It's Up, It's Down - Coffee is Good for You, Coffee is Bad for You

This week it's good for you again!  Ah, you just never know from one week to the next.
I came across this story in LiveScience and once again, coffee is good. 

The effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health have led to much debate

Good news for people who drink coffee every day: Consuming a moderate amount of coffee could lower the risk of clogged arteries that can lead to a heart attack, a new study finds.

The study of healthy young adults in Korea found that, compared with people who didn't drink coffee, those who drank three to five cups of java per day had a lower risk of having calcium deposits in their coronary arteries, which is an indicator of heart disease. (The coronary arteries are the vessels that bring oxygenated blood to the heart muscle itself.)
 "The study participants who drank three to four cups 
had the lowest risk of developing clogged arteries 
seen in the study"

The study participants who drank three to four cups had the lowest risk of developing clogged arteries seen in the study, said Dr. Eliseo Guallar, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and co-author of the study published today (March 2) in the journal Heart.

"But the risk went down with just one cup per day," compared with the risk of people who drank no coffee, Guallar added.

Still, the researchers stopped short of recommending that people drink coffee to prevent heart disease.

It was once thought that drinking coffee could make you more prone to heart attacks, but a growing body of evidence suggests the habit has a neutral or beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

A previous analysis of 36 studies found that moderate coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and other studies have found a link between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the caffeinated beverage has also been linked to increased LDL cholesterol (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) and increased blood pressure (but this effect diminishes as people build up a tolerance).

In the new research, Guallar and colleagues at the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, studied more than 25,000 men and women who underwent routine examinations. The participants had no signs of heart disease, and their average age was 41 at the study's start.

The participants completed questionnaires about their eating and drinking habits (including coffee consumption), and underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan to determine their levels of coronary artery calcium (CAC).

CAC is a sign of coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially heart attacks, Guallar said. "You can have the disease for many years without symptoms," he told Live Science, adding, "Now with this technique, we can know if people have the disease way before they have symptoms."

The researchers compared people's CAC levels with their amount of coffee consumption, classified as one cup a day, one to three cups a day, three to five cups a day and at least five cups a day. They also took into account factors such as physical activity, smoking, BMI and how much fruit, vegetables and red meat people ate.

The average coffee consumption of those in the study was 1.8 cups per day, and 13.4 percent of all the participants had detectable levels of CAC.

The people who drank three to five cups of coffee daily had about 40 percent less calcium in their arteries than those who drank no coffee, according to the study. Those who drank one to three cups daily had 35 percent less calcium than those who didn't drink coffee, and those who drank one cup a day had 23 percent less calcium.

The people in the study who drank five or more cups a day had 19 percent less calcium, compared with those who drank no coffee.

Guallar stressed that the findings show a correlation between coffee consumption and heart disease risk, but do not prove that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between drinking coffee and having less calcium in the arteries.

While scientists don't have a clear idea how coffee may lower the risk of arterial disease, it may be due to the beverage's many antioxidants, the researchers said.

"This is probably the largest study to date looking at the association of coffee consumption with a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis," said Jared Reis, an epidemiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the study.

The findings are consistent with those of other recent studies, Reis told Live Science. And although the study involved only Korean participants, he said he didn't "see any reason why the results wouldn’t be generalizable to other populations."

The study didn't distinguish between drinking caffeinated or decaf coffee. But decaf isn't very popular yet in Korea, Guallar said. In any event, caffeine is just one of many substances in coffee, and probably isn't the one that causes the heart disease benefits, he said.


Spiced Coffee

This morning I was up texting with my son around 4:30 am as he finished packing the last of his things to relocate and move today.  He is moving to one of our old 'stomping grounds' in Northern Minnesota, where we lived when he was young.

Just for kicks, I looked up the current temperature.  -20.
That is 20 degrees below zero.
Actual temperature.
The wind is blowing so the temperature with the wind chill factored in is -40.
-40 below zero.
Although I loved our years in Minnesota, I do not miss the long, freezing winters.  Although, it was because of those long, cold, freezing winters that I learned to drink and love coffee!

With deathly low temperatures on my mind, coupled with me awake, sipping hot, strong, black coffee; I suddenly started to think about spiced coffee.  Thus, this post is born!

