Talk About a Scandal: Coffee


Special thanks to Flickr users Market Lane Coffee, ubrayj02, & turoczy for images.

Deep, dark, dreamy, perk-you-up java. Just the mere sight and smell of the magical coffee bean calls you to royally bow in its presence. Your taste buds are  dancing on the tip of your tongue, awaiting the sweet reward of that very first sip of your muddy cup.

Don’t be surprised– 3 out of 4 Americans drink coffee. Roughly 60% enjoy their routine and drink it daily. Here in Seattle, people watching and coffee cup counting should be a sport. We just aren’t as complete without our earthy, rich and zesty brew.

If we had sunnier weather, on the other hand…
 

All gripes aside, coffee seems to be under the radar as of late. This is for many different reasons. Today’s post will hone in specifically on coffee bean composition, and the concerning changes that coffee companies worldwide are making.
Why? Because coffee enthusiasts are griping– for good reason.

“The Bitter Truth”

Daily Finance wrote a short article covering the recent Arabica and Robusta scandal. If you are well-versed in coffee bean location and how this affects flavor and quality, you already may know about why this is concerning.
Being a coffee enthusiast, but not a coffee bean archaeologist, I found out that Arabica beans and Robusta beans are entirely different strains of java once they are brewed.

Arabica Versus Robusta

Arabica coffee beans originate from high and cool mountain environments and come in 25 different bean varieties. Many people consider Arabica as the “gold standard” in coffee bean. Why? Their “inferiority” in flavor: Arabica is the boldest, richest, and most full-bodied cup of joe.

Sounds like a dream?
Don’t worry. You’re likely already drinking it. 70% of all coffee production is based on Arabica beans. If you visit cafes or coffee houses, many of them refuse to sell anything but the best.

Everything that Arabica is, Robusta is not. Not to harp on Robusta, the response of Arabica versus Robusta is extremely apparent. A higher acidity and bitter flavor dominate Robusta’s best qualities.

Guess what? Because the demand in Robusta beans has risen, due to crop yields, coffee companies everywhere are infusing their delicious all-Arabica coffee with rudimentary Robusta.

Even though Robusta tastes worse than Arabica, the fact that there’s more Robusta available is reason enough to degrade coffee quality.

Kristine put it simply in response to Daily Finance’s post:

And, like in most cases, the change in flavor isn’t the only problem.

You pay more to get less.

We’re still being charged just as much money for our beans, without the high-quality Arabica beans our hearts have swooned over for decades. It has become a blended coffee.

Other Americans, like Lila, prefer to voice their concerns and empathize with many other coffee courting folks, disappointed in the loss of flavor and complexity in their java. “WHAT is the HARM?!” she writes. “Are you serious? It does NOT taste the SAME and we are being CHARGED the same.”¬†

This issue is also bringing up common complaints in the slightly sketchy, tasteless tactics of our food industry’s reputation. “At least the new ingredient is actually coffee beans. I wouldn’t have been, and would not be, surprised if it turned out to be … a filler,” commenter smjonz writes.

But, we’re living in a “recession.”

It’s easy to see that during our ever-changing global economic state, all aspects of everyday living are affected in their own way. This switch to Arabica-Robusta blends is being met with great resistance, and I hope to see major changes in the way that coffee producers and growers approach their product development.
Brand reputation and customer satisfaction used to be the marker of success– but when money seems to be a rare commodity, basic human values like trust and genuine intent are carelessly tossed out the window.

I wrote a quick and brief post on the lovely Jolkona blog last year in celebration of World Coffee Day, focusing on the environmental effects of coffee production. Offset your “coffee footprint,” and find out why this is so important.

What issues surrounding coffee have been “grinding your gears” lately? Do you drink coffee? How important is taste and quality in your coffee bean?

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Talk About a Scandal: Coffee

Steroid Rice Krispie Treats

I know this sounds bad.
I¬†meant to update with the last portion of my blog series “Talk About a Scandal.”

I have great content on the unfair labor practices surrounding the cocoa farms all over the Ivory coast and our dying coffee plantations. Prices are soaring through the roof. I live in Seattle.
We recognize when our daily caffeinated beverage of choice becomes even slightly more expensive.

All of the stereotypes about caffeinated Seattleites are true. I promise.

Today, however, calls for a celebration. I was recently inspired by god-knows-what in Trader Joe’s and inbetween my painful, tragic, and heart breaking avoidance of the Chocolate Covered Potato Chips I spotted something out of the ordinary.

Puffed rice cereal.
Ohhh boy. I haven’t had anything carby or starchy in a long time. It looked sensually addictive and I couldn’t help myself. In the basket it went, along with some almond butter.

(Which is my trade off for buying the rice cereal. Because I overeat peanut butter.)

But that is another story for another day. Today is all about

RICE KRISPIE TREATS ON STEROIDS!


What is this, you may be asking? Well, child, let me tell¬†you! Those old marshmallow, sugary insulin-spiking sweet treats are of the past! Oh yes! It’s all about the slow absorbing sugars and rich, robust earthy flavors! Like an iron-pumping protein-stuffing flex-hungry bodybuilder, we have upgraded and turned the wimpy Rice Krispie treat into a gold medal athlete!

