What is Kopi Luwak

Ever heard about that coffee where cats or civets from Indonesia would eat coffee berries and defecate the beans, and have them picked up, collected, and processed by farmers and coffee producers?
If not, it’s called Kopi Luwak, also known as the most expensive coffee in the world.
Kopi luwak , or civet coffee, refers to the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet . The name is also used for marketing brewed coffee made from the beans.
Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat coffee berries containing better beans. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the berries for the beans' fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet's proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids.Passing through a civet's intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.
The traditional method of collecting feces from wild civets has given way to intensive farming methods in which civets in battery cage systems are force fed the coffee beans. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets due to "horrific conditions" including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate.A 2013 BBC investigation of intensive civet farming in Sumatra found conditions of animal cruelty.Intensive farming is also criticised by traditional farmers because the civets do not select what they eat, so the beans are of poor quality compared to beans collected from the wild. According to an officer from the TRAFFIC conservation programme, the trade in civets to make kopi luwak may constitute a significant threat to wild civet populations.
Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called the most expensive coffee in the world with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram. The price paid to collectors in the Philippines is closer to US$20 per kilogram. The price of farmed (considered low-grade by connoisseurs) kopi luwak in large Indonesian supermarkets is from US$100 per kilogram (five times the price of a high quality local arabica coffee). Genuine kopi luwak from wild civets is difficult to purchase in Indonesia and proving it is not fake is very difficult - there is little enforcement regarding use of the name "kopi luwak", and there's even a local cheap coffee brand named "Luwak", which costs under US$3 per kilogram but is occasionally sold online under the guise of real kopi luwak.
An investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia found fraud to be rife in the kopi luwak industry, with producers willing to label coffee from caged civets with a "wild sourced" or similar label. A BBC investigation revealed similar findings.
Kopi luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago. It is also widely gathered in the forest or produced in the farms in the islands of the Philippines (where the product is called kape motit in the Cordillera region, kape alamid in Tagalog areas, and kape melô or kape musang in Mindanao island), and in East Timor . Weasel coffee is a loose English translation of its Vietnamese name cà phê Chồn, where popular, chemically simulated versions are also produced.

Myths regarding a better brew with cat poop coffee
Many coffee brewers and processors believe that having cats create Kopi Luwak results in a better coffee product. They believe that since the cats choose to eat the coffee berries, the cats must be choosing the best coffee berry possible. After the cat eats the coffee berries and then poop them out, their digestive mechanism is then believed to improve the taste and flavor profile of the coffee.

Where is the Cat Poop Coffee Produced?

Kopi Luwak is mainly produced in Indonesia. The Indonesian island of Sumatra is the world’s largest regional producer of the coffee. There are also a few of these coffee farms in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Coffee that comes from cat poop can’t taste good, right?
Many people have mixed opinions regarding the taste of Kopi Luwak. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, this coffee just tastes like normal coffee beans.  However, most coffee drinkers are able to distinguish a distinct taste. The coffee has low acidity and little flavor, but it is very smooth.
Another thing about the taste of this coffee is that no two cups will taste exactly the same. Since the coffee beans go through a different cat’s digestive system, the tastes will vary. Since every cat/civet is different, it’s overall diet and even personal health is also different. These factors all can change the end taste of the defecated coffee beans.

Many people believe that this coffee is only sold and drank for it’s unique story (cat eating and pooping the beans), not the overall taste and superior quality. Essentially, it’s just known as novelty coffee that people like to buy and drink because it’s so unique.

In popular culture

  • In 1995, an Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, Georgia, for "Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak (aka, the palm civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia."
  • Kopi Luwak is also mentioned in The Bucket List (2008) as Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) reveals with great amusement of how the Kopi Luwak — enjoyed by Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) — was produced; eaten and defecated by a jungle cat. Cole reacted in surprise "You're shitting me!" and Carter replied in jest "No, the cats beat me to it!".
  • Kopi Luwak coffee makes an appearance in History Channel's reality TV series, Pawn Stars (18 July 2013), with several characters refusing to drink it after learning how it is made.
  • In Franklin and Bash, Season 3 Episode 9, "Shoot to Thrill", associate lawyer/germaphobe Pinder and his law partner Stanton Infeld each drink Kopi Luwak. After Pinder learns of the coffee's origin he begins to vomit due to his extreme germaphobia.