Originally, it's believed spiced coffee originated as a way to make coffee taste better. Now, we have excellent quality available to us and we don't need to make it taste better, but a better quality coffee makes a better tasting spiced coffee drink to enjoy!

There are variations to the basic spiced coffee and it can go under a few different names (Brazilian, Moroccan, Mexican), but the general idea is a strong coffee or espresso flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne or black pepper and cream.  Many also use cardamom, but not all; and that is a regional or cultural ingredient as well as the type of 'pepper' used - if at all.

Depending on how you plan to prepare your spiced coffee, there are a couple 'hints and helps' to remember.  The first;
  • If you are using dry spices and flavorings (especially ground cinnamon) to add to your already brewed coffee:  you will want to mix all the dry ingredients together before adding it to the liquid as individual ingredients such as ground cinnamon (!!)  does not mix well and will float and clump.  Combining ground cinnamon with a powdered creamer, powdered sugar, cocoa or other dry ingredients helps it to blend easy.  If you want to add cinnamon by itself to a hot liquid you will want to 'whisk' it; which is hard in a coffee mug.  
The second being;
  • Actually grinding the spices together in a coffee or spice grinder will result in a better flavor, and for pour over style or French Press coffee the spices will be equally distributed and easily disperse and impart their flavors to the ground beans.
The first recipe is just a very generally used powdered mix to make spiced coffee quickly and easily, the no fuss way.  If you want to try leaving the cayenne out you can, but it's a very, very small amount and adds just a touch of spicy hot to the sweet of the cream and sugar.  I will post a version that uses black peppercorns instead below.

Grind or mix together;

2 T powdered sugar
1 T powdered creamer
1 T cocoa (powder)
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t cayenne pepper
Add this to; 2 shots of espresso or about 6 oz. hot, strong coffee

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Kraft's version of Spiced Brazilian Mocha

Here is one from Kraft - but I would like to say I personally don't buy or eat Cool Whip topping and would prefer readers use a fresh, real whipped heavy cream.  The flavor will be worth it but here is their recipe without tweaking.

Spiced Brazilian Mocha

2 cups freshly brewed strong MAXWELL HOUSE Coffee, any variety
1 oz. BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

PLACE coffee and chocolate in heavy saucepan; cook on very low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring constantly with wire whisk.

STIR in sugar and cinnamon. Bring to boil on medium heat; cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and vanilla, stirring until well blended. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

POUR into 4 large cups or mugs. Top with whipped topping. Garnish with a light sprinkling of additional cinnamon, if desired.

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I love this one because it opts to use cardamom (remember; I'm Swedish! Ha ha) and it uses coconut milk, dates to sweeten, as well as a vanilla protein powder instead of non-dairy creamer.  We don't regularly buy cow's milk - but use almond and coconut milk, which this one uses as well.  I like that. 

1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cardamom seeds
4 cups coffee
1 cup vanilla protein powder
10 dates
2 cups plain unsweetened coconut milk

Brew your coffee with the cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Blend coffee, coconut milk, dates and protein powder in a high speed blender until smooth.  Fresh/dried dates don't melt like sugar obviously, so they need hot coffee to help 'melt' them.

*Dates, pitted 1 pound equals 2 1/2 cups sugar.  Date sugar can be substituted 1:1 for sugar but adjust according to your own taste.

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Here is the one I mentioned above - the one that uses black peppercorns instead of cayenne.  I love this one because it uses real ingredients; not the powdered version of creamer - and is brewed together - not mixed into pre-brewed coffee.

1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground black peppercorns
1/4 t ground green cardamom seeds
1/4 t ground cloves
coffee beans to equal about 4 cups coffee

Combine the spices and roughly 3/4 c coffee beans in a grinder. Brew the coffee and spices in your coffee brewer or place the spices in a coffee filter for a pour-over version; or brew in a 4 cup French Press.  After brewing, add hot milk (you can quickly microwave a cup of hot milk to heat it - don't boil it) and add sweetener or sugar of your choice to taste.

