• NOTES FROM OUR MILITARY: 6.1 MILLION CUPS OF COMMUNITY® COFFEE SHIPPED TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

    by Amy Cimo | May 21, 2018

    We have been thanking U.S. military personnel by doubling customer coffee orders for free through our Military Match program for almost a decade. Over 6.1 million cups of Community® coffee have given our heroes a taste of home and customers have reached back out to share their thoughts on the program.

    Susie’s Shipment

    Recently, Susie, a customer of Community Coffee Company, sent in a moving story about our Military Match program. Susie's brother is stationed overseas for the United States Military. Her sister-in-law had suggested sending him some Community® coffee for the long nights at work and to give him a taste of home. She sent him several bags of coffee through our Military Match program thinking the amount should last him several months.

    His response was heartwarming. He wrote of his long nights and longer days spent working together with Canadian and Royal Airforce pilots. Though the work is hard, the crew is fueled by Community coffee. "Your coffee has made a daily impact. Even the French staff officer has a great appreciation for the local Louisiana coffee.” Her brother says after all the planning is done for the day all the crew members look forward to partaking in the local brand which has become respected as the best there is. 

    Handwritten Notes

    At a Community Coffee Company employee event, our team members had the opportunity to personally show their support of our military heroes by writing “Thank You” notes to military personnel, which were then placed in our Military Match boxes and shipped to servicemen and servicewomen across the globe.

    Recently, we received a thank you letter from Chris, a U.S. Department of State diplomat, who has been serving overseas in various U.S. embassies. He has been our customer since 2006. He wrote to Our Company in response to the handwritten note that was delivered to him.

    “Someone took time out of their day to write a handwritten note to me, which I sincerely appreciate.  It was not necessary and I truly believe that their sentiments are completely genuine. This simple and kind act only reinforced to me that your company deserves my total loyalty. While you had a loyal customer before, this simple card only ensured that I will only buy your coffee in the future and if I run out, I will just wait until your coffee arrives to drink more. Please accept my sincere appreciation for your generosity, kindness, and simple humanity that you have shown to me and all the millions of military members over the long years.”

    • Chris, U.S. State Department and loyal Community® coffee consumer

    More than 2.2 million men and women serve in the U.S. military. By doubling orders for free, Community Coffee Company ensures all servicemen and servicewomen have the opportunity to get a taste of home. 

    Military Match Overview
    Customers purchase four bags or boxes of Community® coffee from CommunityCoffee.com/Military-Match for those serving in the military. The company then matches the order with four additional bags or boxes, ships the extra four items at its cost and sends a total of eight items plus a signature Military Match mug. The customer supplies the overseas (APO/FPO) or stateside military base address.

    Military Match Varieties Offered
    Customers have the opportunity to choose from their favorite blends which include a variety of sizes, formats and flavors. A complete listing is available at CommunityCoffee.com/Military-Match. Community Coffee Company encourages ordering at least 30 business days ahead of desired arrival date for some overseas destinations.



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  • How an Abandoned Trip to a Costa Rica Souvenir Shop Transformed a Couple’s Lives

    by Amy Cimo | May 14, 2018

    At its best, travel offers the chance to expand personal horizons through new experiences and the forging of connections with people in unfamiliar destinations. It just doesn’t always play out that way. Sometimes your life can change on the way to the souvenir shop.

    In 2005 as a second-year undergrad at the University of Virginia, Lyndsay Anderson traveled to Costa Rica on a spring break trip with 16 other students. Toward the end of the excursion, she and two friends set out to shop for souvenirs before heading home. They broke away from the group and stopped for lunch at El Coconut, a beachside bar and restaurant, where Lyndsay noticed a young man wearing a UVA shirt and a Yankees cap.

    “I was like, those are my two teams,” she says. “Who is this guy and how have I never met him? I introduced myself.”

    Steven turned out to be a recent UVA graduate visiting for a friend’s wedding. They struck up a conversation that proved to be quite consequential. “Seven hours later we hadn’t moved,” Lyndsay says. “We never bought souvenirs. I was supposed to use the payphone to call my brother, but I didn’t.”

    They ran into each other again at the airport and ended up spending more time getting to know each other. “He bought me a hotdog and beer with his last $1.50 and I remember thinking if this was our first date, we’ve got a lot of room for growth,” she says.

    They agreed to keep in touch but didn’t expect their spring break connection to develop into anything serious. “It was just cool that we could talk about UVA sports together,” she says. As it turns out, they were quite wrong.

    Though Steven was living two hours away from Lyndsay in Washington, D.C., the two stayed in touch and eventually started dating. Today they’ve been married for nine years and have two sons — all thanks to a chance encounter at a beachside restaurant thousands of miles from home.

    IMG_5287Lyndsay and Steven have returned multiple times to the town of Tamarindo, a popular beach destination on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and have enjoyed drinks on the beach at El Coconut. “It’s really fortunate that the little restaurant we met in still exists,” she says.

    The couple now live in Sacramento, California, but continue to experience new destinations, including trips with their children. “That’s one of the reasons why my husband and I work so well — because we both love traveling and exploring,” she says.

     

    Community Coffee Company has launched a new “Fly More When You Buy More” campaign in partnership with Southwest Airlines®. In an effort to thank our customers, we’re offering the opportunity to get Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points with the purchase of specially-marked packages of Community® Signature Blend Dark Roast and Breakfast Blend single-serve coffee. From April through the summer, customers can earn 150, 200 or 500 Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points with the purchase of 12-count, 18-count or 80-count specially-marked boxes. To participate, enter the unique product code located inside each specially-marked package at CommunityCoffee.com/Rewards to receive a certificate via email to claim your Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points. A Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® account is required to redeem the rewards. Visit southwest.com/enroll to enroll.


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  • Celebrate Mom and Cool Off with This Refreshing Mint-Infused Watermelon Summer Salad

    by Amy Cimo | May 07, 2018

    Mother’s Day became an official American holiday in 1914 thanks to the efforts of West Virginia activist Anna Marie Jarvis, who had pushed for years to create a day to honor the mothers of the world and their impact on society. The tradition quickly spread internationally and has not only endured but grown in popularity over the past century.

    In Louisiana most years, summer heat is in full effect by the time Mother’s Day rolls around on the second Sunday of May — even though the first day of summer is weeks away. For a simple recipe to celebrate this holiday and also help keep you cool, we turned to Steve Diehl of Twine Market and Deli in Baton Rouge, which creates fresh dishes daily with an emphasis on using locally raised meat and produce.

    Diehl suggested a watermelon summer salad with mint vinaigrette, which the shop sells by the pound to hungry customers. The recipe combines the sweetness of watermelon with salty and creamy feta cheese — all topped with a bright mint vinaigrette that evokes the sunshine of summer. Cucumber, radish, tomato and thinly sliced red onion finish off this crowd-pleasing and refreshing salad.

    “It’s very summery,” Diehl says. “You’re going to taste the watermelon, and the cucumber and radish give a nice crunch to the salad. The mint vinaigrette rounds those flavors out nicely.”