Because of the rarity of this coffee, the price is quite outrageous. If you can find a vendor, the current cost for a pound of Kopi Luwak is around $300 or more. Some more adventurous coffee houses are selling it by the cup, but you won't likely find it at your local coffee shop just yet. The coffee isn't so spectacular that it's truly worth that amount of money. You are paying for the experience of enjoying such an unusual and rare delicacy.

How to Make a Banana Split

A banana split is an ice cream-based dessert. In its classic form it is served in a long dish called a boat. A banana is cut in half lengthwise (hence the split) and laid in the dish. There are many variations, but the classic banana split is made with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream served in a row between the split banana. In no particular order, pineapple, strawberry and chocolate sauces are spooned over the strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. It is garnished with crushed nuts, whipped cream, and maraschino cherry.
The banana plant is not a tree, but actually a very large herb.

David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy, located at 805 Ligonier Street in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store's soda fountain, invented the banana-based triple ice cream sundae in 1904. The sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the price of other sundaes, and caught on with students of nearby Saint Vincent College. News of a new variety of sundae quickly spread by word-of-mouth and through correspondence and soon progressed far beyond Latrobe. A popular recipe published in 1907 called for a lengthwise split banana, two cones of ice cream at each end and a spoon of whipped cream in between with maraschino cherry on a top, with one end covered with chopped mixed nuts and another with chopped mixed fruits.
Strickler went on to buy the pharmacy, naming it Strickler's Pharmacy, while keeping his office on a top floor.
The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004 and, in the same year, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) certified the city as its birthplace. It is the place of an annual Great American Banana Split Festival and a keeper of the original soda fountain where the first now famous throughout the world confection was made.
Shortly after its invention by Strickler, a Boston ice cream entrepreneur came up with the same sundae, with one minor flaw — he served his banana splits with the bananas unpeeled until he discovered that people preferred them peeled.
Wilmington, Ohio also claims an early connection. In 1907, restaurant owner Ernest Hazard wanted to attract students from Wilmington College during the slow days of winter. He staged an employee contest to come up with a new ice cream dish. When none of his workers were up to the task, he split a banana lengthwise, threw it into an elongated dish and created his own dessert. The town commemorates the event each June with its own Banana Split Festival.
Walgreens is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. The early drug stores operated by Charles Rudolph Walgreen in the Chicago area adopted the banana split as a signature dessert. Fountains in the stores proved to be drawing cards, attracting customers who might otherwise have been just as satisfied having their prescriptions filled at some other drug store in the neighborhood.

1 banana
4 scoops of ice cream of choice (chocolate, strawberry, etc.)
Mini M&M's or any other candy of your choice
Whipped cream
Chocolate, Strawberry, or caramel syrup

1. Take a banana and peel the skin. Get a bowl and place the banana into it.
2. Get two scoops of your ice cream of choice and put them on one side. Get two more scoops and add them to the other side.
3. Get some flavored syrup and zig zag it around. (chocolate, strawberry, or caramel and/or all three).
4. Whip up some whipped cream and spray it across.
5. Sprinkle some sprinkles on top.
6. Finish the job by putting a cherry on top.

Banana split pie
The banana split pie was created by Janet Winquest, a 16-year-old resident of Holdrege, Nebraska. In 1952, she won a $3,000 prize in Pillsbury's Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest for the recipe.

Get a spoon and dig in.

Rooibos Tea- The Red Bush of Africa

Best of all, Rooibos red tea naturally contains protective antioxidants, as well as calcium, zinc and other nutrients. Discover for yourself how each of our soothing Rooibos red tea blends resonates with the wonders of Africa! 
Rooibos teas are a naturally sweet and sometimes nutty herbal tea made from the South African Red Bush often referred to as Red Tea or African Red Tea.  The rooibos tea processing method involves harvesting the red bush leaves, followed by grinding and bruising of the leaves. Then the rooibos is left to ferment and dried to yield a reddish brown needle-like tea.  Green rooibos tea does not have a fermentation step and thus has a lighter taste than red rooibos teas.  Both varieties of rooibos tea are caffeine free. 
The generic name comes from the plant Calicotome villosa, aspalathos in Greek. This plant has very similar growth and flowers to the Rooibos plant. The specific name linearis comes from the plant's linear growing structure and needle-like leaves.    

