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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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Photography and Coffee

It’s been a month now since the #BeanTeam has embarked on this journey to Caffeinate Charleston. We had our second event at Joint Base Charleston, hanging out with the Air Force members of the 1st Combat Camera Squadron. There we took a coffee break together, snacked on some goodies, and chatted over a cup of Lowcountry Blend. Afterwards, we watched a photo-judging contest. There were many spectacular photos from this talented bunch.

This event put two of my favorite things together: photography and coffee. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working as a photojournalist for over 10 years. I’ve been drinking coffee for, well, forever. I have fond memories of many assignments that I’ve gone out on worldwide. As part of my routine, I had to have my morning coffee – especially if it was before daylight – while gathering my photo gear and other odds and ends for that assignment. Then upon returning (either that day or a couple days later), I’d grab another cup of coffee to get ready for a long editing session.

While some days were grueling, my passion for photography and a caffeine buzz kept me thriving. A couple years ago, I was enthralled to find something that encompassed that. I found a camera lens coffee mug and it’s been my absolute favorite mug ever since. And here it is in all its glory!

It was a great experience putting together this event. I enjoyed putting together two of my favorite things. The photos from that day are on our Lowcountry Blend Facebook page. Also, if you’d like, share with us your combination of favorites or favorite coffee mug.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston, Events

 

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Coffee and America’s Independence

Happy fourth of July to all you coffee fans! In celebration of this important date in our nation’s history, I decided to find out what role coffee had in our nation’s independence –if any. After some serious searching and google filtering, I found this website that briefly explains how coffee transformed our country, even back then.

We all know tea was a personal favorite of much of the population back in the 1700’s. So much so, that King George III added additional taxation on tea. Although the colonial population adored their tea time, the additional taxation angered the American’s and they put their pinkies up in protest.

In 1773 England placed the Tea Act on the colonists. The principal objective of this act was to reduce the massive surplus of tea held by the British East India Company who was in extreme financial ruin. This tax pushed the colonists to their final limits and when ships arrived in America to drop of tea, their shipments were turned back. 

This continual protest eventually led to the Boston Tea Party and later came America’s fight for independence. According to the website link above coffee was, “…embraced by the patriots of the day as it showed a symbolic reaction of the English practice of drinking Tea.” This thought process was embraced so much that, “…coffee was declared the National Drink of the colonized United States by the Continental Congress.”

So with all this said, stop by your local Sunoco APlus convenience store and raise your cup of Lowcountry Blend to toast to our wonderful country and our celebration of independence.

 

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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Coffee, Infographics, and You

One of my favorite media trends is the use of infographics. Infographics are simple illustrations, graphics, charts…whatever, really… that are paired with facts or statistics in order to display information in an interesting and visually appealing way. We all know this is becoming an increasingly visual world, and with the information overload we encounter daily, it is hard to get our attention on any one thing for any length of time.

So for today, I found this handy graphic entitled 15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee. It is a rather large graphic, so you will need to follow the link to see it… I won’t post it here! But if you do follow the think, it tells us of all the different ways coffee is made, random and seemingly outrageous laws in coffee’s history, and how caffeine really works. It is also rather witty and entertaining!

After I found this infographic, I was curious what else I could find. Low and behold, there were all kinds of graphics that showed up after a simple Google search. Look! There is more:

This website shows not one, not two, but 27 Infographics depicting coffee. There is one going along with my last post about coffee vs. tea, one depicting coffee differences all over the world, the pros and cons of caffeine, how different coffe drinks are made, and how coffee compares to other beverages, such as energy drinks or sodas. OH and as an added bonus, the video I posted a few weeks back is also on there! I love when I find these connections!

So, the moral of the story is: Thanks to new media, you can be educated on almost anything, anytime, anywhere. Infographics give you quick and fun facts about the topic of your choosing, and in this case, coffee. Being an intern this summer really has taught me a ton about coffee, and I almost didn’t realize it! I feel like I could quiz you on this. QUICK: What would you have if you added 1 part Lowcountry Blend with 1 part milk tea? How large (in $$$) is the global coffee market? Just how big was the biggest cup of coffee on record? You will find the answers in these graphics!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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How Do You Brew?

