Thursday, April 3, 2008

Talk About Coffee

As a big caffeine-loaded coffee drinker, I am always happy to read good news about why I should continue drinking the stuff! There were two articles that caught my attention about coffee today, one on the BBC website, which is headed "Daily Caffeine Protects Brain" that goes on to say that just one cup of per day may prevent dementia, and also have a very positive effect on reducing the harm caused by a high diet, so I can continue my daily pilgrimage to Starbucks several times a day with a guilt-free conscience.

The second article was about my favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. Now I know there are many critics of Starbucks, but I am addicted. Ever since arriving in the US, I have always loved Starbucks. It doesn't matter what city I travel to (even when I went back to England I sought out a Starbucks), I am guaranteed a great cup of coffee, some kind of interesting pastry or sandwich, and a funky, coffee shop atmosphere with whatever music they think is "in" at the moment - and the staff are always friendly, and able to give tips and advice about coffee (despite the current lawsuit between Starbucks baristas and management). Now for me this is ideal, so I am always interested to learn of protests and annoyance at the opening of yet another Starbucks.

Today's article was in the New York Times blog and talked about Starbucks opening in Little Colombia in Queens. The concern seems to be that it will take away business from the traditional coffee houses serving strong, dark coffee, and milky, sweet cafe con leche, that is drunk by the serious coffee drinkers of Little Colombia for about half the price of a Starbucks coffee. It then went on to say that the new will probably attract a different crowd to those who currently frequent the Colombian coffee houses. As a small business owner myself, I am certainly aware of the negative impact large chain stores and retail outlets can have on small businesses, and how daunting this "invasion" must feel. However, in this case I think that the local coffee houses do offer something unique, and hopefully they will find that the number of their customers increases due to more people in the area looking for coffee, and finding something special in their stores.

So with coffee on the brain, I went on to look for a simple, delicious and decadent recipe to make using coffee, and where else better to find one than in the Deen Brothers Cookbook, 'Recipes from the Road'? This recipe was found by Bobby and Jamie Deen in New York's East Village at Veniero's Italian bakery. It is a dessert called Affogato, which means "drowned". In this recipe you pour hot espresso (Gourmet Fusion's Spanish Torrefacto is ideal) over ice cream that's been drizzled with caramelized sugar, and it's super easy, too.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hot, strong-brewed coffee
Recipe (makes 4 servings)
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and the cinnamon stick. Simmer over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Let syrup cool. Discard the cinnamon stick.
  2. Scoop ice cream into 4 large coffee cups. Drizzle cinnamon syrup over ice cream. Serve immediately.

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