How To Brew Coffee

Surviving the Vortex

 

You’ve heard us talk about how much we love winter.  The snowflakes on your eyelashes. The crispness of snow under your boots. The mornings of fresh powder on the mountain. 

But we've heard that another Polar Vortex is coming.  And we just got 15-inches of snow last week.  And my cute sweaters and vests have shrunk in the dryer.  In sum: It’s February and we’re over it. 

The challenge is that while we’re a little less than thrilled about the chilly temperatures, winter is still rolling on through.  So what to do?  Make the indoors, warm by the fireplace, that much more interesting.  Here’s what’s on our to-do list whilst the so-called Vortex makes its way through:

  • Warm up the house by turning on the oven!  Mocha Cake is first on the list.
  • Grow some flowers – or make them!  With a handful of pipe cleaners and K-Cup® packs, we’ll grow a garden to brighten the day.
  • Brew something cold!  Let’s kick-start warm weather with an iced coffee, sweet and creamy.  Or a raspberry iced tea, tart and tangy.  Or both.  Repeatedly until the sun comes back out.

 

What’s on your survival list? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mug Round Up

 

Mug shot! Mug’s up! Mug for the camera!  No matter how you say it, the mug you choose to hold your hot beverage of choice is of vital importance.  Spending a minute or so in front of the kitchen cabinet in search of ol’ faithful is not an odd occurrence in our office.  The tides turn quickly when you find that some else has selected your mug – commence death stare across the cubical line.  Thankfully, there’s always time to snag it back.  Or to reconsider your mug mood.  Oh yes: mug moods.  A favorite mug for every occasion, every beverage, for every emotion.  

 

Travel mug.  This is a no-nonsense mug: signed, sealed, and steaming.  Knock into me if you’d like, fellow commuter on the sidewalk, but you will not mess with my brew.  This one travels far.

 

The Love mug:  All is shiny and wonderful in the world – and everyone else should know it.  Brewing a hot cocoa with a dollop of whipped cream into this little beauty shouts: today is a great day to ask me a favor.  Love is in the air.

 

The Tankard: Elegant, yes, but that elegance disguises the need for coffee and lots of it.  A tankard of Dark Magic® coffee means you’re stressed…but you’d rather not let everyone else know.

 

So: Which mug are you clutching today?

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Highlighting our Keurig Brewing Systems

It's true: We have something for everyone. Whether or not you are a cappuccino fanatic, or savor your cup of coffee or even like to indulge in a creamy chai latte we have a beverage for every taste and occasion. To match that we offer a killer line-up of brewing systems that will delight and inspire you to brew what you love to drink.  For me, I have recently become a huge fan of the Keurig® Rivo® Cappuccino & Latte system, and I have also fallen in love with the Keurig® Mini Plus brewers that come in almost every color you could hope for. 

 

 

The Keurig® Rivo® brewer is a sleek, compact and stylish machine that can create cappuccinos, lattes and iced lattes with ease. The first time I used it I was amazed at how easily I could create a cappuccino that for so long had only be available to me outside of my home. It brought to life the reality that, yes, I can have specialty coffee beverages at home nearly in an instant. To add to that, I had fun experimenting with the flavored syrups and dreaming up combinations of vanilla, caramel and chocolate all in one.

 

 

I recently moved in with my fiancé, and combining all our “stuff” was a challenge – why in the world did we need 2 sets of white dinner plates, bowls and salad plates? Clearing out and making space was a challenge, except when I came time to finding a space for my Keurig® Mini Plus brewer.  This little guy not only is adorable and comes in super fashionable colors (Hello, Radiant Orchid, Fashion color of the year?!), but is a welcome appliance on our counter that doesn’t take up too much space, all while being a workhorse when it comes to brewing my daily morning coffee.  

 

Keurig Vue V700 Brewing System

 

Last but not least there is the Keurig® Vue® V700 Brewing System for all of you in between folks who love their coffee, but also want the option to brew delicious café beverages and specialty drinks with ease.  This machine packs it all into one, while also giving you the option to brew hotter, brew bigger, and brew stronger

Don’t forget that almost all (minus Rivo) of our brewing systems also come models that are perfect for the work place.

No matter what your taste, both in style and beverage we have something to help delight and inspire you to brew!

 

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Test Your Coffee I.Q.

 

 

In case you didn't know, it’s National Trivia Day. Find out how much (or how little) you know about coffee with this 5-question trivia quiz.

