Author Archives: amcordes

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


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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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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Coffee and Public Knowledge

I was curious what happened when I Googled “coffee” and I thought I would explore the Wikipedia page. I was surprised to see how extensive the page was. In high school, I was always told to avoid Wikipedia for any credible information– anyone can edit it. Times have changed, and Wikipedia is more credible. Therefore, I am going to share some fun facts that you can find on this page. After all, anyone can post on here so it has to be true, right?

1) Coffee was referenced first in 1598. That is a long time ago, folks.

2) Coffee was initially associated with spiritual and political activism. Really? Because now it keeps people awake while they sit at their computers for 8 hours at a time.

3) Powerful sorcerers often had coffee trees planted over their graves as it was believed that it sprouted from the tears of god.

I will leave it up to you to find the sources and confirm, but it is rather interesting, don’t you think?

Another interesting website is Coffee Review . This site has a blog, a glossary, forums, and articles all centered around coffee. I thought it would be interesting to see what the people were saying about coffee (along the same lines of Wikipedia) and the forums have everything from coffee reviews and brewing tips. I suppose if you wanted to connect with coffee fans alike, this would be the place to go. In the interest of seeing what other people are blogging, and it has numerous opinions but they are all from last year. All in all, if you want information from this site, check out the glossary– it’s quite extensive.

I hope this has given you some insight into the world of citizen journalism…even if it isn’t journalism exactly. There are numerous coffee drinkers out there, and so many really are knowledgable on the drink. With the Internet, we can all share and learn about coffee, or anything else. It is just now more important than ever to check facts if you want to know for sure.

Grab a cup of Lowcountry Blend and tell us what you know about coffee! You can add it to the mix of all the other coffee facts up there. I bet this blend will compete with the rest. It is pretty darn good!

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston


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Being a #beanteam Member

This week, I am deviating from the norm a bit, and I want to express what a unforgettable experience it has been to be a “#beanteam” member this summer (and it isn’t over yet!). At the end of last semester, this internship was recommended to me, and I figured it was a perfect way to spend the summer. I have a strong passion for public and media relations (which is why I am pursuing my Master’s in it), and knew launching a new product would be exciting. I also was excited to meet some pretty great people along the way and learn a little about my new home. Now, I am not saying that I did not expect this experience to be as rewarding as it has been, but it really has exceeded expectations (and to my fellow #beanteam “belles,” I know you feel the same way!).

Right from the get-go, employees from Sunoco, Inc. and The Bravo Group have been welcoming, encouraging, motivating, and genuinely happy to have us on board. I don’t think I am saying anything shocking when I argue that the college-aged generation isn’t always taken very seriously. As an intern, I have done everything from mindlessly stapling mailers to being the only official PR representative for a business.  I greatly appreciate the creative freedom and trust that has been given to us this summer, as we can take pride and ownership toward our work while experiencing the direct and positive return on investment.

As I work diligently on the comprehensive video and help plan a final presentation for the two companies, I can only be excited to see where this leads and how we are setting the precedent for other coffee initiatives around the country. Studying public relations can be difficult, because every campaign, every company, every environment is going to be different. That is why these internships are so valuable: you have to get out their and experience it! You just have to find the right people who will put faith in your abilities and let you show them what you are capable of.

So, when you go to your local Sunoco gas station and sip on that soothing Lowcountry Blend, think of the people who are working hard behind the scenes. It isn’t only about making a sale. It is about the experience that EVERYONE earns in the process that is the true reward.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston


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“Coffee Related Things That Alaina Finds Entertaining”

This post, I will admit, does not have a theme, per say. Unless, however, you wish to consider the theme to be “Coffee Related Things That Alaina Finds Entertaining”. Some weeks, what I find just seamlessly falls into a coherent topic. This week is not one of those weeks. So, let me begin.

The first tidbit I found that was interesting was this coffee advertisement from history. When I say history, I mean, from 360 years ago (1652)It is a bit hard to read, so I will summarize some interesting points below.

1) It hits the nail on the head in saying you drink coffee in the morning and around 3/4pm.

2) It cures/prevents diseases like the “Cough of the Lungs,” Gout, and Scurvy.

3) Coffee helps prevent “Mif-carryings in Child-bearing Women” though I am not going to even pretend like I know that that means…Sounds serious though.

4) Finally, it advises not to drink it after “Supper” as it will make you “watchful” for 3 or 4 hours. I think I’d rather sleep.

Pretty spot on, right? (Although I don’t know if anyone is testing its effects on scurvy anymore…) And on a side tangent, I love how if ANY advertisement looked like this today, it would be a failure. No one wants to read that much anymore! And, WHERE are the pictures?

My last nugget of random information is this list: 10 Annoying Things People Do at Coffee Shops. What is great about the Lowcountry Blend is that you don’t have to deal with ANY of this when getting your morning coffee. I don’t know about you, but my patience is often testy in the morning until I am fully awake. I would prefer to not deal with the people who have loud conversations, those that don’t use headphones, rampant children, or a single person taking up an entire table for his or her self (I added that last one in.)

What are your coffee house pet peeves? There is a simple solution: the Lowcountry Blend!


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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston


Culture Created Around Coffee

When I think of coffee, I think of so much more than a cup of it. There is this whole culture that comes with drinking coffee, and it has expanded to include things that aren’t really even about coffee anymore. I was thinking about all of the different associations and products that coffee has created and I thought of the presence of coffee tables and coffee table books one may have in their house. Or coffee mugs or artwork depicting steaming cups of espresso. And then I thought about coffee houses and how that makes one think of music and big comfy chairs and a good book (or a laptop nowadays).

This music and these mugs, tables, and books may literally have nothing to do with coffee, and yet we still call them such. For instance, I really enjoy my collection of light-hearted coffee table books, and I think I have some cute coffee mugs, but as I do not have a brewer at home, none of these things have ever seen coffee, per say.

I also think of the imagery that a “coffee-house” puts in my head. You don’t go for the coffee, really, but the atmosphere: to sit with friends, listen to music, relax and just enjoy.

Who started these trends? When did it occur that one can pick out the type of music (media!) you would hear in a coffee-house? What marketer called the small table in front of your sofa a “coffee table”, or the simple and care-free books “coffee table books”?

What do you think? How about mulling it over by curling up in your apartment with a cup of Lowcountry Blend resting on your coffee table, a fun coffee table book (might I suggest “We Interrupt this Broadcast“), and play some whimsical, light music over your speakers. Let me know if you come to any conclusions!

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston