There are better ways to spend your time

As I sit here typing this I know I’m delaying the inevitable, soul destroying truth. I know that as soon as I publish this I need to hop in my car, sit in Monday morning traffic and head to my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But after seeing this photo essay I know you’ll agree with me that there are better ways to spend your time.

Like most friends I make these days, I met Alex Strohl on instagram. And here comes probably the important compliment you can pay anyone these days: he has a beautiful feed. What stood out for me (obviously) is a little adventure he and La Marzocco took. I’ll let Alex give us a quick insight and then I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The whole idea was a bit silly at first when we were planning it. But as the first thick, heavy, shots came out of the Mini and the first rays of sun illuminated the valley we knew we were onto something rather good. The inspiring part is that it wasn’t that hard to put pull of. The big thing was finding the generator to run the machine on which we borrowed from a motorcycle store in town. The rest was smooth sailing, besides maybe driving the old Land Rover Series IIa up the mountain pass, it took a little while and we thought we were going to miss first light. The evening before we loaded up the car with the gear in the car, had a short night of sleep and by 4am we were leaving the house headed to the mountains!

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Alex Strohl is a Madrid born, French adventure and outdoor photographer based in Whitefish, Montana. Ranked as one of the ‘Top 100 photographers on the web‘, his work has been featured in Forbes, Vanity Fair and Gentleman’s Journal. Join 2 million other fans by following his instagram.

 

This is a good story and we are only on the first page

Today a team from TriBeCa Coffee Company will head to Kilimanjaro to both build a dairy for a woman farmer who produces amazing organic coffee on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and, in celebration of woman in coffee, will also be climbing Kilimanjaro and brewing Kilimanjaro coffee on the summit.

They’ll not only be continually updating their social media feed, but will also have a live tracker that people can follow to see exactly where they are! Starting on the 12th of March to the 24th of March.

Of the world’s estimated 1 billion poor, 70% are women. Women own less than 1% of the world’s titled land. The World Bank estimates that more than 500 million people throughout the world are dependent on coffee for their livelihoods, and of that number, 25 million are coffee farmers. Unfortunately, coffee farmers typically live and work in substandard conditions, which are compounded by the fact that they receive only a small percentage of the actual price for which the coffee is sold to the consumer.

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Image by Al Jazeera

Women, who represent a good majority of coffee farmers, face additional challenges. Aside from the day-to-day struggles women coffee farmers face in order to maintain a respectable standard of living, they also struggle with the gender inequality prevalent throughout the world’s coffee growing regions.  Frequently suffering from abuse, neglect and poverty, women are unable to gain economic, social or political power in their family’s coffee business, or in their communities.

It is for this reason that Tribeca have decided to support woman farmers and their families through this project.

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Usumbara Mountains. Image by Wikipedia.

This isn’t something new for TriBeCa, in 2016 they built a dairy and did training with Anna, a farmer in the Usambara region of Tanzania. It was so successful that she was then able to buy two goats to add to her dairy with the money that she got for the coffee that Tribeca bought from her.

This isn’t just the story of a few cows and a farmer. This is one about a community coming together for the greater good. This is the story of a value chain that actually adds value all the way from crop to cup.

This is a good story and we are only on the first page.

 

Cover image by Enchanting Travels

From a farm in Ethiopia to a Rocky Mountain bike trail

I’m sitting on a summit 6500′ above sea level where the Rocky Mountains of Canada meet the Columbia range. Surrounded by postcard views and staggering cliffs, I take in the crisp alpine air and turn my attention to the bag of carefully roasted beans I had stashed in my pack. Coffee is beautiful. I am reminded of this every time I open a new bag. These beans are more than vessels for caffeine, they have a story, and a purpose. The label on the bag can tell me where they came from, but how did they end up here?

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As I run my fingers over their smooth, chocolatey skin I like to think about all the hands involved in bringing these beans to my cup. I try to picture the faces of the people who planted the seeds and watched them grow into trees, then carefully harvested, sorting through rows upon rows of plants using calloused and cracked fingers to delicately select only the ripest cherries.

For the farmers growing coffee, these beans are more than a job. It provides them with income to raise a family and put their kids through school. It’s a community, both locally and globally. They form relationships with buyers around the world, who in turn form relationships with the shops, roasters, and home brewers. Coffee connects me to people,  many of whom I’ll never meet, but who’s hard work and passion for great coffee binds us.