    This easy-to-make salad is a perfect Sunday picnic dish — preferably after a comfortable breakfast in bed for Mom. We recommend pairing it with Community® 100% Colombia Altura coffee. Carefully sourced from the Andes Mountains, where the high altitude is known for developing a rich, bright and winey flavor, this blend will nicely complement the fruity summer flavors of this salad.

    Watermelon Salad

    • 2 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into cubes
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 cup radishes, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 English cucumber, cut into cubes
    • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

    Combine ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly.

    Mint Vinaigrette

    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
    • Ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup olive oil

    Combine all but the olive oil in a food processor until minced, then slowly add olive oil until blended. If you don’t have a food processor, simply combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk while slowly adding the olive oil. Toss the salad ingredients in the dressing.

  • How an Overseas Airport, a Stranger and a Hug Led to a New Perspective on Travel

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 30, 2018

    By the time Trish McFarlane stepped off a plane in Amman, she was exhausted and a bit disoriented from the 15-hour flight from Chicago to Marka International Airport, the bustling Mideast hub just outside Jordan’s capital city.

    FMBM-43018-1McFarlane, a human resources consultant who travels extensively for work, was on her way to Dubai for a major industry conference. The business trip was the Missouri native’s first to the Middle East, and she had by chance arrived on the same night as the 2015 Paris terror attack, which had ratcheted up tensions around the globe.

    As McFarlane walked through the terminal, she saw the images from the tragedy on television screens. The fear of the unknown from arriving alone in such an unfamiliar place loomed large. “I was very anxious and overly tired,” she says.

    McFarlane was still frazzled as she grabbed her luggage and headed to the ladies room, where she immediately encountered an older woman working as an airport custodian. They were the only two people in the restroom, and the stranger — whom McFarlane describes as “grandmotherly” — seemed fascinated by the Midwestern American who had just walked through the door. Neither of the women spoke the other’s language, but they did their best to communicate. “We were just trying to figure each other out,” she says. “I think she could tell I was nervous.”

    Then something remarkable happened. “She just walked up and hugged me,” McFarlane says. “Really hugged me — like your grandmother would hug you. And I just let her. I normally wouldn’t do that.”

    McFarlane says she’s not sure whether her own anxiety and fear of the unknown were so transparent that the woman felt the need to comfort her in an overt way, or if the woman was just extremely friendly by nature. Regardless of the motivation, the woman’s gesture helped put McFarlane at ease and move beyond any fear about how she would be treated traveling alone in an unfamiliar region of the world. She thanked the woman, who was smiling and nodding as McFarlane left.

    “It gave me such a great start to my trip because I went into the rest of my trip and had a wonderful time,” she says. “People on the whole trip couldn’t have been more wonderful to me. I was so paranoid about what other people thought about Westerners and it wasn’t that way at all. Everybody I met was so warm and welcoming to me. But I feel like it all started with her.”

    McFarlane says that beyond easing her immediate concerns about that trip, the moment was pivotal in transforming her approach to travel and allowing her to open herself up more to the idea of making connections with new people in unfamiliar places.

    “I realized you can be really nervous about something, you can be really apprehensiveFMBM-43018-2 about something, but you just have to remain open in the moment,” she says. “We’re really not all that different. You don’t have to speak the language, but you can make a connection with someone on that basic human level. It’s changed my travel outlook when I go anywhere now. I’ve been to a lot more countries since then and I’m always really open to those encounters and not afraid. She just changed me as a traveler. She was their best ambassador.”

    McFarlane, who while growing up near St. Louis traveled only to Florida every year for family vacations, now sees her trips as an exploration, as well as a chance to cultivate connections and build relationships with people from different cultures and backgrounds, experiences she relishes after having been raised in what she says was a “sheltered Midwestern town.”

    “Whether you’re going to London or Hong Kong or New York, you’re meeting people from all over the world and everybody fits,” she says. “I think that’s what I like the most.”

     

    Community Coffee Co. has launched a new “Fly More When You Buy More” campaign in partnership with Southwest Airlines®. In an effort to thank our customers, we’re offering the opportunity to get Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points with the purchase of specially marked packages of Community® Signature Blend Dark Roast and Breakfast Blend single-serve coffee. From now through the summer, customers can earn 150, 200 or 500 Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points with the purchase of 12-count, 18-count or 80-count specially marked boxes. To participate, enter the unique product code located inside each specially marked package at CommunityCoffee.com/Rewards to receive a certificate via email to claim your Southwest Rapid Rewards® bonus points. A Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® account is required to redeem the rewards. Visit southwest.com/enroll to enroll.


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  • Louisiana Beignets: How To Make the Traditional Sugar-Dusted Fried Dough Treats at Home

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 24, 2018

    The Louisiana tradition of beignets, the light and puffy fried-dough treats doused in powdered sugar, stretches back more than 200 years to the early days of New Orleans.

    Thought to be first introduced to the Crescent City by French-speaking immigrants in the 1700s, these square, crispy and chewy donuts truly became a phenomenon after they turned up in the city’s French Market coffee stands in the early 1900s. They remain a beloved treat to this day, enjoyed by the thousands daily in French Quarter cafes or among the oak trees in historic New Orleans City Park, often with a strong cup of coffee.

    That rich and enduring tradition inspired Community Coffee to create our Sugar Dusted Beignet blend. Made with 100 percent select Arabica coffee beans, this unique French-dough-flavored coffee is lightly dusted with powdered sugar for a delightful finish. For a more traditional combination with your beignets, consider our Coffee and Chicory blend. Our version of this Southern favorite combines rich, roasted coffee beans with high-quality chicory for a bolder, sweeter flavor than coffee alone. We recommend trying it café-au-lait-style with steamed milk for a time-honored New Orleans-inspired flavor.

    While New Orleans was the launching pad for the beignet tradition, the fried treats — which are now the official state doughnut of Louisiana — have spread far beyond the banks of the lower Mississippi. They also come in a range of shapes, sizes and flavors.

    At the charming Berrytown Corner Cafe in historic downtown Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the beignets are served bite-sized and stuffed with a variety of sweet surprises, from strawberry to white chocolate to real whipped cream.

    Their beignet bites come in servings of eight and are often paired with Community® Coffee and Chicory blend, says Berrytown owner Kathy Gueydan. They are among the eatery’s most popular items.

    “People eat them for breakfast, they eat them for lunch, they eat them as snacks,” Gueydan says. “They eat them with powdered sugar, without powdered sugar, with whipped cream. They are a great treat.”

    They’re also surprisingly easy to make at home. The key ingredient — other than large quantities of powdered sugar — is patience, particularly during the resting time recommended before cutting the dough into pieces and dropping them into the hot oil.

    So brew a cup of your favorite coffee, procure the largest bag of powdered sugar you can find and help continue a tasty tradition that has been part of Louisiana for more than two centuries. Just don’t forget to dust yourself off afterward.

    Fresh Beignets

    • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 7 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
    • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

    In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let set for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, eggs, milk and butter. Blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add up to 3 cups of flour to make a pliable, tender dough. Cover and chill for 2-24 hours.

    Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Fry in 360 degree F (180 degrees C) hot oil until golden. Drain onto paper towels. Shake confectioners' sugar on beignets. Serve warm.


