I Know This Site isn’t Called Books & Coffee, but…

First, let me say something about my “hometown” of Jackson, Michigan.  It’s missing somethings, like a job market.  Decent malls too, but mostly a job market.  The industrial part of town is filled with old, dilapidated factories, but if you can look past that, Jackson does have a great community, mom and pop diners that make you wonder why you even bother to cook anymore, beautiful landscape filled with lakes, rivers, countryside, and weeping willows, and Jackson Coffee Company.  

Despite being strapped for cash, people in Jackson love their coffee.  Yea, we know passing up a morning cappuccino at a local coffee shop would be easier on out wallets.  But, what is a life worth when it is filled with only mass-produced, pre-ground, Columbian coffee from the grocery store?  We have a Starbucks, a Bigby’s, three Tim Hortons, a Dunkin Donuts, Bearclaw Coffee, and five other independent coffee shops that I’ve never even heard of, but in this town, Jackson Coffee Company reigns supreme over all.  Seriously!  They’ve won the town’s Best Coffee Shop award every year since 2006, when they first opened their doors to their customers.

Jackson Coffee Company does coffee right.  Fair Trade.  Organic.  LOCALLY ROASTED coffee beans!  I mean, their bean roaster is right by the front door for heaven’s sake.  If you buy their beans online, they ship your beans within 24 hours of roasting.  If you buy in store, you never buy anything that is more than a few days old.  That’s because coffee beans start going stale hours after they’ve been roasted, and in two weeks, your specialty coffee starts tasting like the generic coffee you could have bought at the grocery store.  And who wants that?  Blech!  None of their coffee sits around pre-grounded either.  Usually, I snag a bag, and ground coffee up as I go at home.  But, if you don’t have a coffee grinder, they will grind it up for you at the shop.

I know this site isn’t called Books & Coffee, but I’ve gotta showcase one of Jackson’s many gems.  And I know I just wrote a piece about a tea that would convert coffee addicts into tea drinkers.  But, well, I just discovered a coffee that would convert ex-coffee drinkers back into coffee addicts!

Normally, I buy dark roasted coffee with bold flavors– Columbian, French Roast, Sumatran.  In fact, I’d just finished up my bag of Sumatra beans– great cuppa joe, terrible espresso.  With dark roasted coffees, it’s the flavor that wakes me up before the caffeine has had time to take effect.  But, during my most recent trip to Jackson Coffee Company, I decided to go a different route.  I went with a medium roasted, Organic Mexican bean. 

The flavor did not overwhelm my taste buds like the dark roasts usually do, and the body of the coffee is relatively light (a light body can be compared to the feeling of skim milk, and a full body can be compared to the feeling of whole milk).  This makes the Organic Mexican coffee a perfect cup of coffee to accompany a light breakfast or a mid-morning snack.  Or lunch.  Or dinner.  This blend is also versatile; it makes a perfect cuppa joe as well as a perfect spot of espresso! 

Bottom Line: Honestly, I could drink this stuff all day and not get sick of it.  I bought the coffee on Friday.  As I type of this post, it’s a Tuesday.  We only have enough coffee beans for one more pot of coffee, and I’m about use them up.  It’s that good.

And now, I leave you with some wise words from the incredibly awesome Twin Peaks tv show (ever watched it?):

Do you have a favorite coffee shop in your town? Do you have a default roast that you always turn to? Tell me about it =]


Teaview: The Best Part of Waking Up is Maté in My Cup

 Let me tell you about Teavana’s My Morning Maté.  It’s no coincidence that it sounds similar to another morning favorite–the latté!  Well, actually, it is probably a coincidence.  And, I think the accent over the “E” is an American thing so we don’t confuse it with the word “mate”.  I think “maté” in Spanish has something to do with killing, but I digress. 

My Morning Maté is the perfect cuppa’ tea to help coffee drinkers curb their addiction.  It has three different xanthine alkaloids– that’s the family caffeine belongs to, so it has the power to wake someone up.  However, unlike coffee, this tea affects muscle tissue as opposed to the central nervous system.  That means, I can drink three cups of Maté and not start shaking as though I’d just consumed only two cups of Coffee Americano brewed in Spain…(true story, that stuff is strong).

My Morning Maté tastes less like the traditional cup of tea and more like…well, coffee, without the bitterness!  The blend contains Mate tea, Rooibos tea, black tea, cocoa kernels, carob bits, chocolate chips, orange peels, almonds, cactus blossoms, coriander, pistachio nuts, cracknel bits, red pepper, cornflowers, safflowers, and sunflower petals.  Are you drooling yet? 

It has a nutty flavor, and initially this made me nervous.  I don’t actually like nuts, but they weren’t overwhelming in this cuppa.  I’d say they were actually pleasant.  And the addition of chocolate is not lost on my taste buds.  I’d like to play around with this tea, which is not something I often do.  When it comes to both tea and coffee, I refuse to add milk or sugar.  But, I think a dribble of honey or some rock sugar would make this tea even better.