Rooibos is usually grown in a small area in the region of the Western Cape province of South Africa. Generally, the leaves are oxidized, a process often referred to as fermentation in accordance with tea processing terminology. This process produces the distinctive reddish-brown color of rooibos and enhances the flavor. Unoxidized "green" rooibos is also produced, but the more demanding production process for green rooibos (similar to the method by which green tea is produced) makes it more expensive than traditional rooibos. It carries a malty and slightly grassy flavour somewhat different from its red counterpart.

In South Africa, it is common to prepare rooibos tea in the same manner as black tea and add milk and sugar to taste. Other methods include a slice of lemon and using honey instead of sugar to sweeten.
Several coffee shops in South Africa have recently begun to sell "red espresso", which is concentrated rooibos served and presented in the style of ordinary espresso. This has given rise to rooibos-based variations of coffee drinks such as red lattes and red cappuccinos. Iced tea made from rooibos has recently been introduced in South Africa, Australia, and the United States. A variant of a London Fog, known as a Cape Town Fog, can also be made using Rooibos steeped in steamed milk with vanilla syrup.

History of Rooibos Tea
In 1772, Swedish botanist Carl Thunberg found the people of the Cape of South Africa were making tea from local plants, specifically, the rooibos plant.  By the 1900s, settlers of the Cape refined the curing process to make African red tea, employing similar methodologies of green tea processing. Soon after cultivation of rooibos red bush tea spread throughout South America and more recently, has broken into the American tea market for its unique taste and variety of flavors.

Rooibos Tea Preparation
Making rooibos tea is very similar to preparing any other herbal tea.  1.5 tsp of rooibos tea should be added for every 8 oz cup of boiling water.  The rooibos tea should steep for 5-6 minutes.  If left to brew longer, the rooibos tea should not become very bitter, as this type of tea has steeped for days in some South African households.  Many rooibos teas also taste great as an iced tea.  To make rooibos iced tea, just double the amount of tea used, steep at the same temperature and for the same length of time, then pour the tea directly into a glass full of ice.

Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea
Caffeine free – The rooibos plant grows naturally without any caffeine.  This is important, as it means it does not need to undergo a chemical process to remove the caffeine.  It also means that anyone can drink it, including those who do not want to drink caffeine such as children & pregnant women.  The other key benefit of no caffeine is that rooibos tea can be drunk in unrestricted amounts, in fact, the average South African will consume 5-6 cups per day.
Contains powerful antioxidants – Rooibos tea contains a huge array of antioxidants, which help to protect the body in a number of ways.  Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in rooibos tea.  These antioxidants protect the body by fighting free radicals.  These are unstable cells, which attack healthy cells in order to stabilise themselves.  The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease.
Prevents against some cancers – Some studies have demonstrated a link between consumption of rooibos tea and a reduction of cancer-causing chemicals.  This is because of the high level of dominant antioxidants, some of which have anti-mutagenic properties.  This means that they defend cells & DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer.
High mineral content – One of the key health benefits of rooibos tea is that it contains several minerals that are vital to health.  These include: magnesium – essential for the nervous system, calcium & manganese – essential for strong teeth and bones, zinc – important for metabolism and iron – critical for helping blood & muscles distribute oxygen.
Improves circulation – One of the many potent antioxidants in rooibos tea is called Chysoeriol.  It can improve circulation by preventing the activity of the enzyme that triggers cardiovascular disease.  Drinking rooibos tea also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
Relieves stomach complaints – As rooibos tea contains high levels of flavonoids, especially one called quercetin, it has the ability to relieve numerous abdominal ailments such as cramps, diahorrea and indigestion.  This is because the flavonoids help to reduce spasm, inflammation and allergies.  It has also been widely stated that the health benefits of rooibos tea extend to alleviating colic in babies.  As it is totally caffeine free, it is perfectly safe for them to drink rooibos tea.
Aids absorption of iron – Unlike most black teas, which prevent the body from absorbing iron effectively because of the tannins they contain, rooibos tea supports the body in absorbing iron.  This is because rooibos tea contains less than half the tannins of black tea.
Can relieve skin conditions – A more recent discovery of the benefits of rooibos tea is that it can help you to look more beautiful!  Rooibos tea contains phenyl pyretic acid, which can help to improve acne, psoriasis and eczema.  You can apply a freshly brewed and cooled tea bag to the affected areas and it will soothe and heal any inflammation.
Can protect against Parkinsons/Alzheimers disease – drinking rooibos tea regularly can protect against a process known as lipid peridoxation.  This is where free radicals damage brain cells and nerve tissue.  If this is prolonged, it can lead eventually to progressive and deteriorating brain disease, such as Alzheimers.  Laboratory tests on rats showed little difference in brain function from a group of older rats given rooibos tea to the brains of newborn rats.
Encourages restful sleep – One of the many health benefits of rooibos tea is that it can be drunk as often as you wish and at any time of day.  Many people choose to drink it before bedtime as it can help with insomnia.  Due to its high mineral content and lack of caffeine, it helps people to feel calm and relaxed.

