Want to add a little alcohol to your coffee? Nothing wrong with that!
By Sri Koduri
No one denies the fact that a cup of coffee early in the morning gives you a great start as it wakes up your senses. One might choose coffee in a different form to start the day — a Latte, Americano, or just shots of espresso — nonetheless, it has become a household practice for a huge percentage of people to grab a cup of coffee in the morning. I myself am part of this statistic!
I find it very amusing that coffee has become a big part of culinary creations enjoyed at any time of day. Our own Carrie surprised me with making Espresso Chili, and Jenna baked up Espresso Brownies for our staff party. So, I went fishing for more uses, and found that, today, coffee is just not limited to a coffee pot. It has become a part of cooking, being used to enhance the smoky flavors of meat rubs. It is part of several baked items: tiramisu, chocolate-covered espresso beans, coffee cakes, candy etc …
Coffee with alcohol was also a pleasant surprise. There are espresso martinis, coffee liqueurs, and of course the classic “Irish” coffee. One of our favorite local breweries, Good People, brews a Coffee Oatmeal Stout, made with our own Primavera Coffee!
Coffee is also being used outside the kitchen as an exfoliant in certain soaps and other skin care creams. Coffee grounds are being used to enhance nitrogen in the soil in many organic farms and as a starter in mushroom cultivation. And used coffee grounds are a good deodorizer — try them in your refrigerator instead of the traditional baking soda to get rid of odors from onions or strong spices.
I am convinced I did not cover everything, but one thing is for sure when it comes to coffee, whether you’re drinking it, baking with it or using it in other ways — get creative!!!
Sri Koduri is coffee guru and barista extraordinaire at Church Street Coffee & Books.
Clockwise, from top left: the 55th Place Arts building where we’ll have the party; The Hill and the Wood; Breakup Cookies; a PostScript preview; Peanut Buddies.
What do you do when you’re excited about a birthday, an anniversary, or a big holiday? You throw a party, duh. And, since we’re pretty happy about our new website and blog that will launch next week, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The party will be this Sunday night (March 11) at a brand new music studio in Woodlawn. Why do we need a music studio? Because we’re having a band play. The Hill and the Wood will be making beautiful music, and they’ll be joined by a few other musicians (including one of our favorite bands, Great Book of John) from our partners in partying, Communicating Vessels.
We’ll have a few things to eat and drink (we’re working on mini Breakup Cookies and little Peanut Buddies!), plus a raffle where you can win books and coffee. We’ll also tell you a bit more about the site and blog. But, mostly, this is just a celebration of the past eight months we’ve been open, and of this new adventure that we’re starting.
Find more information on our Facebook event. It’s an open event, so be sure to add your friends! We hope to see you Sunday, and all this week at Church Street.
Sri begins a pour-over.
I am so loyal to my French Pressed coffee in the mornings as my first cup of coffee that I strongly believed that this is the best cup that can ever be brewed. A French Press allows all the coffee bean sediments and gives you all the oils in the coffee bean.
But, recently, I was surprised when I had a great cup of coffee brewed by another method called “pour-over.”
The pour-over uses a plastic, ceramic or glass cone that holds coffee grounds, over which you pour water that drips into a cup below. This method made a very smooth coffee that was nothing less than my French Pressed coffee.
For years, campers and others who have wanted a quick, single cup of coffee have used this method. Some famous coffee houses — notably Blue Bottle in San Francisco and Intelligensia in Chicago, have been using it for years. Recently, it’s become popular at independent coffeehouses in Seattle that want to offer brewing variety.
Church Street will be going live with this brewing method for our afternoon customers soon, so we hope you’ll try it. A few things to remember when you are getting a pour-over coffee:
For a great tasting, smooth cup of coffee, just say … POUR OVER!!!
Sri Koduri is coffee guru and barista extraordinaire at Church Street Coffee & Books.
Cal contemplates the meaning of community on our patio.
By Carrie Rollwagen
If you’ve ever walked into our shop on Church Street, chances are Cal has at least attempted to sell you a copy of Wendell Berry’s book Jayber Crow. Cal and his wife, Heather, are both dedicated evangelists for Wendell Berry’s work, which spans fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and even a children’s book. (Once, when a customer gave us a Christmas list of about a dozen relatives of all ages and interests, Cal tried to sell her a Wendell Berry book for each one of them, insisting that there’s a perfect Berry pick for everyone.)