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  • How Community Coffee Supports Louisiana’s Longest-Running Coastal Restoration Organization

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 16, 2018

    Coastal erosion has been washing away the Louisiana coast for decades, impacting the unique communities and ecosystems that help make our home state such a special place to live and work. A diverse and dedicated group of people has been pushing back against those forces in an effort to preserve the state’s fragile coastline.

    The nonprofit Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) has been at the forefront of the effort to restore and save Louisiana’s coastal areas for three decades. The organization is driving bold, science-based action to rebuild coastal Louisiana through outreach, restoration and advocacy.

    CRCL_GroupAs a Louisiana company with strong coastal roots, Community Coffee is proud to be a longtime supporter of CRCL and its important mission. We recently partnered with the organization for a promotion featuring Community® Amber Sunrise Blend to raise funds to support coastal restoration in Louisiana. For every dollar redeemed on specially marked packages, we provided a matching donation to land-preservation efforts along the Gulf Coast. Nearly 10,000 coupons were redeemed through the program.

    “Community Coffee has been a tremendous CRCL partner for a long time,” says CRCL Executive Director Kimberly Davis Reyher. “Their commitment to our coast and to Louisiana as a whole is inspiring.”

    The organization’s vital work continues to make a difference. Here are three innovative ways the CRCL is helping to protect the fragile Louisiana coastline.

    Restoring Coastal Trees

    CRCL has now planted more than 30,000 trees, hitting the milestone during projects ined-IMG_4862 the Lower Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes in southeast Louisiana as part of a long-running effort to restore trees damaged by hurricanes over the past two decades.

    Volunteers plant trees to help reduce impacts from storm surge and flooding, improve water quality and create habitat for fish and wildlife. Coastal forests in Louisiana offer protection from hurricanes and safeguard communities all along Louisiana’s coast.

    CRCL spokesman Jimmy Frederick says recent large-scale restoration projects have introduced additional freshwater into many coastal areas, allowing the organization to plant trees in spots where they would previously have been damaged by saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico.

    “The salinity around the swamp in that area has come down, so we can now once again plant cypress trees and black gum and maples and hardwoods that are really important to holding the soil but also breaking up storm surge,” he says. “It also knocks the wind down and really makes a difference for the communities to the north of those forests.”

    Frederick says the organization has been monitoring the trees for six years, and has observed an 80 percent survival rate. “It’s really making a difference,” he says.

    Oyster Shell Recycling

    ed-IMG_5268One of CRCL’s most innovative and successful initiatives, its Oyster Shell Recycling Program, collects used oyster shells from New Orleans-area restaurants to build and restore reefs that help protect Louisiana’s eroding coast line.

    “Instead of going to landfills, they are going back into the water where they belong,” Frederick says. “On top of that they’re helping to slow erosion by breaking up wave action and also acting as a little bit of a speed bump for storms.” In addition, the shells provide habitat for a new generation of oysters to thrive.

    The program has recycled more than a million pounds of oyster shells since it began in 2014. The first project built was a half-mile-long living shoreline installed in Biloxi Marsh, east of New Orleans, in November 2016. Frederick says the program is preparing to create an oyster reef on land owned by the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe in Terrebonne Parish.

    State of the Coast Conference

    In addition to CRCL’s work in the field, every two years it hosts State of the Coast, the largest conference of coastal professionals and decision-makers. The next event is set for May 30 to June 1.

    The conference includes a smaller event called Restoration on the Half Shell for Louisiana residents who want to learn more about the issue of coastal restoration.

    CRCL offers the half-day program in partnership with the The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The program is intended for concerned citizens who are familiar with the problems facing our coast. “It’s for the person who wants to learn more about what Louisiana’s issues are with coastal restoration, how we are going to correct those problems and where the funding is going to come from,” Frederick says.


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  • April 30 is Oatmeal Cookie Day. Celebrate with This Decadent Recipe.

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 10, 2018

    Although the oatmeal cookie has been around for more than a century, it remains one of the most popular American treats — and for good reason. Adding oats to cookies is an excellent way to insert a healthful ingredient to as tasty treat, as well as a dash of texture and flavor that enhances a huge range of cookie types.

    To help celebrate Oatmeal Cookie Day on April 30, we turned to The Bistro by One Smart Cookie, a long-running deli and bakery in Marrero near New Orleans that has been making supersized, chocolate-infused oatmeal cookies for years. “We kind of do things a little differently here,” says general manager Tracy Autin. “We like to jazz things up.”

    The bakery adds coarsely chopped macadamia nuts and two types of chocolate chunks, along with plenty of oats, to create a multi-layered and thick oatmeal cookie that’s up to 4 inches wide — perfect for a special-occasion treat. “It’s chewy on the inside with a crunch on the outside, so it’s the best of both worlds,” Autin says.

    Autin says some home bakers may not want to use macadamia nuts, which can be quite expensive, but she notes that pecans and peanuts are good substitutes. Also, the chocolate can be omitted for a simpler but still sweet and satisfying cookie. “It works beautifully that way as well,” she says.

    We recommend pairing these decadent cookies with our Café Special® blend. Created for the finest restaurants, this welcoming, medium-dark-roasted coffee has full-bodied flavor with a smooth and balanced finish that will pair nicely with the sweetness of these cookies.

    Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies

    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks (optional)
    • 1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
    • 1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

    Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening and butter on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add both sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat on medium until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly, on medium, for 1 1/2 minutes. Add flour incrementally in three stages, stopping to scrape the bowl after each addition. Mix on low speed and stir just enough to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Add rolled oats, chocolate chunks, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Stir by hand until well-incorporated.

    Using a 3 1/4 oz disher, drop leveled, measured amounts of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Press slightly into a rounded shape, 3 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand 1 minute on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 15 large cookies.


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  • COOKING WITH COMMUNITY® COFFEE NEVER TASTED SO GOOD

    by Amy Cimo | Apr 03, 2018

    During the 26th Annual WYES SEASON OF GOOD TASTES coffee and wine pairing dinners, held between October 2017 and January 2018, chefs were asked to use Community® coffee as an ingredient in one or more of their courses. The creativity of the chefs was quite tasty as each chef showcased their entries at a dining event. Each dinner guest was then asked to judge the dish on presentation, taste, originality and creativity of coffee usage to select the top performer.

    Susan-Spicer-MoleWYES and Community Coffee Company are pleased to announce Chef Susan Spicer of Mondo as the 2017 Cooking with Community® Coffee Contest winner. Chef Susan Spicer won for her Seared Duck Breast featuring Community® Signature Blend Dark Roast Coffee Mole served with a Poblano‐Pumpkin Tamale and Toasted Pepitas.

    At Mondo restaurant located in New Orleans, Chef Susan Spicer focuses on bringing her guests the best Louisiana fare with global influences. She has been kind enough to provide us a copy of her award winning recipe. Enjoy!



