8.31.2015

Thinking about growing your own coffee? Backyard coffee plants? How long it takes to grow your own coffee plant?


This morning I decided to hunker down and write about how I was 'wondering' how hard it is to grow, pick, roast and brew my own homegrown coffee.  I've never really researched it or looked into it seriously as I know it's labor intensive, coffee beans are picky about where and how they are grown and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

Right.

So this morning I thought I'd do some QUICK research and just post about some of the things I found out.  The problem is, like most of my post ideas, it ends up being much (much!) longer and in depth than I really intended it to be.

I just wanted some light coffee talk..

As I strive to make this as short as I can, remember, if I start to ramble... it's just the coffee talking.

"....if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right?"

I knew coffee plants were available to be grown in pots, as I've seen them here and there mentioned in various places on the internet and sites.  While I envisioned plants grown in pots producing enough beans for a cup of Joe, I found this instead;

"Coffee (Coffea arabica) is an evergreen and makes an attractive ornamental that can be grown in a container, although you may not get the pretty white flowers and cherries. The shiny green leaves are gorgeous, and the plant can be trimmed easily to keep it from turning into a tree. It likes good air flow, humidity and flickered light, requiring about the same attention as a philodendron."


Although I wouldn't mind a nice dark green ornamental plant for the home, I'm looking for actual beans... so what if I chose a plant that isn't just ornamental but actually produces beans?

Growing coffee isn’t hard. It’s the time-consuming extraction of the beans that defeats would-be backyard growers.

"The key to industrial production is having a processing system -- machines for depulping and removing the interior parchment around the seeds. Taking the pulp off a pound of cherries by hand can take half an hour."

So, I know it would be time consuming... I'm ok with that.  So, what else do I need to know?

"As it turns out, coffee growers have found that the higher the altitude where the coffee is grown, the better the flavor of the coffee. The NCA reports that the better Arabica coffees are grown between 2,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level and that “optimal altitude varies with proximity to the equator.”

Coffee beans that are grown at altitudes over 4,000 square feet are graded with special designations including “Hard Bean,” “Strictly Hard Bean,” “Altura,” or “Mile High.” These “special” beans are generally more desirable (and unfortunately more expensive) because these beans take longer to mature but yield more consistent, richly flavored results than their counterparts grown at lower altitudes.

An article published by Scribbler’s Coffee puts it this way: “As growing elevation increases, a coffee’s flavor profile becomes more pronounced and distinctive… From the mild and sweet taste qualities of a low-grown Brazilian bean at 3,500 feet to the soaring floral notes of an Ethiopian grown above 6,000 feet, altitude heightens a coffee’s ability to deliver bigger varietal nuance and complexity.” The same coffee connoisseurs added, “Very low-elevation coffee regions impose harsher growing conditions on the coffee tree. Higher temperatures and less rainfall cause coffee to ripen more quickly resulting in beans with taste qualities that range from simple and bland to earthy or murky.”


I found an article featuring a community in California that does actually grow and harvest their own beans.  

"Every season when the coffee bushes hidden in the shade of the Wattles Farm community garden in Hollywood start to produce cherries, one of the gardeners volunteers for the process of peeling the shells, removing the fleshy pulp along with the interior parchment, and washing and air-drying the tiny beans within.

“They’re very enthusiastic in the beginning and are still enthusiastic at the end because the coffee is very good, but they swear they’ll never do it again,” said Laurel Delp, one of the gardeners at Wattles.

She has helped pick the cherries and enjoyed the excellent brew that results but admits it’s far too much work for a small number of beans (actually seeds). Eating the cherries raw is an easier reward.

“It’s delicious," she said. "I was shocked. It’s a fruit, a sweet-tart taste. The flesh is really good.”

Tasting a coffee cherry changes your understanding coffee, said Jay Ruskey of the Good Land Organics farm in Goleta: “It’s my kid’s favorite fruit. Once you have one, it changes what you want when you drink coffee. Light roasted coffee means they don’t burn the sugar, so you can taste the cherry. The baseline of the cherry flavor helps you understand the importance of post-harvest and what they were trying to do.”


