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Electric Kettle, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways…
I love the variety of temperature options you offer at the touch of a button.
I love the fraction of time it takes for you to boil compared to that cursed glass stove top.
I love that you stay warm for 30 minutes, all I have to do is ask.

In all seriousness though – buying a Cuisinart Electric Kettle was the best idea ever. My electric stove top takes LITERALLY 20 minutes to boil a kettle, and microwaving water for tea is just the worst. After my husband decided to stop preparing a giant thermos of coffee before work every morning, I have been on my own scavenging caffeine. It was enough to make me shell out for a new piece of equipment.

The pre-set temperatures for different teas and even coffee are a huge plus. I also recently received a new French press as a gift and the combo of it and the kettle is amaaaazing for loose leaf tea.

Overall, I’d give the Cuisinart PerfecTemp five stars. My only complaint is that I keep forgetting to push the Start button. But that’s really a personal problem…

Morning Thunder Is Back!!!

A few months ago I wrote about the joys of yerba mate and its appeal to both coffee and tea drinkers. I’m currently straddling the line between the two so I’m extra excited that Celestial Seasonings Morning Thunder is back on our shelves. A blend of black tea and yerba mate, Morning Thunder packs a little more punch than your standard cup of tea, but doesn’t give quite the buzz of coffee. As Celestial Seasonings blendmaster Charlie Baden puts it:

This blend’s earthy flavor begins with roasted maté, an ancient herb whose oak-like flavor is wildly popular in South America. We combine roasted maté with rich, floral black tea to produce an exhilarating morning blend with no coffee jitters. Maté and black tea are both rich in antioxidants, making this a delicious, healthy way to start your day

This tea offers a truly unique taste  and is great black, or lightly sweetened. Have you tried it yet?

Aside

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweet-teas!

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and while you might be dreaming of the chocolates and flowers your significant other may send you, my mind is fixated heavily on a star-crossed relationship.

A few years ago I found a great love that I kept coming back to. Until, one tragic day, that love was pulled out from under me. And that was a cup of the most delightful tea I’ve ever tasted.

Celestial Seasonings Vanilla Strawberry Rose.  

A seasonal variety I stumbled across at the grocery, not realizing I’d only have a short time to buy up a stash. I bought a few boxes as gifts and let me tell you, I wish I hadn’t given them away! I was able to find it again the next February, but in the few years since, it seems to have vanished. Was anybody else a huge fan of this variety? And more importantly, does anyone know HOW TO BRING IT BACK!?!?

But like Wesley told Buttercup, “death cannot stop true love.All it can do is delay it for a little while.” 

I like to think he wouldn’t lie about a thing like that. And if he did, I guess a nice MLT will have to do.

Thankful For Thanksgiving!

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

DC USA, Target, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t know Black Friday was a “thing” until probably six or seven years ago. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the media is keeping us updated on how out of control things have gotten in recent years. From sales starting at midnight, to fist fights in department stores, it makes me more than a little disappointed with society. With the advent of social networking and keeping updated on what everyone is doing every moment of every day, I’ve been surprised to learn how many of my friends and family partake in Black Friday shopping every year. I started working at Breaktime shortly after college, and at least as long as I have been here, we have generously been granted the day following Thanksgiving off. So maybe I’m just spoiled in my thinking of it as an extension of the holiday. I’ve come to know it as a day for putting up decorations and taking a photo for the in-laws annual holiday card.

But recently a friend put it this way:

It isn’t the vicious mob the media makes it out to be. Sure, some of the bigger chains get a little insane, but usually I show up in the early hours and wait outside with maybe a couple dozen people for an employee to come out with a voucher. Everyone just hangs out chatting over coffee until the doors open, then we go in, get the goodies and check out the sales. It’s an easy way to get free stuff!

Now to me, that sounds almost delightful! Aside from waking up before the crack of dawn, that is. But as sale hours have crept earlier and earlier, some businesses are now open Thanksgiving Day as well. Now, I haven’t exactly supported Black Friday shopping, but tearing hardworking people away from their families on one of the few national holidays we have is not something I can get behind.

