their coffee beans. Their research has already taken them to Guatemala, Kenya, and now, Vietnam. Aside from coffee, they are also doing food samples of pastries, or delicacies that they can partner with coffee.

 

They did ask me to join their exploration since day one, but my bills had to be paid so I chose to stay.

 

Amy seems to love Vietnam. She mentioned that it’s a country worth exploring. She showed me pictures of the places they have been to in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and lastly, Phan Thiet. They are planning to do another short visit next month, and we all agreed that I will go with them.  

Modern Day Vietnam

 

It is interesting to see how modern day Vietnam looks. They are not often featured in the news, and like that song in my head, the vision I have of Vietnam is all about the war, rice fields, and death.  

I asked Jean to start with the details, because I was only on a one hour lunch break. She gave me a blow-by-blow account of the coffee culture in Vietnam.

 

Vietnamese do not partner their coffee with pastry. It seemed weird because we usually have cheesecakes or croissants with our cappuccino or latte, right? Well, they don’t. What they do is they have lunch or dinner first then enjoy a cup of coffee afterwards. I forgot to ask if this is also the case during breakfast.

 

Also, they usually take their coffee black but if you want to sweeten your coffee, they add condensed milk rather than cubes of sugar. To be honest, this got me intrigued that I did try it out when I got home after work since I had a can of condensed milk that I was planning to use for one of my baking experiments. I have to say, my coffee did taste good. I might stock up on a few cans of condensed milk when I get tired of putting spoonfuls of creamer, and sugar in my coffee.

Strong Vietnamese Coffee

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They also had a chance to visit one of the coffee plantation, and found out that Vietnam ranked as the second coffee producer in the world, in particular of Robusta beans. However, they are now increasing their production of the Arabica beans, and are also trying to develop mixed beans for export.

  

On the same coffee plantation, the owner demonstrated how coffee is being brewed – Vietnamese style. Usually, coffee is being served in a single-cup filter, or brewer which they call phin. Your coffee is brewed beside you. Before tasting the coffee, they were warned that Vietnamese coffee is very strong, and is usually an acquired taste. Jean said that she did feel the kick when she had her first sip.

 

They both seem to agree that they might adapt the Vietnamese way of brewing coffee. They  are thinking of partnering with the coffee plantation that they met to provide them their supply of coffee beans.

 

I didn’t want to leave,but my break was almost up (and also, I received an email from my supervisor that I have been coming back late from lunch – yikes!). I am so happy for both of them.   They are a step closer to opening up the cafe.
I wonder what the name will before the coffee shop? Any suggestions?

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Indonesian Coffee – Where Did You Say It Came From?

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A Mothers Love

Last week was like a roller coaster ride for me. Andy asked for my help for his class presentation about coffee beans from Indonesia. On top of that, Mary, who played the lead role in their school play was set to be on stage in the same week. To make it worse, my husband Danny was not able to help me out because he was out of town for a business meeting.

Good thing, I’m a super MOM! Just kidding, actually, I was only coaching Mary, and helping her rehearse her lines. It was a good thing that we made her costume ahead of time (Pocahontas) so we did not need to rush.

As for Andy’s project, we decided to split the project between us. He asked me to be his researcher which I gladly obliged.

I love the fact that my kids still find me useful with regards to helping them out with their school work. At times, I enjoy it because it makes me feel like a kid again, but there are times that I prefer they do it on their own. Haha!

Anyways, I asked Andy why he had chosen this topic. According to him, their history teacher had asked them to choose a country, and at the same time focus on one of the industries that this country is known for. He has already made a search online, and saw that one of Indonesia’s main source of living is to harvest, and produce coffee.

Both my kids are self-sufficient, and while Andy was explaining his thought process to me, I was teary-eyed. It was a ‘proud mama’ moment. I just can not believe that I have raised these children. Well, of course together with my husband Danny.

Okay, before I break down into tears, let me share with you, my dear readers, about what I found out about Indonesia, and coffee.

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Industry Of Coffee In Indonesia

In 2014, Indonesia was hailed as the fourth top coffee producer, and coffee exporter in the world. Despite the fact that the coffee plantations are grown by small farmers. These farmers produce both Arabica, and Robusta coffee beans, but they grow the latter more.

It never occurred to me that they have a huge land for farming. When someone mentions Indonesia, the first thought that comes to mind is Bali, and that they are surrounded by bodies of water like the Philippines. I remember seeing an article that Bali was awarded the World’s Best Island(and this was confirmed by Wikipedia as well, and it was BBC World Travel that awarded this title to the island).