 

1.        What is the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee?

a)     Hawaii

b)     Florida

c)     Louisiana

d)     California 

 

 

2.        The name cappuccino comes from:

a)     The drink’s resemblance to the brown cowls worn by Capuchin monks

b)     The similitary in color to fur of Capuchin monkeys

c)     The Italian puccino, meaning ‘light brown one’

d)     The size of the cup in which it’s commonly served 

 


                               

3.        Coffee was the first food to be

a)     Shipped from Europe to the New World

b)     Freeze-dried

c)     Used in Aztec religious ceremonies

d)     Roasted and ground for drinking


 

4.        40% of the world’s coffee is produced by

a)     Africa

b)     Turkey

c)     Columbia and Brazil

d)     Southeast Asia 


 

 

5.        Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee (up to $600 per pound) is:

a)     Processed during a full moon

b)     Brewed only with solid gold pots

c)     Made from coffee beans eaten and then excreted by a Sumatran wild cat

d)     Grown at a higher altitude than any other bean 

 

Answers: 

1. Answer (a) 

2. Answer (a)

3. Answer (b)

4. Answer (c)

5. Answer (c) 

 

Question Source: The Amazing Quiz Challenge (Reader’s Digest Association)

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A Blog Year in Review: Behind the Scenes of The Family of Brands Blog


It’s beyond me how quickly 2013 came and went. It seems like just yesterday I was wearing shorts and was able to run outside without piling on the layers, and breathing in the fresh lilacs in my yard…ahhh…

This past year has been an amazing array of sweets and treats, and special visitors. As the photographer and baker for many of our posts I have had the pure joy of taking it all in from behind the scenes – both by sampling and baking a spread of cookies for our cookie swap, and taking part in a coffee tasting with farmers from Colombia and truly being able to see the phrase “From Tree to Cup” come to life.

It’s hard for me to pick just one highlight of 2013, but here are five of my top posts from the year. I chose them not only for the fun I had making all the treats and photographing them, but for the inspiration I gained from seeing how our brewers, beverages and products can come to life in a new way! 

 

1:  Velvety French Vanilla Coffee Gelato. Creamy, Velvety, and delicious!

2: Infused Ice Cubes.  Genius really. Double the flavor and impact by freezing your favorite brew.

3: Barista Prima Caffe Rouge.  Who knew such an odd combination could be so perfectly paired.

4. Strawberry Basil Lemonade Granita. This had to be the most refreshing, quick and easy dessert.

5. Last but not least was Spooky Treats Part II.  Wowzer that cake is good.

 

I’m looking forward to what this New Year brings! I’m dreaming up new recipes and ideas, as well as challenging myself with some new years resolutions. I can’t wait to ring in 2014! Cheers!

 

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Barista Beef Stew Recipe

 

We all know how much turkey we ate during Thanksgiving, and now, as we come upon Christmastime and other major holidays, we know we will indulge in  ham, pork, and, do we dare say again, even more turkey? And so, we’ve been trying to counter that poultry malaise with a slew of other dinner options. We have one more for the month: Barista Beef Stew!  A one pot meal, beef stew sticks to your ribs, fills you up, and warms you all over. No wonder cowboys make it on the trail.  Being who we are, we had to add a little of Barista Prima® Italian Roast coffee to the mix, which helps to bring out the flavor of the mushrooms and thyme. Cowboy, meet barista.

Barista Beef Stew

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 Barista Prima Italian Roast K-Cup® or Vue® pack, brewed at 8-oz. setting
  • 1 14-oz. can beef broth
  • 12-oz. whole button or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced

 

Directions

Heat large Dutch oven and add 1 Tablespoon oil. Cook beef in two batches, browning on all sides.  Transfer to bowl or plate.  Add remaining oil to Dutch oven along with onions, garlic, and thyme.

Cook, stirring, 5-minutes or until softened.  Add wine, coffee and broth, scrapping up brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the beef and accumulated juices back to the Dutch oven and add mushrooms and bay leaf.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1-hour.

Add carrots and simmer, covered, 30-minutes or until beef is tender.  Stir in peas and parsley and cook for 5-minutes or until cooked through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Do You Want to Win Free Keurig K-Cup Packs For an Entire Year?

There aren’t many things that are better than coffee and prizes, except maybe the two of them combined. Well, luckily Green Mountain Coffee® The Perfect Cup Sweepstakes gives you the opportunity to win just that, coffee and prizes! You have the chance to receive free Keurig® K-Cup® packs for an entire year!