So, this year, I will try to be less judgemental about my friends and loved ones (and other people too!) who choose to brave the hoards after recovering from their turkey-coma. But if it’s all the same, I’ll save my shopping for Cyber Monday and carry on crafting homemade gifts, thank-you-very-much. I’ll be thankful to be spending time with my family, and thankful to work for a company that encourages me to do so!

Is your office closed the day after Thanksgiving? Will you patronize businesses on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday?

Yerba Mate – The Best of Coffee AND Tea

Yerba Mate Gourd, Large 1

Yerba Mate Gourd, Large 1 (Photo credit: chris.peplin)

It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I started drinking coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy the flavor (though I think it’s kind of false advertising that coffee smell doesn’t equate with coffee taste, but rather the flavor of coffee ice cream). As a caffeine sensitive type, I do better with tea, even though the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea is similar to a cup of coffee. But these days I have learned to really look forward to a cup of coffee over breakfast (even if I can only handle about 4 oz…)

Our company president, Ana, introduced me to the wonders of yerba mate. To be honest, at first, the intensity of the flavor about knocked me on my butt. And not in a good way! But I’ve learned to appreciate the appeal. I think bitterness is an acquired taste, and bitterness is something mate has in spades. And it turns out, that’s a huge part of the appeal!

I’ve come to realize mate offers a lot of perks. Get it, guys? Because of caffeine? I crack myself up…

If you drink your coffee black, you probably have an appreciation for more bitter flavors. While mate doesn’t taste anything like coffee, it is similar in that it has a very strong with a bite to it. Tea drinkers tend to prefer a more mild and mellow flavor.

That’s not to say mate has nothing to offer even a die-hard camellia sinensis loyalist. Flavor-wise, it actually is somewhat reminiscent of a very strongly steeped green tea. Like tea, mate is steeped from dried leaves and is known for it’s vegetal taste.

One of the great things about coffee and tea are the rituals involved. Whether it’s joining friends at a local cafe for an espresso, or a Japanese tea ritual, relaxing over a hot beverage is something everyone can appreciate. Mate drinkers are no different:

As Europeans often meet at a coffee shop, drinking mate is the impetus for gathering with friends in Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Sharing mate is ritualistic and has its own set of rules. Usually, one person, the host or whoever brought the mate, prepares the drink and refills the gourd with water. In these three countries, the hot water can be contained in a vacuum flasktermo (appropriate for drinking mate in the outside) or garrafa térmica (Brazil), or in a pava (kettle), which only can be done at home.[citation needed]

The gourd is passed around, often in a circle, and each person finishes the gourd before giving it back to the brewer. The gourd (also called a mate) is passed in a clockwise order. Since mate can be rebrewed many times, the gourd is passed until the water runs out. When persons no longer want to take mate, they say gracias (thank you) to the brewer when returning the gourd to signify they do not want any more.

Something tea and coffee drinkers have in common is an appreciation for the soothing nature of a hot beverage. If you’re a fan of either, I suggest you give mate a try. Even if only because it’s served in these adorable little gourds.

English: Different types of mate, gourd recipi...

If hot beverages aren’t your thing, or hot weather is a consideration, give Guayaki Iced Mate a shot. Though you’ll be missing out on the sweet gourd…

Aside

Coffee: Do You Pay For What You Get?

Perfect caffe latte from Cafe Coffee Day

Perfect caffe latte from Cafe Coffee Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been known to whine about the cost of a coffee shop latte. At Breaktime Refreshments we pride ourselves on being able to provide affordable coffee solutions to offices, so I was a little surprised to learn we had received inquiries regarding delivering coffee shop coffee to employees.

I do enjoy the occasional Cinnamon Dolce or seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I completely understand the appeal of such a service. But normally I’d be ranting and raving about the cost of the product, compounded with the delivery fee that would be required. Until I came across this recent blog posting regarding the cost of the coffee shop latte. The author did a great job of laying out exactly why coffee shop coffee costs so much, and why we’re simply paying for what we get. It isn’t that every cafe owner is out to gouge us, it’s the real cost of doing business.

So, while our specialty remains providing cost effective coffee, brewers, and a wide variety of condiments for the masses  in the workplace (and small offices too), I’ll take this as an opportunity to feel less taken advantage of the next time I order a grande cup of half-caf, no-whip deliciousness.