Mr. Berry is an excellent writer, but it takes more than clever writing to make us rave this much about an author. His books teach thoughtfulness, community and the importance of creating a life of substance and authenticity. They help us see the beauty in the way our lives are intertwined with others’. They turn us toward the truth that the seemingly small actions in our lives, from the things we buy to the way we spend our free time to the way we treat our neighbors, actually mean a great deal.
Wendell Berry is speaking tonight at Samford, and we’ve rarely seen Cal so excited. The rest of us are making fun of him a little (after all, he’s acting a bit like a girl from The Ed Sullivan Show seeing The Beatles for the first time), but we know that this is about more than being a superfan. It’s really about being able to share the work of someone who has profoundly influenced your life with others.
It’s a privilege that we’re thankful for today especially, as we sell copies of Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter, as Cal recites poems from A Timbered Choir and looks forward to seeing one of his heroes tonight. But it’s also the reason we started this business in the first place — to get to share our passions with you, and learn about yours in return. Thank you for letting us do that, every day.
Giving up coffee or sugar? Have a creamy Yerba Mate Latte. Skipping chocolate? Try a Treehugger!
Lots of our customers have been telling us about what they’re giving up for Lent. Frankly, many of you look a little lost without your morning coffee or afternoon cookie. The good news? We have lots of ideas for replacing whatever you’ve given up with another option to make your Lenten sacrifice just a little less grim.
Carrie and Jenna both hold copies of The Flame Alphabet — Carrie’s is a hardcover, Jenna’s is on her beloved Sony Reader.
At Church Street, we lover books in pretty much any form: paperback, hardcover, audio, and even ebooks. No matter what format, we’re suckers for a good story. But in the few months since we’ve been open, we’ve just sold paper books. This spring, that’s going to change …
Beginning mid-March, we’ll be launching a new website with some really exciting benefits for our customers:
We have more surprises coming with the launch of our website later next month, so keep following this blog for updates. (Note that the address of our blog has been changed for now; the former address is now under construction and will direct to our new site.) And, as always, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest, up-to-the-minute Church Street news.
We love our community and our customers, and we’re so happy to be able to provide even more for you through this site. Whether you find your story on paper, on your ereader, or on audio*, we want you to find it at Church Street!
* We don’t carry audio books in the store, but we’re happy to order them for you. Audio orders must be prepaid, but they’re always 10% off the list price.
Whether you’re celebrating being one half of a couple, or you’re planning to spend tomorrow letting the ones you love know you care for them by lavishing them all with gifts and chocolate, we hope you’ll make Church Street part of your Valentine’s Day.
We hope you have a lovely day tomorrow, and that you’ll make us part of your plans, whatever they are!
Remember Sri and Carrie’s 30-Day Yerba Mate Challenge? We asked them how it turned out …
Sri’s 30-Day Challenge Benefits:
What a challenge it was to keep up with a routine of drinking Yerba Mate for 30 days. First, we wanted to complement the smoky, earthy taste of the plain tea … so we started experimenting with different additions. First, we tried vanilla — this seemed to be an easy alternative, and also gave us a chance to offer it sugar free. In fact, steamed milk and a little vanilla tastes great and this is how we serve it in the store. But this was too easy!!!
I just don’t like steamed dairy, but I wanted to make the straight Yerba tea palatable. We tried it with honey … it was not what I was looking for!!! But then we finally tried Yerba tea steeped with peppermint tea and served over ice. We struck gold with this and I was able to finish the full 30 days!!!
Just a reminder … If you are watching calories and want caffeine without jitters at the same time … a 12 oz sugar-free vanilla non-fat Yerba Mate Latte is roughly around 60 calories and tastes incredible!!!
Carrie’s 30-Day Challenge Benefits:
I actually really like the smoky flavor of the plain tea, but it was nice to discover different ways to drink it, too. I wanted to see if I felt any health benefits if I drank Yerba every single day, and I’m happy to say that I did — I’m not sure if they’re real or placebo, but I’m not sure if it matters because I’m feeling better and sleeping better.