One grand prize Sweepstakes winner will receive one Keurig® Platinum Single Cup Brewer, two 24-count boxes of Keurig Brewed® K-Cup® packs every four weeks for 12 months, and a $500 check.

Now that’s a grand prize! And that’s not all, the deal gets even sweeter. Upon entering the Sweepstakes, you will also receive one Instant Win Game Play for that day, which gives you the opportunity to win daily prizes!

I bet you’re dying to know how to enter. Let me fill you in…

  • Go to www.perfectcupsweeps.com or the Café Express Savings Club Facebook page to find the Perfect Cup Sweeps™ application. To access the application on Facebook, you must “like” the page first.
  • Once you have followed the links and instructions to complete the application, submit the form!
  • By entering your information on the application you will automatically receive one entry into the Sweepstakes drawing and one Instant Win game play for that day.
  • Next, play the Instant Win games for a chance to win daily and weekly prizes!

Each participant may enter the Sweepstakes and play the Instant Win games a maximum of one time per day during the promotion period. One Instant Win player each week will receive a Keurig® Platinum Single Cup Brewer and one player each day will win a Green Mountain Coffee® Regular Variety K-Cup® pack Sampler.

This promotion ends on March 31, 2014, so start playing now for your chance to win coffee and prizes on a daily and weekly basis. You might even win the grand prize! What would you do with free K-Cup® packs for an entire year?

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Ask the Coffee Lab: How Do You Become a Coffee Taster?

Discussing a cupping session at the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Coffee Lab

How does someone become a coffee taster?  Did you go to school for it?

Can you imagine being paid to drink coffee? We are! We joke in the lab about how fun it is to say, “Yes,  I get paid to drink coffee.”

Let’s talk vocabulary first. Coffee taster is sort of a generic word for anyone who has to evaluate brewed coffee in some shape or form. We have employees at all our production sites who evaluate coffee and they’re part of the quality teams that dot our landscape at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.

Some folks are on Development teams making up new concoctions and recipes all the time - and naturally they do a lot of tasting. In the Coffee Lab, when we want to change a recipe for a blend, we brew up the proposed change and taste it. At that point we’re all coffee tasters.

Generally the coffee tasters are employees who show an enthusiasm and interest in coffee and sensory evaluation. You might be one of those people – the kind who revel in good food and are fussy about what they eat and drink. They have a great nose. They’re the kind of people who walk into a room after Julie Ann has left 30 minutes earlier and say, “Did I just miss Julie Ann? I can smell her rose water perfume” or other redolent scent that no one else in the room can smell.

In some cases, there are some sensory tests we put employees through. One of the harder ones is putting very small amounts of salt, sugar, and bitter in water and asking them to distinguish which one is which and what the mix is.

If we are evaluating coffee for purchase, then we call that cupping. Cupping is coffee tasting, but it has the slurping and spitting. There are more protocols and processes than tasting and the training is a little more rigorous.

There’s no school per se for coffee cupping, but there are many courses and training. The Coffee Quality Institute (www.coffeeinstitute.org) has the famous Q Grader Course. A five day, 24 test course, it’s rigorous, thorough, exhausting and hard to pass. At least for me it was, but pass I did!

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Water: It’s a Matter of Good Taste

Celebrate National Water Quality Month by Treating your Keurig Brewer Right

It’s perhaps less well-known than Black History Month, but a little more relevant to most of us than National Celery Month (which apparently is March). That’s right, August is Water Quality Month!

At Green Mountain Coffee®, we have our own way of celebrating and improving our water through a series of river clean-ups in the communities in which we work. You can learn more about those great efforts here and this entire week!

But we also wanted to take a moment to share some ideas about getting the best out of your own water, specifically as it relates to your Keurig Brewed® beverages.

Did you know that your cup of coffee is over 98% water? So it stands to reason that the better the taste and quality of your water, the better your coffee will be. The same holds true for tea and cocoa (not to mention all those Brew Over Ice beverages like lemonade, iced tea, and fruit brews that are helping you chill out this summer).

When it comes to the water you choose for your brew, we suggest using clean, filtered water such as you would get from a tap or pitcher filter. While some mineral content helps to lend flavor and depth to your brews – for that reason, distilled water is not recommended – you don’t want to have an overabundance of minerals…or the wrong ones.  

OK, so you’ve got good tasting (and smelling) water, now you’ll want to make sure the inner-workings of your brewer are clean. Keurig® recommends de-scaling your brewer every 3-6 months depending on the hardness of your water. Don’t know how to de-scale? Here’s a quick video tutorial.