    Dark Roast Mole
    Provided by Chef Susan Spicer

    Ingredients:

    • 4 cups Community® Signature Blend Dark Roast Coffee
    • 3-4 dried pasilla chiles
    • 3-4 dried guajillo chiles
    • 2 dried ancho chiles
    • 1 cup onion, diced
    • 10 garlic cloves
    • 1 bunch of cilantro
    • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
    • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
    • 2 6-inch corn tortillas
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3 whole star anise
    • 5 whole cloves
    • Salt to taste

    Directions:

    I first take all the dried chiles, remove the stems, and place them on a pan in a 375 degree oven.  Let them toast for 5-6 minutes or until aromatic. Then, in my slow cooker I place the toasted chiles, onion, garlic cloves, cilantro, corn tortillas and both toasted seeds with the Community® Signature Blend Dark Roast Coffee.  You want to make sure that there is enough coffee to cover the other ingredients.

    I make a satchel using cheese cloth and put the cinnamon stick, star anise and whole cloves inside. You can use a tea diffuser if cheese cloth isn’t available. Just break down the cinnamon stick to fit.

    I find the longer the ingredients are in the slow cooker the better. Overnight is best if possible. When making this recipe for the WYES dinner it was allowed to cook for a week in the slow cooker. I just added water when necessary. When ready, remove the satchel and blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add salt to taste. This sauce is rich and spicy. It can stand up to duck, beef or almost any game meat.


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  • Celebrate Easter Southern-Style with This Delicious Coconut Cake

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 26, 2018

    The Easter holiday offers an opportunity for solemn reflection and quality time with family and friends — as well as for plenty of tasty desserts. For Ruby Lange Buchanan, a longtime south Louisiana cook and collector of Cajun recipes, when she was growing up the springtime holiday was a time for a slice of special cake.

    “I can remember as a young girl going to my grandmother’s house for the holidays and looking forward to my aunt bringing a coconut cake,” says Buchanan, who is now retired and living in the historic district of Crowley, Louisiana.

    Buchanan, a native Cajun French speaker who was born in Erath, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country, keeps that tradition alive today, making the classic layer cake featuring white frosting and covered in coconut flakes. It’s a classic dessert that has graced Southern tables for decades. Buchanan was generous enough to share her family's recipe for this impressively moist and not-too-sweet cake that’s sure to wow your Easter guests.

    As Buchanan says: “Ceci est un bon gâteau (this is a good cake.) A classic!”

    Also, if you’re looking to spice up the traditional dessert a little, she recommends separating the layers with an easy-to-make pineapple filling that complements the coconut flavor at the heart of this recipe’s frosting.

    We second that suggestion and recommend pairing the cake with Community® 100% Colombia Altura coffee blend, which is carefully sourced from the Andes Mountains, where the high altitude is known for developing a rich, bright and winey flavor that plays well with the coconut. Other excellent pairings include Community® Breakfast Blend coffee, an aromatic medium roast, and Amber Sunrise™ Blend, our rich and vibrant seasonal blend for coffee drinkers who prefer a lighter roast with a smooth finish.

    Coconut Cake

    • 1 cup butter (softened)
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3 1/2 cups flour
    • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 cup milk
    • 8 egg whites, beaten
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

    Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually. Combine the flour and baking powder and add it to the mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat the egg whites until fluffy but not dry, then fold them into the creamed ingredients and add the flavorings.

    Bake in three greased-and-floured 9-inch cake pans at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool.

    Coconut Topping

    • 3 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tsp white vinegar
    • 3 egg whites, beaten
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp lemon extract
    • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
    • 1 1/2 cup coconut flakes
    Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until a fine thread drops from the end of a spoon when dipped into the mixture. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar mixture, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and lemon flavorings. Stir in the coconut and spread on cooled cake layers. Garnish with coconut flakes.

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  • How Catholic Elementary of Pointe Coupee Uses Community Coffee Program to Support Technology Initiative

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 12, 2018

    Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee is working to ensure that all of its students have access to their own personal computer, and the Community Cash for Schools® program is helping administrators reach that goal.

    The school raised $2,620 this year through the program thanks to the efforts of parents and teachers. Each school participating in the program can allocate the money they receive to various things their school needs. For Catholic Elementary, the funds will go toward technology, such as laptops and tablets, which the school incorporates into the everyday learning environment.

    “Over the next two years, that’s our goal: to make sure every student on our campus has a laptop to use,” Assistant Principal Jason Chauvin says.

    Located in New Roads, Catholic Elementary of Pointe Coupee prides itself on its high level of parental participation. At the center of that participation is the Home and School organization, through which parents raise money for the school and commit to an annual number of volunteer service hours at school functions.

    The school’s families have been participating in the Community Cash for Schools® program for well over a decade, but fundraising efforts have ramped up in recent years since the school implemented an incentive program encouraging parents to collect Community® product labels. For every 100 Community Coffee labels that parents turn in, they get credit for one service hour at school. The response has been impressive, school administrators say.

    The end result is a substantial financial boost to Catholic’s ongoing efforts to ensure that every student has access to the latest learning tools.

     

    Community Coffee Company supports schools by paying 10 cents for every proof of purchase turned in to teachers. Coffee products, tea products, creamer, sugar and coffee filters contain eligible proofs of purchase. Schools can choose to allocate the money toward new textbooks, computers or events. For more information on the Community Cash for Schools® program, visit CommunityCoffee.com/CashforSchools or call 1-800-525-5583.



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  • How Folds of Honor Helps Families of Fallen and Disabled Service Members

    by Amy Cimo | Mar 05, 2018

    An encounter while returning home from a second tour of duty in Iraq led Maj. Dan Rooney, an F-16 pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, to dedicate his life to making a positive impact for his fellow veterans and their families.

    The spark of inspiration came as his flight landed and the pilot asked passengers to respectfully remain seated while a casket carrying the remains of Army Cpl. Brock Bucklin was removed. Rooney watched as half of the passengers ignored the pilot’s request and left the plane — and he witnessed the fallen soldier’s twin brother guiding the flag-covered casket to meet other family members, including Bucklin’s wife and young son.

    Rooney says he decided then and there he had to do something to honor that sacrifice and support the families of fallen service members. In 2007 he founded Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.

    Community Coffee Company is a proud supporter of the organization, which has awarded nearly 16,000 scholarships over the past decade.

    “We’ve grown a vast amount over the past 10 years,” says Folds of Honor Regional Development Officer Sarah Duncan. “We’ve grown through big corporate partners like Community Coffee but also through grassroots campaigns and the American people, both individually and as groups, really getting behind our cause and supporting us.”

    Paying Tribute and Supporting Families

    FOH FamilyThe Folds of Honor motto is “Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.” Fulfilling that mission has become a national movement. There are more than 1 million dependents of military service members, and nearly 90 percent do not qualify for educational assistance from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or other governmental programs. 

    Folds of Honor typically provides $5,000 scholarships to cover higher-education costs, paid directly to the accredited institution. The organization has awarded scholarships to recipients in all 50 states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico and several countries overseas. A separate children’s fund provides money for K-12 students for private schools, summer tutoring or other educational needs.

    Duncan, whose father was an F-15 pilot who died in 1995, was a recipient of a scholarship. She says that while the scholarships’ monetary support is vital, the knowledge that others are honoring the memory of a loved one can also have a significant effect.

    “For me personally just to know there is a group of people out there who wake up every day and commit to honoring and remembering the sacrifice that not only my dad made but our family made as well is a gift you can’t put a price tag on,” she says.

