Crisis In Your Coffee Cup , Why Now ?

Global warming, rain forest destruction, air and water pollution, genetic engineering, economic globalization and a host of other problems threatening our environment may seem so distant and vast as to be beyond the average person’s control. However there is a threat to our environment and health that is just as destructive and massive but is as close as your cup or kitchen. Coffee, the second most widely traded commodity in the world, has become a major threat to the world in recent times but there is something that every coffee drinker can do.

There are an estimated 25 million people worldwide whose livelihood is dependent on growing and selling coffee. From its humble beginnings in East Africa, coffee cultivation has spread to Central and South America, Southern Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. On the face of it, the cultivation of this tree crop looks like a friendly use of the earth and it was for a long time. This has dramatically changed recently due to two interconnected events that are simultaneously wrecking havoc on the environment; the people who work and live in coffee producing regions and you directly.

The first event is the dramatic increase in cultivation of the robusto variety of coffee trees. As opposed to the traditional arabica trees, these trees can tolerate more sunlight, have a higher caffeine content, grow at lower elevations, are more tolerant of pesticides and chemicals and produce more coffee beans per tree (estimated two thirds more beans than a shade grown arabica tree). Millions of acres of ecologically sensitive lands have been turned into groves for the cultivation of these robusto beans. The flood of these beans into the market place has had a devastating effect on the coffee market and the families who grow coffee. As documented by Oxfam ( an internationally recognized organization on global famine and exploitation, Brazil and Vietnam in particular, have flooded the world market with these robusto beans driving down the export price of coffee to 40 year lows and increasing the poverty and misery of the people in the coffee growing regions. Just as devastating has been the effect on the land: The arabica coffee trees were traditionally grown on smaller farms and estates with indigenous shade trees and at higher elevations. The robusto trees are being grown on huge farms that clear the land of all shade trees and indigenous vegetation. This is destroying the habitat for much of the animal wildlife and plant life that inhabits some of the most ecologically sensitive parts of the world: reducing the indigenous plant and wildlife by 75%-90%.

The second event has been the major increase in the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Coffee is now the third most chemically treated crop in the world, with the large robusto plantations putting huge amounts of dangerous chemicals into the soil, ground and surface waters and the ecology’s food chain. There are at least twelve chemicals (known as the dirty dozen) used on a massive level for coffee growing that are banned or highly regulated in industrialized nations. These chemicals are now being used on both the arabica and robusto coffee trees. The net effect has been the infusion of tons of these harmful chemicals into the ground, vegetation, ground and surface water, the drinking water and food of the people in coffee producing areas and infusing these poisons into the entire food chain including you the consumer of these coffees. These chemicals have been tied to birth defects, cancer and a number of other diseases. Directly ingested, some are toxic enough to kill children and adults.

The effect of this tremendous increase in the use of these chemicals has produced more destruction of the flora and fauna of the coffee producing regions that global warming or any other single factor. Dead streams and polluted rivers are becoming the norm in coffee producing areas. For example, the United States’ birdwatchers started documenting the rapid decline of migratory birds that travel between Central and South America and the U.S. Studies have shown that more than 150 species of birds thrive in shade grown organic coffee farms as opposed to less than twenty five in robusto farms. Discovering that the cause was the ‘double whammy’ of destructive robusto coffee growing practices and chemical use, no other than the United States’ Smithsonian Institute stepped in to both establish guidelines for growing ‘bird friendly’ coffee and to help the coffee industry start producing properly shaded coffee with organic methods. A number of individuals and environmental organizations from the United States have also joined this fight to save our environment and health like the Friends of the Earth, the Fair Trade Assn. and numerous organic-minded groups.

There are 107 million Americans who drink coffee on a regular basis with another 57 million occasional coffee drinkers. They consume an average of 1.7 cups per day. If you are an average coffee drinker you will consume approx. 34 gallons of coffee per year. This is the equivalent of the production of 18 coffee trees. These 18 coffee trees will be treated with 11and a half pounds of chemical fertilizers and pesticides each year. By changing to organic shade grown coffees you can make a big difference!