Seeing that if you are willing to plant, make sure it has the right soil, the right temperature, growing conditions, plenty of water, and are fine with taking the time to peel the sells and remove the fleshy pulp from the beans, then dry, roast and grind them...  it sounds like it might actually be kind of fun to try.

At this point, my interest still piqued, I went a little deeper to find out just how long it would take to grow a plant to be mature enough to harvest beans.



"Frost sensitive seed grown plants take 6-8 years to produce fruit (but if you buy a plant from a nursery you’ll only have to wait about 3 years)."

I next ventured to find a good video for some visuals and step by step processes.  I really thought this one did a great job of walking you through the process of making a cup of coffee completely from scratch.



Make a Cup of Coffee Starting From Scratch



In the end, I'm still interested in trying out this little coffee plant growing test... just for fun and just for me.  Much in the same way I've grown avocado plants and pineapple plants; with absolutely no intent of growing anything seriously, but just to see what it does.

I jumped over to Amazon to see if they offered any plants...  of course they do!  Ha ha.  I should have known.
Coffee Plants


But if you want to skip growing your own plant and waiting for 3-8 years for harvest, you can also buy green coffee beans - getting a jump start on the process and labor, but still roasting them yourself.  One of many varieties I saw were these; El Salvador Everest SHG Washed Unroasted Green Coffee Beans (5 LB)



green unroasted coffee beans




Included in the search results, I saw this book listed;  "The Little Coffee Know-It-All".  I have no idea if he really knows it all or not... but I thought I'd include it here.














In the video above, he roasts his beans in a pan over the stove.  This is a pretty simple way to do it, but in another video I saw and liked, but wasn't as well done as the one I chose to post, they were using a hand cranked, outdoor roaster... which I loved, but I only found 1 manual, hand cranked outdoor roaster on Amazon, and it was not only expensive, but the only one available was from China.  Hmmm.  But there were other roasters available for home use (meaning... not hundreds and thousands of dollars) like this one;

roaster



Just for fun I'm going to include this little kit...  it got bad reviews because people planted the little beans and for the most part they didn't grow quickly... but I also saw in the reviews that some people were thinking they would have coffee beans ready for picking and roasting within a month or two.  When they read the instructions included, saw it would take upwards of 3 years before the plants would produce.  Of course,  you and I know that because I mentioned above that it's a process taking 3-8 years... but for those wanting a little science project producing results as quick as say, a bean plant for instance, they are going to be disappointed.


science project








Sources
http://owwmedia.com/
http://www.latimes.com/
http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/
http://www.junglejoel.com

8.29.2015

LOVE these mugs: Mr. and Mrs. Matching Coffee Mugs with bible verse as well as non-bibical versions!

This morning's post originated from my caffeine fueled brain when I was brewing my second cup of coffee and was mindlessly staring and reading (for perhaps the two hundredth time) the bible verse inside my coffee mug;   "For I have found the one my heart loves" - Song of Solomon, 3:4

It's printed inside my coffee cup and it makes me smile (still, to this day) to read it whenever I use this particular coffee mug.

My husband has the matching mug;  we got them for each other a year or two (?) ago.  We both loved them so much (in style, comfort and quality) that I bought a matching set for our oldest daughter and her husband last year for Christmas.



Here you can see the bible verse that makes me smile when I enjoy my morning coffee from this mug.





We bought ours separately at a local Christian bookstore for about $12.99 each, but this morning I found the 'set' for about $20 on Amazon.  These make a wonderful wedding gift, bridal shower gift or Anniversary present.



You can also buy them separately - one at a time if you want a gift for a Birthday or perhaps Father's or Mother's Day or if you are buying the gift for your spouse on your Anniversary.









There are also many other versions - some are 'fun' and comical, others are hunting and camouflage based and others are just absolutely gorgeous and stunning - like this set (that I don't own but I love it!).

