• Getting Wrapped Up in Mochi: Making Coffee-Infused Treats with the Japanese Sticky Dough

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 10, 2017

    Cold mochi — a sticky, sweet rice cake wrapped around a refreshing ball of ice cream — is a hot treat right now, popping up in grocery stores and restaurants in a slew of fun flavors.

    It’s a complex melding of textures and temps. But it turns out that if you know how to make a biscuit, you can make your own mochi. Here’s what it takes to make your own coffee-flavored cold mochi treat.

    Making Mochi

    Mochi is made with Mochiko, a sweet rice flour ground from short-grain rice. The type of flour is important; the wrong rice flour — and there are many — will leave you with hard mochi or a gluey mess. But like with biscuits, once you have the right ingredients, the process of making mochi dough is simple enough. Just mix the dry ingredients (Mochiko, sugar) with liquid (a cup of strong coffee is perfect), stir and microwave.

    Then comes the hard part. Mochi is incredibly sticky. That’s especially a problem when it’s fresh out of the microwave, but it’s still quite sticky even when cool. Ward off trouble by liberally sprinkling cornstarch on anything that you suspect will touch the mochi — countertops, kitchen implements and especially your hands.

    You’ll want to give just as much attention to the ice cream: Make sure you use a quality ice cream that will freeze hard, and use a cookie scoop to maintain a uniform size. When picking out the ice cream for this homemade coffee mochi, consider how it will pair with your favorite coffee drink. For example, chocolate ice cream goes well with mocha, while vanilla is a good match for a traditional latte.

    There are a couple of techniques for getting the mochi around the ice cream. You can roll out the dough and cut out the mochi wraps using a biscuit cutter or a glass coated with cornstarch. Or you can pinch off dough and, using your cornstarch-covered fingers, work the mochi into a thin circle.

    Either way, work in small batches to keep your ice cream frozen, wrap each ball of ice cream and place them seam-side down on a cold, parchment-lined cookie sheet. Trim extra mochi with a cornstarch-coated knife. Store your new treats in the freezer, but allow them to soften for a few minutes before serving.

    Coffee Mochi Recipe

    Makes about 10 servings. Coffee mochi keeps for about two days in the freezer.

    Ingredients:

    1. Combine the hot water and instant coffee, then set aside.
    2. Whisk together the Mochiko and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl until well combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones.
    3. Cover the bowl loosely with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about two minutes; stir, then microwave for about 90 seconds more. The mochi should be thick, sticky and the color of a good gumbo roux or a new penny.
    4. Dust a work surface with cornstarch, then pour the mochi out to cool. It will keep for about three days if stored in an airtight container.
    5. When you’re ready to assemble the mochi balls, cover your hands or a rolling pin with cornstarch, then pinch off some mochi dough or roll it out into a thin sheet. If you’re using your hands, work it into a thin round with your fingers.
    6. Cover each ice cream ball with mochi and place seam-side down on a cold, lined cookie sheet. You may have to put the ice cream back in the freezer for a bit if it gets too soft. That’s fine; your mochi dough should stay soft for about a day.
    Cut away any excess mochi dough so that the ball sits evenly on the tray. Store in the freezer, but allow to soften for a few minutes before serving. 
  • How Community Coffee Company Helps to Support the Salvation Army’s Flood-Relief Efforts

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 04, 2017

    In August 2016, shortly after the devastating and historic flooding that hit the Baton Rouge region, the Salvation Army’s Capt. Brett Meredith and others handed out boxes of food to a long line of cars at a mall. With thousands of homes and businesses still underwater, it quickly became apparent just how critical the assistance was for flood victims that day.

    “I can’t tell you the number of people who would jump up out of their car and just put their arms around me and start crying,” says Meredith, the organization’s Greater Baton Rouge Corps Command Officer. “They were so grateful we were able to be there and provide what was needed.”

    Those boxes of food ended up being a small but vital part of the Salvation Army’s massive disaster relief operation for flood victims in the region, an effort that has continued into 2017. The charity has served 200,000 meals, distributed 23,000 food boxes, handed out 28,000 cleanup kits and helped distribute 177,000 items of clothing in the area. The Salvation Army’s relief efforts have played a critical role in helping residents recover from the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    Community Coffee Company was proud to support these efforts with a $100,000 donation to the Salvation Army.

    “We have a strong relationship with Community Coffee,” Meredith says. “We believe in their commitment to the community and we appreciate the fact that they’ve supported us the way they have. We couldn’t do what we do without companies and organizations like Community Coffee.”

    Filling Gaps

    With 110,000 homes in the Baton Rouge region affected by the flood, private and governmental relief agencies have strained to meet the needs of the victims, many of whom did not have flood insurance. Meredith says that while government entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency have provided assistance, it has fallen to private charities to fill any gaps.

    “There’s no way there’s funding to help them all, but we’re trying to help as many as we can in a substantial way,” Meredith says.

    One of the areas the Salvation Army decided to focus on was furniture and appliances — critical components for making any house habitable and items that are often not covered by government assistance. The Salvation Army teamed up with Catholic Charities to assist 2,000 families with $500 vouchers to cover the purchase of furniture and appliances. Distribution of the vouchers began in January and is expected to wrap up by May.

    “We felt that furniture and appliances was a substantial way to help people, and Community Coffee helped make that happen,” Meredith says.

    ‘Blessed in Many Ways’

    The Salvation Army’s assistance is a critical hand up for the thousands of victims who lost nearly everything in the floodwaters. Among them is Fran Floyd, whose home in North Baton Rouge took on 18 inches of water.

    Floyd says she evacuated to a hotel and returned to assess the damage to her home as soon as it was safe. She found her walls, cabinets, bedding and many other belongings severely damaged by the floodwaters.

    “Everything was pretty much destroyed,” she says. “When we went in to check it had already started to mold and mildew. The more you cleaned out, the more stuff you found destroyed.”

    A manager at the Salvation Army’s retail store on Airline Highway, Floyd found herself in need of the relief services she normally sees her employer provide to others. The charity helped her secure a hard-to-find dehumidifier and mold-killing agent, as well as cleaning supplies, clothing and monetary assistance.

    Today Floyd is grateful for the charity’s assistance during one of the most trying times of her life. “Mentally and physically they helped me,” she says. “I’m blessed in many ways. I just want to thank my Salvation Army family for being there for me.”

  • How Community Coffee Supports Education in Low-Income Areas Through Partnership with Teach For America

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 24, 2017

    When Mackenzie Jones graduated from George Washington University with a degree in international relations and affairs, she knew she wanted to work in a field that affected the education of young people. That passion led her more than 1,000 miles south to serve as a middle-school teacher in Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish.

    The unusual connection was made through the nonprofit Teach For America (TFA), which recruits college graduates to serve as teachers. TFA’s “corps members" commit to teaching for at least two years in a public or public charter K–12 school in one of 52 low-income communities.

    Jones had volunteered in schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but wasn’t sure what to expect when she began teaching. She says her experience in South Louisiana has had a “profound” impact on her — and she has made a similar impact on her students, garnering awards for her work and boosting test scores.

    “I have learned so much about myself through this experience and been pushed constantly to be a better teacher and person,” she says. “I think my greatest lesson learned is that our youth are incredibly powerful, and forgiving, and we must invest in them because they have the greatness to make our future incredible.”

    TFA’s South Louisiana chapter has made thousands of stories like this possible over the past 26 years. Community Coffee Company has been a strong supporter of TFA’s mission and its positive impacts for nearly two decades, backing the organization through annual grants and welcoming new corps members each year. Community Coffee’s most recent multi-year grant to the group, supports TFA’s mission in greater Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mississippi and Arkansas.

    Community Impact

    More than 42,000 corps members have completed their commitment to the organization since TFA was established in 1990, collectively teaching more than 5 million students in the U.S.

    TFA South Louisiana was among six founding chapters, and it continues to support 70 corps members in schools throughout the region. Another 250 alumni remain in the area.