What you can do:

  • Ask for strictly organic, fair trade and/or bird friendly coffee whenever you buy coffee
  • Drink organic coffee: It tastes better and is better for you
  • Tell your friends to buy and drink only organic coffee
  • Ask the people at work to drink organic coffee
  • Ask restaurants, meetings and events where coffee is served to start using fair trade coffee

How forged steel knives are made

There are two main types of knives on the market today – Forged Steel and Stainless steel. Forged steel knives require more maintenance, but are easier to sharpen and most top quality knives are made of the forged varieties. Here below is how forged steel knives are made.

Many commercial companies that forge steel knives have been using 5160, 1084 and 1080. These are types of steel are used to create consumer grade forged steel knives. Each type of steel has consistent and unique properties.The initial step for the art of shaping the metal is called grain refinement which is composed of normalization, quenching and tempering.

At normalization, the stresses are removed from the blade that were created during it was forged. The blades are heated to a critical temperature of just about 1450 degrees Fahrenheit in a special furnace. The blades are cooled slowly in air and then continuously repeated three times depending on the type of steel used.

How to forge a knife

To refine the structure of the steel, the blades are said to be quenched. The knives are again heated to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit in a furnace. The blades are then dip into a liquid for it cool. The blades must have a temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit after it was dipped. The process is repeated for at least two times.

After quenching, the knife is still brittle and can be damaged if it is not tempered. Without being tempered, the knife has decreased hardness. The knives are again heated to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The blades are allowed to cool on still air.

Since the metal is still soft after it was heated, it is then grinded to take shaped. Using a belt grinder, the steel will take shape of a knife.

Once the knife has undergone the initial step, hardening takes place. To ultimately harden the knife, the blade will then be placed inside the furnace to a temperature of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. After the metal will reach this temperature, it will be then dip again for the metal to cool rapidly. The rapid cooling will create a crystalline structure that is impervious to breaking.

Since the hardening did not convert all the metal to a crystalline structure, the knife will be then subjected to a low temperature. During heating, the blade will be placed inside a salt tank and the duration will be 3 hours per turn. The said process will be repeated for at least two times.

The knife is said to be finish but must be polished to create a good look. The shape is refined to a blade silhouette and the edge is finalized to create a proper geometry. Belt sands are used to create different finishes depending on the design. .

A rustic finished is sand blasted to 60 microns, standard finished is sand blasted to 40 microns and tactical finished is sand blasted to 35 microns and etched in grey finished for design purposes.

Our Opinion of Stamped Steel – New Generation of Knife Steel

Made from Stamped Steel – the knife is lighter than it’s forged steel cousins such as Victorinox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife . The cold rolled steel blade is crafted out of stainless steel and comes delivered with a razor sharp, conical ground blade that has been ice tempered for extended use between sharpenings. The handle is made of solid rosewood finished in a chestnut lacquer.

A solid entry level chef knife, the Victorinox 8 Inch Chef’s Knife is both cosmetically appealing and functional. I love this knife. It’s sharper than any best paring knife I have purchased. Stays sharp and cuts tomatoes like butter, unlike some knives that smash the tomato flat.

The Victorinox 8 Inch Chef’s Knife is light and easy to use. The 8 inch blade is long enough to use for a wide variety of tasks and the knife was delivered with an impressive razor fine edge.

Although considerably lighter than knives made of forged steel, this knife will quickly become a favorite cutting tool for lighter jobs such as tomato cutting or soft vegetables such as celery or onions. For tougher root vegetables, the lightness of the knife works against it because of the reduced weight of the knife – making it necessary to use a lot more force on older potatoes.

You shouldn’t though expect this knife to last forever. Because it’s made out of stamped steel rather than forged, the edge will not last as long and will break down from sharpening considerably quicker than a forged steel will. Never the less, the knife for it’s value is a very good buy. Victorinox is owned by the famous Swiss Army Knife company and is made in Swizterland from a high carbon stainless steel.