US trademark controversy
In 1994, Burke International registered the name "Rooibos" with the US Patent and Trademark Office, thus establishing a monopoly on the name in the United States at a time when it was virtually unknown there. When the plant later entered more widespread use, Burke demanded that companies either pay fees for use of the name, or cease its use. In 2005, the American Herbal Products Association and a number of import companies succeeded in defeating the trademark through petitions and lawsuits; after losing one of the cases, Burke surrendered the name to the public domain.

Rooibos grades are largely related to the percentage "needle" or leaf to stem content in the mix. A higher leaf content will result in a darker liquor, richer flavour and less "dusty" aftertaste. The high grade rooibos is exported and does not reach local markets, with major consumers being EU, particularly Germany, where it is used in creating flavoured blends for loose leaf tea markets. In development within South Africa are a small number of specialty tea companies producing similar blends.

Threat from climate change

The Rooibos plant is endemic to a small part of the western coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa, forming part of the fragile fynbos biome. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with local micro-organisms, and past attempts to grow Rooibos outside this area, in places as far afield as the United States, Australia and China, have all failed. Now, climate change may threaten the future survival of the plant and the R600-million Rooibos industry. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall may result in the extinction of the Rooibos plant within the next century.

Legal protection of the name Rooibos
If passed by the parliament of South Africa, the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill of 2008 will provide for the protection and restriction on commercial use of the name Rooibos in that country. Similar legislation (protection of the names Champagne and Port for example) already exists in Europe. This is despite Rooibos South Africa's decision to contest the Burke trademark on the grounds that "rooibos" is a generic term, rather than claiming it as a geographic indication.

Did you know? 
  • In fact, Rooibos ice-cream was even served at the wedding of celebrity couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.
  • Simon Le Bon, lead singer of top 80s band, Duran Duran, never goes on stage without drinking a cup of Rooibos first. (Then it must be good for the voice as well!)
  • Italian company, Bvlgari, has a series of tea-based perfumes with a hot seller called Eau Parfumee au The Rouge . This unique fragrance features notes of bergamot, orange, pink pepper, fig pulp, Yunnan red tea, walnut, musk, and of course Rooibos. 
  • At Stellar Winery, situated at Trawal north of Cape Town in Rooibos country, Hanepoot grapes are dried on a bed of straw and Rooibos tea before being crushed and made into organic wine. This infuses the grapes with the fragrance of Rooibos for their dessert wine aptly called “Heaven-on-Earth”. This might just be the secret recipe that helped Stellar to numerous awards at the BioFach International Organic Wine Awards in 2007.
  • Rooibos Espresso (trademarked as red espresso) has caught the world’s eye as an innovative product that makes tea trendy and cappuccinos healthy. It is Rooibos tea specially ground to be used in espresso machines and has won various awards such as the America Specialty Coffee Association’s ‘Best New Product’ in the Specialty Beverage category in 2008.
  • The Cederberg area, where Rooibos is grown, is one of the richest regions of Southern African rock art. The rock art, left behind by the San people who originally inhabited the area, is said to be from 300 to 6000 years old. Maybe drinking Rooibos tea inspired them.   
"Harvested from the mountainous Cederberg region of South Africa, Rooibos is a mellow and relaxing herb whose slightly nutty flavor offers hints of cherry and toffee. Moroccan Pomegranate infuses Rooibos with scarlet-red pomegranate flavor and tart hibiscus to create a delightfully fruity caffeine-free blend that you’ll savor both iced and hot." - Charlie Baden, Celestial Seasonings Blendmaster

For more informations:

...and a  Rooibos Tea! 