Indonesia is also known for its specialty coffees, and one of them is called the kopi luwak. According to Indonesia Investment’s website, this is by far the most expensive specialty coffee in the world. The process is a bit unusual because the beans used in this coffee were eaten, then excreted by the Asian palm civet. The beans undergo a special fermentation process, and it was believed that the civet selects the juiciest of the coffee cherries.

Hmmm… *gulp*… I am not sure if I can drink that. After reading the process on how kopi luwak was made – would you dare?

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The best Indonesian coffee beans come from three different places – Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Java Arabica as per Espressocoffeeguide.com. From what I gather, their coffee is less acidic, but still full of flavor.

Well, my dear readers, and fellow bloggers, I do hope that you were able to learn a thing or two about coffee from Indonesia. Actually, all this research about coffee makes me want to go get one. I might try a Sumatra blend in our local coffee shop down the street, so that I can have a first hand experience of what it tastes like.

That seems to be a good idea. I can take Andy along with me, and let him have a sip so that he can best explain it when he presents to his teacher.

Another bonding moment for me, and my son. Till next time! Toodles!

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Kenyan AA

Coffee Shops On Every Corner

 

Crowded Coffee Shop

Suddenly, it just happened. Have you noticed where people spend most of their time these days? I haven’t conducted a survey yet, but whenever I stroll around, I always see coffee shops full of people. When I was working in Dubai a few years ago, coffee shops drew more crowds of people compared to the restaurants alongside them.

I feel so many people linger in coffee shops just to look cool, or something. It makes me think, do they really enjoy their cup of coffee, or are they just their for their status? Can you sense my irritation? Lol! I am just a little frustrated because I also want to spend some time in a coffee shop to either read, or do some work, but the coffee shop near my place, and those shops a few blocks away are always packed!!! Where did all these people come from?

What is drawing more people to coffee shops? I wonder if the coffee beans being produced now are richer, and tastier. I need to get to the bottom of this(yes, I have a lot of time in my hands. One of the perks of being a freelancer).

My research led me to the coffee production in Kenya, and the country itself.

Kenya is a perfect place to grow coffee. The adequate amount of rainfall, and sunlight complements the acidic soil that this country has.

With this weather, Kenyans are able to produce high grade coffee beans. After milling, the coffee beans are graded. AA is the largest coffee bean grade from the harvest, and it sells at a higher rate compared to the other grades. Espressocoffeeguide.com considers the Kenyan AA as the world’s brightest coffee. It further added that this coffee is favored by the coffee connoisseurs.

High Grade Coffee

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In Kenya, they have a unique way of trading their coffee beans. Rather than exporters approaching the small-scale coffee farmers, they do it through an auction. In this process, samples of the beans are distributed to exporters who then sends it off to their potential customers. They auction the coffee beans, and the highest bidder gets the beans harvested for the week. Coffeereview.com cited this system as the key to Kenya’s success in exporting their coffee.

Obviously, I am a coffee drinker myself, often I brew my own cup. Every now, and then though, I do enjoy finding a little chill coffee shop to hang at. It’s so lovely to sit back, and have someone else work their magic into my cup of coffee. For me, coffee sparks conversation, and it also allows ideas to flow in my head. It really helps when I am about to start a writing project, or go into a meeting with my clients.

I like a full-flavored coffee, and it seems I have been enjoying Kenyan coffee for quite sometime now. With this new information I am reading, I feel embarrassed. I have been criticizing people who hang out in coffee shops as posers, that know nothing about coffee, when in reality I am also part of that group. Oopsies, sorry guys.

Well, to answer my own question, I don’t think the coffee is richer, and tastier now compared to before. I do think coffee shops have expanded their coffee menu though to suit everyone’s taste.

This is beginning to be an interesting research, and I want to pitch this to one of my clients. However, apart from the coffee story, I think there is more to Kenya than just their coffee.

Safaris And Museums

I am aware that Kenya is famous for wild animals. Their top tourist attraction is their safari adventures. One of the famous wildlife park that Kenya has is the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is famous for the Great Migration, wherein gazelles, and zebras travel this part from July through October.

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Another park worth visiting according to Planetware’s website is Lake Nakuru National Park. This park in Central Kenya is full of pink flamingos. An approximate of 450 species of birds have been recorded in this park.

Now, if you are more interested to know more about the country’s rich culture, Nairobi, the country’s capital is the place to go. The Nairobi National Museum can give you a glimpse of Kenya’s history, culture, and art.

Another place to visit is the Bomas of Kenya. This is a living museum that features the different tribes in Kenya. They have recreated the traditional village for tourists to understand, and know how the ethnic groups lived.