The blade is sharpened from tip to handle, and features a fully riveted rosewood grip. Because the knife is made from stainless steel, it is dishwasher safe but it is not recommended to leave the knife soaking in water for extended periods as the Rosewood Handle could lose it’s finish – and we did notice a dulling in the finish of the handle after several dishwasher uses. Hand washing is best for all knives.

How To Choose a Right Espresso Machine?

There are basically two types of machines used in making espresso coffee. These machines include:

1. Steam driven machine

2. Pump driven machine

Below we are going to analyze the features of each and later at the end of the article make a conclusion as to what best nespresso machine to buy in order to make espresso coffee.


This espresso making machine uses steam pressure to make coffee. It forces the water to pass through the coffee grounds and produce espresso. Steam driven machine produce foam but do not provide the precise temperature required for a perfect espresso. One main advantage of the steam driven machine is that it costs less than the pump driven machine.


They pump driven machines use an electric powered pump to force water through the coffee grounds. There are two types of pump driven espresso making machines. They include:

  • Super automatic espresso machines
  • Semi automatic espresso machines

I am going to review this two types, how they work and their features.

Super automatic espresso machines – They are fully automated and almost all of their brewing operations are carried out with a press of a button. The brewers role is limited to filling the hopper with coffee ground and turning the machine on. The features of a super automatic espresso machine are as below:

  • Filling of water can be done manually or the user can connect the machine to a source where by the water is filled automatically.
  • The super automated espresso machine is one touch kind of a machine. All one is required to do is fill the coffee grounds and within minutes he or she has has his espresso ready.
  • There are models of the above machine that can dispense milk hence more options e.g. making latte.

Semi-automatic espresso machine – This is a machine that is not fully automated. Some operations are manually carried out while others are automatic. This espresso machine allows one to add a personal touch to his cup of espresso. The features include:

  • Controlled water temperature and pressure hence elimination of inconsistencies
  • One can adjust the steam and water flow to his liking.
  • Pump is manually operated hence can turn it on and off as he desires.iv. Lack of an in built grinder hence one has to use ground coffee.


If one does not have a big budget and wants to buy a cheap espresso machine then he should buy a steam driven espresso machine.
For persons who want to add a personal touch to their espresso a semi automatic espresso machine is the way to go but it is also tedious.
If one wants a good quality cup of espresso coffee he should buy a pump driven espresso machine and in that case a semi automatic espresso machine.
People who are busy and do not have much time to spend making coffee, they should buy the super automatic espresso machine.

Brewing the Best Coffee Possible with a French Coffee Press

For coffee lovers who want the best quality coffee possible, a conventional coffee pot will not be good enough. Nothing is better than the French press for its intense flavor and style. Allowing the coffee beans to mix directly with the water creates a thick and more flavorful cup of coffee because the best  french press (reviews by Thomas) allows the beans essential oils and sediments are not filtered out like they would be in an auto drip coffee maker. If you have a press, go dig it out from the cupboard and use the below ideas to get the best tasting coffee possible. Once you try the press, you may never want to go back to coffee makers again!

Cleaning the Coffee Press

The coffee press should be cleaned after each use to make sure that it stays in the optimum condition. The chafe can be washed in warm soapy water with your other dishes. The filter should be removed immediately after using the press. The filter will need to be disassembled before it can be cleaned. The disassembly and reassembly depends on the type of filter and you will need to pay close attention. The best method for cleaning the filter is using baking soda, warm water and an old toothbrush. Scrub the filter, rinse and repeat. You will know when it’s clean when it there is no smell of coffee in the filter.

Preventing Sediment

One problem with a French coffee press is that sediment can accumulate in the bottom of the press or in your cup if the coffee is finely grounded. This results from people using the blade grinder instead of the burr grinder. Make sure the coffee is coarsely grounded because finely grounded coffee won’t get caught in the filter efficiently which may be difficult to depress the plunger.

