• 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 Community® 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 Community® Cold Brew coffee, made ahead

    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 Community® Cold Brew coffee:
      • Open one Cold Brew Pouch. Drop both filter bags into a 2-quart (or larger) pitcher. Add 4 cups of cold, filtered water. Gently push down on filter bags to steep into water.
      • Steep coffee in fridge for 24 hours. For best results, use spoon to gently remove filter bags.
      • Enjoy! Add 3 cups of cold, filtered water to the pitcher.
    • 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


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  • 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.


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  • 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.”


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  • 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."


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  • 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.


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  • 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.


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  • 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.”


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  • 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.


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  • 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.


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  • 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® Brazil Santos Bourbon, which features the rare yellow Bourbon variety of Arabica beans which is known for its smooth, mellow flavor. 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.


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  • TASTE THE DIFFERENCE THAT FAMILY MAKES

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 10, 2017

    Before making its way to your morning cup of coffee, some of Community Coffee Company’s finest coffee beans begin their journey in Chiapas, Mexico. There, nestled in the foothills of the El Triunfo Ecological Biosphere Reserve, the coffee beans are grown, nurtured and harvested by fourth-generation coffee producers at Finca Monte Grande. For 12 years, the Finca Monte Grande Moises family and the Saurage family, of Community Coffee Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have worked together to make great coffee.

    3-9_MoisesFamily_900x545Finca Monte Grande is situated in an ideal valley for growing flavorful high-elevation coffee beans. The lush tropical mountain ranges that surround Finca Monte Grande protect the coffee plants from Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico breezes and help maintain a steady temperature that encourages rich, flavorful coffee beans. Coffee berries, nurtured to the peak of ripeness on the mountainsides of Finca Monte Grande, must be harvested with care and only by hand. Along with temperature, moisture and fertile soil, shade is a crucial element in great coffee.

    “Shade grown coffee is correlated to quality,” says fourth-generation Finca Monte Grande owner Alfredo Moises. “When the cherries are exposed to the sun too long, it stresses the plant and the sugar inside the cherries becomes lower-quality.”

    Families are involved at each stage of the process, which helps ensure the highest quality coffee beans, and instills a unique pride that goes into every cup of Community® coffee. Members of the Community Coffee Company team, including fourth-generation owner Matt Saurage, visit farms like Finca Monte Grande around the world searching for high-quality 100% Arabica coffee beans.

    “A lot of love and a lot of hands touch this coffee before it arrives in Baton Rouge,” says Matt Saurage.

    The Moises family and the Saurage family have both been making great coffee for about 100 years. Each generation carries on the passion for quality and great tasting coffee, and bring it from their family to people who love to drink rich, smooth coffee. From the growers to the harvesters to the roasters, passion, skill and the pride of generations go into each cup of Community® coffee.


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  • We Have the Secret Ingredient: A Day in the Life of a Coffee Buying Expert

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 23, 2017

    More goes into a great tasting cup of coffee than most people realize, and it starts with buying the coffee beans. Mark Howell is Community Coffee Company’s General Manager of Green Coffee and Tea and our coffee buying expert. Mark’s typical day starts by looking at the market. Mark tells us how quickly you realize, working with the market, that it isn’t going to do what you want it to when you want it, which can be unsettling for some. This can be the most challenging and exhilarating part of the job.

    Mark also works closely with our Quality Assurance team to cup our coffee. Cupping is the process of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. This assures that all of our coffee meets the highest standards before we send it out for our customers to enjoy. He also works closely with the logistics team to ensure that the flow of coffee from origin to our plant is running smoothly.

    2-23-17_MarkHowell_752x500Before we can purchase the green coffee beans from our farmers, they have to grow it. Farmers spend between two and three years taking care of coffee plants before they are able to produce cherries. These cherries hold our green coffee beans (seeds) within them. Because not all the cherries on a coffee plant ripen at the same time, farmers make several passes on trees, picking them by hand in some areas and by machines in others. Once picked, the cherries go through a milling process to separate the top quality coffee beans from those the rest and then a pulping process to separate the coffee beans from the fruit. The coffee beans are then put through a dry mill process to further classify the beans by size, density and quality and prepared for transport.