A Healthy Chocolate Snack? Thank you KINDly!

There are lots of healthy foods to turn to during the work day to get you through to lunch or time to go home: fresh fruit, raw nuts, low fat cheeses to name a few. But sometimes you need a sweet treat. And while it’s fine to occasionally indulge in the calorie laden coffee shop scone, it’s nice to know there’s a more sensible option.

It’s no secret that I loves me some dark chocolate (why don’t I just marry it already?!). So the KIND Bars Dark Chocolate Variety is a very welcome addition to the inventory, as far as I’m concerned.

Everybody knows neither peanut butter or chocolate reached their full potential until they were combined, but I don’t think the cherry/chocolate combo gets its fair share of recognition.

I really love KIND bars. They’re delicious and offer just enough sweetness to take the edge off (even for addicts like myself), but offer wholesome nutrition as well. And let’s be honest, we could all use a little help in that department. Mixed nuts, added antioxidants and fiber make me feel even better about indulging in a chocolaty treat. And they perfectly compliment a hot cup of tea or coffee!

What do you think? If you’re going to give in to your sweet tooth would you rather just go all the way? Or take solace in the fact that you’re giving your body much needed nutrition as well?

Tea making just got high tech with the iKettle

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It’s not difficult to argue that our lives are dominated by technology. I recently deleted ALL of the apps from my phone (against my will) and found it to be a surprisingly freeing thing. I mean, I lasted about 3 hours before I decided to replace a few of them…but being down to five from about half a million apps is still quite liberating.

So imagine my surprise when I read about the new iKettle, a wifi enabled electric kettle that can be operated from your smart phone, and I WANTED it. Bad.

Now before you go jumping to conclusions and assume I’m notorious for leaving the Kettle on a gas stove and going grocery shopping (oh, give me a break, it only happened 3 times), hear me out. Not only does it have timer option, it will ask you if you want to use your water presently or keep it warm. It also has multiple temperatures for the hot beverage drinker with a refined palette (I had no idea green tea is best served 15 degrees cooler than coffee). And best yet, an auto-off feature with boil-dry protection.

This seriously sounds like a dream for a tea connoisseur or French press lover.

Personally, the $160 price tag is a little out of my range, but here’s hoping the cost comes down soon.

What do you think? Is this the ultimate in convenience or has technology gone a little overboard?

The 5 Types Of Coffee Drinkers

Roasted coffee beans Español: Granos de café t...

Roasted coffee beans Español: Granos de café tostado (natural). Bahasa Indonesia: Biji kopi alami yang telah disangrai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages world wide. With more than half of American adults consuming at least one cup daily, there’s a good chance you are a contributor. So what type of coffee drinker are you?

 

One cup. Black – You know how to get down to business. You’re a no-nonsense minimalist. Either that or you’re just too lazy to throw in a splash of cream and a spoonful of sugar (guilty).

 

All day every day – Maybe you need to revise your sleep schedule, or maybe you’re just a run of the mill caffeine addict. But you lean on the coffee crutch throughout the morning and the afternoon. You may not be the most organized person, but you have certain routines that just shouldn’t be messed with. Seriously…don’t let this person confront an empty pot.

 

The grande blended-double-half-caf-non-fat-extra-whip-mochachino - A super specific coffee order hints that you might be a little bit of a Sally Albright. You’re a Type A personality and you know what you want and how you want it. Hopefully you’re not in it for the daily buzz or you’re in for one expensive habit!

 

Espresso express – An efficiency nut, you’d take your fuel through an IV if you thought it would help you get to the office faster.

 

Instant’s fine! – No muss, no fuss. You only need the occasional caffeine fix or maybe you enjoy the ritual, but you’re a laid back sort and don’t care much for experimentation. None of that frou-frou latte business over here!

 

Myself? I’m a long time tea drinker who recently hopped over the fence (don’t worry, I still enjoy a regular cuppa, too). Now I fall awkwardly between #s 1 and 2. It took me about a year to work up to drinking an actual cup each day, but it takes me ALL day. Is there a limit on how many times you can microwave the same cup of coffee??