    “Where Community Coffee is granting Teach for America there is a very high need for high-quality teachers,” says Laura Vinsant, executive director of TFA South Louisiana. “We have found that given who we select and given the training that Teach for America provides, they are able to achieve great results with students who are typically a few grade levels behind.”

    Longstanding Relationship

    Matt Saurage, Community Coffee’s fourth-generation owner, and the Community Coffee family have been strong supporters of TFA since the program’s early days, personally welcoming new teachers to the area and offering other hands-on support.

    Saurage recently visited Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter School in Baton Rouge during its Teach For America Week. He spoke to eighth-graders about supply and demand, providing real-world examples from the coffee industry.

    “More so than a lot of funding partners, Community Coffee is really involved with our teachers,” Vinsant says.

    Community Coffee’s backing for TFA has grown beyond Baton Rouge to support the organization’s work in Arkansas, Mississippi and New Orleans. “Their granting has expanded to make sure those regions are able to recruit, select and then support teachers in low-income communities as well,” Vinsant says. “This money goes directly toward ensuring we have a pipeline of those teachers who initially come with a two-year commitment. We’ve seen them over time actually become a large part of our community.”

    Teacher of the Year

    One of those who has had a clear community impact in recent years is Jones, who has been teaching reading, English/language arts and world history to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary School. Her work earned her the 2016 Middle School District Teacher of the Year award in Pointe Coupee Parish. Last year her students achieved the highest academic growth in the parish, improving more than any class at the school in the past six years. She credits the students.

    “In my first year of teaching students were able to accomplish that for themselves,” Jones says. “I didn’t always have the best lessons or behavior management, but they believed in themselves because they knew I believed in them.”

    Jones says if she had to make the choice again, she would still pick the Baton Rouge area for her teaching assignment.

    “Coming to Baton Rouge has brought me so many new experiences,” she says. “I’ve met so many amazing people working to provide quality opportunities and educations for all people in Baton Rouge. Working to address the inequities that exist for my kids and all kids is one of the best things I could be doing right now.”

  • Community Coffee’s 15-Year Relationship with Coffee Growers in Rwanda Continues to Pay Dividends

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 13, 2017

    Community Coffee Company is proud to support the growing coffee industry in the central African nation of Rwanda through a long-standing relationship with a cooperative of hundreds of farmers in the country’s southern region.

    Coffee has played a pivotal role in the recovery of Rwanda’s economy since the genocide and civil war of 1994 devastated the country and the agricultural industry that much of the population depends on for their livelihoods. The industry has grown at a substantial clip over the past decade, with coffee again becoming one of the country’s leading exports. The government estimates that about 400,000 families are involved in coffee production.

    Community Coffee made the connection with Rwandan producers back in 2002 through the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), a U.S.-backed program created to promote agricultural initiatives in the war-torn nation.

    PEARL, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by researchers at Michigan State University and Texas A&M University, working with Rwandan organizations, invited several U.S. coffee companies to Rwanda to discuss how farmers could take better advantage of the country’s ideal conditions for coffee production. The program helped jump-start an industry that continues to grow today as consumers become more aware of the region’s high-quality coffee, known for a natural sweet fruity flavor and rich body.


    7-13-17_Rwanda_900x581One of the success stories of the program has been the growth of the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa cooperative — commonly called the Maraba co-op — which was founded by 300 small farmers in the Maraba region in southern Rwanda and developed the nation’s first specialty coffee. It has since grown into a group of 1,500 producers, most of which are subsistence farmers who rely on the sale of their coffee for 70 percent of their income.

    Mark Howell, general manager for Community Coffee’s Green Coffee and Tea Department, said the quality of the coffee from the area was evident from the early days of the co-op, so Community Coffee decided to pay a premium over market price.

    “It was actually a fantastic coffee and they were doing good processing, so we started that relationship back then of buying the coffee, and we’ve been buying every year from them,” Howell said. “Since that time we started paying a premium for that coffee.”

    Community Coffee purchases about 40,000 pounds a year from the cooperative. While that represents a tiny fraction of its overall coffee purchases, the Rwandan product is a key component in several Private Reserve blends, including the Founder’s Blend, created by fourth-generation owner Matt Saurage in honor of his great-grandfather and Community Coffee founder Cap Saurage.

    After PEARL, coffee again became one of the Rwanda’s major crops, with revenue growing annually at 30 percent per year from 2002 to 2006. The Maraba co-op has helped implement numerous social programs in the region, which is one of the poorest in Rwanda. These include health education sessions for women, health insurance assistance and scholarships for the children of members.

    “It’s a really good program, and Community Coffee believes in long relationships,” Howell said. “If we form a relationship like this, we’re committed to it. It’s a great direct-trade program. They’ve always brought good quality coffee, and we really strongly believe in the co-op."

  • New Research Affirms Safety of Moderate Caffeine Consumption in Healthy Individuals

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 06, 2017

    Caffeine often gets a bad rap in the good-for-you arena. But with the number of peer-reviewed research articles to consider, should it? Well, that’s exactly what researchers set out to determine in a recently-published, systematic review of the potentially-adverse effects of consuming caffeine in four healthy populations.

    What the Study Found

    Researchers systematically analyzed extensive published, peer-reviewed data from 2001 to mid-2015, looking for evidence of adverse effects of caffeine – related to toxicity, cardiovascular health, bones and calcium, behavior, and development and reproduction – in healthy adults, pregnant women, adolescents and children. They found:

    • No evidence of caffeine having negative effects on healthy adults consuming up to 400 mg caffeine daily. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four 8-ounce cups of coffee.
    • For healthy, pregnant women, consumption of up to 300 mg caffeine was not associated with any negative reproductive or developmental effects, though current recommendations advise limiting caffeine to 200 mg daily.
    • And for children and adolescents? Though there is not an abundance of existing data, available evidence points toward 2.5 mg/kg body weight as a safe recommendation. That’s about 113 mg caffeine for a 100-pound teen or 56 mg for a 50-pound child.
    • In the future, research is recommended to shift from looking at healthy individuals to focusing on sensitive and unhealthy populations.

    Consider the Caffeine Source

    Figuring out how to apply research results to daily life is the next step. First, healthy individuals can enjoy moderate amounts of caffeine each day. Also, caffeine comes from different plant sources, including coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, kola nuts – used for “cola” drinks – and guarana, frequently added to energy and weight loss products. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are the main dietary sources of caffeine for adults and children.

    Rich in antioxidants and calorie-free, coffee is a better caffeinated drink choice than, for example, soda or energy drinks. Its moderate consumption (3 to 5 cups daily) has been widely studied for potential health associations, including:

    • Decreased mortality from all causes
    • Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers of the liver and endometrium
    • Increased alertness and concentration

    To read more, check out “JAVA ‘n’ Health: Fact vs. Fiction.”

    Caffeine and Hydration

    A common concern with caffeinated beverages is the effect they have on hydration. After all, science says that even mild dehydration may trigger decreased memory, fatigue, headaches, mood change and tension.

    Here’s the good news from expert organizations:

    • The Institute of Medicine said in 2004 that all beverages – including caffeinated – are hydrating.
    • The U.S. Beverage Guidance Panel concluded in 2006 that consuming up to 500 mg of caffeine in a day does not cause dehydration.
    • A 2006 International Life Sciences Institute statement recommended consuming a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages to meet the body’s fluid requirements.

    For practical ways to meet daily fluid requirements, read “Good Ol’ Summertime Hydration Includes Drinking Coffee.”

    Caffeine does affect individuals differently. It is metabolized at different rates due to genetics, and sensitivity may be affected by the amount of caffeine someone is used to consuming. Listen to your body, and talk to a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist about questions. But if you’re in good health and appreciate the boost a great cup of coffee gives you in your day, enjoy it … guilt-free, of course!

     

    To read the 2017 “Systematic Review of the Potential Adverse Effects of Caffeine Consumption in Healthy Adults, Pregnant Women, Adolescents, and Children” study,click here.