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My cup was empty, hanging from my pack as I pedalled my way up this beautiful alpine single track. Now, at the top of the mountain, it is filled with coffee that minutes ago was beans spilling between my fingers. The story of these beans, from seeds, to trees, then harvested and processed, sold, roasted and bought, is long and beautiful. This particular coffee started life in the mountains of Ethiopia, and has now found its cup in the rocky mountains of Canada. I take a minute to revel in the fragrances cocooning around me, the alpine flowers and moss gently fraternizing with the sweet and floral aromas of the coffee. I appreciate the warmth of the cup in my hands against the mountain air, then enjoy in the view, and take a sip.

By Tim Friesen

Tim Friesen grew up exploring the forests of northern Alberta, Canada. As he got older his backyard expanded to encompass the endless mountain ranges of Canada and the US. With a mountain bike as his tool and coffee as his fuel, he is as at home in a tent in the La Sal mountains as he is in the back of his truck in the parking lot of Kicking Horse Bike Park. You may mail him here, or find him on instagram, facebook or his blog.

How to find high quality coffee beans

From their aroma to their natural taste – there is quite simply nothing I enjoy more than a delicious, high-quality coffee bean. From the second I smell one, I simply cannot wait to get the product of it in my favorite coffee mug.

But, these high-quality coffee beans can often be like gold…

It is a beautiful hidden treasure, but, that means you have to go searching for it. And, that is not always the easiest task.

However, I will tell you that the joy of finding some of the best, high-quality coffee beans is well worth the search.

So, why waste any more time?

Here are a few tips on how to find high-quality coffee beans:

What do I look for?

Look at the place of origin

Anybody can label their coffee with a seal claiming great quality and service, but only those who really care about the pure essence of their coffee beans will be bold enough to list the variety, farm, or country of their coffee bean’s origin. A good, high-quality coffee will have a roaster who is proud of their coffee’s origins – even down to the farmer’s name – that’s how you really know it is the real deal.

Tip: Look for coffee from areas like Brazil and Colombia. Brazil is actually the world’s largest coffee producer.

Check the roast date

Just like when you go to buy milk and you check the expiration date when you go to buy coffee check the roast date. The roast date will tell you when the coffee was roasted.

But, why is that important?

Well, most companies just list an expiration date. However, roasters of true high-quality coffee beans will put the date the coffee was roasted to prevent the coffee from staying on the shelf longer than a few days.

This will help ensure you get some of the freshest coffee which also greatly impacts the flavor.

Go for a one-way valved bag

One-way valved bags are the best way to ensure freshness because they disable oxygen from entering the bag – which results in a lengthened freshness.

Try to avoid another packaging like tin cans.

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Where do I go?

Visit your local shops

Most people take to big name, chain grocery stores to buy their coffee. However, most streamlined grocery stores simply carry the big, well-known and generic brands.

But, your local coffee shops are almost as much of a hidden gem as your high-quality coffee itself.

Investigate what local shops sell retail bags of beans, then, ask them about the origins of the coffee and the roast date. If you find that the employee can’t answer your questions, it likely isn’t top grade. But, if they appear to be quite the coffee bean expert then it is likely you are about to get your hands on some true gold.

Order online

While buying your high-quality coffee online might not be the cheapest option – thanks to shipping charges – ordering this way can open up a world of possibilities.

Through their website, you can gain an exponential amount of knowledge about your roaster, their coffee, and locate some of those truly hidden gems you might not even find in your local shops.

So, now that you are equipped with all the knowledge you need to find high-quality coffee beans, it is time to begin your search.

Good luck, my friend!

By Anna-Belle Mulder.

Anne-Belle is one of my favourite bloggers. Check out She Said for her perspective on travel, fashion, photography and more!

How one man went from instant to grinding beans at home

Just over a year ago I was talking to a friend of mine about coffee. At this point in my life I enjoyed a coffee from @homecoffeesouth. The coffee is always of great quality and the staff are always on hand to talk about the one thing they love the most… COFFEE !!

As my friend and I continued to talk, we agreed on one thing… how difficult it can be to enjoy quality coffee at home. We all have a jar of instant coffee at home but I wanted something better, something special, made with love and on a daily basis.

This is where my coffee journey began. My friend recommended an online coffee company called @pactcoffee. Now, they are one of many companies offering coffee delivered to your door but I can only talk about these guys. They trade directly with farmers all over the world. That means they source the best coffee in the world while ensuring unbeatable pay for their farmers.