Away we go! Become a gladiator and utilize those arm muscles!

rice krispie treats on steroids

  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup nut meal of choice (I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (or any nut you’d like– chopped walnuts or pecans may be nice!)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (sub any other nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil ¬†(or butter, or vegan margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

optional: 2 tablespoons cocoa powder for caffeine and richness.
2 scoops of protein powder for ULTIMATE BODYBUILDING STAMINA.
Be sure to add an additional 2 tablespoons maple syrup or almond butter for the powder in these optional mix-ins.

Alright, warriors! Begin by heartily centering a pot on a high heat stovetop. With the world’s most grandiose strength, plow the coconut oil and almond butter into the pot. Carefully observe as it melts, combines, and shines with glory. Pat yourself on the back, tough guy/gal! If it doesn’t burn, you’ve accomplished the most difficult task in the entire recipe.
Once well melted and combined,  resist and pour the thick and heavy maple syrup among your kill, stirring with bicep and tricep momentum. Feel the burn!
(Not the scorching sugars. Do be wary of that.)
Your medium heated stovetop has really taken a beating. But GUESS WHAT? IT’S NOT OVER YET. Vigorously shake (in one direction, please) your nut meal into the pot and stir. Let your stove and sweet mixture cry with hisses, pops, and bubbles. ¬†Laugh in fury as you slap off the heat and bruntly sweep the mixture to the side. Gather your last victims: sliced almonds, cinnamon, and cocoa powder if you’ve chosen to maximize your killings for the day. Stir heartily to combine, and suffocate the crowd with rice cereal. Quickly combine everything together until sad, sloppy, and sticky.
These kinds of kills are never clean.

A proper good-bye: lay out the warm mixture into a glass pan, cake pan, or dirt hole. Leave your massacre to rest in the refrigerator. Wait patiently for 30 minutes, slice and cut into bars of any size or shape you prefer.

Enjoy the muscle toting and strength building power of these bars of madness.

My camping trip was not complete without them!

Steroid Rice Krispie Treats

Simple and Quick 10-Minute Paleo Chocolate Sauce

I get a thrill when I cook.

For some people, they may call this thrill an “adrenaline rush;” a moment in time where all of your superhuman powers of culinary conception collide into an incredible attack that results into an explosion of awesome for your taste buds.

Lemon pepper and rosemary ham? Genius. Beefsteak tomato jalapeno grilled cheese? A-may-zing.

Truly, these people are born with a gift. If this sounds like you, embrace it!

Why?

I am not one of those people.

My chicken is either raw or stringy and dry. I always put too much corn starch into everything so every soup becomes a gravy.
For the dry chicken.

Needless to say, today’s post is exciting and a Kayleigh form of culinary genius.

Hand crafted, home made and a paleo-friendly chocolate sauce!

Even if you’re not paleo, I highly recommend you prepare this sauce.
This baby can be used with anything: ice creams, as a mix in for brownies and cookies, and for a mole recipe are my favorite ideas so far.

Well, let’s get on it! Here’s your recipe:

everyday chocolate sauce (refined sugar free, paleo, vegan)

1 cup filtered water
1/3 cup cacao (stabilizes blood sugar), cocoa, or carob (caffeine-free) powder
pinch of sea salt
cinnamon to taste (optional, i like it for blood sugar stabilizing properties)
dash/capful of vanilla bean extract (or use vanilla beans if you have them!)
1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup (i used 1/2 but my sweet tooth is not pronounced)
why i sweeten with maple syrup.

Begin by pouring water and cocoa powder into a pot, transfer to the stove on medium-high heat. Stir in until cocoa powder is well incorporated into the water, and you have chocolate water.
Warning: It will smell amazing, but tastes gross. I tried. You’re welcome.


Allow the water to begin boiling. Once the chocolate water begins to thicken up (you will know because it’s shiny and looks like gravy– oh wait, I know that one well) turn the stove on medium heat. Add in ¬†salt, optional cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir briskly. Add in maple syrup slowly, and mix.
I found a small candy whisk worked great for this recipe. You can use a big whisk too, especially if you’re doubling this recipe.
Wait for the chocolate sauce to begin boiling again. After about 4 minutes, still on medium heat, your chocolate sauce should thicken again. If it’s not like gravy, don’t worry!
Take the sauce off the stove and let rest for 5-10 minutes. I taste tested my results to make sure I had enough sweetener. This would be a good time for you to do the same.
Pour the sauce into an old jam jar, glass container, or syrup bottle. Store in the refrigerator covered. Use when needed.

Regarding¬†sweetener– Don’t shy away from using honey, agave, turbinado sugar, or another sweetener of your choice.
I’m sure liquid and even powdered stevia will work just fine in this recipe.¬†

Regarding flavor– I wanted so badly to try adding extracts to this recipe as a non-paleo treat like mint, hazelnut, or banana.

Let me know what modifications you try! 

I promptly made a cayenne mocha with this new-found cooking success and now I’m a happy camper. I hate Sundays, so this is a very good thing.
But that’s another blog post, for another day. A very unenthusiastic day.

Which day of the week do you dislike the most? What are your favorite uses of chocolate sauce?

Simple and Quick 10-Minute Paleo Chocolate Sauce