"Strong" words About Saint Helena Coffee...

Winner of SpillingTheBeans’ personal choice as Coffee Of The Year in 2013 thanks to the uniqueness of these beans, the incredible effort that has gone into getting this coffee to the market, and for its outstanding flavor profil
The most exclusive coffee in the world comes from the South Atlantic Ocean island of St. Helena situated just above the Tropic of Capricorn, midway between Africa and America. Production is low (only about 12 tons a year), demand is high and the quality exceptional.
With so many extraordinary coffees in the world and so many rare islands and unique varieties, what makes for the truly rare and unique coffees to the utmost of coffee lovers?
This Sunday’s Coffee of The Day is a real special treat among treats, from the uniquely geographically located and extreme remote island of St Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. SpillingTheBeans can hardly contain the excitement to be able to share SUCH a rare coffee with you, thanks to the courtesy of one of our favorite coffee companies in the world, the Sea Island Coffees in London, the U.K., which was generous enough to share a sample with us.

About The Island Of St. Helena
The Island of St Helena is a small, mountainous, sub tropical island of 47 square miles, situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, on latitude 16 degrees south and longitude 5 degrees 45' west. The island was discovered by the Portuguese Admiral Joao da Nova on the 21st May, 1502. He landed where Jamestown stands today and built a chapel there. For over eighty years the Portuguese kept their discovery a secret and used it to replenish their East India fleet.
St Helena ceased to be Portugal's exclusive preserve in 1588, when Capt. Thomas Cavendish called there during the last stage of his round-the-world voyage in HMS Desire. English and then Dutch ships were soon calling frequently. Following a Dutch attempt to annex the island in 1633, the East India Company decided to fortify it and in 1659 the first permanent settlement was established.
In 1673 St Helena was captured by the Dutch but only four months later was recaptured by the English. The East India Company was granted administration of the island which continued until 1834 when it was brought under the direct control of the British Crown.
On 15th October, 1815, the defeated French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived at St Helena and began his imposed exile. His home was to be Longwood House, where he was to remain until his death on the 5th May 1821.
Today St Helena is a British Overseas Territory with an English speaking population of approximately five thousand people, mainly of English, African and Chinese descent.
The nearest land is Ascension Island, some 1125 Km north west of St Helena, with the closest mainland port being Cape Town, Republic of South Africa, and some 2720 Km southeast of the island.    St Helena Island is one of the most remote places on earth. Without an airport, access to the island is via the Royal Mail Ship St Helena, operated by Curnow Shipping Ltd. at Falmouth, Cornwall, England.

Coffee, coffee...and more coffee!
On the 10th February 1733, coffee seeds were brought to the Island of St. Helena, by its then owners The East India Company. The Green Tipped Bourbon Coffee seeds were brought from the coffee port of Mocha in Yemen, on a Company ship the "Houghton" by Captain Philips. Over the past ten years, St. Helena coffee has become known to coffee connoisseurs world-wide, who have been seduced by its distinctive quality and uniqueness.

St. Helena coffee is unique, as it is not just a pure Arabica coffee, but a single type of Arabica bean known as Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica.
Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica is a subtle and delicate bean, which requires great care during harvesting, wet processing and roasting, to ensure that all of its wonderful characteristics are preserved for the enjoyment of the true coffee connoisseurs.
With the Island being one of the most remote places on earth, situated on the South Atlantic Ocean, in the path of the South East Trade Winds, St. Helena has one of the purest environments in the world.