I like Yerba any time of day, but it’s particularly my drink of choice in the late afternoon, when it’s a little too late in the day for me to have another jolt of strong caffeine from coffee. I find that Yerba wakes up my brain enough to get my work done without keeping me up all night, so I can drink it up to a couple of hours before bed without having a problem getting to sleep.
I read The Thorn and the Blossom while enjoying a cappuccino from Urban Standard, my other favorite Primavera shop.
The Thorn and the Blossom is a truly beautiful book. The vines and flowers on the cover perfectly set the scene for the story. Inside, pen-and-ink sketches give the reader just a hint of what the characters look like without spelling everything out. Plus, the content and format themselves are innovative: The story is told twice, from two different perspectives. Read it from Evelyn’s perspective; then flip the book over to read it from Brendan’s (or vice versa — the stories can be read in either order). This little magic trick is worked through accordion-folded paper and an extremely talented design team.
Oddly, we have the eBook to thank for creative bindings like this one. Now that publishers have to give customers a reason to choose books printed on paper over their electronic cousins, they’re more willing to take chances with paper arts and graphic design. We’re seeing this in small ways in books like The Night Circus (lots of graphic elements and fun type treatments) and in bigger ways through collections like Penguin’s deluxe clothbound editions, books that look gorgeous on your shelf in a way a Kindle never could. A paper copy of The Thorn and the Blossom gives you a tactile experience that its eBook edition can’t match.
On the other hand, intricate design and printing gimmicks can be tricky, putting even more pressure on a book to perform as a story. The content must be stronger than its packaging, and, in that respect, The Thorn and the Blossom didn’t deliver for me. It’s a tale of two star-crossed lovers whose lives are intertwined with scholarship, literature and magic (we have appearances by giants, a witch, and a heroine who literally glows with second sight). I’m a sucker for all these elements (I tore through Discovery of Witches, even though it’s not exactly high literature), but The Thorn and the Blossom never pulled me in. I just didn’t care what happened to Evelyn and Brendan. More than anything else, they annoyed me.
Of course, I have a high bar when it comes to romance and fantasy — I love them when they’re held together with a powerful story, and I hate them when they’re not. If you’re a sucker for any love story, or if a magical book never fails to cast a spell, I’d give The Thorn and the Blossom a shot. But, for me, it was a little like a disappointing relationship: perfect on paper, but the spark just wasn’t there.
We may not be blonde … but we still serve great coffee!
Starbucks’ recent release of blonde roast coffee has lots of our customers asking about it. So, what’s a blonde roast? It’s just a coffee that’s roasted mild or medium instead of bold. Lighter roasts tend to allow more character of the individual regions to come through in the beans — that’s why most of our coffees are light or medium roasts already. So, do we have a blonde roast? Sure, if that’s what you want to call it. But we just call it good coffee, roasted to whatever level brings out the peak of flavor.
One thing about mild roasts, though — they generally let more of the character of the region come through in the bean, which is wonderful … if you’re using high-quality beans. That’s why we trust Primavera, the source of our coffee at Church Street, because they choose the best beans, meaning you still get a cup that’s full of flavor, without over-roasting the beans.
People all over are starting to learn that tasting coffee can be a lot like tasting wine. Regional differences can really change the character of the drink, and discovering those flavor profiles can be a lot of fun, making your love affair with coffee even more enjoyable.
In order to help you enjoy your coffee even more, and to help you taste the unique flavors in our coffees, we’ve introduced a new way (well, new to us, anyway) of brewing coffee this week — the pour-over method. We’ll be brewing this way especially in the late afternoon and evening, but you can request a pour-over any time of day. What makes a pour-over special? The coffee is ground immediately, and filtered water at the exact temperature specifications is poured very, very slowly over the grounds, bringing out an incredible flavor.
So, do blondes really have more fun? When it comes to coffee, we think they might — “blonde” coffees show off their flavors really well, and that’s why we’ve always stocked them. We’d love to have you compare Starbucks’ new roast to any of our mild coffees. Put the blonde up against our Guatemala, Columbia, El Salvador or Brazil coffees in a taste test of your own!