Recently in Coffee and Tea Category

VIA Starbucks Instant Coffee

I'm picky about where I get my coffee from and generally I avoid Starbucks if there's any other alternative nearby. Today I opted for convenience over taste and went to Starbucks. They had samples of the new VIA Ready Brew coffee available for sample, so I took one just to see how it tastes. Quite honestly, it's far better than I expected. That doesn't mean VIA is great or that I'll be switching from finding Stumptown or Zoka whenever possible, but I would drink it over coffee at the local diner.

The flavor is nothing like Folgers Crystals or any of the other jar instants you see on the store shelves. It's a bit like getting an Americano at Starbucks, which isn't a great Americano, but it's reliable. Instead of being giant coffee chunks like other instants, VIA Ready Brew if finely ground and smells like you just opened a free bag of beans when you tear open the little pouch. You stir the powder into hot water and you're ready to go. As the title says, while I wouldn't trade my brewed coffee for instant, as instant coffees go, Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is at the top of the heap.

god-in-a-cup.jpg I love coffee. Any book subtitled, 'The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee', is sure to be right up my alley, so when Michaele Weissman's publicist contacted me asking if I'd like to talk to the author of the book God in a Cup, I jumped at the chance.

The book follows coffee buyers from Stumptown, Intelligencia, and Counter Culture, three of the leaders in the U.S. specialty coffee business, as they travel to the source for many of the best coffee beans on the market. Michaele Weissman manages to craft an engaging story of the challenges faced in sourcing the world's best beans. From creating a supply chain that compensates the growers fairly, to making compromises in the course of growing a coffee distribution business, these three rockstars of coffee industry cross paths throughout the narrative as they navigate the complexities of crop failures, corruption, and uncompromising attention to quality. If you love great coffee, God in a Cup is a must read.

In person Michaele Weismann was a delight to visit with. She's genuinely passionate about coffee and offered a number of anecdotal updates to events transpiring at the time the book went to print. While I'm already a coffee snob, having been forever ruined by drinking great coffee, I came away feeling like I knew more about why my taste preferences are what they are. You can follow along with additional updates to the book at the God in a Cup blog.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one invited to speak with Michaele Weismann. Keren Brown coordinated another fabulous food blogger gathering where we all peppered Michaele with questions about coffee and the book. Among the attendees were Joann, Seattle Tall Poppy, the owner of Muse Coffee Co, and Dawn and Eric from Wright Eats.

choice-peppermint-tea.gif We try to source most of the food in our house as close to home as possible. For meat, vegetables, and many berries, this is easy to do in Washington. The wines and beers produced in the state are excellent too. Finding coffee and tea with ingredients sourced in the United States is almost impossible. I'm not ready to give up either beverage anytime soon, so the next best option has typically been to seek out roasters who use Fair Trade beans and leaves whenever possible. Recently, Choice Organic Teas, based in Seattle, started sourcing peppermint and lavender for some of their herbal teas directly in the state, creating what I believe are some of the only U.S. grown teas. Certainly they are among the only U.S. grown organic teas. In a product category where buying local has typically meant buying from South America, it's nice to see there are finally some options available from the U.S. too. Bonus for those of us who live a mere two hours from some of the crops.

Hat tip to Green LA Girl for a great round up of Fair Trade Tea.