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.

  • Protecting the Future of Coffee with Science and Outreach

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 29, 2017

    Although it may seem like coffee simply appears on the supermarket shelf or in your local shop without much fanfare, in reality it is a complex global crop produced by a vast network of mostly small farmers — and one that is facing increased peril from changing climate patterns and other factors.

    That’s why the global coffee industry came together in 2010 to form World Coffee Research, a nonprofit organization working to ensure the future of coffee. The organization operates in 27 countries to further its mission to grow, protect and enhance supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it.

    Community Coffee Company has been a strong supporter of World Coffee Research since its inception. Matt Saurage, Community Coffee’s fourth-generation owner, is a founding board member of the group.

    “Coffee faces many threats and an uncertain future. Weather conditions, diseases and other barriers to quality are a real problem for the millions of coffee producers,” Saurage says. “Scientific research takes time and is an investment to generate the know-how and technologies that can provide viable, sustainable farming practices over time.”

    As World Coffee Research works to further its mission of supporting higher quality coffee, more productive coffee farms and more sustainable and dignified livelihoods for coffee farmers, the organization begins by focusing on the coffee plants themselves.

    “We are fundamentally an agricultural research organization,” says Hanna Neuschwander, communications director. “The way we approach our mission is to study the crop, the plant and the coffee.”

    The organization’s work in coffee-growing regions around the world extends beyond simple botany and into initiatives that directly support better technologies and farmer profitability. “You can’t think about the crop or yield as something separate from the people who grow it,” Neuschwander says. “You have to think about them as part of the same symbiotic relationship.”

    Climate Weather Patterns Present a Real Threat

    Changing weather patterns, increased temperatures and higher rates of disease and insects could create a potentially disastrous decline in the supply of coffee in the coming decades.

    In 2012, a massive outbreak of coffee leaf rust — a devastating fungal disease that damages, and ultimately destroys, the coffee tree — severely impacted the industry in Central America, putting an estimated 1.7 million people out of work in the region. Scientists believe the overall rise of temperatures and the associated weather patterns created a more favorable environment for the disease, leading to the widespread outbreak. “It had a tremendous human impact,” Neuschwander says.

    Fighting Back

    World Coffee Research is working to prevent disasters like these through a wide range of research initiatives, including lab work to identify key genes and genetic markers for resistance to drought and disease, as well as field work to develop new varieties of coffee. The goal is to create coffee plants that will allow the industry to thrive around the world even through more challenging conditions.

    The organization is also working with coffee companies, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies and other groups to help farmers gain access to the new varieties of coffee and other technological improvements, as well as education about these vital tools.

    “You can have the best plants in the world, but if they’re stuck in the lab and no farmer can get them in their field it doesn’t really matter,” Neuschwander says. “It’s about being part of a very large global ecosystem that helps get some of this scientific progress out in the field.”

    Supporting Farmers’ Profitability

    In order to produce more and better coffee, coffee farmers must earn sustainable profits. World Coffee Research is spearheading multiple initiatives around the globe to help farmers earn more from their crops — from studies to help producers develop better business strategies to scientific demonstrations of best practices for specific regions.

    A persistent challenge for farmers and the industry as a whole is the lack of scientific data on coffee production in different climates and regions. Neuschwander says small farmers, many of whom operate under the slimmest of margins, often struggle to determine the most effective varieties of coffee to plant in their area.

    To solve this problem World Coffee Research is working to install trial plots of coffee plants in more than 1,000 fields worldwide to gather data on the best-performing varieties in different conditions. Farmers will be able to use that hard data to secure loans for expansion and ultimately to produce more and better coffee.

    “We’re going to be able to see all across all different countries and environments around the world which varieties are doing best for farmers,” Neuschwander says. “It may sound really basic, but [the research] doesn’t exist. We are doing this really essential work that just hasn’t been done before."

  • Sip on Bubble Coffee for a Sweet Summertime Drink

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 22, 2017

    So you may have tried cold-brew coffee by now, right? You know, the smoother, less acidic cousin of brewed coffee. Well, it’s the perfect ingredient for another refreshing summertime drink – Bubble Coffee!

    The ever-popular bubble or boba tea on many Asian menus or in tea shops is the inspiration for this make-at-home bubble coffee. According to many, bubble tea was born in Taiwan in the 1980s and first received its name after shaking together cold tea and added sweet flavorings, forming bubbles. Soon, tapioca pearl “bubbles” were added to the cold, sweet tea drink, too. After cooking, the sphere-shaped tapioca is chewy and much larger than the tapioca used for making pudding. Black-colored tapioca is the most popular color. It sits on the bottom of your drink glass, and because of the size, it requires an extra-wide-diameter straw to slurp and enjoy.

    This Bubble Coffee recipe simply substitutes cold-brew coffee for brewed tea and includes the same fun, cooked tapioca pearls, along with your favorite milk and touch of sweetener. It’s all served ice cold. The black tapioca pearls and big straws are sold together online and ship for free with several retailers. Make your own cold-brew coffee – uber easy – or buy it already made. Finally, many purchased bubble teas include powdered flavorings, creamer and flavored sweet syrup, along with a fairly hefty price tag. But in this recipe, just a few ingredients – five – are required for amazing flavor and big summer fun!          
     

    Bubble Coffee

    Follow the simple notes below to prepare ingredients before assembling coffees … 

    2-4 tablespoons cooked black tapioca pearls with added honey or sugar

    Ice

    ½-1 cup cold-brew coffee, made ahead or purchased

    ½ -1 cup favorite milk (2%, almond, coconut, soy, etc.)

    Simple syrup, condensed milk or honey to taste

    Place tapioca pearls in the bottom of a glass; add ice. Pour in coffee, milk and simple syrup or other sweetener to taste (the amount of added sweetener you need depends on personal preference and sweetness of milk used). Stir with large straw to combine.

    Makes 1 Bubble Coffee

    Notes:

    • To cook tapioca pearls:
      • Cook according to package directions. In general, boil 10 cups of water; stir in 1 cup tapioca pearls. (This amount is enough for about 6 Bubble Coffees.)
      • When tapioca pearls float, reduce heat to medium and cover pot; cook 3 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit about 3 minutes until softened but chewy. Drain.
      • Place in medium bowl. Stir in about ¼ cup honey or sugar to sweeten and keep tapioca pearls from turning hard. (Tapioca pearls are best used the day of cooking; they will be noticeably harder the following day but may be covered and refrigerated.)  
    • To make cold-brew coffee:
      • Combine ground coffee and cool water in large container (about 1 cup coffee for every quart of water; I use 5 cups or 12 oz. ground coffee and 5 quarts water).
      • Cover and let sit at room temperature about 24 hours (less if desired).
      • Filter through cheesecloth-lined strainer and store in the refrigerator, up to a week, for making additional bubble and iced coffee.
    • To make simple syrup:
      • Combine equal parts warm water and sugar; stir until completely dissolved. Store in refrigerator.
    • For a blended-ice Bubble Coffee, combine all ingredients except for tapioca pearls in blender. Pour over tapioca pearls in bottom of glass.
    • For making “skinny” bubble tea, choose 1% or 2% milk and just a touch of added sweetener. It’s up to you how decadent to make your drink; condensed milk will add significant amounts of fat (and mouthfeel, too), along with sweetness.

     

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee

  • Taste Summer in this Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 15, 2017

    Imagine the ingredients for springtime dessert perfection all mixed together and baked in a fluted Bundt pan. Sound appealing? Well, here it is!

    This recipe was inspired by a combination of two different cakes: First, my husband’s southern family recipe for sour cream pound cake – so over-the-top good that we selected it as our wedding cake. Plus, the yeast-leavened French savarin cake which is soaked with sweet syrup after baking in a tube pan. Marry the two cakes together and voila! The super-moist, rich, lemony pound cake recipe below was born.