    Once the green coffee beans arrive at our plant in Port Allen, Mark gets to work ensuring the taste of each cup of Community® coffee is the best it can be. Additionally, he is an integral part of our development team. This team develops unique blends that match the desired profile we are aiming for when creating a new product. Mark and the development team do this by looking at various raw (green) coffee’s they have access to, blending them, roasting them and, through multiple trials, coming up with the final blend that makes it to market. This entails cupping or tasting A LOT of coffee. Much like wine tasters, these team members have fine-tuned taste buds to ensure that the blends they create meet taste standards.

    At the end of the day, Mark’s favorite part of his job is interacting with the diverse group2-23-17_MarkHowell_800x422 of people in the coffee industry. From the farmers at origin, local merchants that facilitate trade and the international trade houses that enable international business function, the coffee industry covers a broad spectrum of people all with immense and unique knowledge and experience. Most of all, the people of the industry and their customers come from all walks of life but can come together over a cup of coffee. It is truly an amazing industry, says Mark. 
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  • Coffee grounds: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 16, 2017

    Coffee does wonders to wake us up in the morning and even gives us an afternoon pick me up, but did you know your used grounds are good for so much more than going into the trash? Used coffee grounds can be used for various gardening, cleaning and health and beauty purposes. Below we have listed some of our favorite ways to reuse our old coffee grounds.

    1. Fertilize your garden
      • Because of coffees high acidity, it benefits acid loving plants. Plants such as hydrangeas, azaleas, and roses all thrive in more acidic soil. You can find a more detailed list of acid loving plants here.
    2. Repel pests
      • To repel pets from your garden, simply sprinkle old coffee grounds around your plants. This will help protect your plants from harmful pests such as ants, snails and slugs.
    3. Garbage disposal cleaner
      • You can make neat little pods out of used coffee grounds to help eliminate odor from your garbage disposal and sharpen your blades. You can find the recipe here.
    4. Scouring pots
      • Because coffee is naturally abrasive and high in acidity it is a good household item for scouring dirty pots and pans. Simply use a few teaspoons with a rag or steel wool to effectively scour away.
    5. Face mask
      • Coffee is a great ingredient in face masks for many reasons. Because of its caffeine content, it revives your skin making it glow as well as brighten dark spots and even your complexion. This mask will leave your face clean, exfoliated, and glowing.
    6. Cellulite buster
      • Coffee is great on your face and even better for troublesome cellulite spots! Unlike most quick fixes that you find on the internet, coffee has proven that it is the most effective and natural remedy for cellulite. Studies have shown that using a coffee scrub on trouble spots for ten minutes twice a week will dramatically improve the look of cellulite in four weeks. Check out this simple but effective coffee scrub here.
    7. Flea bath for dogs
      • You can help repel fleas by adding a teaspoon of coffee grounds to your dog’s shampoo. 

       


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  • Community Coffee Supports the Next Generation of Growers in Colombia

    by John Knotz | Feb 01, 2017

    Community Coffee Company has had a long partnership with the Colombian communities of Toledo and Labateca, where coffee beans for the company are grown.

    Over the past two years, Community Coffee Company has supported a program called Young Coffee Growers, Sowers of the Future which supplied 100 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 with job training as coffee growers to complement their formal education. The project provided the communities with 1,000 coffee plants on 18 new hectares of family farmland.

    2-2-17_colombia_500x440The students were given seeds and training on how to grow, fertilize, dry and care for a quality coffee bean harvest. The program is intended to help families pass on coffee-growing traditions to their children and provide the young growers with the support they need to earn a living. For some, it will provide a way to fund their continuing education.

    Tito Antonio Capacho says his son came to him and asked to use some of the family land to grow coffee. The family helped him sow and care for the plants, which he loved doing, and he put a lot of effort into the work, Capacho says. 