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Source: Huh. Magazine

I started with a different bag of ground coffee being delivered to my door every ten days or so. I initially used my coffee machine or stove top to enjoy the coffee but after immersing myself in the world of coffee and asking anyone who would give me the time of day lots of questions, I finally settled on a V60 at home.

The chaps at @homecoffeesouth allowed me to make my own under their guidance and it’s how I still make my coffee to this day. Now, I’m talking allowing 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom, pouring the water in circles and having the whole set up on scales so the whole drink finishes at 300 grams. The whole process takes around 3 minutes. It might sound a little over the top to some but I find it very relaxing and I know by doing it this way I’m doing the freshly ground beans justice. The coffee tastes smoother and more flavourful too (it’s what the beans deserve after all)!

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Source: Huh. Magazine

If I’m honest, I love offering guests at my home a coffee because the theatrics of making the coffee are impressive to those who don’t feel about coffee the way I do. I’ve converted a few friends to drinking their coffee without milk and sugar (as it should be) as it’s the only way to truly appreciate the depth of flavours in great quality coffee.

I have upgraded my experience by purchasing a coffee grinder and now enjoy freshly roasted beans delivered to my door. I wouldn’t ever go back to one of those coffee chains again (I can’t even type their names) as they just don’t stand for what I believe in.

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Source: Huh. Magazine

I’m a keen advocate of fair trade, treating the farmers well who create this fantastic coffee for us to enjoy and to encourage future generations to do the same. If I have to pay more for a great bag of coffee so that I can help support the livelihood of the farmers, I’m ok with that!

Happy sipping!

By Simon Frost

Simon is a 36 year old family man from England. He loves great coffee, great beer (preferably craft) and spending time with his family. His brew method of choice is V60 as it produces smoother more flavoursome coffee. Find him on instagram here.

Banana bread

One of my favourite childhood memories is my mom’s banana bread. Let’s bake some of my childhood, shall we? Love you mom.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  1. 3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
  2. 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, melted
  3. 3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar (I use dark here; either light or dark work)
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  8. 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  9. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  10. 1 cup (about 180 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  11. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the rum caramel sauce:

  1. 1 1/2 tablespoons rum
  2. 2 tablespoons milk
  3. 3 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
  4. 1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
  5. 25 g butter
  6. pinch of salt

For the mascarpone frosting: 

  1. 250 g mascarpone
  2. 1-2 tbsp powdered sugar (or to taste)
  3. ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions: 

For the bread:

  1. Heat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan (23 x 13 x 6 cm), or spray it with a nonstick baking spray.
  3. Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl (you’ll have a little over 1 cup mashed banana total).
  4. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Place baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients.
  6. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined.
  7. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips along with the walnuts.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free (a melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however).
  9. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack.
  10. Let cool before frosting.

For the sauce:

  1. Carefully heat the milk, and cream in a saucepan. It should be hot but not boil.
  2. Meanwhile, put the sugar in another saucepan with a little water and heat until it starts to melt.
  3. Carefully stir sugar with a spoon until all sugar has melted and has become a golden brown color.
  4. Add the butter and stir until melted.
  5. Very carefully add the heated cream mixture.
  6. Stir until smooth, add the salt and pour into a jar to cool. Put in the fridge to become completely cold.

For the mascarpone frosting:

  1. Beat the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Add cream and beat
    until firm.
  2. Generously ice the loaf of banana bread.
  3. Drizzle the caramel sauce.

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This recipe is by Melissa Delport, a professional photographer that loves to bake, travel and take photos. We met on Instagram and she really does have one of the most beautiful pages around. Her recipes live on her equally beautiful blog, The Truffle Journal. I also interviewed her for my Humans of Coffee project. Give her a follow. Tell her I say hi.

 

How about some coffee in New York?

“Welcome to New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

These words perfectly describe New York. Perfectly describe the coffee scene. Perfectly describe the people there. I have had the massive privilege of travelling to the amazing New York City twice in the past six months. I have experienced, seen and tasted so much awesomeness that it only seems fair that I share such experiences with you. If you are a coffee lover, love experiences and want to know where to get the best cup in the Big Apple, then this article is for you.

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Café Grumpy

I first want to preface this article by telling you what the coffee scene is like in this City. One word comes to mind: explosive. Absolutely explosive. I was in the city for over three weeks and every day I made it my mission to visit at least two to three stores a day.