    Community Cares

    Folds of Honor awarded 3,509 scholarships in 2017; 2,416 were for higher education and 1,093 came through the organization’s children fund. At Community Coffee, we believe this is an accomplishment that should be both celebrated and supported.

    In November, we asked people to participate in our #CommunityCares campaign to raise money and awareness for our service members by sharing what veterans mean to them. The response was overwhelming, with people sharing hundreds of personal stories about the positive impact veterans have made in their lives, as well as heartfelt remembrances of loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    At the conclusion of the campaign we were pleased to donate $25,000 to Folds of Honor, enough to cover five $5,000 scholarships for family members of fallen service members.

    Local Support

    As the organization’s impact and profile have grown, supporters across the country have organized to help raise funds to further its mission — and they’ve created a movement in the process. There are nine chapters operating around the country as independent volunteer organizations working to raise vital dollars for the national group’s efforts, with several more in the works.

    “We’re so fortunate to have so many amazing supporters across the country,” Duncan says.

    Among the organization’s largest and most popular fundraisers is the annual Patriot Golf Day, featuring tournaments nationwide that have raised millions for the Folds of Honor Foundation.

    In Louisiana, fundraising golf tournaments have been held in Lake Charles, Lafayette and New Orleans. Among the longest-running events is the Patriot Shootout at the University Club golf course in Baton Rouge each October.

    These fundraisers are just one example of the powerful community effort in the Gulf Coast region to support those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.


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  • Celebrate the Magic of Dr. Seuss Day with this Healthy Recipe for Green Eggs and Ham

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 28, 2018

    First published nearly 58 years ago, Dr. Seuss’ children’s story “Green Eggs and Ham” has become one of the best-selling books of all time, with some 8 million copies distributed worldwide.

    The simple but enduring tale encourages children to not prejudge an experience — in this case, brightly colored ham and eggs offered by a diminutive and mischievous creature named Sam — before actually giving it a try. It’s a story the author wrote using only 50 different words, in response to a challenge from a friend, and with that simplicity it has stood the test of time.

    At Community Coffee Company, we are enthusiastic Dr. Seuss fans because we understand that classic stories are an effective way to engage young readers and support early literacy that is critical to a student’s later success. Literacy programs are one of the education initiatives Community supports through the Community Cash for Schools® program.

    The program helps schools by paying 10 cents for every proof of purchase turned in to teachers. Coffee and tea products contain eligible proofs of purchase. Schools can choose to allocate the money toward reading programs, computers or events. For example, Mermentau Elementary School uses its proceeds to fund a play day to reward students who hit reading milestones throughout the school year.

    Readers young and old celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday each year on March 2. Dr. Seuss Day is a perfect time to celebrate the power of books and reading — and have some Seussian-inspired fun in the kitchen as well.

    Green Eggs and Ham Mini-Frittatas

    greenIf you’re looking to introduce a new reader to “Green Eggs and Ham,” March 2 is the perfect opportunity. For a fun twist, try making the book’s signature dish for your little ones to help the story come alive.

    If you’re looking to avoid food dyes, food writer Jamie Sanders has a solution: a green eggs and ham recipe for mini-frittatas (photo shown here) that are versatile enough for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. If your children, like the curmudgeon in the Seuss story, will not eat spinach in a box or with a fox, this fun recipe is a great way to sneak some veggies into a tasty and whimsical package that is green enough to do the story justice.

    “The kids will love these and they’ll definitely get everyone in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, and of course are the perfect recipe for Dr. Seuss Day,” Sanders says. “The best thing about this green eggs and ham mini-frittata recipe is that gorgeous green color is completely natural! Absolutely no food coloring.”

    Check out the full recipe at Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.


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  • Celebrate National Sticky Bun Day with This Satisfying Recipe

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 19, 2018

    Food writer Amber Wilson says that when she was growing up, waking up to sticky buns in the oven was always a good sign.

    “They were reserved for special weekend brunches or holidays,” Wilson says. “There was a celebration of sorts whenever we had them. I knew when I woke up to the scent of sweet, buttery sticky buns baking in the oven that that day was going to be sweet.”

    Wilson, a Louisiana native who writes about Southern cuisine and culture in her blog, For the Love of the South, says she now likes to pair sticky buns with chicory café au lait, which she says is “just a fancy way of saying half smoky, chicory coffee and half steamed milk sweetened with raw cane sugar.”

    Wilson, who has a cookbook on Southern food due out in March, shared her favorite recipe with us for National Sticky Bun Day, which takes place every Feb. 21. She says the key to these pillows of sticky goodness is the yeast dough, which requires a little patience while it rises but imparts a texture and flavor that’s worth the wait. Wilson adds pecans to add a touch of complexity that also serves as a counterpoint to all that sweetness.

    “These sticky buns are heavenly,” she says. “The dough is soft, sweet and buttery. The addition of the crunchy pecans adds a lovely contrast. It’s well worth the time and effort the moment these sticky buns cross your lips.”

    To complete your special-occasion treat, pair these sticky buns with Community® Coffee & Chicory blend, our version of the Southern favorite that combines rich, roasted Arabica coffee beans with high-quality chicory for a bolder, sweeter flavor than coffee alone. We recommend trying it café-au-lait-style with steamed milk for a traditional flavor.

    Pecan Sticky Buns

    Dough

    1/3 cup whole milk
    5 tablespoons sugar, divided
    1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
    2 large eggs
    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 stick butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter

    Heat milk in a heatproof measuring cup for a few minutes, until a thermometer reads 110 degrees. Stir in the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whisk to blend. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy. Whisk in the eggs.

    Combine the remaining sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the milk mixture and the butter, one piece at a time until it’s fully incorporated. Mix on medium speed for one minute and on medium-high for five minutes.

    Brush a medium-sized bowl with melted butter, then place the dough into the bowl. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the dough. Chill for two hours, then let the dough rise in a warm area for 45 minutes.

    Topping

    1 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
    1 stick butter
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/3 cup honey
    1/4 teaspoon salt 

    Spread the pecans in a dry pan on low heat. Toast just until fragrant, then set aside.

    Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, honey and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes. Pour one cup of the glaze into a 9-by-9-by-2-inch pan, being sure to coat all sides. Place 1/2 cup of pecans over the glaze in the pan. Set aside.

    Buns

    1 stick butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Dough, see recipe above
    1 egg

    Beat the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until creamy and blended. Set aside.

    Punch down the risen dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the butter mixture onto the dough, leaving an inch on all sides. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of pecans over the butter mixture. Roll up the dough from the side closest to you. Pinch the ends together once rolled completely.

    Cut into eight even slices. Place the dough, cut-side down, onto the prepared dish. Whisk the egg and a little water to create an egg wash, then brush it over the top of the dough. Place into a 350-degree oven; after 20 minutes turn the pan and bake for another 20 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over the buns with the rest of the pecans.


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  • Mardi Gras Is Just the Beginning of Louisiana’s Spring Festival Season

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 09, 2018

    As the holiday season comes to a close and the calendar turns over into a new year, Louisiana shifts into overdrive with world-class Carnival festivities across the state highlighting the music, food and culture of the region.

    “Life may slow down following the holidays for many, but for Louisiana, we’re just getting started,” says Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, the state’s top tourism official. “Our year begins in earnest every year following January 6. Louisiana is home to hundreds of Carnival parades and celebrations, as well other unique events.”

