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Coffee Tasting

Some of you may not know that when the Lowcountry Blend was chosen, we held a coffee taste test. We picked between three blends, seeking to determine the most succulent burst of favor of them all. Well, apparently, coffee tasting is the new wine tasting, and it makes sense. With all the flavor options, and the vast interest in this indulgence, it is hard to know what you are drinking, or what you would even like without trying some. If you are like me and think of coffee and scream, “TOO MANY OPTIONS!,” then maybe you should hop on this bandwagon.

NPR has added photos to last week’s All Things Considered feature which shows “coffee snobs are taking all the fun out of a cup of joe.”  Listening to this process, it is so involved! Who knew there were SO many options to coffee? And that there are more and less “aggressive” ways of trying it as you “purse your lips and kiss the spoon”. According to Passion for Coffee, coffee can have up to 800 flavors that we can actually detect, while wine only has 400. Why isn’t this mainstream yet?

All of this talk about coffee tasting leaves me with two questions: For those if you who have gone wine tasting, you know you are not technically supposed to swallow the wine (though those of us who may be less cultured don’t listen to that suggestion)? Does the same go for coffee? Is this a formal affair, or doesn’t it have the stigma that wine tasting has? Finally, you know how when you smell lotions, candles or other scents, the clerks tell you to coffee beans in order to clear your nose of all previous smells (to create a “clean slate” if you will?). How does this apply to coffee tasting? Does one smell more coffee? Or just move on to the next because you are already smelling the grounds in the air?…

As I wrap up, it is important to note that our blend has gone through a series of blind taste tests and it prevails over others. Remember that this coffee, although from a Sunoco gas station, is a premium blend. If you doubt it, maybe it is time you host your own coffee tasting. You may be pleasantly surprised to see the Lowcountry Blend demolish your previous notions about gas station coffee.

 

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

Married to Coffee

“Marriage is what brings us together today”– Princess Bride

Good Morning Everyone!

So how many of you have your coffee as soon as you wake up in the morning? Or do you prefer to have your coffee around lunch or after dinner with dessert? I love to have my coffee when I walk downstairs because it is a perfect way to start my morning.  I have gone through days without coffee and those days have been quite “slow.” Does that make me coffee’s ‘partner’ if I can’t go a day without it?

Is too much of a good thing really bad? Doctor’s have started to say that having even six cups of coffee are beneficial to your health.  Rob Van Dam, M.D., assistant professor in the department of nutrition at Harvard University, studied coffee and said that it contained complex compounds the can improve your health.  For instance, one cup of coffee a day can reduce the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by 7 percent and if you drink as many as 5 cups of coffee a day, you reduce your risk at getting Alzheimer’s disease by 65 percent.

So, don’t go a day without your ‘partner’ of a coffee cup and your dose of good health! I will say that I am married to something that is delicious and full of caffeine. Make the Lowcountry Blend your new partner!

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

Uniting the World with Coffee

The Olympics are over, and I am a little sad.  I always enjoying watching the games, but not necessarily for the sport of it, nor to chant “USA! USA! USA!” (though that is a pretty big part). I found that this year, I really liked seeing countries unifying for this beloved tradition that dates back to (probably) 776 BC in Ancient Greece. Of everything this world has gone through, I love that we still unite for these games. Not only does it give us a chance to become increasingly nationalistic for a few weeks, but it reminds us that we are all on this earth, and no matter our language, we can unite under the game. Did you see North Korea and South Korea shake hands!?

Ok, so what does this have to do with the #beanteam? Well, I was thinking… coffee is a HUGE export and is loved by many. Different regions produce different flavored beans, but also make their coffee in very specific ways. I looked it up and found that are numerous countries that export coffee. The United States is not one (which is no surprise) so we go elsewhere. This export really does unite people on an economic and social way.

The National Geographic, which I have always loved for their insight into cultures different from my own, has a coffee specific website that not only addresses the legends and history of coffee, but maps out the major exporters all over the world. Brazil, the largest producer of coffee, put out $22.5 million bags in 1997-1998 crop year (the latest they have data from). Each bag weighs about 132 pounds. I did the math and that equals a LOT of coffee… I can’t even imagine orchestrating the exchange of this stuff. This website even has a forum where anyone can come together and talk about their coffee.  Perhaps my favorite quote on the page is this description of coffee: “‘Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.’ That’s the recipe for coffee, according to the utterly French statesman Talleyrand (1754-1838).” If that isn’t a man passionate about his coffee, I don’t know what is. And this was around 200 years ago. Not much as changed.

So, the Lowcountry Blend, although specific to the Charleston area, offers flavors from our friends in South and Central America. We ask others to help us with our coffee initiatives and in turn, help feed those less fortunate in our area. I will toast to that.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Lowcountry Blend Cocktails!

Hey coffee fans! Did you know coffee is a fantastic flavor for cocktails and mixed drinks that can be added in a variety of ways. Classic warm coffees like Irish coffee and Cafe Brasileiro are perfect for cold weather. While colder coffee cocktails, like Irish Iced coffee, are a great way to cool down on a hot, summer night.

Irish coffee

Irish coffee is one of the most popular coffee cocktails. The tartness of coffee blended with the caramel-tinged sweetness of quality Irish whiskey is one of the most satisfying combinations in the cocktail world. Take a look at the directions below.