Only natural fertilizers are utilized. Livestock manure is not used as it may contain non-organic substances from concentrated animal feed or veterinary treatments.
The coffee is wet processed using pure spring water descending from the Island's peaks, along the Central Ridge. 
St. Helena is fortunate of having a rich supply of guano, the dropping of sea birds, which are collected from small out-crops, of rock along the island coasts and used as a natural fertilizer. The guano being extremely rich is allowed to dry and than applied sparingly at the base of the trees during the early stage of the wet Season.
Being a volcanic island, St Helena's soils are extremely rich and the climate sub-tropical. Combined with our organic cultivation philosophy and single bean origin, St Helena Coffee is a truly unique coffee sensation.
St Helena is, of course, famous for Napoleon Bonaparte. The original tomb of the exiled Emperor Bonaparte is located at the head of Geranium Valley on St Helena. Napoleon often used to visit this site, where it is said he found peace and tranquility and requested as his place of final rest. This area was also the place of residence for his Chief Aide, Marshall Bertrand and his wife.  Several stone terraces were unearthed and artifacts discovered, such as Wedgewood china, wine bottles and a lovely set of stone steps framed by an arch of ferns leading towards Napoleon's tomb.
In 2010, St. Helena Trading (UK) Ltd. (a jointly held company by our associate, Blue Mountain Coffee (Europe) Ltd. & the Edmonds Coffee Group) arrived at a joint venture with Solomon & Co. (St. Helena) Plc. to resuscitate the St. Helenian coffee production following the sad demise of the Napoleon Estate and related holdings. The first crop from this cooperation came on stream in March of 2011.
All the former quality and related controls were re-established and surpassed, allowing for the same elegant connoisseur's coffee to return to the exotic coffee market, albeit in small quantities as before. Production is now focussed in the area centered on the historic coffee farm of Bamboo Hedge, collectively known as the Sandy Bay Estates. The land around the adjoining Wranghams Estate is also being cleared for re-newed coffee cultivation and, it is hoped, that this will come on stream in the near future, further assuring a regular and enhanced crop of St.Helenian coffee.
The British government has now authorised the construction of an airport which will completely change St. Helena's accessability with positive implications for both its tourist and agricultural industries.

St Helena coffee is wet processed to the highest possible standards, with a wonderful semi translucent sheen in green bean form. This delicate bean, medium roasted has a high lively acidity, with good balance and good body. This coffee has a superb fragrant bouquet with no off flavours and pleasant floral fruity hints of citrus and caramel strongly hinting of its Yemeni origins. 

Just how good is St. Helena coffee?
An unexpected surprise has been just how well St. Helena coffee performs as an espresso. Most gourmet coffees do not lend themselves well to espresso and, as a consequence, most espresso coffee is a blend. St. Helena coffee, to the contrary, has received positive feedback from Italian roasters and cuppers extolling its performance as an espresso. No one seems to be 100% certain why this is so. However, the supposition is that, because the coffee derives from a single strain, the bean cell structure is extremely even - so it reacts well under pressure.
The uninitiated should know, too, that St. Helena coffee has another quirk. It is an extremely subtle bean, which makes it susceptible to damage. For instance, it is an awkward bean to roast, developing late in the roast and then very, very quickly.
In terms of cash paid for the St. Helena bean, there is nothing to surpass it - even Jamaica Blue Mountain, which for 70-odd years has dominated the gourmet coffee scene. A 17 gram-shot of St. Helena Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica at Harrods last year would have set you back Ł4.74. St. Helena coffee retails at $22 per half pound, shipping included. Kenyan, Hawaiian, Jamaican - and more recently - Galapagos-grown coffee all occupy the rarefied landscape of true gourmet coffee, and now St. Helena coffee is standing there amongst the best of them.
St Helena coffee is subjected to the most rigorous quality control. Due to the relatively small quantity of coffee produced, it is possible to give the coffee more attention than a larger coffee industry could expect to do.
One of the major challenges for coffee production in St Helena is the deep scarcity of local farm labor.

There is no official statistics of how much coffee today is produced at St Helena but it would hardly be more than a couple of containers by the most optimistic calculations and estimates. Furthermore, this is an island SO remote that it can only be reached by ship as there are no regular flights to the island because an airport has yet to build. One of the closest ports of embarkation is along the coast of South Africa and takes 3 to 4 nights at sea to reach, according to cruise reports.
Spilling The Beans dream about one day being able to visit this mythical island… but until that day arrives, please check out more about this extraordinary coffee at Sea Island Coffee’s home page – which in any case should be considered a must-see for coffee lovers!

“The only good thing about St Helena is the coffee.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

For more informations about St Helena coffee buy:

...and coffee here!

How to Make a Ristretto

The ristretto shot is a coffee purists heaven, a truly enjoyable pour of coffee. 