These are just some of the places that I have read online, and it looks like there are a lot more places to see in Kenya. I really hope that one of my clients will like this feature that I want to do. If they approve, I will ask for a budget so that I can visit the places that I have read online, and maybe explore the country like a local.

See! Another great idea there. I told you I get my ideas flowing when I drink coffee. Maybe I’ll open my own coffee shop, so won’t have to line up, and feel frustrated. Another eureka moment!

Now, let me get another cup of coffee in me so that I can write my introductory letter to my clients, on why they should consider my Kenyan inspired article to be published in their magazines.

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Coffee From Mexico

Gifts Of Blogging

Have I told you how much I love being a blogger?

I started blogging about 2009, and decided to do reviews after three years. I was buying the products, and reviewing them. Eventually, companies took notice of my blog reviews, and have since then been sending me their products. Who doesn’t love getting to try products for free?

Companies vary on how they take my reviews. Some of them get angry when they don’t get positive reviews from me, while others take it as constructive criticism. Some may send a private email asking me how I think their packaging should be presented if I criticized them on that area. Even before I started receiving “goodies”, I always made sure that I was impartial, that is what a reviewer should be right?

I am now on year 5 of being a blog reviewer, and I do not have any complaints! Even if I did have any complaints I probably wouldn’t quit what I am doing. Lol!). How could I, why would I?

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Today, my front door has been filled with different “surprises”. I have a facial wash in one package, a bagful of snacks (perfect! This can be my contribution for a housewarming party I will be attending later), a box of soap, and lastly, coffee? That’s a first!?

Out of all that I have received, I got intrigued about this bag of coffee that was placed in a very colorful box. I decided to check the note that came along with it. It did not say much except “Enjoy, and hope you can give us a good review ;-)”. I inspected the coffee pack, and found that it’s from Mexico.

Since I was just fixing my breakfast. I decided to open the coffee pack, grind about ¼ cup of the beans, and place it in my coffeemaker for it to start brewing.

While waiting, I decided to check the internet about Mexican coffee.

I skim read, and found out that Mexican coffee has a chocolate-y flavor if it was produced by Oaxaca, and a bit of fruity tones if it’s from Chiapas. Specialty-coffee-advisor.com describes Mexican coffee as a good base in creating flavored coffees. Its mild flavor doesn’t overpower the flavors infused in it.

About 20 minutes into my research, I spilled my precious coffee on my rug! Since I was online, I immediately looked up and called a local carpet cleaning service to come fix me up. The owner and I got into a fascinating conversation about coffee (at least I found it fascinating). I told him about my Mexican coffee. He knew quite a bit, and I sent him home with a bag of beans for him to try.

In my mind, Mexican coffee beans were only from Oaxaca, and Chiapas, turns out there is a third place where coffee is being produced, and that is in Veracruz. According to Wikipedia, Veracruz got introduced with coffee at the end of the 18th century, however in the 19th century, Chiapas took over the title as the coffee cultivation region in Mexico.

Mexico More Than Just Coffee

Aside from being known as one of the top coffee producers in the world, Mexico tops the list of must-see country for tourists. Touropia.com claims on their website that the country has something to offer every kind of traveler who wishes to discover Mexico in their own distinct way.

Do you like adventures? You can hit the beach in Acapulco, and try out their famous cliffs. Usually, they will have daredevils who perform different kinds of dives into the ocean. If you’re up for an adrenaline rush, the cliffs of Acapulco are waiting for you.

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Maybe you like knowing about a country’s culture, and traditions.? You can hang out at Palenque.

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This archaeological site is based in Chiapas, Mexico. This might be smaller than the other Mayan cities, but do not underestimate this place. They have some of the finest architecture, and art ever produced by Mayans.

I got so caught up with the different tourist sights Touropia.com has on their website that I almost forgot my coffee!

As I sip my coffee, I can taste the chocolate-y flavor present in my cup. This is just a preview of my review, I will be creating a separate blog post with a full review.

I am still curious as to who sent this delectable coffee to me. After searching my memory bank of who it could be, it came to me….

It’s was my mom! LOL!

I remember she called me up two weeks ago to tell me about the wonderful trip my dad’s secretary had arranged for their wedding anniversary. She had asked me what I wanted from Mexico. Of course I told her that coffee would be a perfect present.

Apparently even my mom wants a review from me, I guess that’s o.k., it’s what I’m good at.

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Brazil, Leading the World in Coffee Production

Do you have a travel bucket list?

I do. I think out of the 10 countries I have listed out, it is the country of Brazil that I find intriguing.