Once you’ve assured good water and a clean machine, the last 2% of getting a great cup is easy: just pick your favorite variety K-Cup® or Vue® pack and let your Keurig® brewer do its thing.

Oh, and if you have a chance to do something to help clean up the waterways in your community or to support water conservation programs here or abroad, think how much more satisfaction you’ll get from that great cup of coffee or tea. Learn more about water quality issues at www.nrdc.org/water.

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Helping My Mom Chill Out

Amy's Mom Chilling Out

My parents recently bought their first Keurig® brewer as a show of support for when I became a genuine Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. employee. In contrast to their 27-year-old drip maker, the Keurig® brewer was clean, fast, and – most important for my mother who panics when she has to use an ATM – easy to use. She called me the other day to let me know how nice it was that she no longer had to choke down my father’s “Hair on Your Chest” coffee and that she could enjoy what he calls her “Fru-fru Flavored” brews.

In that moment, I decided she was ready for the next level in K-Cup® pack satisfaction.

Me: You know, Mom, you can also make cold drinks from the brewer. Iced tea and lemonade, n’stuff.

Mom: Oh, no, I didn’t realize that. I don’t drink iced tea anymore (Estelle thought it could lead to kidney stones), but lemonade would be nice.

Me: Yeah, it’s actually just the same process as brewing hot drinks.

Mom: I didn’t see a cold button on the machine. Where is that?

Me: There isn’t one. You’re still brewing hot, but you do it over ice in a glass…well, not in a glass. Don’t use glass.

Mom: How come?

Me: Remember that time I tried to cool a pot of hot soup by putting it on the glass shelf in the refrigerator?

Mom: That was a mess.

Me: Yeah. So use a plastic tumbler. Just fill it with ice and brew like you would a regular cup of coffee.

Mom: I could make an iced coffee!

Me: For sure. Except, you’re supposed to use special Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs. They’re more concentrated so the melting ice doesn’t dilute the flavor too much.

Mom: Wow, Amy, you sure know your stuff. Of all my children, you are clearly the smartest.

OK, I may have embellished that last part, but the soup disaster is totally true. The cool part is that my mom gets to show off to all her friends how Keurig®-savvy she is.

And now, you can, too!

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Mother’s Day Breakfast Recipe: Tully’s Coffee Cake

Tully’s Coffee Cake Recipe for Mother's Day

You have the coffee to make mom feel extra special on Mother’s Day morning, but what to serve with it?  We have a slew of favorite recipes from Amber to wow your mom (her Wild Mountain Blueberry™ pound cake comes to mind), but how about a salute to mom's favorite full-bodied, artisanal flavor with a tender slice of coffee cake from our Vermont kitchen? 

Tully’s® Coffee Cake

Ingredients

Streusel:

- ¾ cup sugar

- 1 teaspoon cinnamon

- ¾ cup walnuts or pecans

Cake:

- 3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

- 2 teaspoons baking powder

- 1 teaspoon baking soda

- 1 ½ teaspoons salt

- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

- 6 ounces Tully’s® Italian Roast, cold

- ¾ cup sour cream

- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

- 1 ¾ cups sugar

- 3 large eggs

Glaze:

- 2 ounces Tully’s® Italian Roast, cold

- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

Directions

- Brew 8 ounces Tully’s® Italian Roast (available in bags, K-Cup® and Vue® packs). Place in refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours prior to using.

- Preheat oven to 350° F.

- Butter and flour either a Bundt pan or a 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside.

Prepare streusel. Finely chop nuts, and then combine with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside for later use.

- Prepare dry ingredients of cake. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

- In a separate bowl prepare, combine 6 ounces cold Tully’s® Italian Roast, vanilla, and sour cream. Whisk. Set aside.

- In a separate bowl, beat together the softened butter and 1 ¾ cups sugar until fluffy and light. If using a standing mixer, beat on medium for about 5 minutes. If using a hand mixer, beat on medium for about 10 minutes. Then, mix in 1 egg at a time on the low setting.

- Combine the coffee, vanilla, and sour cream mixture (previously set aside) with the butter, sugar, and egg mixture.

- Combine wet and dry ingredients in the following manner, stirring after each step. Combine ⅓ of dry mix with ½ wet mix and stir. Add ⅓ dry mix and remaining wet mix and stir. Add the remaining dry mix and stir. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is well mixed.