Actually, if I order my husband and I another set, it would probably be this one - or the black and white 'watercolor' style print below.












You might also be interested in other versions available from Amazon;

Mr./Mrs. Mug (Mr. & Mrs.)
Stoneware 16 oz. Mug Set - Mr & Mrs/Together Forever
Mr. & Mrs. Mug Set, Marriage Takes Three
Mr. and Mrs. Mug Set - Camouflage/Truth Hunter(TM)

       












8.27.2015

Product Review HIKPRO Day Pack - Ultra Light Backpack


I LIKE IT.
If you want the short version... that's it.

In April, I ordered 2 different ultralight travel backpacks to use for vehicle "get home" emergency bags.  I wasn't sure which I wanted, so I ordered both.  This is the one I use in my truck and I love it.

It's the Ultralight Packable Travel Backpack that I ordered from Amazon.

From the company listing (English is not their first language):
  • DURABLE. Made with High Quality Water and Tear Resistant Nylon material. Duarable Abrasion Resistant SBS Metal Zipper Available. Reinforced more than 12 places with Bartack Process. This Bag will Last for Many Years. Covered by HIKPRO 5 Year Warranty.
  • LIGHT WEIGHT (8 oz.) and Roomy (25 Liter). Perfect for day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping and shopping. 19*12*8 Inch
  • SMALL TILL YOU OPEN IT. Easy to folds up into small pocket (Sandwich size). You would LOVE that you can throw it in your suitcase, purse or car and have an extra bag without it taking up space. The Secret of Never Paying Overweight Baggage Fee!
  • COMFORTABLE TO CARRY. 20+ Years Experience makes the Most Comfortable Wide Breathable Mesh Shoulder Straps. Easy to Adjust the length and lock firmly. High quality SBS Two-way zipper goes smoothly.
  • KEEP THINGS ORGANIZED. Four zippered compartments. Main pocket is Large enough to carry what you need. Outer bigger pocket great for Ipad or Magazine. Outer smaller pocket great for quick access such as guide books and camera. Outer bigger pocket great for Ipad or Magazine. Inner zippered pocket which doubles as the storage pouch is perfect place for valuables such as cash, credit cards and passport. Two large side mesh pockets for water bottles or umbrella.

Product Description (straight from the company - not mine obviously.  My comments are below it.)

Happy Trip starts with Smart Backpack!
HIKPRO Let You Have Lighter Baggage and Bigger Carry Capacity.
Never Pay Overweight Baggage Fee Again.
IT'S SMALL TILL YOU OPEN IT
Easy to folds into small pocket. You would LOVE you can throw it in your suitcase and have an extra bag without it taking up space
LIGHT WEIGHT (8 oz.) and ROOMY(25 Liter)
Perfect for day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping and shopping
DURABLE
Made with High Quality Water and Tear Resistant Nylon material. Most Duarable Abrasion Resistant SBS Metal Zipper.
Reinforced more than 12 places with Bartack Process. 5 Year Warranty
COMFORTABLE AND EASY TO CARRY
20+ Years Experience makes the Most Comfortable Shoulder Straps. Easy to Adjust the length and lock firmly. The SBS Two-way zipper go Smoothly
KEEP EVERYTHING ORGANIZED
Four zippered compartments. Main pocket is Large enough to carry what you need. Outer bigger pocket great for Ipad. Outer smaller pocket great for quick access.
Inner pocket doubles as the storage pouch is perfect place for valuables. Two large side mesh pockets for water bottles.
Our Guarantee To You
If within 30 days you're not 100% happy with your purchase of HIKPRO packable backpack, let us know and we'll refund your entire purchase price...no questions asked!
Important... Read This
We Apologize If We're Sold Out. Because Of The Extremely High Demand.
Order it Now before it's too late!

__________________________________________________________________



This is when the pack first arrived; very small and fits in the palm of your hand when it's not in use.


