Posts tagged "coffee"

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.

No Caffeine

  • A Vanilla Steamer is warm and comforting, like a hot cocoa with vanilla instead of chocolate.
  • Berry Tea with Lemonade is cold and refreshing, a healthy and caffeine-free alternative to soda.
  • We have three hot, caffeine-free teas: Peppermint, Chamomile and Pomi-Berry Tea.
  • Miss your Latte? Have a Tea Misto. It’s like a Latte, but made with tea instead of espresso. We can turn any of our caffeine-free teas into a Misto.

No Dairy

  • Substitute Almond or Soy Milk for dairy milk (Almond Milk is especially great in mochas, since the slight nut flavor complements the chocolate).
  • Try a tea! We have lots of fantastic, Two Leaves and a Bud hot teas (several varieties of black, green and caffeine-free teas) and cold teas in black, green and berry flavors.
  • Skip the cream in your coffee — Primavera Coffee has such wonderful flavor that, after you give your palate a few days to adjust, you won’t even miss the cream. (No, really!) And don’t forget about iced coffee; it has a light, tasty flavor.

No Sugar

  • Missing your Chai Latte, but can’t have it because of the sugar? We have two great solutions: Order a Chai Tea Misto instead, and you’ll get the flavor of a chai latte without the sugar. Or try our super-popular Yerba Mate Latte — we can make it with sugar-free vanilla to support your sugar-free resolution.
  • Want a breakfast treat that doesn’t have cane sugar? Our Best-Ever Bran Muffin is sweetened with molasses instead of white sugar. Plus, it’s healthy and delicious!
  • Ever tried honey in your coffee? It’s surprisingly tasty, especially in espresso drinks (like Americanos and Lattes), where it sets off the caramelly flavor of espresso.

No Desserts

  • Swap your afternoon cookie with a cup of Trail Mix or Granola. They’re slightly sweet, so they’ll satisfy your craving, but they’re a much more substantial snack.
  • We bake muffins and scones fresh every morning, and we usually have a few left in the afternoon.

No Coffee

  • Yerba Mate Latte is a fantastic, healthy alternative to coffee. It has caffeine, so you won’t get withdrawal headaches, and it’s packed with healthy antioxidants. Plus, it’s delicious!
  • Assam Tea (English Breakfast) has the most caffeine of any of our teas.

No Chocolate

  • Love your Mocha? Try a Vanilla Latte — it’s creamy and sweet without the chocolate.
  • Swap your Breakup Cookie (Chocolate Chip) for a chocolate-free Peanut Buddy — these peanut butter cookies have quite the dedicated following.
  • Try a Treehugger. Our homemade granola bars are sweet and filling. You’ll hardly miss the chocolate! (Okay, you’ll probably miss the chocolate. But you’ll love this, too.)

By Sri Koduri

For years, many of us went regularly to local coffee shops and to get our cup of coffee in Birmingham, until the early 2000 when coffee chains stepped into the scene. They had the glitz and glamour that attracted most of us to frequent them, sometimes forgetting our local coffee shops. But, the local flavor, personalized approach, loyalty, coziness, and the community-feel has drawn us back, and now there’s a widespread return to our own local coffee houses.

A couple of things to consider …

  • Your local coffee shops have been brewing and serving the brighter flavor profile coffees (that major coffee chains are now promoting) all along.
  • When you buy a cup of coffee or a bag of beans from local coffee shop, you are supporting the jobs that are local and putting money back into local economy.
  • It improves community feeling and creates better environment for future local entrepreneurs.

These are good enough reasons for me to think as an informed customer to make intelligent choices to buy coffee from local roasters that support the local economy!!!!

Coffee News …

A couple of weeks ago, El Salvador was hit by historic floods, and almost all coffee farms have been impacted by them. Let’s show our care and support to the farmers and their families who depend on coffee beans by buying a bag of El Salvador. This is another way we can impact small economies in big ways by buying coffee!!!!

In Conclusion …

We at Church Street Coffee & Books serve and sell coffee roasted at Primavera Coffee, a local roaster in Cahaba Heights. Most of Primavera’s Coffee selections are lightly roasted (Guatemala, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Colombian, and, of course, El Salvador), although they do offer stronger coffees like Sumatra and French Roast.

Stop by today and buy a bag of these exquisite coffees and be proud of shopping local.

Sri Koduri is coffee guru and barista extraordinaire at Church Street Coffee & Books.

Until next time … Cheers!!!!

We were hugely surprised and honored yesterday to see that Church Street Coffee & Books made it onto B Metro’s 10 Spots: New Restaurants for the New Year! The list is quite an impressive group, if we do say so ourselves, with restaurants like El Barrio, already among our favorites, and Paramount, which we can’t wait to try. Thanks to B Metro for including us!