  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish whisky
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Mix together in a mug

Irish Iced Coffee

For a refreshing, cool drink, check out Irish Iced Coffee.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce of Baileys Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate
  • 1 ounce Iced Lowcountry Blend Coffee
  • 1 cup of Chipped Ice
  • 1 tablespoon Espresso
  • 2 scoops Guinness Gelato
  • Mint sprig and whipped cream for garnish

Directions

  1. Add Baileys, iced coffee and Guinness gelato to a blender.
  2. Blend on high with chip ice until smooth.
  3. Top with espresso, a mint sprig and whipped cream.

Café Brasileiro

Café Brasileiro is the perfect match for a cold, heavy drink. With a touch of vanilla, heavy cream, chocolate cream, and Brazilian cachaca, this warm, spicy drink is absolutely delicious! The directions are below.

  • Add the following ingredients
  • 1 1/2 oz. cachaca
  • 1/2 oz. chocolate liqueur (Trader Vic’s is a nice fit here – adding solid chocolate flavor without being overwhelmingly sweet)
  •  2 1/2 oz. of Lowcountry Blend coffee
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup or agave syrup
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • Stir ingredients into a mug
  • Carefully pour the vanilla cream on top of the drink.

Spanish Coffee

Make some Spanish coffee by adding brandy to the mix. Mix the following ingredients.

  • 3/4 oz. brandy
  •  1/4 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 1 cup of Lowcountry Blend coffee
 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

Taking One WITH the Team

Hey y’all! It’s Friday once again, so enjoy your weekend as much as you can! School is almost here.

Have you ever been a part of a team? You could have been part of a sports team or a team for a group project for school.  When someone thinks of an internship, he or she thinks that there is only one intern that does all of the work.  Also, that one intern only brings one side of creativity to the table for that business or program, leaving there much to be left behind.  I have been a part of an internship team and it has been probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

I am one of five interns and each of us has brought new ideas to this internship that could not have been accomplished without the others.  I love going to the gym and I like the hospitality and tourism market, so it was natural for me to build relationships with those markets, and hold events at those locations.  The other interns did the same and targeted their favorite markets of fashion, Greek life, the military, athletes, and the fans of athletes.  It would have been very difficult for one intern to accomplish as much as our team has accomplished this summer.

As the #beanteam belles, we can say that we have created friendships among our target markets, friendships with the Lowcountry Food Bank, and friendships with each other.  The stress and pressure has been reduced because of such passionate and hard-working interns that I call my co-workers and now, friends.  I would greatly recommend such a program as this for any business because that business would benefit tremendously and so would those who were chosen as interns.

 

Here is a picture of the #beanteam’s beginnings at the Lowcountry Food Bank:

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

My Charleston Favorites

When I have family members and friends come down and visit me in Charleston I am always asked the same question, “How could you not love it here?” and its true. Charleston just has this way of getting under your skin and never really letting go. It’s more than just a place to live, it’s home.

Coming from Michigan where I lived my whole life, Charleston was a breath of fresh air compared to the grey skies and snowstorms. But, to be honest it was more than just the hot weather that made me fall in love with this great city. So, with that, I thought I would put together a little guide to my favorite parts of Charleston for those of you who may not be from the area.

The Best Places to See:

  1. The Battery
  2. Sullivan’s Island beach
  3. The Cistern yard at the College of Charleston

Favorite Restaurants:

  1. Peninsula Grill
  2. Tasty Thai
  3. D’allesandros Pizza

Favorite Places To Go:

  1. Magnolia Plantation
  2. The straw market
  3. The Farmers Market at Marion Square

Favorite Things To Do:

  1. Take a bike ride downtown
  2. Go to a concert at Patriots Point
  3. Have drinks on the rooftop at the Market Pavilion Hotel

So, next time you are visiting Charleston try out some of my recommendations and of course, try some Lowcountry Blend while you are here. I promise you will not regret it.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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The “Lowcountry”

You know by now that Sunoco’s Charleston blend is called “The Lowcountry Blend” but do you know why Charleston and the surrounding areas is referred to the lowcountry in the first place? I have lived here for a year and I have never once heard why it is called that. So, with the power of the Internet, I looked it up.

In regards to South Carolina, it refers to the “sea islands.” If you have looked at a close-up map of Charleston, you will see there is a lot of water…and a lot of little islands and peninsulas. More specifically, it is often used to describe the land between the ocean and the sand hills.

Perhaps more importantly than geography is the culture that is associated with the term “lowcountry”. It is a historical term based on political and cultural foundations, but is also used to describe a way of life. It describes the uniqueness of the area, with its fashion, elegant style, cuisine, and architecture. Charleston is an eclectic blend of European, American Southern, Caribbean, and African cultures. Add in the Gullah influence and the antebellum and postbellum styles and you get a culture all in its own. The rich history and modern tourism make Charleston a wonderful city for natives, tourists, and students alike.

One aspect that I have noticed in this past year is that Charleston likes its own. It is proud of it’s natives and loves everything local. Driving around, you see more “Native,” “Carolina Girl, “Support Local,” and palmetto and moon bumper stickers than anywhere I have ever seen. There is an ownership that made the Lowcountry the perfect place to launch this coffee blend.

When you find yourself approaching a Sunoco gas station, and stop in for a Lowcountry Blend, think of everything that is behind the name. Picked by Lowcountry residents, it reflects the culture, the history, and everything unique about The Holy City (Charleston!!).

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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