What is a Ristretto coffee
A Ristretto is a short shot of Espresso coffee (also called ‘Corto’ from the Italian word that means ‘short’). Ristretto is made by forcing the water through Espresso selection beans faster and at higher pressures than Espresso coffee. 
The italian word Ristretto literally means restricted, defined as a drink of very strong, concentrated espresso (definition from Oxford Dictionaries). Understanding the meaning of the word Ristretto sheds some light on this wonderful drink, it is a small quantity of liquid which is very concentrated - but don't let this put you off! Let me explain...
The nature of how a Ristretto is prepared means that you are left with a drink that gives you all of the best qualities of the coffee, with very little of the negative qualities that come out with a longer extraction time. When it comes to extracting coffee under pressure all of the good attributes of the coffee are the first to come out, the longer an extraction lasts - the more negative flavours and qualities are extracted. So naturally you want to find a happy medium to maximise the good flavours - minimise the bad.
Due to less dilution with water, the Ristretto yields higher concentrations of Caffeine than that of an Espresso and Americano. It also causes the ratio of coffee oils  to arise. The Ristretto flavour is more bold and less bitter to compare with Espresso. Ristretto is basically an Espresso coffee with less water.

Making a ristretto
Just like an espresso it is all about the pour, timing & grind of your beans. The reason the Ristretto seems to be so highly debated is the method of preparation for this drink.

How to make it...
Coffee machines require very little manual work. Here are a few methods for how to achieve a Ristretto coffee with your Espresso machine at home:
  • The easiest way to make Ristretto is to either ground the coffee beans finer or pack the coffee into the filter more than usual so that the gaps between the coffee grains are even smaller.
  • The water will flow slower and fill the cup less during the same 30 seconds needed for preparing an Espresso. The cons of this modern method is that the beans may be grounded too much and get into the cup.
  • Another way of making a Ristretto is to simply stop the process of the streaming water sooner.

1. The Traditional  Method
This involves brewing 30mls of coffee over the same pour time as a normal espresso shot. A traditional espresso uses approximately 14 grams of coffee for a double espresso. Here's a step by step:
  • Adjust your grind - you will need it finer than you do for a traditional espresso as you want to slow down the pour rate of the extraction.
  • Dispense approximately 14gms (you may like to adjust this more or less depending on what works for you) of coffee into your basket.
  • Prepare and tamp as usual
  • Time your extraction - 30mls of liquid should come out in between 25-30 seconds.
2. The Shortcut
I include this method, not because it will give you a true Ristretto but because on certain machines like Super-Automatics or espresso machines with pressurised filters you will most likely not have enough control to use the method described above.  Here's how it's done:
  • Get your grind as fine as possible for the machine you are using
  • Tamp as usual
  • Start your extraction and let it run until you have 30mls of coffee for a double Ristretto
This method of preparation is simply going to give you an espresso that has been stopped half way through - so it will not be as concentrated or syrupy as a true ristretto but hey if thats all your machine will allow it's better than nothing!

Get hold of some freshly roasted espresso beans. Crema comes from trapped CO2 gases that fade as coffee beans stale. Traditional northern Italian style is a medium roast, while southern Italians tradition dictates a darker bean that looks slightly oily. Darker roasts will emphasize the roast flavors, while medium and lighter roasts allow for sweeter, floral tones to come to the fore. The flavors of a lighter roasts will fade faster, so it's easier to get a consistent result from a darker roast. Experiment!
There are three options for actually creating the ristretto.
The Lazy Way- Grind your coffee beans as normal, and don't change the tamp.
Start the brew pump and stop it after the group has delivered 0.5oz (~15mL) of coffee (approximately 15 seconds). The Lazy Way is only useful for those who are unable to vary the grind.
The Better Way- Grind your coffee beans as normal and tamp much harder than usual. Start the brew pump and stop it after the group has delivered 0.5oz (~15mL) of coffee (approximately 20 - 25 seconds). The Better Way will give you richer tasting coffee than basic espresso, and will make you feel like you've done a better job at achieving a real ristretto.
The Best Way- Grind your coffee beans finer than normal, but do leave the tamp the same as usual. Start the brew pump and stop it after the group has delivered 0.5oz (~15mL) of coffee (25 seconds). Watch out for sourness when you do it The Best Way - your machine needs to be right up to temperature before pouring a fine-grind ristretto! Only The Best Way is a true ristretto.