The other big news yesterday? Our coffee supplier, Primavera, will merge with Atlanta-based Octane. This is news we’ve been excited about for a long time, so we’re so happy we can finally tell you about it. Octane, like Primavera, is a company dedicated to the very best in coffee. The fact the two are working together now means a more diverse supply of beans and roasts, more opportunity to hunt down and bring home amazing tastes, and more creativity and dedication to making sure your morning cup is the best you’ve ever had. Read more about Octane and Primavera in Sunday’s The Birmingham News.

By Sri Koduri

What comes into your mind when you hear someone say “Sumatra”? Well, for some, it’s their first cup of dark roast being served at their favorite coffee shop on 81 Church St … for a few others it’s a vacation spot where you can run into some of the world’s finest flora and fauna, and it reminds still others of the deadly Tsunami of 2004. Considering our focus is exploring Sumatra as a coffee, it only makes sense to know more about the land of Sumatra to gain knowledge and perspective.

A Little Background:
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia. Settler colonies began arriving in Sumatra around 500 BC, and several significant kingdoms flourished there. I Ching, a Chinese Buddhist monk, studied Sanskrit and spent four years of his life here. The explorer Marco Polo visited Sumatra in 1292. Sumatra has a huge range of plant and animal species, but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years, and many species are critically endangered.

Sumatran Coffee:
Arabica coffee production in Sumatra began in the 18th century under Dutch colonial domination. Indonesian coffees are usually processed through a unique semi-washed method. Semi-washed coffees are best described as “wet-hulled” with heavy body and often more of that “character” that makes them so appealing and slightly funky. In this process, they are marginally dried, then stripped of the outer layer, revealing a white-colored, swollen green bean. Then the drying is completed on the patios.

Historic Tsunami of 2004:
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea mega earthquake that occurred on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Most coffee farmers lost their crops and are still recovering from the after-effects. This natural disaster made Sumatran coffee a rare and expensive commodity. Every bag of coffee that we buy and every cup of Sumatra that we consume will help support the farmers that are slowly building their lives back to normal.

Sumatra @ Church St.:
We brew Primavera’s  Sumatra Mandheling which is a strong and bold Indonesian coffee. It lives up to the tradition of coffees from Indonesia having an earthy aroma. It is best when you pair it with our Best-Ever Bran Muffins. Grab a bag today and when you do, be proud of being knowledgeable about your coffee journey with me!!!

Sri is a barista extraordinaire and coffee guru at Church Street Coffee & Books.

By Sri Koduri

It is the season of giving!!! Giving includes coffee beans. I see a lot of customers choosing coffee as a gift idea, but they have a lot of questions: For how long will this coffee be good? Should you freeze it or just refrigerate it? Store it in jars, paper, plastic bags, or single valve bags? Does it really matter if it’s whole bean or ground? Over the years, I have heard a lot of different opinions and suggestions, so here are some basics when storing your favorite coffee beans.

Certain factors do harm to the freshness of your coffee, but if we can protect our coffee from these factors we should be able to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee every time!!!

    •    Moisture
    •    Air
    •    Heat
    •    Light

The most direct and simple way to combat these problems is to buy your coffee in small quantities as needed, buy WHOLE BEANS instead of ground coffee, and store it in an airtight container in a cool, shady spot.

SO! Proper Coffee Storage Mission Accomplished? No Worries? Well, these measures are enough if you are buying it in smaller quantities. But what if you bought a giant bag of coffee on sale, or every single friend gives you a bag of coffee for the holidays? How do you keep it fresh?

To freeze or not to freeze?

First and foremost, the fridge is a major no-no. In the first place, it’s not cold enough to keep your coffee fresh. Secondly, your coffee will deodorize and dehumidify your refrigerator — just like baking soda, especially if its ground. That can’t be good for the taste of the coffee!

Freezing is optional. Some experts say that coffee is never quite the same after freezing. True or not, what’s important is what works for you.

In my experience, if you have a quantity that can’t be consumed within 10 days to 2 weeks, freezing becomes a reasonable option. Just make sure to wrap it well, as there can be some damaging exposure to moisture and light from constant the opening and closing of the freezer door.

So if coffee storage in the freezer becomes necessary, here is my advice:

    1.    Store your coffee in the original packaging.
    2.    Put each one in its own freezer bag.
    3.    Then put them all into a brown paper bag to keep out the light.