Smelling Coffee Beans

The best coffee is partially a matter of taste. People should smell their coffee beans before they try them so that they can get a sense of what the coffee will taste like. It is also important to grind the coffee beans instead of buying already ground coffee beans. In fact, the coffee beans should be ground as close to the time of drinking the coffee as possible to maximize the flavor.

Roasting Green Coffee Beans

Even better is to get green coffee beans and roast them. All coffee begins as green coffee beans and they are then roasted to give them the characteristic brown color. If you’re the do-it-yourself type then you can roast your own beans using an old hot air popper or a cast iron skillet. Make sure that you evenly roast the beans and not scorching them.

Purify the Water for the Best Taste

When people drink coffee, they are really drinking water with coffee added to it. For this reason, the taste of the coffee is largely determined by the quality of the water used to make the coffee. Purifying water will improve the quality of the coffee and can be performed affordably using water filter. Also, water shouldn’t be used that has an unpleasant smell because that water will end up in the coffee. Also, the water must be at a temperature between 195 degrees Fahrenheit and 200 degrees to produce the best possible cup of coffee.

Adding the Ingredients

All of these preparatory factors are not required to make a good cup of coffee and can be skipped for those who are in a hurry. However, each technique will contribute to making a better cup of coffee. With the water purified and the coffee beans freshly ground, coffee enthusiasts can measure out two tablespoons of coffee for every 8 ounces of water. For best results, the coffee should be dry and placed in a clean pot.

Brewing Process

  • Add the hot water to the pot slowly. Gently stir the water while doing so.
  • Place the lid on the coffee press in such a way that the steam from the coffee is not able to easily escape.
  • Start the plunge after three to five minutes. Push the plunger down carefully so that the screen pushes the grinds to the bottom.
  • Replunge if the grinds begin to escape. Push slowly.
  • Now the coffee is ready to be poured and enjoyed!

Refill anyone?

The Best Coffee Is At Home

For those who have ever dream to have home a perfectly balanced “Cappucino” or “Latte” tasting like the ones we can get at “Café Grumpy” in NYC, the answer is Nespresso pixie espresso maker. As a tourist in NYC I went to this coffee shop wondering what taste my “Cappucino” would be..and it was just delicious. Since then, I decided to get a Nespresso pixie espresso maker in order to have home “the best coffee in town” having in my mind the good memories of that summer holidays with my boyfriend now being my husband. I chose this particular coffee maker because I liked the cut design and color matching the color of my kitchen which is all brand new and, furthermore, it has a small handy size which is quite attractive. I am the type of being grumpy ( friendly applation for this nice coffee shop don’t you think?) when I just wake up and badly needs a good coffee to get my eyes straight. I must say that I love coffee. it makes me feel all warm in the inside and is an essential part of my day. In fact, it’s right up there with showering and brushing my teeth as a daily necessity.

While many may laugh at this addiction, others will nod their heads in agreement.I hate spending some time preparing it though, so Nespresso Pixie is just perfect to people like me as it allows us to prepare coffee very quickly. It has the capability to heat up very quickly and the coffee we get is very good and tasty, very hot which is a prerequisite for me, with excellent crema, just like the one you get at your favorite coffee shop.

Furthermore, its small size suits small kitchens which is practical when you live in an tiny apartment in the city. I often prepare a coffee to my husband tasting mine at the same time, that I bring to him in bed. I can tell you that’s the time of the day when I get the bigger smile on his scary sleepy face. In case you’ve been living under a rock for ther past 21 yearts of your life, let me clear something up for you Coffee is good for your health. Science agrees. It happens that I am addicted to coffee but not any coffee, I am quite fussy on tastes too, you may since I now that Coffee lovers are more likely to live longer, to be better athletes ( both on the field and at the gym), I am not ready to quite this habit, neither my husband. Sometimes after dinner when we feel like having a little treat, we pour our espresso over ice cream for a refreshing affogato. There is always adventure involved in tasting the mix of new flavors. I drink coffee like some people may drink wine. I could spend half of my day sitting down, grabbing a book an brewing up a cup of coffee. Having said this, it actually made me crave another cup of coffee today. I cannot wait to enjoy it.