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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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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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Cool Down with Lowcountry Blend!

Hey coffee fans! As the summer days continue to heat up throughout the lowcountry, many coffee drinkers turn to iced coffee for relief. But iced coffee has a major problem: before you reach the bottom of your cup, the ice melts and makes the coffee taste watered down. For those of you who enjoy iced coffee, why don’t you consider making a batch of coffee ice cubes?

Lowcountry Blend Ice Cubes

In fact, coffee ice cubes not only prevent water dilution from conventional ice, but it can also strengthen the taste of your Lowcountry Blend, especially if you have added too much milk or sweeteners. You can also use the ice cubes to cool down your hot cup of coffee without watering it down. To make your Lowcountry Blend ice cubes, follow the instructions below.

1. After brewing your Lowcountry Blend, pour the coffee into ice trays.

2. Freeze the coffee overnight

3. Open your freezer the following day and the ice cubes are ready for use!

Lowcountry Blend Ice Cream

Other ways to cool down with Lowcountry Blend is to make coffee ice cream! This frozen treat combines the energy boost from coffee with the refreshing coolness of ice cream. It’s simple to make at home, and it’s delicious!

Coffee Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (press grinds through a fine mesh sieve)

Coffee Ice Cream Directions

1. Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

3. Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating without it  running. This can take about 10 minutes.

5. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.

6 Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker. Once the ice cream thickens, it’s ready to be served!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Get a Slice of This!

Happy Friday everyone! It is already August and that means school is near.  I hope that you all take advantage of the tax-free weekend!

Are you a fan of pizza, pasta, salad, sandwiches, and delicious desserts?  If your answer was “yes,” give Brixx Pizza a try!  The first Brixx Pizza was opened in 1998 and now there are fourteen locations that travel up the east coast.  The idea behind Brixx Pizza was to create an atmosphere that combined the techniques of fine dining, with the feel of being casual.  Brixx Pizza offers a variety of foods, some of my favorite being, the Margherita Pizza, the Spinach and Artichoke dip with pita, and the Southwest Chicken Salad.  You should really try those and then try the rest of the menu!  Brixx Pizza does an excellent job of creating new flavors and colors on ordinary pizza.  For instance, Brixx now has a Thai Chicken Pizza.  This pizza brings the taste of Thailand to those on the east coast!  You should really give that pizza a try if you are up for something different, unoriginal, and a little bit spicy.

This past Wednesday, the Brixx Pizza in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina showed their support for the #beanteam and the Lowcountry Blend.  Never forget that with every cup of coffee that is purchased from a Sunoco APlus store, a cup of coffee is donated to the Lowcountry Food Bank.  So, as we say a huge ‘thank you’ to those at Brixx Pizza for supporting our cause, give them a huge ‘thank you’ by visiting one of their fourteen locations on the east coast!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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When is Coffee Day?

It seems today there is some sort of holiday or event for each day of the year. For example, International Bacon Day, Secretary’s Day, and even Penguin Awareness Day. Yes, really! Take a look here. I personally like International Bacon Day. Yum! Of course, this made me wonder if there was also a day for coffee. So I began my online search. Low and behold, there is not just one Coffee Day, but several days celebrated around the world! Amazing, isn’t it?

International Coffee Day (also known as Coffee Day or National Coffee Day) is observed September 29th. According to Wikipedia, this day is used to promote fair trade coffee and raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers. Many businesses around the world will offer free or discounted coffee. The history of this day was first celebrated in Japan in 1983 and many countries have their own inaugural days of celebration as well. However, it isn’t just on September 29, which is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Ethiopia, and England. September 12 is National Coffee Day in Costa Rica, October 1 is International Coffee Day in Japan and you can read all the different days here.

So if you’re ever on the hunt for an interesting and fun adventure, how about planning for a Caffeinated one? If you would like to start one soon, August 17 is National Coffee Day in Indonesia and I think that’s a wonderful place to start. But before you do, you can stop by your local Sunoco APlus store in the Charleston area and pick up a cup of Lowcountry Blend to jumpstart this caffeinated trip.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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Cheers to the Lowcountry and to Coffee!!

Summer in the Lowcountry is the perfect time for a summer soiree or a backyard barbeque. With the sweet and salty ocean breeze, the hum of the cicadas and the clear starry nights the Lowcountry serves as the ideal backdrop for any summer shindig and that is something we here in the Lowcountry never like to waste. So, the next time you are planning your summer get-together add some coffee to your menu lineup. Now I know you are probably asking yourself, “Coffee at a party?” and my answer is yes. Coffee pairs great with some of your favorite spirits to create a perfect marriage between coffee and cocktail. To help the rigorous party-planning process along, I have listed three coffee cocktails that will be perfect for any Charleston celebration.

1. Mint Chocolate Coffee Martini

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1 ounce of chocolate-mint cocktail mix

1 ounce of vodka

1/2 ounce of coffee liqueur such as Kahlua

1/2 strong brewed coffee

2. Hard Coffee Soda

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1 pint of chocolate ice cream

5 scoops of vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup of light rum

2 Tbs. of finely ground coffee

Instant coffee crystals

Mix all ingredients in a blender and top with coffee crystals.

3. Wine Coffee Froth
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1 cup of cold coffee

2 ounces of Muscatel wine

2 tsp. of sugar

1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Pinch of cinnamon

Whip all ingredients until foamy and smooth . Serve over ice.

With all of these new recipes your set for your summer spread, the only thing your missing is some Lowcountry Blend for these new coffee cocktails. Cheers!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Caffeinate Charleston

 

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