    You’ll taste sunshine in every lemon-spiked bite. First, there is fresh lemon juice and zest added to the sour cream pound cake. Then, after baking and still hot, the cake is bathed in simple lemon syrup, giving it extra lemon flavor and just the right amount of moisture to last for days. Finally, a lemon juice and zest icing crowns the cooled cake. Serve it with fresh berries and whipped cream to add an additional layer of special. 

    My family of tell-it-like-it-is taste testers described this cake as: “just the right amount of lemon”, “fresh”, “perfectly-moist” and “lemony-tangy.” Also, I’ve witnessed it being enjoyed with a cup of coffee both at the beginning and at the end of the same day. Now that’s my kind of endorsement!    

    Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

    Cake:

    3 cups all-purpose flour

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon baking soda

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 cup sour cream (light or regular)

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons total for recipe)

    1 packed tablespoon lemon zest

    3 cups granulated sugar

    1 cup butter, softened

    6 large eggs

    Lemon Syrup:

    ¼ cup water

    ¼ cup granulated sugar

    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

    Icing:

    1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

    1 tablespoon plus about 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    1 packed teaspoon lemon zest

    Fresh berries, if desired

    Whipped cream, if desired

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 10-inch diameter (12-cup) fluted tube pan with vegetable cooking spray and thoroughly dust with flour.

    Cake

    In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In separate medium bowl, combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Set aside.

    In large mixing bowl, cream together 3 cups granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream mixture to butter mixture, mixing and scraping down sides of bowl until completely blended.

    Pour into prepared pan and evenly distribute batter. Bake in middle of oven about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in top of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes; carefully run a thin knife around edges. Invert cake onto cooling rack set over a cookie sheet or parchment paper.

    Lemon Syrup

    Meanwhile, in microwave-safe bowl, heat water and ¼ cup granulated sugar until just boiling. Stir in ¼ cup lemon juice. Using a pastry brush, gradually paint sides and top of hot cake with syrup, repeating until syrup is gone. Let cool completely.

    Icing

    In large mixing bowl, beat together powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until completely combined, adding additional lemon juice as needed to make a thick, just-pourable icing. Carefully drizzle over top of cake.

    Makes 1 large cake (about 16 slices)

    Notes:

    • To soften butter in the microwave, heat it on High for 5 seconds; turn. Repeat until butter is soft but not melted.
    • Zest whole lemons with a citrus zester or fine grater before halving them for juicing.  
    • Only zest the very outside of citrus fruit and not the white pith; it is bitter.
    • Have extra lemon juice? Refrigerate it to make “spa water” or freeze in an ice cube tray for future use.
    • If the cake isn’t releasing from the pan when inverted, let it cool an extra 5 minutes and run a thin knife around the edges again.
    • It takes a bit of patience to brush all of the lemon syrup onto the cake, and some will drip onto the cookie sheet or parchment beneath the cooling rack. Trust me, it’s all worth it!
    • Make the cake a day before serving for a relaxing, stress-free dessert that feeds a crowd and remains moist for many days – if it lasts that long!
    • This cake beautifully pairs with one of the newest additions to the Community Coffee line up, Amber Sunrise™ Blend, or try with Community Breakfast Blend. These lighter roasted coffees pair delicately with the lemony pound cake. 

     

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee

  • It’s Tea Time: Celebrate National Tea Day June 10

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 08, 2017

    Here at Community Coffee Company, we’re definitely fond of our coffee. But we feel pretty good about our tea, too. According to statistics from the International Tea Committee, the U.S. is the third largest importer of tea in the world. On any given day, more than half of the American population is drinking tea. Of course, we want to join our fellow tea lovers in celebration of National Tea Day on June 10.

    Tea Provides Variety

    Similar to coffee, tea is grown in many areas around the world, resulting in a variety of characteristics and flavors. All tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. How the tea leaves are processed and their level of contact with oxygen determine what type of tea it becomes. The leaves undergo natural chemical reactions that result in distinct color and taste characteristics.

    Tea is widely consumed, and it can be enjoyed hot or iced and with or without cream, sugar or other taste enhancers, such as lemon. Everyone in the South knows we sure do love our sweet tea! The most common tea across the U.S. is black tea, and tea leaves from different regions are mixed to create special blends.

    It’s Good For You!

    For the increasingly popular health trend, tea is great because it’s all natural and provides many health and wellness benefits. It’s virtually calorie-free and contains no sodium, fat or sugar (unless added.) Tea contains antioxidants, and research suggests that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Drinking it without added calories can also help with weight management.

    Enjoy The Breeze

    Community Coffee Company recently enhanced the packaging for its tea products to emphasize the quality. The updated contemporary look gives an exciting new premium feel to the offerings. While nothing about the ingredients or processing of the tea has changed, the new naming of the line as Porch Breeze™ offers a fresh take on the popular beverage.

    Among the offerings, Signature Iced Tea still remains a favorite item. The quart-sized tea bags are also available in decaf as well. Other options include the individual black tea bags, as well as individual green tea bags. Both of these include the best way to brew either hot or cold.

    Instructions For Individual Tea Bag Use

    Hot Tea
    Use 1 tea bag for every 6 ounces of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and serve.

    Iced Tea Pitcher
    Use 4 to 6 tea bags for each quart of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and steep 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, chill and serve over ice.

    Quick-Serve Pitcher
    Use 8 to 12 tea bags for each quart of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and step for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, add an equal amount of cold water and pour into ice-filled glasses.

  • Community Coffee Teams Up with Junior Achievement to Prepare High-School Students for the Job Market

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 02, 2017

    Port Allen High School students got an up-close look at Community Coffee Company’s manufacturing facility in West Baton Rouge, along with job skills training from company leaders, under an educational program designed to introduce students to career possibilities in business and industry.

    The Get Hired, Stay Hired program is a seven-week work-readiness curriculum coordinated by Junior Achievement of Greater Baton Rouge & Acadiana, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy. The program culminated in a job-shadowing day that allowed the students to tour Community Coffee’s Port Allen plant and learn more about careers in the coffee industry.

    West Baton Rouge Superintendent Wesley Watts says the school system has put a special emphasis on introducing students to area businesses to give them a more complete understanding of the job opportunities available to them after graduation.

    “As a school system we want to expose our kids to as many occupations as possible,” Watts says. “One of our philosophies is that we need to get kids actually into these businesses to see what they’re all about. We have great industrial and manufacturing businesses here, and a lot of our kids don’t know what they’re really like.”

    Working with Students in the Classroom

    CC-greencoffeeGet Hired, Stay Hired began in the classroom, where employees of Community Coffee spent time working with students in the business and entrepreneurship classes at Port Allen High. Students learned interviewing skills and how to create a resume, while also honing their “soft skills” — positive personal attributes that enable employees to work better with other people in a workplace.

    “The students and teachers learned so much about the employment process, including the importance of the skills needed to get hired, how to work effectively in teams and the importance of good soft skills,” says Jill Edwards, Port Allen High’s BCA/entrepreneurship teacher. “The Community Coffee team members worked well with our students. Our classes looked forward to seeing them each week. We really appreciate the time and attention that Community Coffee gave to our students, and look forward to working with them again in the future.”

    A First-Hand Look at the Workplace

    At the conclusion of the program, the students traveled to Community Coffee’s Port Allen facility to tour the plant and see first-hand how employees in numerous positions do their jobs.

    Watts says these types of visits help demystify industrial workplaces for students whoCC-Tour have few opportunities to encounter such settings in their day-to-day lives. He says some students take notice of the automation and the technology in plants like Community’s and come away with a fresh understanding of what an industrial job entails.

    “I think it really gives them an impetus to focus harder on some other things, like how valuable being tech-savvy is and how much these jobs are really about people,” Watts says.

    During their visit the Port Allen students toured areas where green coffee is processed and prepared for roasting. They also saw each step in the manufacturing process, including roasting and grinding machines. Mark Howell, Community’s general manager for green coffee and tea, offered the students a lesson on the complicated origins of coffee, along with the harvesting and manufacturing of the product.

    “It was really great to be able to share some of our knowledge,” Howell says.