- Pour half of the batter into your baking pan. Add all of the streusel mixture, spread in an even layer. Top with remaining batter.

- Bake at 350° for about 60 - 70 minutes, until golden brown and the cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, and a knife or skewer, once inserted, comes out cleanly.

- Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, if using a Bundt pan, invert cake onto rack or a serving plate; carefully remove pan (gently slide a knife around the side of the pan if necessary to loosen cake) and let cake cool completely.

- For glaze, mix sifted powdered sugar with remaining 2 ounces of cold Tully’s® Italian Roast until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

- Let glaze harden for a few minutes, and then serve (with even more Tully’s® Italian Roast paired with it).

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Coconut Vanilla Cream Coffee Recipe for Mom

Coconut Vanilla Cream Coffee Recipe from Green Mountain Coffee

Breakfast in bed is the quintessential way to kick-off a quality Mother’s Day.  Mom gets to lounge, kids get creative in the kitchen, and dad gets to coordinate to make it all happen (and clean it all up)!  To simplify the process but still give mom that special, “For me?” moment, how about brewing her up a little something sweet and tropical in your Keurig® brewer?

Coconut Vanilla Cream

Ingredients

- Green Mountain Coffee® Island Coconut® K-Cup® pack, Vue® pack, or bagged coffee

- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

- ½ - 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

- 2 teaspoons of heavy cream or whipped cream

Directions

- Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar into a large mug

- Brew or pour 6-8 ounces of Green Mountain Coffee® Island Coconut® into the mug

- Add ½ - 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to taste

- Stir

- Pour 2 teaspoons of heavy cream over the backside of a spoon into the mug creating a layered effect or top with whipped cream

Tip from the Brew Team

- Don’t stir again after adding the heavy cream or whipped cream. Sip the coffee through the cream and transport your senses!

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Brewing the "Millennium Challenge Macchiato"

Below is a Guest Post by Jonathan Bloom from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). On April 29th, MCC awarded GMCR with its 2013 Corporate Award. 

"At the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), we work with partners across the world. By the time I arrive at the office, there are often emails from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America that need a quick response.

That’s why the coffee pot is my first stop each morning. And that’s why a coffee addict like me was thrilled to hear that we are honoring Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) with our Corporate Award for its sustainability work to improve the lives of the world’s vulnerable populations.

The award got me thinking on a recipe for a great new drink using the products of both Green Mountain Coffee and MCC’s beneficiaries from across the world. So prepare to treat your taste buds with the Millennium Challenge Macchiato.

Millennium Challenge Macchiato

1)      Start with Green Mountain's Sumatran Lake Tawar whole-bean coffee from Indonesia and grind as fine as possible. As you brew the perfect shot of espresso, take delight in knowing that one of the suppliers of this dark roast, the Gayo Organic Farmers Association, has started a project to bring safe drinking water to more than 1,500 people. The cooperative has also saved funds to help farmers with the reconstruction of their homes, many of which were destroyed in recent fighting, and to aid in the construction of two new schools.

2)      Steam milk sold by dairy farmers in El Salvador’s Northern Zone. As the steam rises, take a moment to read how many dairy farmers are now enjoying a higher income because MCC helped about 17,500 people by providing training, seeds, equipment, and technical assistance. The agency also built or rehabilitated more than 220 kilometers of road and 23 bridges as part of a five-year, $461 million compact.

3)      Pour the milk into the espresso and top with foam.

4)      Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon from the legendary spice island of Zanzibar on top to give it a pleasing kick. As you enjoy that first sip, read a bit about how MCC is strengthening the island’s electrical grid with the aim of increasing investment and reducing poverty.  Or if you have a sweet tooth, add a bit of cocoa from Ghanaian farmers who are more effectively receiving payment on their harvest, thanks to the computerization of rural banks as part of MCC’s five-year, $547 million compact."

Jonathan Bloom is the acting vice president for compact operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. On April 29, GMCR CEO Brian Kelley accepted the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Corporate Award—recognition for the work that GMCR does to create a sustainable future for its farmer partners.

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DIY K-Cup Pack Easter Baskets

K-Cup Pack Easter Basket

While I’m no glue gun goddess, I’ve been known to enjoy a good crafting session.  With Easter just around the corner, I have my DIY Easter list narrowed down to one project: K-Cup® pack Easter Baskets!  This little beauty came from Karen on our Sustainability team.  Cute and bunny-sized, how could I not give it a try?  Here’s how to do it: 

1. Brew your favorite Keurig Brewed® coffee – perhaps Green Mountain Coffee® Island Coconut® to welcome in spring?  Sip, savor, and enjoy that cup!  (And let the brewed K-Cup® pack cool down a touch.)