Intriguing in the sense that I am interested to know about their history, culture, and coffee!!

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am a coffee addict. Seriously!

I can have four to five cups of coffee in a day! Like a car, I feel like caffeine is my petrol to help me get through the day. Friends would tell me to slow down on coffee, and to cut my consumption from five to maybe two cups in a day because of all these articles on the internet about the bad effects of coffee. I try but it’s just too difficult! LOL!

However something happened last Tuesday, it is as if the coffee gods were on my side. My friend, Sarah, and I worked late that day. We decided to grab a late dinner in one of the restaurants near our office. While waiting for our food to arrive, we talked about coffee. I told her about my travel bucket list, and how I wanted to start travelling but do not have a travel buddy yet.

Turns out she also has a travel bucket list, and guess what her first country on the list is? Brazil! We both giggled like teenagers, and remembered that we were in public so we decided to tone it down a bit.

As soon as I got home, I decided to get on the computer, and check what we can see, and do in Brazil.

Well, the first information I looked for was about Brazil’s coffee.

According to the website “Before It’s News”, Brazil is one of top 10 countries that is famous for their coffee beans. They have been in production for the past 150 years, and are the largest exporter of coffee in the world.

Check out other leading countries in the coffee production.

National Coffee Association’s website mentions that Brazil grows Arabica, and Robusta beans. It also mentioned that a Brazilian cup of coffee is clear, sweet, and low-acid.

Reading all this information makes me feel like I am a coffee drinker newbie. I mean, I do not research, or read much about where my coffee beans are coming from. I just know that it perks me up in the morning, and maintains my momentum all throughout the day.

I might ask Sarah if we can put visiting a coffee farm, and coffee production facility on our list of things to visit when we are in Brazil.

Aside from coffee, the country is also famous for its beaches. According to Wikitravel, Rio de Janeiro is very popular for it. Ipanema, and Copacabana may sound familiar to you (could this be where Barry Manilow composed his song of the same title? Another question worth asking our tour guide when we get there). These two beach sites are where tourists frequent.

Travel Channel has mentioned that if you are the type of person who does not mind being lost in the crowd, Copacabana can be your beach place. Most of the time, it is full of people wherein they engage in different land activities like strolling on the beach, beach soccer, people watching, or if you are lucky, a dance party right on the beach!

If you are tired of all the fun (yes, it can happen), you can walk past Copacabana, and you will find Ipanema beach. This is a bit of an upscale beach neighborhood where there would be less people, and probably less noise too.

This trip is getting better and better!

Through my research on Brazil, it seems the best time to go there is between January to March so that you can witness Carnival, considered to be one of the biggest celebration party in the world. However the price of the airfare, and hotel accommodations usually shoot up during these months too.

I am so psyched to start this trip with Sarah that I am trying my best not to call her right now (time check: it’s already 1 am!), and tell her about all the research that I have done.

Coffee, and the beach are a perfect combination for me. However, this is not just my trip but Sarah’s as well so I might ask her to do a bit of reading on what she wants to visit, or do in Brazil as well.

Looks like my excitement is slowly wearing out, and am now feeling sleepy. Still a long day tomorrow. See you Brazil, in my dreams for now.

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Ethiopia’s Backyard

There’s not one adult that doesn’t appreciate at least the smell of a great cup of coffee. From the time that the bag of beans are shaken, all the way to the moment the steam rises from the cup to your nose; the amount of pleasure, calm, and even nostalgia that coffee can provide, is nothing short of amazing. But it’s not until we step out our comfort zone, or perhaps, just explore our passion or love for it, that we discover hidden treasures beyond what our eyes can see. The relationship that the human race has with coffee starts as far back as the 10th century, perhaps further. The genesis, of course, beginning in the rugged ancient country of Ethiopia.

As an American, Keep Reading →

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About Us

With the history of coffee and it’s influence on the world reaching back many centuries, there are many unseen, and perhaps untold stories of this worldwide commodity.  Today’s Coffee Blog will bring you up to date on the journey of eclectic coffee beans from around the world, from undomesticated brewing methods, to the weak brew we enjoy in our own living rooms. Expect a timeline of wonders in enjoying coffee from the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, to the humble brewing methods of Texas wood-fired concoctions.  Each week will feature a new approach on the divine “black gold” that we call: Coffee.

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Welcome, Welcome!

Good morning (or afternoon or evening) to all who honor us with your presence.
Welcome to our blog.

We just wanted to say a quick “Hello” and thank you for joining us.

Please come back later to see any updates and/or posts!

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