    JA Communications Director Jennifer Scripps says the organization sees a disconnect between students and industry, with many young people in the dark about the possibilities of industrial careers. She says working with business leaders and visiting industrial sites can open up new career possibilities for high-school students.

    “We’re really trying to make that real-life connection,” Scripps says. “It’s really an eye-opening experience for the students.”

  • Community Coffee Co. supports innovative New Orleans community for veterans

    by Amy Cimo | May 26, 2017
     

    When Army veteran Dylan Tête returned from a nearly two-year combat tour in Iraq, he grabbed his young family and headed to New Orleans to begin his civilian life. Three months later Hurricane Katrina hit.

    “It was great timing in some respects, because I knew exactly what to do,” Tête said.

    The West Point graduate withdrew his application for graduate school and turned his focus to helping the city recover from the historic storm, leveraging his project-management experience in Iraq to guide the construction of FEMA trailer parks and, later, projects with the city of New Orleans.

    Today the Louisiana native is focused on a different type of recovery: helping returning soldiers, particularly those with traumatic brain injuries, transition back into civilian life. He has founded Bastion, an innovative community in New Orleans for veterans and families with lifelong rehabilitative needs. Located near Bayou St. John and City Park, the residential neighborhood aims to employ a holistic approach to reintegration and recovery in which every resident gives service, including volunteers who live full time in the community.

    “The model is all about facilitating active engagement that will incubate meaningful relationships that can endure for a lifetime,” Tête said. “With someone with a lifelong rehabilitative need, like a TBI, that is everything.”

    The initiative will focus on post-9/11 veterans and families, as well as surviving family5-25-17_bastion_900x600 members. Bastion’s structure is based on a successful model that has been employed by agencies serving foster children. It invites volunteers, including older veterans, to live in the community and provide service to the residents. Services could range from meal preparation and transportation to budgeting and social support.

    Bastion is also partnering with other community providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, to avoid any duplication of services. The overriding goal is to serve disabled veterans and families who are at the greatest risk of slipping through gaps in the existing system of care, which is often the case with hard-to-treat and increasingly common traumatic brain injuries.

    Tête says he developed an interest in assisting veterans with traumatic brain injuries after seeing fellow warriors struggle with the devastating effects of the condition after returning from combat. “I had a lot of buddies who came back home pretty banged up,” Tête said. “Really it was a matter of paying attention and trying to learn what was really happening.”

    Tête’s interest eventually took him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C., where he met nationally-renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. David Williamson, whom he credits with opening his eyes about traumatic brain injuries, the symptoms of which can get worse with age.

    “For someone who is relatively young who has family, if the injury is severe enough, he needs lots of support,” Tête said.

    After four years of planning and development, and convincing enough people the model5-25-17_bastion_900x528 would work, Tête broke ground on Bastion in June 2016. Phase 1, underway now, includes 38 apartments and a wellness center. All of the homes will be situated around a 5.5-acre property with a central green space. Community Coffee Company is a supporter of the project.

    Even though construction continues, the first few residents have already moved in. Among them is Josh Earl, who enlisted in the Army National Guard three months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 with the 220th Military Police Company, and ended his service in 2006.

    Earl said Bastion isn’t about merely providing housing for returning warriors, but rather a unique and supportive community of veterans for those who are often struggling with transitioning away from military life.

    “One of the hardest things about being a combat veteran specifically is that going back into the civilian world is kind of like living in a foreign country,” Earl said. “You don’t fit in anywhere. No matter how much you try, you're always kind of an outsider. Bastion is going to help these veterans come together and help them become more integrated back into society while also having that safety, that security, that camaraderie we had in the military. So that if we do ever leave here we have a much stronger base and a sense of purpose."

  • Community Coffee Supports Construction of Solar-Powered Coffee Dryers in Colombia

    by Amy Cimo | May 19, 2017

    Coffee growers in Colombia’s northeast region have constructed dozens of new efficient solar coffee dryers thanks in part to a grant from Community Coffee Company.

    The low-cost solar drying systems are expected to help increase the quality of the coffee beans and eventually attract higher prices from buyers — providing a boost to an area with a long tradition of cultivating high-quality coffee.

    The new infrastructure affects more than 70 farms producing the coveted Toledo specialty coffee from the municipalities of Toledo, Labateca and Chitagá, located in the south of Colombia’s Norte de Santander region that borders Venezuela.

    “This is where a great amount of coffee farmers and their families endeavor to produce one of the best coffees from Colombia, with worldwide recognition and great potential due to the region’s environmental conditions,” said Program Coordinator Raúl Fernando Cotámo López. “Their soils, weather, rural infrastructure and culture offer excellent conditions for the coffee industry; therefore, there is much coffee culture, love and tradition towards their crops.”

    Community Coffee has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with these farmers, purchasing coffee from the region annually. In support of that continuing connection, Community Coffee also put up $20,000 toward the total $33,000 project cost to fund the solar dryers. The project was also supported by the Coffee Farmers Departmental Committee of Norte de Santander and the coffee farmers themselves.

    Growing and Transforming

    Cotámo said older and traditional coffee farms throughout the region are modernizing and expanding, leading to an increased demand for better infrastructure for the coffee drying process.

    Drying is a critical step in the production process before coffee can be ultimately sold on the market.  Due to their high moisture content at harvest, natural ripe coffee cherries must be dried shortly after pulping the fruit to prevent quality problems that impact the ultimate taste in the cup. Proper drying is the solution, but it takes time and space.

    Drying has traditionally  been done in outdoor cement courtyards, which exposes the coffee to the elements, affecting the quality of the flavor and aroma and decreasing its value in national and international markets.

    A Solar-Powered Solution

    There are several mechanized methods used to dry coffee around the world, but they are generally expensive and less-effective at producing airflow than traditional open-air methods. This is where solar dryers — which are cheap to operate and highly effective — can help.

    The project’s tunneled solar canopies are roughly 6 feet by 30 feet and made of wood or bamboo. A dome made of plastic cloth mesh, supported by PVC arches, spans the length of the structure. Coffee is spread out along the inside of the structure, a few centimeters high.

    The result is a highly effective and efficient space ideal for drying coffee cherries, with protection from the surrounding environment. With this type of canopy it is possible to dry up to 300 kilograms of washed coffee at a time — all through the power of the sun.

    The project took about 12 months to implement, and Cotámo says he hopes it and additional efficient production equipment and techniques will help boost incomes for the farmers as well as the agricultural economy of the region.

  • Plan for Health On-the-Go: Layered ‘n’ Pressed Picnic Sandwich Recipe

    by Amy Cimo | May 11, 2017

    Spring and summer are all about moving and enjoying the great outdoors! So as we celebrate and honor the men and women of our armed forces during National Military Appreciation Month this May, here are tips to help you feel your best while being active.

    Get a game plan

    What you put into your body – food fuel – makes a difference. It affects how you feel and function during the day. And while “clean eating” and “detox diets” are trendy, think healthy-ish and begin by trying to simply add more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to your diet. Here’s how to start:

    • Menu Making – first write down favorite recipes and foods you and your family love, considering when to insert more whole grains; sprinkle in a few new recipe ideas that aren’t overwhelmingly complicated – search online for “no cook meals recipes” and think about portable meals for eating outside, such as salad in a jar (all the rage) and layered, pressed picnic sandwiches … there just happens to be a recipe below!
    • Shop Ahead – the key to eating healthy-ish meals and snacks is taking the time to shop from a thoughtful list; start with your menus and add fresh fruit and whole grain snacks, lower-fat dairy favorites and in-season produce; keep frozen and canned fruits and vegetables on hand for when you don’t have time to shop or for when produce is not in season.

    Dining “Out”side

    If you plan meals and shop ahead, it’s easy to pack food for a road trip or simple picnic. Think about a bike ride or hike to where you’re dining; food seems to taste better when you’ve been active and truly have worked up an appetite. Consider keeping a cooler in your car all of the time, making it simple to keep food and beverages cold. Also, remember to keep properly hydrated, especially in warmer weather. Check out this article on Good Ol’ Summertime Hydration.