This may seem a bit much, but it will protect your investment from being damaged by moisture and light. Now you can withdraw your coffee in the proper quantity as needed and let it thaw before grinding. Your coffee should only be frozen and thawed once.  With this awareness, you don’t have to worry about stocking up on your favorite coffees for holidays.

At Church Street, we offer beans from local roaster Primavera. Guatemala, Sumatra, Colombia, Ethiopian, French Roast are a few of the popular ones. We offer these coffees in 12 oz bags, and we grind it for free if you want!!!

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Sri Koduri is barista extraordinaire and coffee guru at Church Street Coffee & Books.

Buy a gift card in any amount and we’ll wrap it (as shown above) for free!

Lords a leaping? Swans a swimming? Get real. Who needs four calling birds when we have Facebook and text messages? What we really want for Christmas is coffee abrewing and books aplenty, and that’s what makes a Church Street gift card the perfect choice for all 12 days of Christmas. Our gift cards are good for anything in the store, from coffee to books to journals to beans.

  1. Teacher gifts: Now that teachers can only receive gifts that benefit the classroom, it kind of limits our giving options. Since a card to Church Street can be used for books, it’s the perfect present for your favorite educator.
  2. Stocking stuffers: Need a treat to add to your stockings? A Church Street gift card is perfect!
  3. Hostess gifts: How many bottles of wine does your host really need? Give a coffee gift card that can keep her caffeinated throughout the holiday party season.
  4. Place settings: Speaking of parties … we think a wrapped $5 gift card on top of every plate would make a great party favor, and a cute addition to your holiday decor.
  5. Coffee shopping save-the-date: Treat your teen or your best girlfriend to a shopping date, complete with a stop at Church Street for Cranberry Orange Shortbread and Gingerbread Lattes.
  6. Gift that keeps on giving: When you give a gift card, your friends and family think of you not just once, but every time they get a morning Americano or pick up a special book.
  7. Coworker gifts: Keep everyone in the office in good spirits by giving gift cards to your officemates. (As an added benefit, caffeine will make your meetings go more smoothly.)
  8. Student/study gifts: We’re open until 10 p.m. every night of the week, and we have free wi-fi for customers … the perfect recipe for studying!
  9. Neighbors: Get to know your neighbors by inviting them for coffee — or be the first to let them know there’s a coffee shop and bookstore in your neighborhood!
  10. Afterschool treats: Is Church Street within walking distance of your school? Does your student come by in the evening for tutoring? A gift card can buy traditional milk and cookies (or the not-so-traditional Mochasaurus and Treehugger) to help your child through piles of homework.
  11. Gift exchanges: Secret Santa got you down? Pick up a gift card to your favorite local coffee shop — it’s a gift that anyone can enjoy.
  12. Just in case: What happens when you get a gift from someone that you forgot to add to your list? Keep a gift card or two wrapped and in your purse or car, so you’ll always have the perfect gift ready to give.

By Carrie Rollwagen

The Family Fang is not a vampire book. (I’m not sure if it’s awesome or sad that vampire literature is so popular that I have to start that way.) It’s a novel about Caleb and Camille Fang, famous performance artists who involve their children, Annie and Buster (Child A and Child B, as they refer to the kids) in their art. The trouble is, that art is weird, disturbing and often dangerous. The bulk of the book is about Buster and Annie learning to deal with the ways their parents screwed them up.

The book is a fun, and sometimes sad, story about art and fame and growing up. The Fang dynamic is extreme, but the family and sibling relationships are real and relatable. After all, we’re all a little (or a lot) messed up by our parents, and we all look for ways to sort through which ideas are ours and which belong to Parental Unit 1 and Parental Unit 2. (Bizarrely, those are not monikers from the book … it’s how my dad sometimes referred to himself and my mother. Talk about weird families.)

The parents in the book sometimes behave pretty horrifically, but author Kevin Wilson wisely paints them neither as jesters nor as villains. Their dedication to art is extreme, but they say important things with their work (sometimes, anyway). Their obsession with creativity and social commentary borders on psychotic, but they do raise two children who become artists in their own right. And the ways Annie and Buster deal with the abuse aren’t perfect, either — and they shouldn’t be. Wilson’s story is real and honest, and it leaves us free to make our own moral conclusions, or to leave them out altogether. And you just might say, that’s the definition of art.

Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

We top our Gingerbread Latte with homemade whipped cream and a little bit of cinnamon — sooo comforting and delicious!

By Sri Koduri

Over the last two decades, enjoying coffee has gained more and more popularity. More coffee shops, chains have come into existence than ever before. Every one of them has some offering of coffee to please your palette.

What is really sustaining the coffee business is not just brewed coffee, but the espresso-based beverages. Latte and cappuccino have become household names. However you take coffee — black, decaf, flavored, espresso, iced or blended —there’s a form of coffee drinking that will pleasure your senses.