    In addition to coffee-growing techniques, the program provides workshops for the students to teach values like self-esteem, the importance of social and economic human development and how to consider the bigger picture of the international market of which they are a part. They’re also promoting gender equality by encouraging girls to get involved as coffee growers.

    Heynner Gustavo Estupiñan G., one of the young coffee growers, says he enjoyed the way the program allowed the students and families to work together with the community. It’s important for young people to get involved in projects in rural areas because there are so many people who need help, he says.

    2-2-17_colombia_340x511Families say the program has helped them modernize their farms and allowed them to become more productive while increasing the quality of the coffee they grow. The students were taught to appreciate their craft and take pride in the quality product they’re producing.

    The project teaches the young growers and their families how to see the business through the scope of producing high-quality coffee with the best prices on the international market, says Gabriel Gonzalez Sanchez, the coffee growers extension leader for the state of Norte de Santander.

    One young coffee grower, Tatiana Villamizar, says she hopes projects like this can continue so that new generations will be encouraged to get involved with the community’s coffee-growing traditions.

    2-2-17_colombia_500x340As an added honor to Community Coffee Company’s support for the area, in 2015, the Toledito Juvenile Rural Home was renamed for Henry Norman Saurage III, a previous owner of Community Coffee Company, in honor of his support for education in the area. The school houses students whose homes are too far for them to commute daily. The school has been supported and built up by funds from Community Coffee Company programs


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  • Building Community: How a Simple Act of Kindness Can Bring People Together

    by John Knotz | Jan 24, 2017
     


    We’re a company that’s founded on bringing people together and giving back to the communities that give so much to us. With this in mind, we recently funded an art installation in Dallas, Texas called “Dear Neighbor.” Here’s what it’s all about:

    In the spirit of the holidays, we filled an empty space in Deep Ellum with vintage postcards and invited people to write a note to their neighbor – about gratitude, aspirations, or even something simple that they love about their community.

    In the first few weeks, thousands of people participated in our “Dear Neighbor” art installation. And what we found by reading each other’s messages is that sometimes all we need is a positive attitude and a sense of belonging to feel joy and peace.

    By taking photos of their notes and sharing on social media with the hashtag #MakeItCommunity, participants have lifted our spirits and given us another reason to be thankful for our community this holiday season.


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  • How to Prepare to Run Cold-Weather Races

    by John Knotz | Jan 19, 2017

    Running in the cold brings its own special challenges — and rewards, runners say.

    “There is something so invigorating about being able to see your breath as you run, and the silence that usually accompanies colder temperatures,” says Natasha LaBeaud Anzures, an elite Canadian runner who has Olympic goals for the 10,000-meter and marathon distances. “It allows me to challenge different systems and I feel like I can really excel in colder temperatures.”

    There are plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself in the cold — as long as you’re ready for the elements. Here are some ways to prepare for racing in cold weather, so you can focus on your run.

    Fuel Your Body

    Hydration is important even in cold weather, says Sara Dimmick, owner of Physical Equilibrium fitness and training studio. She’s also a certified personal trainer and a USA Triathlon Coach. She says that a day or two before a race, she focuses on drinking extra water, Gatorade and coconut water. “You will also have time to eliminate it and won't have to drink as much the morning of the race if you have pre-hydrated the night before,” she says.

    Eat right the night before the race so you have enough energy. Load up on complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, without overdoing it on calories. Anzures says she likes brown rice pasta, scrambled eggs and a giant salad.

    Warm Up Right

    It takes longer to warm up in the cold, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time before your race, Anzures says. “Learning the best way that your muscles warm up is essential, so take the time to track the amount of running time, drills and strides needed to feel ready to go,” she says.

    Dimmick recommends dynamic movements that get the blood flowing and warm up your extremities. “Leg swings, bridges, controlled lunges, ankle and other joint circles, and other dynamic stretches are great for warming up, while static stretching is best for cooling down,” she says.

    Dress for Success

    Keep an eye on the forecast and use layers to regulate your temperature throughout the race. Cooler weather can boost your performance, runners say, so don’t sabotage yourself by dressing too warmly and overheating. However, you have to protect your extremities so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep them warm.