You might also be interested in pre-mixed, easy brewed Spiced Coffee k-cups or ground from Amazon;
20 Cup Marley Coffee® Sampler! 9 Flavors
Marley Coffee, Spiced Root Rum, 24 Count
NM Piñon Coffee Mexican Spiced Chocolate Flavor 12oz. Ground
Trader Joe's Joyous Joe Ground Coffee Sampler - A Festive Assortment of Flavored and Spiced Coffees



Vintage 'Coffee' Themed Paper - thick, archival paper stock (and 'coffee' themed ribbon too!)

This afternoon's coffee was enjoyed while looking through Amazon at vintage prints. One click lead to another and I found myself looking at vintage 'coffee' themed paper. Nice enough to frame, thick enough to use in scrapbooking, or a very nice wrapping paper for a coffee loving gift recipient.

Of course I had to feature it on Coffee Talking!

Cavallini Decorative Paper - Coffee 20"x28" Sheet

"It so much prettier than the picture and pretty good size too."

  • Luxury Italian archival paper stock
  • Perfect for wrapping, posters, framing and other creative endeavors
  • Shipped rolled in shipping tube
  • Dimensions (Inches): 20x28

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This is a little pricey and it actually was just an 'add on' item I saw on the page when I was looking for vintage coffee themed paper...  but it's so cute!  Ribbon with small coffee beans and the word "coffee" on it - perfect to tie off a coffee themed gift or gift basket!

May Arts 3/8-Inch Wide Ribbon, Ivory Twill with Brown Coffee Beans
  • Dimensions: 3/8-inch by 30-yard
  • Fiber content: 100 percent polyester
  • May arts item number , xt-1
  • Available in a variety of other prints
  • Fun accent for scrapbooking, cardmaking, gift baskets and all types of craft projects


Fika: The Swedish Coffee Break - Coffee and Something Sweet...

This morning as I sipped my coffee, breathed deeply and looked out my office window to the woods beyond, I (for whatever reason) thought of my childhood visits to my maternal Grandmother's home.

Funny I don't think of it as my Grandpa's house - although he was still very much alive then too!  No, as a tiny child, my memories find Grandma at the house, in the kitchen; either cooking the next meal or sitting at the table with my mother and at least one of my Aunts, drinking coffee with a small plate of something sweet set in front of them.  She often made cinnamon rolls, but just as often it would be sugar wafer cookies, Dutch Windmill Cookies or pastries. 

My Grandpa was usually at the feed store; the jungle gym of my toddler and preschool days as I climbed like little 2 foot tall monkey over 15 foot walls made of bags of animal feed.  He owned and operated the local feed store in a tiny Midwestern town about as big as a postage stamp.  The feed store - where the town's men would gather and smoke their cigars or cigarettes, drink coffee continuously and snack on the Dutch Windmill Cookies or raspberry pastries that were always and forever on hand.

On my Mother's side of the family, adults drinking coffee and snacking on something sweet is engrained in my memories....   Now that I am an adult I can understand part of it is a love of coffee, another part, the gathering of friends together to talk, pass the time and catch up on the 'goings-on' of the area, another part however, may be our Swedish heritage.

I saw this book on Amazon this morning about 20 minutes after thinking about my Swedish Grandparents and remembering the constant aroma of coffee and cookies at their home and in the feed store.  I don't own it (yet?) but I thought I'd pass the link along to readers interested.

Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats

"An illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition 
of fika--a twice-daily coffee break--including recipes for 
traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about 
Swedish coffee culture, and the roots and modern incarnations 
of this cherished custom."

Sweden is one of the world’s top coffee consuming nations, and the twice-daily social coffee break known as fika is a cherished custom. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or at home. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika reflects the Swedish ideal of slowing down to appreciate life’s small joys.

In this adorable illustrated cookbook, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall share nearly fifty classic recipes from their motherland—from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread—allowing all of us to enjoy this charming tradition regardless of where we live.

You might also be interested in;
Lil' Dutch Maid Almond Windmill Cookies: 12 Packs of 5 Oz
Archway, Original Windmill Cookies, 9oz Package (Pack of 3)
De Ruiter Dutch Speculaas Cookies



Recycling your used coffee grounds... to grow mushrooms!

