Coffee grounds give your plants the punch they love

As I bang out the Espresso Maker’s coffee grounds this morning, I remembered back to a basket at the local Starbucks. In the basket was large silver bags of used coffee grounds. A couple came in, grabbed all the bags and headed out to their car. Hmmm… they didn’t buy a coffee drink so there must be something to this ‘used grounds’ thing.

Turns out, many of your plants share the same passion for coffee that you do. They just happen to be picky about the grounds being front a particular part of the world or how many hours ago you ground those beans.

The next time you head to the trash can to knock the grounds out of the filter, consider saving those in a bag or can. Then, after a few days, sprinkle those grounds around your plants or mix them into a bit of compost (mulch pike if you have one). According to Starbucks.com – many plants seek out acids and will really wake up by having access to such a great source as coffee grounds. Roses in particular react well.

If you do have a compost pile, coffee grounds with their 20:1 Carbon-Nitrogen ratio creates great plant food. Do not allow the used grounds be more than 25% of the content. If you have too much acid from the beans, you can always a teaspoon of lime or wood ash per 5 pounds of coffee grounds. Rather than have to get into mixing chemicals, just don’t use so many grounds or add more leaves and straw.

In the 90s, Starbucks has the University of Washington (Starbucks being from Washington state…) look into what is ‘in’ coffee grounds. The University commissioned research found that the primary nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Then, secondary nutrients include calcium, magnesium and sulfur.

Doing a little Web browsing research, I found that many folks claim ants and cats do not like areas that have coffee grounds in the soil. And… carrots seem to respond very nicely when their seeds are planted in soil containing dry grounds. Of course, your milage may vary, but why not give it a try rather than throw those grounds in the trash?!

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Espresso Shop game for your iPhone

I love espresso… and I have an iPhone I use a lot. Particularly in those espresso spots that offers WiFi. There are all kinds of iPhone apps for finding coffee shops, ordering drinks and even a couple that tell you how to mix your lattes. Most of the latte making tip apps are lacking. I will keep looking and report here if I find any that are a must have.

Meanwhile – there is a fun little Espresso Shop game app. My wife really enjoys these type of games so she stepped right up (99 cents) and grabbed it to play.

Aroma Coffee is a game where you set up a shop, take orders from your visitors, make the drinks and accept money from your happy customers. Make enough money to upgrade to better hardware and expand to more stores. My wife is taking over the whole US right now, making drinks and spending it on new locations. Here is a link to the game in the iTunes Apps area. It works great on the iPhone, but not so good on the iPod Touch (don’t buy this app unless you have an iPhone. If your a Touch owner, wait for the next version!).

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Mona Lisa – 3600 lattes and nothing to drink

As you know, the quantity of milk in your latte will cause it to change it’s depth of color. What if you took advantage of that and used the shades of your drink to create a giant piece of art?

The sculpture was created to launch The Rocks Aroma Festival. Now in its 12th year, the Aroma Festival is Australia’s biggest coffee festival with more than 100 roasters and stalls.

Mona Lisa Latte art

Here is a video of the team creating the replica of the Mona Lisa using 4,000 cups of coffee. Lattes, long blacks and flat whites were used to make this masterpiece.


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Best Espresso drinks from Italy

Getting ready for our trip to Italy, I have been looking around for what is popular both in beans and drinks in the different areas of Italy. I am looking for what would be thought of Italian coffee versus International coffee. The skill of brewing a quality cup of coffee versus what you can add to your cup to change it to fit a mood or environment. Tough work, someone has to do it!

I actually found a magazine article that had the same interest… I’m not alone I see. Their concern was regarding what you can order in Italy that is reproducible elsewhere.

They suggested three drinks:

  • Corretto – This is the drink of choice for cold days and hardy men. It is a classic Italian espresso which is ‘corrected’ with a spirit shot. Patrons usually tell the barista what they want in their corretto, but the ever popular grappa is the barista’s default.
  • Marocchino – This drink has an unusual hue. A blend of espresso, frothed milk and cocoa powder. The espresso is made and poured in a demitasse-size glass with a metal handle. Then cocoa is sprinkled on it.
  • Caffé latte – The basis of the Latte. Unlike the British and American versions, which call for 1/3 coffee and 2/3 milk and foam, the Italian one requires 25ml espresso and enough milk to fill a 160ml glass. The milk is rigorously hot but not frothy, and is poured on the cup on top of the coffee. Caffé latte, which is essentially a foam-less cappuccino.

I would recommend you taking a look at the full article if you wish to make these at home, the author did a nice job of outlining temps and quantities for each drink to best match it to the authentic Italian served version.

They do wrap is up with a few other interesting coffee drinks served in Italian bars

Doppio—that’s simply a double espresso

Ristretto—an espresso with less water than usual

Lungo—an espresso with more water than usual

Caffé con panna—an espresso topped by whipped cream

Freddo—iced coffee made with espresso

Americano—an espresso with added hot water

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How much Caffeine is really in your espresso or coffee?

I just found a great article about Caffeine in coffee. The specialist author: Jerry Baldwin is co-founder of Starbucks in Seattle, where he was the first roaster and coffee buyer – he is quick to add that started the company but has nothing to do with it’s current paths. Included in the article are parts from Corby Kummer’s “The Joy of Coffee” book, a very good read about Coffee having connoisseurs like wine and fine foods do which Jerry was also interviewed for.

Here are a few highlights from the article, but more detail can be found in the original post (link below).

We generally estimate caffeine content to average 1% for coffea Arabica and 2% for Robusta (coffea Canephora) by weight. The real issue is the caffeine content of the cultivar, i.e. the species (Arabica or Robusta) and especially the variety of the coffee within the species.

Several studies testing 90 different Arabica cultivars, caffeine content varied between 0.42 and 2.9%.

If your morning cup came from a commercial roaster who included Robusta in the blend, there will be another level of complexity. Caffeine content in these coffees, per one study, varied between 1.16 and 4.0%. A straight 12 oz. cup, using 20 grams of the 4% coffee, probably wouldn’t taste very good, but would definitely provide more buzz: 800 milligrams of caffeine!

As we find with anything… they more you research the more you learn that there is much more than can be learned quickly. A few generalized thoughts:

• Arabica averages about half the caffeine as Robusta.
• The cultivar determines the caffeine content.
• Degree of roast has no meaningful effect on caffeine.
• An espresso made from 100% Arabica, on average, has about 70 milligrams of caffeine per shot; a 12 oz. cup of drip coffee made my way in a press pot, using two scoops of coffee per 12-ounce cup — would have 200 milligrams.

See the full discussion “Appreciating Coffee Like Wine” by Jerry Baldwin here…

Caffeine

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