    A favorite grab-and-go meal for my family – and for serving guests – is this Layered ‘n’ Pressed Picnic Sandwich. I purchase all of the ingredients at either Costco or the grocery store, making my own olive tapenade, hummus and pesto (when I have fresh basil growing). Feel free to purchase these spreads – made with healthy olives, olive oil – for ease, however. And though I love to bake bread, I often purchase the part-whole-grain, chewy Italian loaf that sandwiches together the fabulous array of vegetables, cheese and meat. Plan to make this either in the morning for dinner or the day before serving so all of the flavors have time to meld together. Pack a fresh fruit salad or watermelon and a thermos of cold-brew coffee to go with it. Finally, if you’re thinking of substituting a sub sandwich that can be picked up on many major street corners around the country, don’t. This is a treat worth making!     

    Layered ‘n’ Pressed Picnic Sandwich

    1 large loaf (2 lb) multigrain Italian, ciabatta or other favorite sturdy, chewy bread

    ½ cup olive tapenade, made ahead or purchased

    3 whole roasted red bell peppers, seeded and quartered

    1 cup (4 oz) shredded smoked Gouda or crumbled goat or Boursin cheese

    1 cup marinated, sliced artichoke hearts

    2 ounces prosciutto or hard salami, thinly sliced

    6 ounces roasted turkey, chicken or favorite deli meat, thinly sliced

    1/3 cup red pepper or traditional hummus, made ahead or purchased

    1 1/2 packed cups baby kale or spinach

    ¼ cup pesto, made ahead or purchased

    Horizontally slice bread in half, creating a large top and bottom. Evenly spread tapenade on bread bottom; evenly top with red peppers, cheese, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, turkey, hummus and kale. Evenly spread pesto on bread top; place on top of kale.

    Tightly, completely wrap sandwich with layers of plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator; top with a baking sheet and then a heavy skillet, pot or canned goods. Let chill about 4 hours or overnight. Unwrap to slice and serve.

    Makes 1 large sandwich (about 8 servings)

    Notes:

    • Think of the layers and ingredient amounts listed in this recipe as a template. Liberally change them to suit your preferences.
    • Definitely use hearty, chewy bread to absorb the filling juices without falling apart. The loaf shape – round boules are great – and size do not matter; adjust the filling amount to fit the loaf size.
    • After slicing the bread, you may remove part of the middle crumb to create more space for filling ingredients. (I prefer to leave most of the bread intact, however.)
    • Roast your own or purchase roasted red bell peppers. 
    • For a vegetarian sandwich, replace chicken and prosciutto with grilled or roasted planks of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash or other favorite vegetable.
    • This sandwich feeds a crowd. Or leftovers keep for several days; simply re-wrap and refrigerate … the flavors will continue to marry and the hearty bread will beautifully hold it all together.

     

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.

  • When Disaster Strikes, Community Coffee Reaches Out With a Familiar Comfort

    by Amy Cimo | May 04, 2017

    Community Coffee Company has maintained a longstanding partnership with the American Red Cross, particularly when disaster strikes, by providing free cups of coffee to community members in need as well as the volunteers and professionals who lend them a helping hand.

    That support for the American Red Cross and other emergency response organizations across the southeast United States spans well over a decade. The company donated 1.6 million cups of coffee after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, and after tornadoes struck Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013.

    The past year has been a tumultuous one in Louisiana, which saw four major natural disasters over a 12-month period continuing into 2017 — from historic flooding across the state to devastating tornadoes in New Orleans East and surrounding areas. During flooding in Southeast Louisiana, Community Coffee provided more than 300,000 free cups of coffee to evacuees and first-responders.

    “Our clients are huge consumers of coffee, and Community Coffee has been an amazing partner,” says Joshua Joachim, regional chief executive for the American Red Cross of Louisiana.

    A Small Touch of Normalcy

    To assist evacuees and other clients of the Red Cross of Louisiana, Community Coffee donates coffee to be served in Red Cross of Louisiana disaster shelters and via the organization's emergency-response vehicles, which distribute food and supplies in disaster areas. Coffee is always a high-demand item in shelters, Joachim says, and having a familiar local brand is a welcome sight for people who are coping with a disaster.

    “Clients come into our shelters when they are opened here in Louisiana, and they expect coffee,” he says. “The Community® brand is a local coffee that really comforts them. They know what it is. After you’ve been impacted by a disaster and you’ve lost everything, you sometimes look for some normalcy. That local brand being in our shelters is something that brings normalcy to someone who’s been affected by a disaster.”

    Fuel for Volunteers

    Volunteers are an integral part of the Red Cross’ disaster-response efforts, as well4-27-17_Red-Cross_800x749 as its day-to-day operations, with more than a million Americans volunteering their time and skills with the organization to serve their communities and provide essential services to those in need. Red Cross volunteers from all 50 states deployed to Louisiana to assist in recovery efforts during the flooding that impacted the Greater Baton Rouge region.

    Like evacuees and others served by the Red Cross, volunteers are often coffee lovers, Joachim says, and Community Coffee has stepped up to supply those who generously provide their time to help others. Community also furnishes Red Cross offices in Louisiana with coffee free of charge.

    “At the Red Cross, a cup of coffee is more than just a beverage,” Joachim says. “It’s an opportunity for our volunteers to take a break and sit back before going out and helping others in the response and recovery process. It’s a huge part of our volunteer culture at the American Red Cross.”

  • How to Make the Most of Louisiana’s Jam-Packed Spring Festival Season

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 27, 2017

    After Mardi Gras season is past and springtime is in bloom, the party’s just getting started in south Louisiana, with dozens of festivals that celebrate the music, food and culture of the region running throughout April and May.

    From the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to the rapidly growing Baton Rouge Blues Festival to the eclectic and infectious musical energy of Lafayette’s Festival International in the heart of Cajun country, there’s something for everyone looking to experience a slice of Louisiana culture.

    Or, if all-day music festivals aren’t your cup of tea, head over to southwest Louisiana for the long-running Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival. See Jean Lafitte force the mayor to walk the plank into Lake Charles or catch a parade of cannon-firing pirates at this family-friendly May festival.

    If you’re not sure where to begin when choosing a spring festival or two, New Orleans is always a good start. There are more than two dozen festivals between March and June in the Big Easy alone.

    “Spring in New Orleans is the peak of festival season,” says Kristian Sonnier, vice president of communications at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a time when locals and visitors join together to celebrate the city’s spirit of hospitality through unique cuisine and live music at fun, outdoor venues that each showcase different elements of New Orleans’ culture.”

    Whatever festival route you take, a little preparation can transform your trip into an experience of a lifetime. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your Louisiana festival experience.

    Start with a Good Breakfast

    All-day festivals can be physically taxing, so make sure you’re equipped to meet that challenge by starting your day with a quality breakfast. Consider kicking things off with a great cup of Community Coffee to get you in the spirit of the day.

    Get Organized

    The sheer amount of music acts and other attractions at festivals can be overwhelming, so you have to plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss out on your favorites. Luckily, technology makes it easier than ever to organize your experience.

    The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a.k.a. Jazz Fest, offers a mobile app with the complete music lineup and a list of food options, as well as the ability to create your own custom lineup. Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane, an international celebration of world music from primarily French-influenced cultures, also has an app with multiple features.

    “If you go and favorite what bands you want to see it actually puts a calendar event in your phone so you get your 15-minute reminder so you don’t miss any of the bands you want to see,” says April Courville, marketing director for Festival International.

    Be Ready to Eat

    Festivals are a magnet for food trucks and other vendors making some unique dishes every bit as memorable as the musicians on stage. Explore the Cuban food booth at Jazz Fest featuring tostones con mojo (fried green plantains with garlic sauce), sample a complete range of Creole and Cajun delicacies, or fill up on classic (and innovative) fried fair foods.