    “Hand and feet warmers make a huge difference,” says Stephanie Schappert, a professional runner for Hoka One One and the New Jersey New York Track Club. “I like to keep a pair in my racing shoes, so when I come back after my warmup jog and switch shoes they are warm.”

    Pour a Cup

    Whether it’s to warm up, fuel up or relax before the starting gun, coffee is a great way to prepare for a cold-weather race. “Coffee is a must,” Schappert says. “Pre-race involves a lot of sitting and relaxing, and my teammates and I look forward to finding a new local coffee shop to grab our caffeine fix. My race day go-to is two shots of espresso two hours before I compete.”

    Even if you don’t drink it, it can still be helpful: “Sometimes I will get a larger size than I know I will drink, just so I can hold something warm,” Schappert says.
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  • Resolved: Going Tech-Free to Strengthen Your Relationships in 2017

    by John Knotz | Dec 22, 2016

    The calendar is rolling toward 2017, so maybe you’ve been thinking some about New Year’s resolutions. We have one to suggest: Reconnect with your friends and family in real life instead of just through social media.

    “Relationships are built on understanding the other person and who they are, what they are and what they might need from you. All those things need to take place in the real world,” says Larry Rosen, a professor emeritus of psychology at California State University and co-author of “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World.”

    If you’re ready to get back to clicking face-to-face instead of just clicking a “like” button, here’s how to put that resolution into action.


    Get More Specific About Your Needs

    Figure out who you want to reach out to and how often. Does your vision include planning a big bash to bring everyone together? Or dedicating more one-on-one time with your family members or close friends? 

    Simply telling yourself that you’re going to spend more quality time with loved ones isn’t going to get it done, says Kevin Gilliland, a clinical psychologist and executive director of Innovation360 in Dallas. “Pick a few people to focus on first — not your whole social circle,” he says. “Be realistic. If you’re trying to reconnect with a friend who lives across town and has three small children, aim for face-to-face time once a month or every other month.”

    Prepare yourself to follow through on your resolution by sharing your plans. Tell the people you hope to reconnect with as well as an “outsider” to your plan — someone close to you who will hold you accountable and keep you on track, Gilliland says.

    Make Concrete Plans

    How many times have you told someone “We need to get together soon,” but it never actually happens? We all have busy lives, which is why scheduling is so important. Schedule time for yourself to make plans.

    “Set reminders once a month to plan a get together with a particular friend,” says Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship adviser at Relationup, an app that offers live relationship advice. That makes it much more likely that you’ll follow through on that coffee date.

    Once you’ve reach out to someone, make specific plans with them. Vague plans like “Let’s do something this weekend” can easily fade into another missed opportunity; it’s much harder for that to happen if you’ve bought tickets, made reservations or set a time and place, Milrad says.

    Do Something Physical

    Do you want to get in better shape? Combine two resolutions into one by planning physical activities with a loved one. Sharing your workout with someone can motivate you and make you feel better in general.

    “Serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and endorphins are naturally occurring neurotransmitters in our bodies, and part of their purpose is to make us feel good,” Gilliland says. “Production of these naturally occurring stimulants is at its peak when we engage in physical activity.”

    Arrange a weekly gym date with a friend, go on a hike together, join a pickup basketball game or take the kids out to play Frisbee in the park. Even a walk through the neighborhood with a friend once a week is a great opportunity to get yourself up and moving while enjoying tech-free time with your favorite people.

    Try Something New

    If there’s a hobby or activity you’ve always wanted to try or did once and want to do again, organize it with someone special. Try bonding over an activity like a wine and painting class or indoor rock climbing, Milrad says.

    “You are enjoying each other’s company while having a memorable time,” she says. “The uniqueness of the experience coupled with the fun of being together creates a rich memory that gets stored in your brain differently than a more familiar and predictable event.”