It easily unpacks from itself as the package is actually the pocket of the bag.  No extra bags or pieces to keep track of.


Very large once it's unpacked!  Ultra ULTRA light and holds 25L.


I love the pockets and it's well made.  Sewing, zippers and seams are all very well crafted.


You can see how large it becomes once unpacked.  It's a regular sized backpack but weighs almost nothing empty, and is durable enough to be used as a day pack, a hiking pack, or a carry on for travel. 


The straps have light cushioning and they are well placed so it is comfortable to wear, doesn't rub your neck or pull tightly.

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HEZ9V0O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HEZ9V0O&linkCode=as2&tag=justthecoffee-20&linkId=ANQ3R4WC6WD62ETB">Ultralight Packable Travel Backpack</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=justthecoffee-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00HEZ9V0O" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

I fit my Toshiba Satellite laptop in it for testing the size, but since mine is a 'get home' bag in my truck, it's currently filled with emergency items, maps, flashlight, water, food, blanket, etc. etc.

I bought a different version for my husbands vehicle and will be reviewing that one soon.  Bottom line, YES I WOULD ORDER THIS ONE AGAIN.  Actually, it folds up so small it would be a good addition when traveling to throw into your suitcase or bag as a 'backup' in case you need more room/space or need a daypack.  It weighs almost nothing and takes up little space, but provides much added space when you need it.











8.26.2015

Coffee Talk: My Memory Foam Mattress was Making Me Sick - and why I wish NO ONE would put babies to sleep on one


I hesitated posting this topic because I don't care about the topic of memory foam mattresses in general; I don't really wish to discuss them, they aren't important to me and I really don't care about mattress talk in general either.

However... it's been bugging me - and the fact that I know our mattress made me incredibly sick and if I don't at least speak up and say something, then I'm part of the problem.

In 2011 we moved into a new home and I purchased 2 regular mattresses for our bed and our daughter's room, and two memory foam mattresses for the other two rooms we were using as "guest rooms" for when our other 2 kids came home to visit or when friends and family stayed.



I wanted to find the exact style and brand we bought - but the order history from Sam's Club only allowed me to go back to orders from 2013 so I'm not sure of the exact one, only that they are  Memory Foam and ordered through Sam's Club in November of 2011.

Over the past couple years I've only slept on them 1 night at a time, usually when there were tornado warnings outside and I set up shop in the basement and slept downstairs those evenings. 

My husband and I had been waking up with aching backs, sore necks and shoulders and knew our mattress was causing it.  Knowing how comfortable the memory foam mattresses are and how awesome my back always felt after sleeping on them, I had my husband change out our mattress with one of the guest room mattresses.

That first night, I slept great.  Woke up happy with the exchange, loving that my back was better supported.

The second night however, I woke up with a bit of a sniffle and irritated throat.  Figuring it was allergies of some sort, I didn't give it any thought.

As the days went by I found myself constantly sniffling, nursing an increasingly sore throat, and coughing.  Conversations about my 'allergies' centered around what in the world was blooming or drifting in the air that was causing this?  And why suddenly now, and never before?  It would seem to get a little better by the afternoon but the next morning it would be bad again.  I suspected strep at one point, but my throat had no white spots at all.  It was just an angry dark red and later, purple.


I'm going to make a very long story short and skip ahead a bit.
  • In one month there was a grand total of 3-4 days when I did not suffer from horrible "allergies.
  • My throat was so incredibly raw, it was a deep, dark, angry purple and I was having to take strong Excedrin with caffeine to help cut through the pain and get any relief.  I often took that plus 2 aspirin as the pain was THAT bad.
  • My sore throat and sniffles got better when I was outside... (MAJOR CLUE).
  • My lymph nodes were swollen as my body tried so hard to fight 'something'.
  • My voice was becoming so damaged I found I could no longer do one of my favorite activities;  singing.  I could not sing... and that has never in my life happened to me, and was very scary.
  • I was constantly having to use cough drops and trying to numb my aching throat.
My throat was the darkest, deepest, most unbelievable dark purple color, I had constant sniffles and drainage and my headaches had gone from a 3 to a 10 on the pain scale.  The ONLY time I felt good was when I was out of our bedroom and away from our mattress.