    Festival International features a Louisiana Craft Beer Garden, a growing list of international food vendors and more Louisiana dishes than any one person could tackle in a single festival. “You can trip or fall and land on someone serving Cajun food,” Courville says.

    Prepare for the Weather

    During an all-day outdoor event, even moderate heat can present a challenge to festival-goers. When the late-spring Louisiana is unleashed in May and June, it can be downright dangerous without a few precautions.

    Be sure to apply sunblock regularly and wear appropriate clothes that offer protection from the sun (large hats are popular at Jazz Fest, where shade can be in short supply). It’s also a good practice to drink plenty of water and pace yourself if you’re enjoying an adult beverage or two.

    But remember that spring in Louisiana can be unpredictable. A cool snap or rain showers are both real possibilities, especially in April, so consider carrying a poncho or umbrella, as well as shoes that work well in the mud.

    Look Outside the Festival Gates

    The spectacle of these festivals often extends beyond the boundaries of the events themselves. Be on the lookout for connected functions outside the festival gates, often at night. Check the city’s entertainment calendar or the festival’s web page for special happenings or unofficial shows prompted by the main event.

    For example, during Jazz Fest the city’s music venues are well-known for hosting amazing small nighttime shows of major artists booked for the festival. In Baton Rouge, Blues Fest holds a special kickoff event the night before the official weekend begins, with a performance by a festival artist that is more intimate than the full-scale event allows.

    “That’s what I love as a person who enjoys going to festivals,” says Chris Brooks, a Baton Rouge Blues Fest board member and director of business development at Launch Media. “Sure, the festival is great, but so are the things going on around it.”

  • Earth Day Project: Coffee Recycling

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 20, 2017

    Earth Day is April 22. Each year, this day reminds us to consider the environment and think about how we can help build a healthy, sustainable Earth for future generations. Since recycling is an easy way to do your part, we wanted to give you some fun ideas for putting your leftover coffee (as if that would ever happen) and used coffee grounds to good use!

    Feed Your Garden - According to the Coffee Research Institute, coffee grounds are a good source of many minerals. This makes a rich, natural fertilizer for most plants and crops. Sprinkling coffee grounds in your garden can also help keep away animals and insects that could harm the plants, such as ants and caterpillars.

    Dish Up Something New – There are many ways to incorporate brewed coffee into cooking. It’s great for adding a rich flavor in desserts. Instead of water or milk, try using coffee to thin out your oatmeal. Coffee grounds also add a new level of bold flavor to meats when added to a dry rub.

    Make coffee ice cubes! Freeze leftover coffee in an ice tray, then pop them out for a cool treat. You could also add the cubes to milk for an iced café au lait, or try blending them into a smoothie.

    Household Uses - Used coffee grounds have a wonderful deodorizing quality. Put dried coffee grounds in an open container and store them in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb any food odors. This also works in the bathroom or other areas of the home to get rid of unpleasant smells.

    Keep some handy around your kitchen and rub them on your hands to help eliminate food prep smells. Also, tie the grounds up in a small mesh cloth or filter and put them in your shoes to keep them smelling fresher.

    Be An Artist – Let your creativity shine! After sipping on your favorite blend, soak the grounds in water to create a brown dye. Use this for egg dying, painting, or even staining wood. You could also use this or leftover coffee to soak paper, giving it an artsy antique look.

  • Welcome Spring by Shaking Up Your Routine

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 13, 2017

    As the days get longer, it’s a good time to shake off the winter blahs in all aspects of your life, experts say. “The weather is warming up, mornings are getting light and summer vacations are on many of our minds,” says personal trainer Julia Buckley.

    Here’s how to get revved up.

    Clear Out the Clutter

    Open up the windows and doors and get ready to downsize: It’s time for a spring cleaning. Whether you’re tackling your junk drawer, bedroom or garage, three questions can help you decide what to do with every item you’re sorting through as you clean, says Maura Thomas, a speaker, trainer and founder of RegainYourTime.com.

    • Will I need it? “If the thought of not having it makes you upset, then you should probably keep it,” Thomas says.
    • Can I get it? You may have something that you will need at some point in the future, but in the meantime it’s just taking up space. Determine whether it would be cheap and easy to get again, Thomas says — if so, it can probably go.
    • Is it serving me? “If it’s not serving you, it’s clutter,” Thomas says. That may mean different things to different people, but if it’s not serving you, it should go.

    Move Your Exercise Routine Outside

    Warmer days and longer evenings will help lure you outside to exercise, but don’t expect to suddenly bust out a 10K if you’ve been doing half-hour jogging sessions on the treadmill all winter. “Taking exercise outside is much more appealing, but before you head out that door take a bit of time to plan your session,” Buckley says. “If you haven’t exercised much during winter, diving right into a long, intense workout or run could result in you getting injured or at least suffering with soreness so bad you can’t exercise again for days.” 

    Buckley recommends gradually building up to a long outside workout. Give your body a week or two to get used to running on concrete or uneven trails, and focus on getting stronger instead of hitting a personal best for time or distance. Also, don’t forget sunscreen, Buckley says: “Waterproof lotion is best; apply everywhere on your body that isn’t covered by your clothes.”

    Perk Up Your Menu

    Spring is a great time to overhaul your cuisine: Fresh fruits and vegetables are starting to come into season, and warmer days can inspire a switch from comfort foods to cooler, lighter fare. “Spring doesn't happen all of a sudden; it transitions from winter, so dishes can do the same,” says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist and associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

    After spending the colder months roasting your vegetables, consider broiling in the spring so your oven isn’t on as much, Ayoob says. “Asparagus, red peppers, eggplant, portobello mushrooms and fennel are spring veggies that, brushed with some olive oil, do excellently broiled,” he says. He recommends preparing large amounts and adding them to salads, cold soups and stirfries.

    For breakfasts, “oatmeal is a great food but if you don't want a hot cereal, just don't cook your rolled oats,” Ayoob says. “Pour milk over them or mix with yogurt and treat as a cold cereal.” And instead of a baked snack or dessert indulgence like a muffin, cake or brownie, Ayoob recommends an ounce of dark chocolate. “Seventy percent or higher is actually good for the heart and loaded with antioxidants, as is coffee,” he says.

    Lighter coffee blends are the perfect complement for the fresher fare spring brings. Adding Community® Amber Sunrise™ Blend coffee to your morning routine or afternoon break will help you enjoy the new season!

  • Begin a New, Old-Fashioned Easter Tradition: Spiced Coffee Hot Cross Buns

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 06, 2017

    Remember “… one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns!”? Well, the English nursery rhyme you may have learned as a child features these beautiful, subtly-spiced yeast rolls that are often served on Good Friday or Easter around the world. And though I grew up baking countless loaves of bread and rolls with my Mom from generations-old recipes in our farmhouse kitchen, these were not part of our all-German family repertoire. So, there’s no better time than right now to start a new tradition!

    This version of hot cross buns features traditional currants and typically-used spices, including cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Add a pinch of nutmeg and ginger if you want, too. And while brewed coffee may not be a traditional recipe ingredient, it adds depth of flavor, enhancing the warm spice notes without imparting a concerted coffee flavor. Honey adds a mellow sweetness and acts as a humectant to help keep the buns moist. The cross is a simple powdered sugar icing with a touch of background coffee flavor.

    If you haven’t baked with yeast before, absolutely no worries. Look for the extra tips in the notes section just for you. And once you’ve tried yeast baking, you’ll be a regular. The aroma alone of yeast-leavened baked goods from the oven will hook you – long before the first bite.       

    Enjoy … and Happy Easter!