2. Once cooled, carefully remove the foil lid, filter, and coffee grounds.  Your soon-to-be planted garden will appreciate a little coffee ground compost.

3. Gently wash out and towel-dry the empty K-Cup® pack.*   

4. Poke two small holes on each side of the K-Cup® pack below the lip and thread each end of your pipe cleaner through to create a handle.

5. Fill with Eater grass and your favorite candies.  Jelly beans and candy coated chocolate eggs are our favorites. 

6. Delight your family with this bunny-sized treat on Easter morning!

*Psst - If you want to add more color, grab some paint, glue, rhinestones, - you name it - , and decorate the pack before putting in the pipe cleaner handle.

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Happy National Coffee Day!

It’s National Coffee Day!  While you know we’d use any excuse – finished breakfast, found a lost sock, waiting for a haircut, you get the idea – to enjoy a good cup of coffee, today is the day that no excuses are necessary!  To celebrate, we’re all brewing up our favorite coffees, just the way we like them.  But how does our blogger team like to take their coffee?  We weren’t so, so we asked!

Roger - "I like very strong, dark roasted coffee and I drink it black as night."

Missy "I like iced coffee year-round and take it as follows… strict guidelines, you know."

 

Winston - "My wife says I am an old man and stuck in my ways. I'm only 47 and I disagree, I just like what I like. At night before bed, I put out my French press, my whipped honey, the blue mug that my aunt made, and I fill the kettle with enough water for the pot. When I get up (and I get up pretty early) it's all ready for me. I like Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in a French press, served with honey and half and half. I know, it's heresy to use condiments in such a nice clean coffee like that. But I'm 47 and I can have my coffee any way I like it."

 

Amanda - “I love the unaltered taste and aroma of black coffee. No sugar, no cream masking the flavors of a great Sumatran or Kenyan. Every now and then though, I enjoy a splash of almond milk (lactose and I don’t mix), whose nutty flavor brings out the earthy notes in my coffee.”

Kristen - "I don’t drink coffee, but I’ll happily say that I take ice cream with my coffee – who doesn’t love an affogato?  Coffee and ice cream? The perfect combination."

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Ask the Coffee Lab: How Do You Know When Coffee Is Good?

“When you at Green Mountain buy coffee to roast, how do you know it’s going to taste good?”


We drink a lot of coffee here as part of our jobs. And even better, we get paid to drink and then evaluate it. Even though a lot of evaluating any beverage you drink for pleasure is subjective, there are still some objective ways to judge coffee for purchase. By the way, I should explain: I'm talking about the Coffee Department in Waterbury, Vermont, where we shop for and buy the millions of pounds of green coffee that we then roast and package and ship all around the United States and Canada.

We can't taste every single pound of coffee we buy (though that would be fun), but we do taste a lot. And when I say taste, I'm really talking about cupping, which is the professional version of tasting. (Want to know more about cupping and slurping, go here: “Why slurp?”).

We buy coffee by the container, which is the big metal box you see on large shipping vessels. Generally speaking, you can put about 42,000 pounds of green coffee in one container. When we evaluate that lot of coffee, the seller sends us a composite sample from that huge pile of green coffee. A few beans from this bag, a few from that bag, a few from that bag over there, until we have one pound of green coffee ready for us to roast and cup.

Before we roast it, however, we measure how wet or dry the coffee is in terms of moisture level. If it comes in too wet, it might not have been properly dried at origin, or maybe it got wet on the boat ride over the ocean. If it's too dry, it might be old coffee. We still cup it, but that's an example of an objective way to evaluate coffee.

We do a visual inspection of each sample as well. It should generally be a uniform color and size, without foreign material, bits of stone, twigs, and beans with insect damage (among other issues.) Even if a sample looks sub optimal, we still cup it, but note the state of the sample. Some coffees look beautiful, but don't taste that great while some coffees don't look so great but taste amazing.

Penny Raymond in our Coffee LabWe roast the samples ourselves so that we can control that important stage. And then the real proof is in the cup. We use the Specialty Coffee Assosication of America cupping sheet to tally our scores, average up the scores and then decide if the coffee passed the grade or not. The cupping sheet lets you score based on fragrance/aroma, flavor, acidity, body, aftertaste, balance, uniformity, clean cup, sweetness, and then there are ways to score defects and taints in the coffee as well. If it seems like a lot to keep track of, after the first 1-2,000 samples, it gets easier. Our supply chain uses the same scoring system so that we can all communicate in the same language, in spite of everyone speaking so many different languages.