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Devociòn

I wanted to meet baristas, I wanted them to make and tell me about their coffee and take some nice pictures on the side so that I could then share it with you. I never ran out of new speciality coffee shops to visit. Not once.

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Birch

And what struck me even more than the fact that there was a copious amount of speciality shops, was the barista’s passion for what they do. Funny enough, contrary to popular belief, many (if not the majority) of the baristas cannot earn enough money making coffee, or as I like to say “baristing.” So they have two jobs: one that pays the bills and the other – making coffee. Flip, New Yorkers chase their dreams with all their heart. I love that. I adore that. I think we should all be like that. It was not uncommon for me to walk into a store and once I had been served, they used their “lull” time to prep for the upcoming USA Barista Championships. Their attitude: work a job that pays the bills, make coffee and train to become better. Of course you will find some of the best coffee in the world here. Yes, I do think that baristas should be able to make a living “baristing,” but that is another topic on it’s own. For now, here are my top 3 spots from all the stores I visited:

* Disclaimer: When I list “best coffee,” it might be the barista’s suggestion that I enjoyed or the type of coffee I felt like on the day. Either way, it is a biased, subjective opinion, which you should ignore if you want to have something else 🙂

Everyman Espresso

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Everyman Espresso
  • Best drink: One & One using the Burundi bean / pour over made with their Apollo bean
  • Mood: Relaxed, warm and very welcoming
  • Address: 301 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

Everyman Espresso is honestly some of the finest coffee you will find in Manhattan. I have been to this store at least 10 times and have literally never been disappointed. It would be an honour to work here as a barista.

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Everyman Espresso

It is a small, clean and well-designed store. There are normally two baristas on duty and you will most likely encounter either Sam or Stephan (who have recently just competed to qualify for the USA Barista Championship and the World Cup Tasters Championship respectively). Counter Coffee is served here and I really liked the “one and one.” Not one-on-one… one and one. This is simply a shot of espresso AND a cortado served together. I had this drink made with the Burundi bean that they had in store, but if they suggest having the Apollo bean, have it, it’s also good. If you have the time, also ask the baristas all the questions that you have been dying to ask, they are super knowledgeable and willing to chat coffee always.

Supercrown Roasters

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Supercrown Roasters
  • Best drink: Batch brew drip coffee / Cortado (Ask for their single origin bean)
  • Mood: Modern, clean, vibey
  • Address: 8 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Clean, white, spacious with a beautiful aroma of freshly ground coffee filling every corner of the the space. My husband and I stayed in Bushwick during this trip and about 5 minutes from our AirBnB was this lovely coffee shop, that at first, I was a bit sceptical about. To my surprise, the coffee was phenomenal.

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Supercrown Roasters

Katie and Mike were the two people that served me coffee at Supercrown Roasters nearly every day on our walk to the Metro. I would alternate between a drip coffee or an espresso based coffee, and both added value to my morning routine. This coffee shop has been featured on Zagat as one of the 9 hottest coffee shops in NYC, which is quite an achievement.

Little Collins

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Little Collins
  • Best Drink: Double ristretto shot cortado
  • Mood: Bustling, cosy and warm.
  • Address: 667 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022

A lawyer, by profession, moves to the Big Apple from Aussie to pursue and build up his career as a lawyer and eventually quits. Why? Because he is passionate about coffee. So then? He opens up his own coffee shop called “Little Collins.”

You must go here. I am at a loss for words when it comes to trying describe this shop because it is super unique and you need to be in the store, in the heart of NYC, to experience it. What I can say is that every barista in this store loves what they do and will make you a great cup. They have a Modbar in store and seeing this in person was a beautiful experience. Modbars are “relatively” new and comes with some hiccups, which I think will be ironed out in about 3 years or so, but this didn’t stop the baristas from working their magic. Counter Culture beans are also served here and my suggest would be to ask the barista what they feel like making you. The owner is usually in store. If you see him, chat to him. He is quite the inspiration.

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Little Collins

Other coffee shops that I have experienced, and which are a must try also include:

Just type them in on Google maps and you can get there easily.

I could give extensive reviews about each place, but simplicity is better. You simply need to visit these places. Simply enjoy the aesthetics, conversation and coffee. Simply have a blast.

Until we meet again, let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.

This post & photography by Shan Venter. Shan is a Pretoria based twenty something, with tons of energy and passion. She quit her job as a teacher to pursue a career in coffee. She’s currently working for Tribeca as a trainer for their baristas. She loves being a wife, teaching, traveling, and all things coffee.