We all have our morning coffee rituals. Mine typically begins with my two Labrador Retrievers, Madra and Skilo, waking me up. Once I’m out of bed, we go downstairs to the kitchen where my girls are fed and I get my coffee brewing. Then I take them outside for their morning walk around this small park in front of my house. By the time we get back, my coffee is brewed and cooled down some. I add some milk to my cup of coffee and enjoy. This gets me ready for what the day has to offer.

So how do you brew your coffee in the morning? There are several ways one brews their cup of caffeinated goodness. Some people use the traditional drip coffee maker, a French press, or more recently the single cup brewers that have become quite the popular item. I use a single cup brewer. But did you know there are more ways to brew that cup of Joe to kick-start your day? Actually, counting the three I just named off, there are twelve! Some I’ve never even heard of before. Here’s the article I wanted to share with you all that describes 12 ways to make coffee at home.

Share with us your morning coffee routine and favorite method of coffee brewing. We’d love to hear from you! Also, try Lowcountry Blend. Maybe it, too, can become a part of your morning ritual.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Moderation is key!

In order to get some resources for my blog posts each week, I subscribe to a simple “coffee” Google Alerts that send me news articles, blog posts, or websites that are centered around coffee. It gives me a good idea of what the media are saying about the subject, and I can determine what I find most interesting within the week’s worth of updates. This week, I found a few articles about the health risks of coffee. I would like to address them here because I think this type of coverage is missing one important point: moderation is key!

This first article asks, Coffee or Tea?, to which they conclude tea is a better all-around drink. Coffee has a greater chance of increasing the drinker’s cholesterol than tea, but uses the example of a person who drinks 5 cups a day.  I am sure there are people that do drink 5 cups or more, but I highly doubt that represents any large population of coffee drinkers. This next article gives us 10 Reasons why coffee has negative sideaffects to our health. These include an increase in stress hormones, the high acid levels, risk of caffeine additions, and the fatty nature of the cream and sugar we add to it.

So what does this all mean?

The Internet is a popular forum to get health information about what we enjoy eating, so it is important to see what people are saying. These articles both make good points, but it does not have to be all bad.  The idea that coffee can have negative health benefits may be agreed upon, but I would not consider that negative or detrimental press for the coffee industry. Why? These negative consequences are most apparent in excessive or frequent coffee consumption. My mom has always said she thinks everything in excess is dangerous, whether those are vitamins, extremes of opinions, pizza, sun exposure, or even coffee. I advise that it is important to get a well-rounded opinion of coffee (see health benefits below in one of our previous posts!). However, we all need to understand that coffee, like everything else, is perfectly okay in moderation.

Therefore, go out, grab a cup of Lowcountry Blend, and enjoy! You deserve a treat every once in a while, and today is that day!

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Chill Out With Iced Coffee

The heat is on in the Lowcountry! Summer has arrived in the south and it’s only getting hotter. With hot temperatures brings fun in the sun and the need for cold refreshments. One of my favorite cold refreshments is iced coffee, but not just any old iced coffee. When I think of iced coffee, I think of Thai iced coffee.

In the summer of 2004, the Air Force sent me out on my first visit to Thailand to photograph U.S. and Thai military forces conduct a training exercise. Thailand was beautiful, but extremely humid. Just imagine Charleston during its hottest, most humid month but multiply it by 10! (No, I’m not exaggerating). So every day I’d yearn for something cold and refreshing.

One day, while I was exploring the local colors of a market, I saw people sipping an iced drink in a plastic bag through a straw and asked my translator what it was. It was Thai iced coffee. Of course, being the coffee fanatic that I am, I had to try it. As soon as the vendor handed me a bag, I took a big sip. It was cold, strong and very sweet, but there was a distinctive taste I had never had before. It was cardamom and it added that extra bit of unique deliciousness. I found myself wanting it every day. And I did, for the next 25 days that I was there.

So here’s a recipe for Thai iced coffee to try (minus the plastic bag and straw). I’ve also included other iced coffee recipes from around the world. You can try it with the Lowcountry Blend from Sunoco and let us know what you think. Cheers to staying cool and having fun this summer!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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