So now go, give it a try! These are a great base for a milk based drink like a latte due to their rich flavour. Why not try make a Piccolo Latte - use a double ristretto and serve with latte textured milk in a smaller glass, enjoy!

Chocolate Chip and its Story

Chocolate chips are small chunks of chocolate. They are often sold in a round, flat-bottomed teardrop shape. They are available in numerous sizes, from large to miniature, but are usually less than 1 cm in diameter. Another variety of chocolate chips is rectangular or square chocolate chunks.
The Inventor of the Chocolate Chip
The story of the chocolate chip begins with a woman names Ruth Graves Wakefield, who studied “household arts” at Framingham State Normal School. After graduating in 1924, she pursued a career as a dietician and food lecturer. In 1930, Ruth and her husband purchased an inn near Whitman, Massachusetts. They named it the Toll House Inn because the building was originally used as a place for travelers to rest, but was also a place where tolls were collected.
Chocolate chips are a required ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, which were invented in 1937 when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. The cookies were a huge success, and Wakefield reached an agreement in 1939 with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar's packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars. In 1941 Nestlé and one or more of its competitors started selling the chocolate in chip (or "morsel") form.The Nestlé brand Toll House cookies is named for the inn.

Baking at the Toll House Inn
Ruth did the cooking and the baking at the inn, and enjoyed serving dishes made from old American recipes. Both the Toll House Inn and Ruth herself became famous because of her desserts. One day, Ruth was mixing up the dough for a chocolate butter cookie known as Butter Drop Do. However, Ruth discovered that she was out of baking chocolate, which was integral to the recipe. What Ruth did have was a Nestle chocolate bar. She chopped the chocolate bar into pieces and dropped the pieces into the batter, expecting them to spread when the cookies were baked. To her surprise, the finished cookies were golden brown and dotted with chocolate “chips.”

An Agreement With Nestle
The customers at the Toll House Inn greatly enjoyed Ruth’s “Toll House crunch cookies,” as she called them. They became so popular that the recipe was printed in a Boston newspaper. In the late 30’s, Ruth contacted the Nestle Company about a partnership. Nestle agreed to score their semi-sweet chocolate bars for easy cutting and to print Ruth’s recipe on the label of every bar. Ruth got a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.

The Creation of the Nestle Morsel
In 1939, Nestle made it even easier to bake Toll House cookies with the introduction of the semi-sweet chocolate morsel. Today, Nestle morsels are available in a variety of flavors, such as peanut butter, butterscotch, white chocolate, and mint. Every package of Nestle morsels, whatever the flavor, still bears a picture of the Toll House Inn.

More About Ruth Wakefield

In 1940, Ruth Wakefield wrote a cookbook called “Toll House Tried and True Recipes.” The cookbook was quite popular, and went through 39 printings. She and her husband continued to run the Toll House Inn until 1966. Ruth passed away in 1977 after seeing her cookie recipe printed on millions of packages of Nestle morsels. Sadly, the Toll House burned down in 1984.

Types of chips
Originally, chocolate chips were made of semi-sweet chocolate, but today there are many flavors. These include bittersweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, mint chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, and white and dark swirled chocolate chips.

Chocolate chips can be used in cookies, pancakes, waffles, cakes, pudding, muffins, crêpes, pies, hot chocolate, and various types of pastry. They are also found in many other retail food products such as granola bars, ice cream, and trail mix.
Chocolate chips can also be melted and used in sauces and other recipes. The chips melt best at temperatures between 104 and 113 °F (40 and 45 °C). The melting process starts at around 90 °F when the cocoa butter in the chips starts to heat. The cooking temperature must never exceed 115 °F (for milk and white) or 120 °F (for dark) or the chocolate will burn. Although convenient, melted chocolate chips are not always recommended as a substitute for melted baking chocolate. Because most chocolate chips are designed to retain their shape when baking, they contain less cocoa butter than baking chocolate. This can make them more difficult to work with in melted form.

Today, chocolate chips are very popular as a baking ingredient in the United States and the chocolate chip cookie is regarded as a quintessential American dessert. Chocolate chips are also available in Europe, Australia, and other parts of the world. Nestlé and The Hershey Company are among the top producers of chocolate chips.