Source:  Mother Earth News


Cultivating Oyster Mushrooms on Spent Coffee Grounds

Cultivating oyster mushrooms on spent coffee grounds is a simple and enjoyable home activity for all ages, resulting in some good edible mushrooms to boot. If your home brewing doesn’t provide enough grounds, try asking your local coffee shop or roaster if you can leave a bucket for them to toss their grounds into, especially if they would otherwise go into the trash. If you’re not able to inoculate your grounds with spawn right away, freeze them until you’re ready to do so; otherwise molds will form within days.
Although the yields you’ll get from this method are not as high as when you use commercial oyster mushroom formulas, such as pasteurized wheat straw or cotton waste, if you factor in the production costs, the lower-yield coffee grounds method becomes as economically viable as the more sophisticated cultivation.
If you simply recycle your own grounds you can expect to produce a few pounds of beautiful oyster mushrooms a week—at which point you’ll need to create an oyster mushroom dressing, sautéing your harvest in a balsamic vinaigrette and tossing it over fresh greens crumbled with feta cheese. (Please note: although I have primarily used this process for cultivating oyster mushrooms, some European growers have successfully fruited parasols from coffee grounds.)

Step-by-Step Cultivation on Coffee Grounds

To begin, you’ll need a container with a lid, a steady supply of coffee grounds (with or without paper filters), and grain- or sawdust-based oyster mushroom spawn.
Step 1. Carefully collect the cooled and spent coffee filter, grounds and all, and place it into the container faceup. If using a press or strainer just add the grounds to your container once they are drained well.
Step 2. Massage your mushroom spawn bag to separate the grain or sawdust into individual bits to maximize the spreading capability.
Step 3. Sprinkle the mushroom spawn sparingly over the surface of the coffee grounds. You only need a small amount. Crack the container lid so it can breathe. The container can be located anywhere, such as a kitchen counter, garage, or any other space where there is indirect light, never direct sun.
Step 4. Add coffee grounds and filters daily, sprinkling spawn sparingly over each layer as you add more. After just a few days, mycelium will start to be visible as white threads growing together.
Step 5. Fill the container almost to the top, leaving just a few inches of space to make room for developing mushrooms. When you stop adding filters and coffee, the mycelium will finish colonizing.
Step 6. Once the container is completely colonized, expose it to diffuse natural or fluorescent light at room temperature. (If it gets direct sunlight the mycelium and mushrooms will dry up and you won’t get a harvest!) Keep the surface misted lightly and the lid just cracked, to preserve moisture. If you have filled a 5-gallon bucket or similar large container, you can drill 1/2-inch holes around the sides, every 10 inches or so, where the mushrooms can also emerge, but you will need to either mist the holes several times a day indoors or cover the container with a large, clear bag to make a humidity tent until the primordia have safely emerged and are no longer at risk of drying out.
Step 7. Two to three weeks after the colonization is complete, mushrooms should begin to form. Remember that mushrooms only form when they run out of food or space, at which point they recharge their battery and fruit. Baby mushrooms will appear overnight, so check your buckets at least once a day and keep the surface misted, though not underwater. The mushrooms should double in size every day. Harvest them when the fruitbodies’ growth slows. You may notice a powdery spore deposit forming underneath the caps when they are ready to harvest.
Step 8. After you’ve harvested the mushrooms, allow the mycelium to rest by not watering or adding any additional growing media, and it may fruit again in a few weeks. During the rest period no light is needed if you need to move the container. Soaking the coffee grounds with a generous amount of water after a few weeks of resting can help shock the mycelium into fruiting more prolifically. Once rehydrated, the biomass will respond with additional fruitings.
Step 9. After the second flush, your coffee grounds substrate will be pretty much spent as a mushroom growing medium. However, being full of fungal life, it has now become a living compost starter and can be mixed into your outdoor compost pile to help with the decomposition, or you can use it to inoculate cardboard cultures. Worms also love this spent media, so adding the grounds to your vermicomposting bin could possibly start a worm revolution.

From the book:
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation
by Tradd Cotter

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. 

In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides.
His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects. 

Tradd, Olga, and their daughter, Heidi, live in Liberty, South Carolina.