    The Carnival celebration kicked off on Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night, and will keep building until its Fat Tuesday crescendo, which this year falls on Feb. 13. From the legendary and nonstop revelry of New Orleans to the colorful traditions of Cajun Country, communities across the state offer numerous opportunities to experience a memorable Mardi Gras season.

    To mark these special celebrations, Community Coffee Company has launched the “king” of all flavored coffees, Community® Mardi Gras King Cake coffee, available online and in select stores across the American South. This limited-time-offer King Cake flavor features the same high-quality coffee beans that Community® coffee lovers expect, but with a perfectly balanced combination of cinnamon and vanilla. This blend provides a subtly sweet flavor that exemplifies the fun and spirit of the Carnival season fused with the company’s rich history.

    And after the last king cake is sliced and the final beads are tossed, Louisiana doesn’t power down for long before the spring festival season kicks into full gear. 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 piece of Louisiana culture.

    Here are a few festivals to check out before the summer heat slows the party down.

    BUKU Art + Music Project — March 9-10, New Orleans

    BUKU Art + Music Project is a quirky boutique event that combines a major festival with an  underground house party vibe, with a heavy focus on electronic dance music, hip-hop and indie rock. In addition to a huge lineup of national acts, the March festival in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District features dozens of pop-up street performances and art exhibits highlighting the youthful, creative energy driving the Crescent City. This event is for ages 18 and up.

    New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — April 27-May 6

    Heading into its 49th year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, is one of the premiere music festivals in the world. With an outstanding lineup of internationally renowned artists plus an eclectic selection of regional standouts across a wide range of genres, the festival attracts visitors from across the globe each year. The 2017 event drew more than 420,000 music fans to the Fair Grounds Race Course.

    French Quarter Festival — April 12-15

    For festival enthusiasts who can’t decide whether to prioritize food or music, French Quarter Fest offers an easy solution: nearly unlimited options for both. Enjoy all the entertainment you can take in with more than 400 musical performances on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter over four days, and sample amazing food from dozens of the city’s best culinary vendors.

    Baton Rouge Blues Festival — April 14–15

    Originating in 1981, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is one of the oldest blues festivals in America. Over the past 30 years, it has blossomed into a major event that attracts tens of thousands of blues enthusiasts to downtown Baton Rouge annually. The festival honors homegrown blues legends and internationally recognized artists on its three stages.

    Festival International — April 25-29

    The worldly, musical vibe of Lafayette’s five-day Festival International has helped it grow into the largest international music and arts festival in the United States, with a special emphasis on the connection between Acadiana and the French-speaking world. More than 300,000 festival goers converge on the city every year for musical performances by artists from more than 20 countries, along with workshops, exhibits, visual art, theater and other forms of performing arts. There’s a little bit for everybody at this event, including a growing list of international food vendors and a craft beer garden.

    Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival — May 3-13

    If all-day music festivals aren’t your thing, 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.

    Crawfish Festivals — March-May

    Located in historic St. Bernard Parish, the annual Louisiana Crawfish Festival celebrates the state’s favorite springtime Cajun delicacy. Set for March 22-25, the event features a wide range of activities and musical acts, as well as a midway with carnival games and rides. Six weeks later and 120 miles down the road to the west, the long-running Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has become one of the largest gatherings of Cajun musicians in the world. From May 4-6, the festival offers an opportunity to hear authentic Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop music from more than 30 bands.

    Bayou Country Superfest — May 25-27

    One of the final major events before the dog days of summer set in, Bayou Country Superfest features some of the most popular country music acts in the world on Memorial Day Weekend in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. This year’s event will also include a “A Salute to America,” a huge fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Friday night, May 25, and a free concert May 26 at Champions Square in New Orleans.


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  • New Coffee Research a Cup of Heart Health Cheer

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 07, 2018

    More. Good. News. If you’re a coffee drinker – along with so many others around the globe – you’ll appreciate the latest preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s recent global scientific sessions.

    According to data analyzed by machine learning from the long-term, ongoing Framingham Heart Study, which records what people consume and their cardiovascular health, drinking coffee may be associated with a decreased risk of heart failure and stroke. Specifically, compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers were associated with a 7% decreased risk of heart failure and an 8% decreased risk of stroke for each cup of coffee consumed. Most of the people in the research consumed between 1 and 6 cups (8 ounces each) of coffee daily.

    Funded by the American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the research also looked at data from the Cardiovascular Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. The same positive association between drinking coffee and decreased risk of heart failure and stroke was found in all three large studies.

    A few things to keep in mind when reading this and similar health news. This research has yet to be reviewed by peers and published, and it shows an association between coffee drinking and heart health versus proving cause and effect. The exact mechanisms of how coffee works need further study, but it may be the different phytochemicals and nutrients found in coffee beans that are linked to these benefits.

    In coffee’s case, a substantial number of large studies published in peer reviewed journals point toward the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption, including lower mortality, lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurologic diseases and suicide. So go on, raise your coffee cups to all of that and … cheers!

    Source: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Presentation  M2070 Coffee Intake Affects Heart Failure and Stroke Survival and is Significant in Predicting Heart Failure and Stroke Risk.

     

    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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  • Homemade Truffles and Coffee — the Perfect Romantic Gesture for Valentine’s Day

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 05, 2018

    Sure, flowers and a box of store-bought chocolates make a perfectly acceptable Valentine’s Day gift; there’s a reason why it’s a classic combination. But if you’re looking to put together a more personal romantic gesture for Feb. 14 this year, pairing a special-occasion coffee with a homemade chocolate dessert is an excellent way to show your special someone you truly care.

    Desserts, especially chocolates, can be intimidating for even experienced home cooks. That’s why we asked Isaac Fort, the pastry chef at Poupart Bakery, a long-running French bakery in Lafayette, for a decadent chocolate dessert that’s simple enough for just about anyone to make in their kitchen. His suggestion: Chocolate Ganache Truffles.

    These smooth and creamy spheres of chocolate have a rich, decadent flavor that is not overly sweet. Best of all they’re easy to make, which means they’re a perfect way for even a novice cook to create a homemade chocolate expression of affection. “All you need is a bowl, a pot, a whisk and three or four ingredients,” Fort says. “If you want to do something that you make yourself, that’s personal, and you don’t have a ton of skill, I think you can manage this. It’s not too difficult.”

    Chocolate desserts and coffee are a match made in culinary heaven. The richness of these tiny treats will pair nicely with Community® Private Reserve® Evangeline Blend™, which was created to honor the Acadian culture that supported the company in its early years. We blend 100 percent specialty-grade Arabica coffee beans and roast them to create a deep, semisweet flavor that will complement the bold flavors in these rich chocolate truffles.

    This Valentine’s Day, express how much your significant other means to you by surprising them with the combination of  top-notch coffee and homemade chocolate.

    Chocolate Ganache Truffles

    1 cup heavy cream
    8 oz. dark chocolate
    1 Tbsp unsalted butter
    Cocoa powder, crushed nuts or candy sprinkles

    It’s best to start with small pieces of dark chocolate. Chocolate chips work well, but a chocolate bar is fine if chopped into small pieces. Place the chocolate pieces in a medium-sized bowl.