And I commented to my husband how STRANGE it was that 
my allergies got BETTER any time I was out of the house.  
Even if I was just talking on the phone on the front steps.  
If I had allergies, why did I get BETTER outside?

I deep cleaned everything in our house thinking I must be allergic to dust.  Every nook and cranny was deep cleaned, including climbing on the kitchen counters to reach and clean the tops of the kitchen cupboards!  Light fixtures dusted. Light bulbs were dusted. I balanced precariously on the top of our 8 foot ladder and used an extension rod to clean the tops of the ceiling fans in the high ceilings, as well as cleaning all the fans in every room of the house (that were already clean... but I'm telling you, I was DEEP cleaning).  I was that desperate for relief. 

After 3 1/2 weeks I happened to go hiking out in the woods of a state park. Since my allergies should have been acting up horribly after deep breathing and hiking outside on a hot, humid day in the woods, I was surprised to find I felt great.  On my drive home my throat pain was almost gone as I had been gone all day long, outside, and while I always felt better in the late afternoon and evening, I felt particularly good...  completely opposite of how I *should* have felt if it were truly allergies.

That night I went to bed as usual and for what felt like the hundredth time, laying in the bed in the morning, I started to think about the timeline, the symptoms: when I felt better and when I felt worse... and whether or not I changed ANYTHING almost a month earlier when these symptoms started.   

New soap?
New perfume?
New purse or anything with fake leather or heavy chemicals? 
New laundry detergent?  
New candles?  
Air fresheners?  
Cleaners?  

No... no... no... no.. and nope.

The only thing that we did different was.... We changed to the memory foam mattress.

That morning I went online to see if other people had known issues with memory foam mattresses...  OH MY GOSH HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS WAS SUCH A BIG ISSUE?   It is.

While some people seem to sleep on them with no issues to the many (many many many) chemicals these mattresses are saturated with... others, like me, have reactions.  Some have serious medical issues from it as their bodies reacted strongly, or they continued to sleep on them, never guessing the cause of the problem was literally right under their feet.  And head. And back.

As a matter of fact some companies were sued over it  (Tempurpedic Sued Over VOCs & Memory Foam Safety).  This is a KNOWN problem.  But... you probably don't discover it until you are doing your own research as to why you are so sick.

I made my husband take the memory foam mattress back upstairs and bring our regular mattress back.

I woke up the next morning 80% better.

Honest to God.  BETTER.  It was THAT black and white.

By the 2nd morning I had almost no sore throat at all, my nasal passages were clear, I wasn't coughing and I had no headache.  My 'allergies' and pain disappeared.   There was no doubt... I had reactions to the chemicals in the Memory Foam mattress.  And it wasn't even a new mattress that hadn't been "degassed' yet (one of the things the mattress companies tell you to do IF you contact them with symptoms or complaints).

I KNOW FOR A FACT this is what made me sick and I've been fine since I stopped using it.  But I told my husband... I feel SO SORRY for the babies and toddlers being made to sleep on these mattresses that may also be sick from them and CAN'T TELL ANYONE.  Babies and little ones may needlessly be dragged to the doctor and put on medication and going through their own little worlds of hell... and no one is suspecting it's because Mom and Dad are using a Memory Foam Crib Mattress.

So that is why I'm posting "MY STORY" over morning coffee.
Not preaching to anyone.
Not telling anyone what to do.
I even admit some people have no reactions to the mattresses - my husband had very minor reaction to it - nasal dripping and sniffling he attributed to a minor allergy but not nearly as serious as mine) and his also went away the 2nd day after switching back to a regular mattress.

I just want to at least feel I did my part by putting my story "out there" and maybe I can help one person... or one parent of a baby or toddler suffering from 'allergies' that can't speak for themselves.