Bottom Line:  Gimmie!  Gimmie!  Gimmie!  This stuff is great.  I could easily see coffee drinkers dropping one addiction and replacing it with another.  My next favorite thing to do with this tea besides drinking it is letting my nose hover above the mug so I can better appreciate the delicious aroma.


Teaview: I Love Oolong Time.

I would like to take this time to apologize to Oolong tea.  I’m sorry I said you tasted like a mix of grass, moss, wet tree bark, and mud.  I was wrong.  Really wrong.  But, can you really blame me when the only Oolong tea I had the misfortune to taste was from a tea bag?  But you, Six Summits Oolong from Teavana, have opened my eyes.

If any of you, dear readers, have ever felt the same about Oolong tea– that it tasted like a mouth full of wet earth, then I suggest to you, try Teavana’s Six Summits Oolong tea.  It will change your mind about Oolong.  Six Summits Oolong is a combination of Oolong tea and dried raspberries (why are there strawberries in this picture?).

The scent of the dried tea is pleasant.  Actually, the way I’m about to describe it is kind of odd.  But, believe me, pleasant none-the-less.  It smells like a combination of dried catnip and red fruit roll-ups, folks.  It’s earthy, but the raspberries lend a certain sweetness to the scent.

The Oolong flavor was good.  I think my taste buds appreciated the quality of this Oolong tea more than the bagged tea that I had tried a few years prior.  Initially, I couldn’t taste the raspberries, they did create a pleasant aftertaste though–sweet and slightly tart, just like a raspberry should taste!

Bottom Line:  I received this as a Christmas present from my father.  Of all the teas he gave to me, this was the one I was most hesitant to try, so naturally I tried it first.  I’m glad I did!  Would I purchase this tea in the future?  Yea, probably.  But, more importantly, it opened my eyes that Oolong could actually taste good.  Better than good!  I’m more inclined to try out other Oolong teas in the future.

Another thing I feel is noteworthy is Teavana certainly does not cheat you out of red raspberries.  They were plentiful!  And I’m not talking raspberry crumbles either.  I’m talking whole. big. red raspberries.  And, I may or may not have popped one or two into my mouth before steeping…



Image from Teavana


Teaview: Earl Grey and Sweet Rose

I dream one day I will be able to dedicate an entire kitchen cabinet to my growing tea collection.  Until then, the bottom shelf of my old television stand will have to suffice, but even that is filling up fast.  Yet, I decided to try out two new teas:  Meijer Organics Earl Grey and Organic India’s Sweet Rose.

I love Earl Grey; I have never met a tea drinker who doesn’t.  It gives the drinker a nice kick of energy.  The citrusy bergamot oil really shines in hot tea, but Earl Grey is equally refreshing when iced and slightly sweetened. I have a tendency to go through boxes of Earl Grey tea quickly.

I am, what most would consider, a penny pincher, so when I passed a shelf filled with Meijer Organic Teas for something like 2.50 a box, I couldn’t turn it down.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Meijer, it is a superstore like Wal-mart, but classier.  Anyway, a box of my usual Twinnings Earl Grey is not too expensive, but I’m always eager to save a buck or two.

Excited about this cheaper alternative, I rushed home, quickly brewed myself a cuppa, and cuddled into blankets for movie night with the boyfriend.  I happily sipped until I realized something was missing.  Where was the bergamot flavor?  How can a tea be called Earl Grey if it is missing that lovely bergamot flavor?!

Bottom line: The tea is not bad.  I’ve had rather a lot of it already, and I’m actually brewing myself a cuppa right now.  It has a decent, strong black tea flavor, and it has plentiful caffeine.  However, this is one of those instances where cheap is not better.  I’d rather spend a few more dollars to ensure I can actually taste the bergamot.

I also purchased Organic India’s Sweet Rose since I do have a penchant for floral flavors.  Sweet Rose is a fragrant,  herbal blend of Tulsi (a type of herb grown in India that supposedly relieves stress and energizes drinkers without the addition of caffeine), Chamomile, Rose petals, Lemon Myrtle, and Stevia leaves.

The initial flavor is delightful; it’s rosy and lightly sweetened (because of the Stevia leaves).  The flavor of Sweet Rose is not unlike a Turkish Delight, and one thing most people don’t know about me is I LOVE Turkish Delights!  Unfortunately, this tea has to be sipped somewhat quickly.  Once it cools down, the flavor changes.  It becomes more…leafy?  Stem-flavored?  Grass flavored?  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Bottom line: While I don’t think this is the kind of tea I can enjoy every day, I am quite pleased I have added it to my collection.  Organic India’s Sweet Rose truly was delish!