    Put the cream and butter into a sauce pan and heat until it just comes to a boil. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolates and whisk together until smooth, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Remove and stir again. Repeat the process several times every 5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.

    Once it is thick enough, shape the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls (gloves may help with this step). Once you’ve shaped the truffles, roll them in cocoa powder, candy sprinkles or your favorite variety of crushed nuts for additional texture. Fort recommends crushed hazelnuts, which is a classic pairing with dark chocolate.

    Makes about 24 truffles.


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  • Today Is the Perfect Day to Celebrate Baked Alaska

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 26, 2018

    Baked Alaska, that classic and confounding dessert of ice cream and cake topped with browned meringue. How does the ice cream stay so cold in the oven?

    The magic and intrigue of Baked Alaska, which dates to the 19th century, stems from the combination of cold ice cream surrounded by a pound cake and flambéed meringue. The unusual combination of browned exterior concealing a cold suprise has impressed diners for well over a century.

    The origins of the dessert are not entirely clear. There are reports of Count von Rumford, an 18th-century physicist and inventor, discovering that the air bubbles inside whipped egg whites made meringue an effective insulator and allowed for exterior browning without melting the ice cream within.

    The name is believed to have been coined by New Orleans chef Antoine Alciatore, who in 1867 reportedly perfected and named the dish in honor of the United States’ agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia. Chef Charles Ranhofer of the New York City eatery Delmonico’s popularized the dish in 1894, calling it “Alaska, Florida,” in an apparent homage to its combination of hot and cold elements. The restaurant still serves the dish today.

    Whatever its origins, Baked Alaska has deep roots in New Orleans thanks to Antoine’s, which keeps the tradition alive today at its French Quarter location, some 150 years after Alciatore first offered it to diners. The French-Creole fine-dining locale serves the dish in an elaborate tableside show in which a server flambés the egg-white meringue on the outside to perfection.

    Although its popularity has waned over the years, Baked Alaska remains an iconic New Orleans dish worthy of a celebration. February 1 is officially National Baked Alaska Day, making it the perfect occasion to honor this classic American bit of culinary ingenuity, preferably paired with a high-quality cup of coffee.

    We suggest Community® Cafe Special® Blend, which was created for the finest restaurants and is commonly found on some of the best menus in New Orleans. This welcoming, medium-dark-roasted coffee, made from only 100 percent select Arabica coffee beans, has a full-bodied flavor with a smooth and balanced finish.

    Feeling ambitious and want to make Baked Alaska yourself? The Food Network’s classic recipe will take plenty of time, but not any special baking skills.


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  • How to Choose the Right Coffee Brewing Method for You

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 22, 2018

    There’s no shortage of options for creating an amazing cup of coffee at home. From the tried-and-true automatic drip coffee machine to a range of advanced brewing technologies, coffee enthusiasts have more options than ever to transform their favorite coffee into an exceptional beverage. So many, in fact, that the options can be overwhelming.

    John Giuliano, a coffee enthusiast and blogger at Brewing Coffee Manually, says the most important factor to consider when choosing a brewing method is how you like your coffee. For instance, if you like a cup of coffee with a fuller body and a little more grit, steer toward the French press or a metal filter cone. If you like a cleaner cup, a paper filter option might be superior.

    He suggests experimenting with coffee brewed with different equipment, either at home or at your favorite coffee shop. “Go to coffee shops and try coffee brewed with different methods, or invest in some basic brewers and try them out for yourself,” Giuliano says.

    Convenience and flavor are also factors to consider when choosing a brewing method. For example, the pour-over method offers a smoother flavor than most automatic machines, but making pour-over coffee for five people every morning is going to be tedious for even the most dedicated coffee enthusiast. Other techniques offer delicate and refined flavors but require a more complicated brewing process and expensive equipment.

    “I like most brew methods and I think the more that you use them the more comfortable you get with your personal preferences,” Giuliano says. “Once you have dialed in a brewing method, you are more likely to use it daily because you know what to expect.”

    Whatever route you choose, remember that a complicated or pricey brewing process doesn’t necessarily translate into better coffee. “The idea that proper brewing equipment must be expensive is a fallacy,” says Nate Smith, a coffee expert and blogger at CoffeeNate.com. “I've had terrible coffee from brewers that cost thousands of dollars. On the other hand, I've sipped incredible coffee that was brewed in a $20 press pot.”

    Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the right brewing method for your coffee.

    French Press

    If you’re looking for a great way to produce a more intense, rich cup than what comes out of your automatic drip coffee maker, the French press is an excellent first step. 

    Pros: A French press creates a full-bodied coffee experience that can be easily tweaked by adjusting the grind texture and brewing time.

    Cons: French press carafes are generally small, which makes them inefficient for making coffee for more than two or three people. Coffee brewed in a French press often has sediment at the bottom of the cup and some brews can be overpowering for some drinkers.

    Pour-Over

    Pour-over coffee is among the most basic of brewing methods, requiring only ground coffee, a filter and a filter holder. Filter holders range from basic plastic cones available from most supermarkets to custom-made glass, wood or ceramic mechanisms like the Hario V60 dripper.

    Pros: Simple to clean up and relatively easy to adjust for acidity and body, this method produces a smooth and satisfying cup of coffee.

    Cons: Designed to only brew one cup at a time, it’s not the most efficient way to make large batches of coffee. A gooseneck kettle generally is needed to avoid making a mess when brewing.

    Single-Serve

    Pros: Single-serve containers offer super convenient, quick and consistent brewing through appliances like the Keurig K-Cup.

    Cons: Generally not as cost-efficient as many other brewing methods, and creates more waste. Single-pod coffee makers are among the most expensive.

    AeroPress

    The AeroPress brewing method creates full-flavored but smooth coffee in under two minutes.

    Pros: The small and portable AeroPress shortens brew time to just a few minutes, which can eliminate the bitterness created by slower methods. Coffee is micro-filtered for a grit-free beverage, unlike a French press. The result is a clean and intense cup.

    Cons: Requires specialized filters and only makes a small batch with each pressing.

    Chemex

    The Chemex Coffeemaker, made from non-porous glass and fastened with a wood collar and tie, is like a giant pour-over mechanism and is designed to brew coffee without imparting any flavors of its own.

    Pros: Unlike a typical pour-over filter holder, the Chemex produces up to eight cups of coffee in a single brew. It’s more effective at filtering out oils and sediment than a French press.

    Cons: Smith says that while the Chemex can “provide an exceptional cup of coffee,” it and the AeroPress may require more experimentation than the average coffee consumer is willing to go through. “If you choose one of these brewers, watch some tutorial videos,” he advises. “At the same time, remember that coffee brewing and quality are very much subjective. While videos and instructions give you a starting point, don't be afraid to tweak the recipes.”

    Cold Brew

    Cold-brew coffee is course ground coffee that is soaked in room temperature water for 12 or more hours. This method creates a strong and smooth coffee concentrate with a considerable caffeine buzz. 

    Pros: Creates a very smooth-tasting beverage and solves the problem of watered-down iced coffee.