     

    Spiced Coffee Hot Cross Buns

    Buns:

    4 cups bread or all-purpose flour

    ¼ cup granulated sugar

    2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (1 package)

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/8 teaspoon allspice

    1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

    ½ cup milk, slightly warm or room temperature

    ¼ cup brewed Community Coffee, slightly warm or room temperature

    ¼ cup honey

    ¼ cup butter, softened

    2 large eggs

    ½ cup currants or raisins

    Egg Wash:

    1 egg white

    1 teaspoon milk

    Icing:

    1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

    1 tablespoon milk

    1 teaspoon brewed Community Coffee, cooled

    In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Stir in milk, ¼ cup coffee, honey, butter and eggs. Knead 5-10 minutes with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook – or by hand – until dough is smooth and elastic. Knead in currants. Scrape dough to one side of bowl, spray with vegetable cooking spray, and repeat on other side of bowl to keep dough from sticking. Cover and let rise about 1 hour or until puffy.

    Evenly divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll dough pieces between hands and round into smooth balls by gently stretching edges under and securing. Place in 9”x13” pan sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. Cover with towel or plastic wrap sprayed with vegetable cooking spray; let buns rise about 1 hour or until touching each other.

    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.

    Egg Wash

    In small bowl, whisk together egg white and milk. Very gently brush over risen buns. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

    Icing

    In large mixing bowl, beat together powdered sugar, milk and 1 teaspoon coffee until completely combined. Place in a resealable plastic bag, snip off a small amount of bag corner, and pipe a cross on top of each bun.

    Makes 12 buns

    Notes:

    • Baking with yeast tips:
      1. Kneading is required for yeast breads to develop gluten, the support structure for rising, stretching dough. If you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook to knead, do it by hand: Fold. Push. Turn. Repeat. Knead until dough is smooth, stretchy and not sticky. Sparingly use extra flour for dusting hands and kneading surface to prevent sticking.
      2. For easy clean-up of bowls, dough hook, etc., immediately wipe with a wet paper towel when finished using. This keeps leftover dough from hardening on surfaces. (Thanks, Mom, for teaching me this one!)
      3. If you don’t have time to finish all of the steps in a recipe, cover and chill dough at any point to slow down yeast’s activity. Long and slow (refrigerated) rise time actually produces more flavor!
      4. Shaped bread loaves and rolls may be covered and refrigerated overnight before baking, too. (Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with vegetable cooking spray.) Make sure to let them rise until about double in size before baking. 
    • Bread flour is higher in protein – what gluten is made of – than all-purpose flour. Either one will work fine for these buns.
    • Take the chill off of the liquid ingredients and soften butter with a few seconds in the microwave.
    • Why baking powder? This rich, heavy dough gets a little extra lift in the oven from added baking powder.
    • Dried fruit: raisins or other favorite dried fruit may be substituted for currants.
    • For evenly-sized buns, use a kitchen scale to equally divide dough (just over 3 oz. each).
    • Make, shape, cover and refrigerate buns the night before serving if you want. Just leave enough time to let them cool before frosting.
    • Egg wash: this simple extra step on top of the buns before baking gives them a special gloss after baking; gently apply wash to avoid causing the bun to deflate. Refrigerate the yolk and extra white/milk mixture for making scrambled eggs or omelets.
    • Check out these decadent brownies for another recipe featuring coffee as a flavor-enhancing ingredient!

     

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.

  • Coffee Is Culture

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 31, 2017


    History and Adaptation

    Today, coffee is one of the world’s most highly traded commodities. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee is the most consumed beverage aside from water. For most people, coffee gets the day started and then continues to get us through the day. So how did the beverage grow into the cultural phenomenon it is today?

    Legend has it coffee was discovered centuries ago by Ethiopian farmer, Kaldi, who observed his goats eating the coffee cherries and exhibiting strange and exuberant behavior. All of a sudden, they were full of energy! After the stimulating effect was discovered, coffee cherries and their beans began being passed across the globe. The beverage spread, gaining popularity. Different regions around the world began growing and cultivating coffee. In the 1600s, coffee took over as the favored breakfast beverage, replacing wine and beer.

    In the 1700s, coffee and tea were equally favored in the U.S. However, this dynamic changed when the events of the Boston Tea Party made it unpatriotic to drink tea. Tea was boycotted, and coffee became the substitute of choice; an effect that has had a lasting impression to this day.

    As consumption patterns changed over the years, so did consumer expectations. By the 1970s, the term “specialty” coffee was coined, and an interest in knowing and distinguishing coffee-growing regions began to take hold. Coffees with a single-origin profile became popular, such as our Private Reserve® Sumatra, which contains a deep, velvety flavor that is specific to its growing region. Other coffees blended a variety of regions to create skillfully crafted flavors, like the Private Reserve® Founder’s Blend.

    Modern Day Consumption

    Today, coffee has become an important part of societal norms. The “coffee break” during working hours helps sustain energy throughout the day. At home, it’s a focal point for entertaining. It creates a social ambiance. There’s nothing like reminiscing with friends over a good cup of coffee. A day of entertaining family often winds down with the familiar smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen.

    Coffee drinkers love to socialize over their favorite drinks of choice, which expanded beyond simply brewed coffee, to also include specially-crafted espresso drinks. Coffee houses have been around for more than 500 years, but the explosion of coffee house locations since the 1990s is undeniable. Culture is inherently infused in coffee, and coffee houses help create the coffee culture experience.

    At the local coffee house, we meet friends or have date nights. We have meetings with colleagues or clients. We may even meet and engage in conversation with someone new. It’s a great place to socialize, connect and sometimes, just relax with a cup of coffee.

    Coffee is easily adapted in any cultural context. It brings together communities. That’s why Cap Saurage, founder of Community Coffee Company, named the brand out of appreciation for his community of friends and customers. He wanted to celebrate the community he served. Coffee connects us.

  • Combine Coffee and Oats to Jump-Start Your Day: Mocha Banana Pecan Overnight Oats Recipe

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 16, 2017

    Overnight oats have become a popular breakfast for on-the-go mornings, making the first meal of the day good-for-you and as easy as reaching in the refrigerator before heading out the door. Whether or not you have been part of this craze, consider what coffee and chocolate can add to make any day – or recipe – better …

    And that’s why this version of overnight oats uses brewed coffee and cocoa powder to infuse a definite mocha hit to oatmeal. Simply brew a little extra coffee, with or without caffeine, for this recipe whenever you make a pot, and plan to stir the ingredients together in a portable container anytime in the evening before you head to bed. Using Greek yogurt makes the oatmeal extra thick and creamy, but milk works just fine, too. And you pick the dairy fat level you prefer. If you want to use a sweetened yogurt or non-dairy milk with added sweetener, simply reduce the amount of added honey. Also, nonfat dry milk is included to boost calcium, vitamin D and protein levels (all good things), but it may be omitted if you’d like.

    Banana and pecans add natural sweetness and crunch. I like to top the oatmeal just before eating for maximum nut crunch and unchanged banana color, but feel free to add them along with the other ingredients for convenience. Finally, you can change it up to include your favorite fruit, nuts and other toppings. My good friend definitely would add a splash of heavy cream. And I say, go for it! This is one good-for-you breakfast that will make mornings taste ever-so-much better.

    Mocha Banana Pecan Overnight Oats

    1/2 cup rolled oats

    1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or milk

    1/4 cup strong brewed Community® coffee

    2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk

    2 teaspoons honey

    1 teaspoon cocoa powder

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla

    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2 banana, sliced

    1 tablespoon chopped, toasted pecans

    In small jar or bowl with tight-fitting lid, combine oats, yogurt, coffee, dry milk, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    Top with banana and pecans just before eating.

    Makes 1 serving

    Notes:

    • Plan to brew extra coffee whenever you make a pot to use for this recipe.
    • Yogurt or milk will work when making these oats; the oatmeal will be less thick and creamy when using milk.
    • Double the recipe for two people, dividing ingredients into separate portable containers. Or keep the second one for another morning; overnight oats will hold several days in the refrigerator.
    • These oats don’t have to be consumed cold; gently warm them in the microwave if you prefer.
    • Feel good about what flavors these oats: Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavanols, and cassia cinnamon may help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
    • Go to Java ‘N’ Health: Fact Vs. Fiction to find out what research says about the health benefits of coffee.

     

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.