We like metrics here and so we keep track of a lot of our activities:

  • I can tell you that I have cupped 3,779 samples of coffee this year.
  • For every sample (1 sample represents a container), we put out 6 cups of brewed coffee to evaluate. So in the past 12 months, I have "put a spoon" in 45,348 different cups of coffee.
  • Two of my coworkers, Brent and Penny, cup more than I do (4,613 and 3,756 respectively).

So, if you ask how we know if the coffee will taste good, it's because we drink so much of it. We drink the bad stuff so that you won't have to. On top of that, every sample that we cup was also cupped by the importer, by the exporter, and even by the co-op or farm. There are many, many ways for a coffee to shine or receal itseld as an imposter of great coffee.

Next time you have a nice cup of our coffee, don't forget how much work went into making it a nice cup of coffee, and also don't forget all the work that went into making sure it's not a bad cup of coffee.

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The Doctor's In for Brew Over Ice!

Here on the PR team, we’re all super excited about a recent…doctor’s visit.

Before you assume I’m about to go seriously TMI and tell you about my last physical, let me assure you that I’m not talking about my general practitioner…or any old doctor. I’m talking about THE doctor: Dr. Gadget. Last Friday, the “Guru of Giveaways” featured Keurig® Platinum Brewer and Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs on The View’s hottest summertime gadgets segment.

 “What it’s all about is this new system that they’ve got with the K-Cup®!” Dr. Gadget said, demonstrating how to Brew Over Ice with Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Hasselback.

Both Elizabeth and Dr. Gadget noted that the Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs, ranging in variety from Celestial Seasonings® Perfect Iced Teas to The Original Donut Shop® Sweet & Creamy iced coffee, are specially formulated to retain their flavor when brewed directly over ice.

“You guys know how when you take coffee and put it over ice it gets all watered down?” Dr. Gadget asked the cheering crowd. “Well, not anymore!”

And here in Vermont where the mercury has been regularly rising to a staggering 99°F lately, we are so thankful for that.

The lucky studio audience on set that day got a brewer and K-Cup® packs to take home. No surprise there, as Dr. Gadget gives away more than $200,000 worth of products on average to The View’s audiences, according to his website. He even coined the phrase, “Everybody Gets One!” (Seriously, he did. I thought it was Oprah, too.) Anyway, we’re all thrilled to have the doctor’s approval; he even described Brew Over Ice as “perfectly blended” with a “great formula”!

Want to beat the heat in your area? Get in on this cool (literally) summertime trend ASAP! I’ve been sipping away on my Sweet & Creamy Nutty Hazelnut iced coffee in the office every day, and I think you need some in your life. You can get this tasty summer cool-down in a cup at our website, and check us out on The View in the clip below—we come in at 2:32.

Stay cool!

 

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Beating the Heat the Green Mountain Way

Yesterday was not only the first official day of summer, but here in Vermont the temperature reached a record-breaking 95 degrees! While we native Vermonters are used to winter conditions – it can snow anytime between November and April around these parts – this heat wave is really throwing us for a loop. We know how to keep warm with a down snowsuit, a hand-knit hat, and a steamy mug of coffee but keeping cool is a new phenomenon altogether.

As someone who drives a non-air-conditioned truck, and whose house is kept cool by a series of fans and open windows, beating the heat can be a bit of an art form. These past two days have seen me relying on my Keurig® brewer to chill me out, brewing cup after cup (after cup, after cup) of my favorite Brew Over Ice iced beverages.  I’ve been drinking my favorite summer treat, Brew Over Ice Nantucket Blend Iced Coffee, to both cool me down, and perk me up.  Until today.

You can imagine my horror today when I realized I was not the only one at the office using Brew Over Ice to beat this week’s heat – when I went to the break room to make myself a cup, I discovered the box of Nantucket Blend Iced coffee was completely empty! After frantically searching for just one more K-Cup® pack, I had to accept that I was going to find a different way to refresh myself.

I decided to try and fend off my disappointment, and the high temperatures, with the Original Donut Shop’s new Sweet and Creamy Nutty Hazelnut Iced Coffee. After all, it was sitting right next to my beloved Nantucket Blend on the shelf. I filled up my plastic cup with ice, popped the K-Cup® pack in the brewer, and pressed the 8-oz. brew setting. I took a curious first sip, and then another deep slurp. The mix of toasty hazelnut and coffee flavors, and the sweet cream notes was the perfect way to beat the heat, and give me that afternoon perk I craved.