    Doing something novel can spark a deeper level of connection, particularly for couples looking to spend some tech-free time together, Gilliland says. “Engaging in a new shared activity, whether it’s ballroom dancing, bowling or wine tasting, is a very effective way for husbands and wives to reignite their bond,” he says.

    Try Something Old

    There’s plenty of old-fashioned ways to get together that shouldn’t be overlooked, and you don’t need to wait for a special occasion. Invite people over for the game, throw a BBQ, or host a dinner party.

    If you’ve got kids and find yourself always busy, chances are you have a friend or relative in the same boat. Ask them to join you when you’re knocking out common errands like grocery shopping, or invite them along when you’re taking the kids to the museum or park.

    And, of course, you can always meet someone for coffee when you have an hour here or there to spend. However you choose to spend real-world time with your loved ones, the important thing to remember is that you’re building deeper relationships.

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  • Partnership Expands Education Options

    by John Knotz | Dec 16, 2016

    The coffee-growing communities of Unión Buenavista and Tierra y Libertad in the Mexican state of Chiapas are located on unpaved, mountainous roads far from the nearest town. Generations of farmers have grown their products and made the arduous journey to town to sell their goods.

    Hildardo Matias Velasquez, a coffee farmer, recalls the difficulty of such trips before an actual road existed. He says he would pack mules at 5 a.m. to take products to town and sell them, then arrive at 3 p.m., buy supplies such as sugar, salt and soap, repack the mules and make the return journey. The road has helped shorten the trip, but it’s still a rough, dangerous trek, he says.

    The communities’ isolation also makes it difficult for teachers to reach the area or for students to get to schools, particularly when heavy rains make the road impassable. In response to this problem, Community Coffee Company, in partnership with Southwest Airlines and the ECOM Foundation, created a project to build two classrooms with satellite internet and access to online curriculum. The project provides grade-school education, as well as access to agricultural, technological and academic training for anyone interested. Additionally, residents — who traditionally have had little hope for a higher education — can now access a university education remotely. 

    Mexico_WithinArticle_315x472

    Coffee farming is the livelihood for many of these residents, so training in agriculture and better coffee-growing practices is being offered to sustain future generations of coffee growers. 

    Mark Howell, general manager of the Green Coffee and Tea Department with Community Coffee Company, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the two schools. The kids were excited and curious about the visitors since they rarely get visitors in their area, he says.


     




    Mexico_WithinArticle_400x267“After theribbon cutting we stepped into the school and turned on the lights to look around. The school has windows along either side of the building, and there were over a hundred kids’ faces peering in trying to see inside the school,” he says. “They let a group of students in, and they all sat down and immediately wanted everyone to take pictures of them looking busy and professional.”

    In an area where education usually stops after elementary school, and kids go on to live as farmers and laborers, the schools will make a huge difference to their futures, opening new doors for them, Howell says. Some of the students understand that, and some don’t yet, but their parents understand what the access to computers and higher education will mean for their children, he says.

    “I think the turnout for these ceremonies spoke volumes,” Howell says. “A large percent of the community showed up each day to hear what was said and enjoy a picnic.”

    Matias Velasquez says he’s optimistic that education for the area will continue to improve, and the community's children will be better prepared for the future. He also wants to continue learning despite his age — even if it’s just learning more about agriculture, it would be a good thing for everyone, he says.

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  • Bake-Ahead Thanksgiving Dessert Sweet Potato Triple Layer Cake

    by John Knotz | Nov 09, 2016

    Sweet potatoes predictably may be served as a side dish – or even in rolls – around the country this Thanksgiving. But try dressing them up for a show-stopping, not-even-close-to-resembling-pie dessert? Absolutely!

    This cake is inspired by the carrot Bundt cake recipe my husband’s Southern Aunt Bea lovingly gifted to us in a box full of hand-written recipes when we were married. Shredded sweet potato replaces carrots and dates upstage somewhat-polarizing raisins. Autumn’s best spices, walnuts and sweet pineapple make each layer’s flavor and texture special.

