Thursday, December 4, 2014

Caffeinate Your Holidays

Waking up at Kasem Island Resort (Thailand)

It was a long time coming, but I finally got hooked on coffee. I've always liked the taste, but now I've become attached to the ritual nature of it, the comforting aroma and that first hot sip that signals the official start of the day. Given the number of people walking around trying not to spill any of the latte clutched in one hand on the cell phone held in the other, I'm in good, or at least numerous, company. At least a gazillion people now drink coffee, which means that you or someone you know might appreciate the gift of coffee. So with the holidays fast approaching, I’ll let my other plans for posts, uh, percolate on the back burner, and instead write about a few great sources of coffee-based presents.

Recently I’ve started grinding my own coffee, which really has resulted in better-tasting brews. I often buy a bag of the Counter Culture  selection sold at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Beaner Bar when I stop in for a spicy Mexican Mocha. Beaner has great drinks and food, as well as cool artwork (there's a different featured artist each month) and small gifts, so it’s a great stop for warming up and re-energizing.  

If I don’t stock up at Beaner, I’ll usually order one of the excellent offerings from 44 North Coffee, custom roasters located on a small Maine island. I’ve always received
I leave the designs to the experts...
prompt service and great coffees. Note: I’m decidedly not a coffee expert; I just know what I like. I’m currently drinking their Bolivia brew and loving it. For something quite different, try the Cascara, an intensely flavorful coffee cherry tea. It’s allegedly high in caffeine content, but I haven’t had a problem falling asleep after drinking it, though that probably says more about me than about the tea. For a look into the small company/shop check out this video. (Warning: it will make you want to immediately head for Maine or the nearest coffee pot.)

Coffee Labs Roasters in Tarrytown, NY has been a favorite for high-quality coffee drinks and baked goods, but I never purchased its beans until I picked up some at a local supermarket when my home supply ran out. The coffee, I think it was “Witches Brew,” was superb, so based on that and knowing how dedicated, knowledgeable, and nice the owners and staff are, I’d recommend the mail order as well. There’s also free shipping until the New Year with checkout code “holidayship," which is a nice incentive to take one of their coffees for a test brew.

Fresh-brewed coffee needs an appropriate delivery system, and what better way to inspire (or terrify) than with a Henry Rollins Search and Destroy mug? I don’t have one yet, but they are not only spiffy but also guaranteed to develop your grip strength! Ok, I made that last part up, but at 19oz, it is a formidable mug worthy of conquering the groggiest of mornings. Disclaimer: no matter how much coffee people drink from the mug, they still won’t be able to accomplish as much as the peripatetic Mr. Rollins. Occupants, his book of photographs (and commentary) taken in far off and often little-traveled places, such as North Korea, makes an interesting coffee table addition. I knew I could bring this back around to travel!

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Gotta Gettaway by Josh Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.