    Cons: Cold brewing at home takes time. Strong caffeine levels may not be appropriate for all coffee drinkers.


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  • 4 Ways to Get Organized for National Clean Off Your Desk Day

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 12, 2018

    Your messy desk could be holding you back — and you’re probably not alone. Workplace surveys have found that employers are less likely to promote workers with disorganized workspaces, and estimates for the cost of lost productivity annually from messy desks in the U.S. total in the billions.

    January 8 was National Clean Off Your Desk Day. So fortunately, there’s no better time to start tackling this common problem than now. 

    We asked Baton Rouge-based certified professional organizer Alyssa Trosclair to share a few strategies for decluttering and organizing your workspace, whether you’re toiling away in a busy office or paying bills in a quiet corner of your home.

    So brew up a pot of Community® Mardi Gras King Cake coffee and kick off the new year with a coffee-fueled organizing session that will help make 2018 your most productive ever.

    Tame the Paperwork Monster

    “If you don’t have something to handle paper, it’s the number one thing that will quickly take over your life,” Trosclair says. “Paper enters your home or your office daily, so it will pile up more quickly than anything else.”

    First, designate an inbox for incoming paperwork that’s separate from current projects or any other items you may have on your desk. It also helps to take steps to slow the tide of incoming paperwork. Opting out of mailing lists, such as catalogs, is a good start. For a more comprehensive approach, putting your name on a Do Not Mail List will drastically reduce the amount of paper you receive in the mail.

    Trosclair also recommends keeping a trash can, recycle bin and a shredder within reach of your desk. Get rid of unnecessary paper as soon as it enters your home or office — before it establishes a permanent place on your desk. The key is taking action as quickly as possible.

    “If paper can be handled in three minutes, handle it immediately,” she says. “If you handle it when it comes in, it’s a small, quick task. But if you let all those tasks build up, it becomes more of a project.”

    Let It Go — Literally

    The buildup of documents can happen in any workplace, but it’s more likely to become a severe problem for companies that aren’t clear about the rules for handling paperwork over the long run. 

    Trosclair encourages companies to establish clear retention guidelines so employees know how long they need to keep important papers. For employees, store archival paperwork well away from current documents that are needed on a daily basis when possible. Once the retention guidelines are in place, schedule the eventual document disposal on your calendar, even if it’s a year away, she says.

    “Put ‘shred that brown box in the storeroom’ on your calendar so you don’t forget to go back and actually shred the paperwork,” Trosclair says.

    Ask Yourself If You Really Need to See It

    Trosclair says clients often argue they are visual thinkers and have to keep everything in sight on their desk or they’ll forget about important tasks. “I think their intention is to keep everything out to remind them what to work on, but eventually there is so much stuff on the desk that nothing stands out,” she says. “You’re no longer getting those cues.”

    As an alternative, she recommends grouping related project materials in clearly labeled folders or binders. The goal is to start relying more on action items or a to-do list to prioritize your actions instead of the pile on your desk that catches your eye. “Let your priority be your cue and work on that stuff next instead of the thing on the top of the pile,” she says.

    Tackle Visual Clutter

    While nearly every desk has some sort of personal touches, sometimes those items can reach excessive levels and become a distraction or productivity killer. “Even if your desk is neat and organized, it’s going to look messy,” says Trosclair, who recommends getting rid of excess personal items, including trinkets, photos and memorabilia. “This will lead to increased productivity because you're spending less time looking for what you need and you're more focused on the task at hand,” she says.

    Another way to simplify visual clutter is to group related items together — such as past projects, current projects and office supplies — and create a home for each group based on how frequently you use them. For example, current projects should have a place of prominence, while office supplies can usually be kept out of sight.

    “Make sure everything on your desk has an assigned home,” she says. “Often people just stack things on their desk because they don’t know where else it goes.”


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  • Kick Off a Healthy New Year and Celebrate National Drinking Straw Day with These Fun Drinks

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 03, 2018

    Way back in 1888, inventor Marvin C. Stone was awarded a patent for the paper drinking straw, setting off a beverage-sipping revolution that continues about 130 years later. Each Jan. 3 people across the United States celebrate his tubular invention on National Drinking Straw Day by kicking back with their favorite beverage.

    But as the calendar turns over into 2018 and New Year’s resolutions come into play, many people become increasingly conscious about the health consequences of the liquid portion of their daily diets. “Sugar-sweet beverages add tons of calories, and added sugars and can lead people down the wrong path,” says Kathy Garvey, a registered dietitian in New Orleans. “So watching what you drink is a simple way to clean up your diet.”

    Luckily, it’s possible to celebrate the beauty of the beverage without derailing your healthy goals for the new year. We asked Garvey for a few fun-yet-healthful drink options that she suggests for her clients to make at home as they bounce back from the annual circuit of decadent holiday meals and parties. So grab your favorite straw and give these tasty beverages a try.

    Lime Basil Spritzer

    This refreshing and surprisingly complex beverage is an excellent cocktail alternative for those looking to take a break from alcohol after the holiday season and before Mardi Gras.

    First, combine several fresh basil leaves with lime juice and let them steep together for a few hours in the refrigerator. Remove the basil and add 1-2 tablespoons of the juice to a 5-ounce glass of sparkling cider or sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil. “It’s a delicious and light treat,” Garvey says.

    For an adult version perfect for an early-season Mardi Gras outing, simply replace the cider with prosecco, the crisp and fizzy wine with a delicate citrus flavor.

    Straw Suggestion: Multicolored tropical umbrella straw.

    Low-Sugar Chocolate Milk from Scratch

    A new year often spawns a renewed focus on workouts, but all of that additional exercise should be supported by appropriate nutrition to help your body recover. 

    “Chocolate milk has some good evidence behind it as a recovery drink, which is related to the carb-to-protein ratio,” Garvey says. However, many mass-produced chocolate milks can contain large quantities of sugar or corn syrup as well as preservatives.

    The solution, Garvey says, is to make your own from scratch. Start with your favorite variety of milk and add some cocoa powder and a half of teaspoon of maple syrup. Whisk it together for a satisfying beverage that will help you bounce back from your new year’s workout routine. For an extra-hearty drink, turn your homemade chocolate milk into a full-fledged shake by blending in half of a frozen banana.

    Straw Suggestion: Classic red-and-white paper straw.

    London Fog Latte

    This drink popped up in the Pacific Northwest in the past decade but has since gained popularity nationwide. It’s a simple yet satisfying concoction of three ingredients: tea, milk and vanilla. Garvey says this is a perfect treat for clients who are tea enthusiasts but trying to limit sweet drinks. 

    Traditionally made with Earl Grey Tea, the recipe also works well with Community® Porch Breeze® Green Tea, a delicately flavored variety made from a special blend of steamed tea leaves. While the tea is brewing, heat some milk — cow’s milk, almond milk and coconut milk all work well — in a small saucepan on medium. Whisk the milk for a few minutes, getting it hot and frothy without letting it boil. Add about half a cup of the milk to the tea, along with a dash of vanilla extract or vanilla syrup for a bit of sweetness.

    “It tastes like you’re drinking a marshmallow without adding a bunch of sugar,” Garvey says.

    Straw Suggestion: Hot-beverage silicon straw.


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