I think I’ve just found the best way for a Vermonter to keep cool in the summer months - how are you beating the heat today?

 

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Simple Tips for a Happy and Healthy Summer

As a competitive runner, people usually assume that I'm some sort of superhuman fitness and nutrition guru who dedicates her entire day to becoming a healthier person. While eating like an athlete certainly takes work (I regularly fight urges to binge on some very sugary snacks, in case you're wondering), I'd be lying if I said that intense workouts and a rigid diet are my entire life. I think I've managed to find a relatively simple path toward a healthier lifestyle - one that doesn't require sweating profusely in the gym five times per day or eating chalky nutritional supplements on a daily basis.

With summer quickly approaching, several of my friends have asked me for some guidance about slimming down (swimsuit weather is almost here!) and incorporating more nutritious foods into their diets. And let me tell you - they were all stunned at the incredibly easy and straightforward advice I gave them about how I maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle every day. Here are some of my not-so-secret tips for success.

While many people feel like they need to run or jog several miles a day for an effective cardio workout, I've found that hiking and mountain biking are also enjoyable alternatives that fit nicely into my daily routine. On beautiful sunny days, it’s hard to make myself return indoors even after finishing a workout, so I’ll hike some local trails if I feel that more vitamin D and exercise are necessary. Similarly, I love exploring the beautiful back roads of Vermont on the weekends by bike. As long as you get outside and start moving, there's no reason you need to make a cardio workout feel like torture.

To be honest, I've tried cutting snacks and desserts out of my life and it just hasn't worked. Even if I manage to go a day or two without indulging, I typically find myself gravitating towards the junk food isle looking for sugary sweets. Once I came to terms with this inevitable reality, I learned to adjust my eating habits so that my snacks benefit my diet. I try to keep low-fat cheeses in the fridge along with an assortment of fruits.

However, my secret weapon to nutritional success is my Keurig® brewer. While it's great for brewing a hot cup of coffee in the morning, I primarily use it to enjoy a variety of my favorite hot tea flavors, such as Mandarin Orange Spice, India Spice Chai, Green Tea, Mint Medley and English Breakfast. Not only are these flavors rich in antioxidants, but they're also incredibly convenient to make and taste great - all it takes is the push of a button. 

I will admit – when I cross the finish line after a hard race, I often opt for a thick vanilla milkshake rather than tea.  Reward yourself!  A healthy lifestyle change doesn’t have to mean “die” with a t.  So, there you have it. It doesn't take much to lead a healthier lifestyle - all you need to do is make time to get outside and incorporate nutritional snacks into your everyday life in order to get off on the right foot.

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Mid-spring fun in the sun

I wasn't going to waste a second of the gorgeous spring weather, so I gathered a couple of buddies for some pickup games at the rec park. It was nice to shed sweaters and raincoats in favor of a t-shirt and shorts as we took in the warm sunshine. We started off with some half-field soccer and finished up by just throwing a Frisbee around for the last couple hours - just how a nice spring afternoon should be spent.

Honestly, one of my favorite parts of playing with close friends on the weekends is the sideline banter. Even though we don't take our games all that seriously, we all have a bit of a competitive side that tends to come out as we play. The amount of good-natured trash talk that's thrown around during our water breaks is hilarious and makes the games much more fun. Minor boasting turns into bragging, and soon enough it just goes straight to outright insults.

We had all gotten so used to the cool, rainy weather that we all forgot how hot it gets running around in the sun all day. By the end of the afternoon, we were all a little burned, or parched, or both and looking for a cool place to relax. I invited everyone back to my house, which happens to be the closest and the one with by far the best selection of iced tea and iced coffee (might have something to do with working for a coffee company...) . Luckily, I stocked up on plenty of K-Cup® packs for my Keurig® brewer before the weekend, so I had plenty to go around.

Some of my friends are relative newcomers to the one-touch convenience of the Keurig® system, and they were especially surprised by the Brew Over Ice varieties. It only took a quick demo before I had requests for both iced tea and iced coffee - vital caffeine supplements to help us recover from our post-sports malaise.

All in all, it was a great afternoon with the guys that I hope we can keep going all spring and summer long. Here's to hoping that Mother Nature is willing to play along with the good weather...

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