In addition to choosing the form, you can also add flavor to your coffee, and food-inspired flavors have gained a lot of momentum. Vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, cinnamon, etc. have become the choice of customers. As much as I advocate enjoying the coffee beans for their true flavor profile, I equally enjoy flavoring them up sometimes to maximize my coffee experience.

Your barista should be able to suggest a flavor depending on what you like and enjoy. More than the regularly available flavors, I tend to enjoy the seasonal offerings. Here are my favorite picks from our line-up at Church Street!

Season’s greetings from Church Street:

  1. Gingerbread Latte (My top pick!!!)
  2. Peppermint Mocha/White Mocha (Chocolate is even more definitely decadent with a burst of mint!)
  3. Chai Latte (We make our chai latte from scratch with our special blend of spiced chai and steamed milk.)
  4. Peppermint Tea Misto (This blend of Peppermint Tea with steamed milk is becoming very popular with our customers, especially as an after-dinner treat.)

Stop by to enjoy these beverages and more and flavor up your coffee experience.

Sri is a barista extraordinaire and coffee guru at Church Street Coffee & Books.

By Sri Koduri

The urbanites and the coffee house culture of the last 40 years or so made coffee a common sight at every street corner and restaurant. From breakfast to dinner, a lot of urbanites have a cup of coffee either before or after, or even while dining. Fine diners have worked with roasters to develop specific blends to compliment their food.

With Thanksgiving kicking off the official holiday season, every household has gatherings, and every office has a holiday party. How do you bring the right kind of coffee to your table?

What I have learned in the last 12 years is the fact that coffee has subtle flavors based on where it grows and it can easily enhance the food flavors and/or compliment them. Something like two people getting married!!!

Most popular coffees come from the following three regions:

  • Latin/Central American Coffees (Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia): These coffees are nutty, chocolaty and caramelly with cinnamon flavors.
  • African coffees (Ethiopian): These coffees have citrus, berry and floral flavors.
  • Asia Pacific Coffees (Sumatra, French Roast): These have earthy, spicy, roasty flavors.

So, this holiday season, Jolt up your holiday gathering at home or at your work place with the right kind of coffee. A knowledgeable barista at your local coffee shop should be able to point you in the right direction.

Sri Koduri is barista extraordinaire and coffee guru at Church Street Coffee & Books.

Take a look at these beautiful Primavera beans — along with a doppio espresso we create from them!

By Sri Koduri

We will wrap up our discussion on espresso this week by exploring the type of beans that are used in extracting the espresso in various coffee houses around the world. First and foremost, the important thing to recognize is the fact that there are two kinds of coffee beans — Arabica and Robusta!

  • Arabica beans (gourmet grade): The defining characteristic of these beans is that they are fully developed, dense and expensive. Arabica beans are often used in gourmet coffee houses.
  • Robusta beans (commercial grade): The obvious characteristic of these beans is that they are slightly small. They are used in blends with Arabica beans to create lighter roasts and commercially viable options in the market.

These beans are very different, and they have to be roasted a different levels for espresso extraction. Here’s a breakdown of the different levels of roasting:

  1. Very Dark: This roast is very low acidity, usually producing a sweet aftertaste. The espresso is very rich.
  2. Full City: This roast level has gained momentum and popularity in the last five to seven years, and is now the choice of a lot of independent coffee houses. These beans are roasted until they turn slightly dark, and the caramel overtones push out when the beans are brewed. These beans yield a lot more crema than a very dark roast would, creating a slightly stronger taste.
  3. Medium or City Roast: This roast level is mainly used for drip coffees.
  4. Light: These beans are lightly roasted only to a level where the cinnamon overtones are pushed out when brewed.

Before you march out of a coffee house thinking their coffee doesn’t taste good, you might want to spend time in investigating what roast level they use to check it against your palette. It might help you enjoy their coffee more, and it will at least help you discover what you like or don’t like about it and make the intelligent choice. On average, Americans spend five to 15 dollars a day on coffee and coffee house products. You don’t want that coffee do taste bad, do you??? So I would, as a smart consumer, do some taste tasting to continue justifying that expense and get the right flavor every morning.

You can try our coffee out for yourself by picking up a bag of espresso beans to roast at home, or by ordering a doppio espresso from us at Church Street. See how it suits your palette — we feature Primavera’s Espresso Roast, which is roasted between a full and medium city roast (using Arabica beans, of course). So, what are you waiting for — get caffeinated!!!

Sri Koduri is a barista extraordinaire and coffee guru at Church Street Coffee & Books.