    Between each layer and crowning the top is an amazing coffee cream cheese frosting. Ever since my friend told me that her mom always adds a touch of brewed coffee to her homemade frostings, I’ve wanted to try it. And instead of screaming coffee flavor, it covertly manages to enhance the other frosting ingredients.  

    Because there usually are several other menu items to prepare at Thanksgiving, make the cake layers anytime in November and freeze. Be sure to wrap each individually and place in a freezer bag. Simply pull these out to thaw before frosting, which can be done the day before serving. And this sweet treat will taste just as fresh at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend as it did on the holiday. That makes everyone happy!


    Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

    Cake:

    • 2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
    • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    • ½ teaspoon allspice
    • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • ¾ cup vegetable oil
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2 cups peeled, grated sweet potato (about 1 medium)
    • 1 cup toasted, finely chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
    • ½ cup chopped dates
    • ½ cup finely chopped fresh or canned pineapple

     

    Frosting:

    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 2 tablespoons brewed Community® coffee, cooled
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 ½ - 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and spray sides with vegetable cooking spray.

     

    Cake

    In large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Stir in or mix on low speed vegetable oil and eggs; completely combine. Add sweet potato, ¾ cup walnuts, dates and pineapple, stirring until combined. Evenly divide batter into pans. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

    Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake pans; turn over onto cooling rack. Remove parchment and cool completely.

     

    Frosting

    In large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add coffee and vanilla; mix until smooth, scraping bowl often. Gradually add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, adding extra coffee or powdered sugar to achieve spreading consistency; mix until completely combined.

    Place first layer of cake on serving plate; evenly spread with 1/3 of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup walnuts to garnish.

    Makes 1 large layer cake (at least 16 slices)

     

    Notes:

    • White whole wheat flour has all of the nutrition of whole wheat flour but with a less assertive flavor and texture. In this cake, it enhances the nutty, rich flavors and performs quite similarly to all-purpose flour.
    • To easily toast nuts, place in heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes. Cool.
    • Toasting nuts develops an additional layer of flavor which won’t occur from baking since the nuts are mixed into the cake batter.
    • For evenly-sized layers, use a kitchen scale to equally portion batter into each pan.
    • Omit nuts if there’s an allergy concern or if they’re not a favorite. Consider adding coconut instead.
    • The frosting will not noticeably taste of coffee. Instead, the rich cream cheese and butter flavors are enhanced.
    • This semisweet cake dessert will pair well with Community® Café Special® coffee. This medium roasted coffee provides a light balance between the creamy, richness of the dessert and the subtle flavor of the 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.


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  • Fall Into A New DIY Project

    by John Knotz | Oct 20, 2016

    Ahhh the colors of Fall. The rustic browns, burnt oranges and crisp reds all come together to show off nature’s beauty. What better way to showcase some of Fall’s most vibrant colors than in your home décor? With family coming in for the holidays, its easy to get caught up in everything from the menu to the sleeping arrangements. But these simple Fall DIY projects are sure to impress your guests…and maybe even yourself!

    Nothing brings people together like a warm homemade meal. Of course, it is always a bit more inviting when the table is adorned with festive Fall decorations and a glowing centerpiece. Try placing these easy pumpkin candle holders in the center of your table and let the compliments pour in!



     
    Need to add some flair to your front door? This monogram pumpkin door hanger will have all the neighbors knocking on your door…and wondering where you got this DIY treasure, of course! This idea is perfect when you need something quick and easy!



    Striving to be the hostess with the mostest? Try these maple leaf mason jars for serving drinks to your guests! Just swap out the candle for some Community® Raspberry Tea and enjoy on a crisp Autumn afternoon.



     
    Here is a great last minute décor idea! This fun project requires basic materials and only 30 minutes of your time. Hang or place this spray paint leaf art around your living room or entryway for an effortless Fall touch!


    Want to spruce up your coffee table or fireplace mantle? These cinnamon stick candles will leave your home smelling like a delicious bakery! Plus, the leftover cinnamon sticks can be used in other ways! Just place a couple sticks in a mug of freshly brewed Community® Pumpkin Praline coffee and enjoy the Fall sensory overload!



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