June 26, 2015

coffee ›   news ›  

Print Mark Zuckerbergs Face on Your Latte


Is That Mark Zuckerberg In Your Coffee?

That’s not always true, especially when it comes to brewing coffee and espressos. Automatics and drip machines don’t compare in flavor to traditional brewing methods like pour overs, French presses, and pulling espresso shots by hand. Latte art was no different. But that’s all about to change.

Find the best artesian barista you can, and ask them to draw you Mark Zuckerberg, Miley Cyrus, or a smooth pick up line? What you’ll end up getting instead, is this…



How Does The Coffee Ripple Work?

Choose from either existing stock photos, or upload your own photos to their website via app, that allow users to replicate pictures on their lattes. I don’t have details on the how, but it probably uses fine sprays, and sprays it over the white milk foam to replicate its image.

So, Why The Coffee Ripple Maker?

I don’t know about you, but seeing another man’s face in my latte seems fairly creepy. It isn’t as creepy as the picture above (yikes), but the question that comes to mind is why not? The latte ripple maker isn’t going to make your lattes taste any better, but it’s definitely worth a good laugh over.



June 25, 2015

coffee ›   shower thoughts ›  

Why it’s Okay to Like Starbucks


Things You Just Don’t Ask!

Never start a conversation with anyone in the specialty coffee or tea industry about Starbucks. Unless you have time, and lots of it. Often referred to as the Microsoft of coffee (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, see below), Starbucks has become a global leader in the coffee retail industry.


Why Does the Specialty Industry Hate Starbucks?

They’re simply too large not to. Not exactly a valid reason, but no other coffee retailer has a global footprint as large as Starbucks, making them a natural target for hate. Second, people in the industry are quite critical of the quality of coffee made, which isn’t a fair comparison. Imagine trying to compare a Ferrari to a Toyota. Both great manufactures in their own right, but cater to completely different markets.


The Good Thing about Starbucks

Starbucks has done a great job of introducing coffee culture to the masses. The word “baristas” is no longer a foreign term known only to Italians. They educated the average consumer, and told us that it’s okay to pay a little bit more for a premium cup of coffee (subjective, I know).

Why Starbucks Can’t Compete With Specialty Market

Starbucks continues to grow in market size, and show no signs of slowing down. They understand their market place better than anyone. They’re niche is to target consumers willing to pay a little more for a consistently better cup of coffee, and not to a small demographic of specialty coffee consumers that prefer light roast profiles over French presses.

What I don’t agree with, is trying to cater to the specialty segment. Sure, they’re up selling better coffee’s to an existing customer base by providing a wider product offering, but that audience is relatively small within the Starbucks ecosystem to be worth considering. The lineups at Starbucks stores are already too long (worse during the summers); imagine how much slower their lineups would be if they offered pour-over and French press options? (I’m well aware that this service is available, but nobody asks).

Another challenge is sourcing enough coffee beans. Specialty coffee producers source their coffee beans using a direct trade model with smaller coffee farms. Starbucks today, is simply too large to do that. The investment in resources would be better served at expanding on a broader market than focusing on a small one. Different product offerings would alienate existing stores. If store X offered popular Kenyan coffee, and store Y offered something less desirable, would that be fair? Simply put, time and effort is better served scaling to a larger audience, than worry about a smaller segment.

Starbucks Conquering Tea Market

Globally, the tea market is larger than coffee. Here in North America, tea is surging in popularity and in late 2012, Starbucks bought Teavana for $620 million dollars. Like coffee, the hardest part of introducing new product offerings, is educating the consumer. Once the public accepts tea, and consumes frequently, expect the specialty market for teas like Perkse, to benefit. This certainly will help out the specialty tea industry, and that’s why Starbucks is actually good for the industry, not bad.


Full disclosure, I’ve been a Starbucks gold member since 2012! I frequent their stores and drink their coffee and teas often. I roast coffee and blend teas, but I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy Starbucks. Whether the specialty market likes to admit it or not, Starbucks has done a lot for both industries, and we should be thankful for it, not resentful.

June 22, 2015

Scotland The Next Big Thing For Tea


Growing Tea in Scotland

Tea estates and farms are largely grown in surrounding areas of China and India. Kenya’s been exporting a lot of loose leaf teas, but now Scotland is entering the tea market in a big way. They have been farming and cultivating in the Highland area, in the central part known as Perthshire.

Highland region of Scotland is famed for prized whisky distillers as The Macallan Distillery and my personal favorite, Glenmorangie (Nectar D’Or).  

Interesting Facts about Highlands, Scotland:

  • The Highlands is the largest geographical area of all whisky regions in Scotland.
  • Highlands account for 25% of Scotland’s malt whisky production.
  • Perthshire once had 70 distilleries, but now only 6 remain. Characters of fruity spices are common whisky profiles.

What Makes Perthshire Unique for Tea Growing?

The Camellia Sinensis plants (used to cultivate teas) are robust, and have temperature tolerances of -11C, that make it ideal for growing loose leaf teas within that region. With good rainfall, high altitudes, and capable of growing award winning malts, the migration to teas only seem natural.

By geography, Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, and their southern neighbours (the British) are large consumers of tea. So with a robust tea market that is accessible to Scotland tea producers, it only seems logically to grow,cultivate and sell teas in Scotland.

I haven’t had the pleasure of trying teas produced in Scotland, but with ideal growing conditions and a pedigree for growing great malts, they could easily carry this over and apply this to growing teas in Scotland.

Thoughts on Scotland Teas

As I write this, I’ve decided to pour myself a drink of Macallan 18 year old, and reminded of how great Scotland whiskey can be. Recent winners of the best producers of whisky have fallen out of love with Scotland. Last year’s winner was based in Japan, and American whisky producers seem to consistently be producing top notch whiskeys. So it’s great to see Scotland diversifying away from being a whisky only producer, and into other industries such as tea.

With that said, I’m curious to see how teas grown in Scotland or any region outside of popular regions will taste in the future. With global climate changes threatening existing environments, it’s important for the tea industry as a whole to explore different regions outside traditional areas to keep this industry growing in the years to come.

Remember, Camellia Sinensis is the plant that is used to make a wide range of teas. It’s the processing that categorizes, and discerns teas into green tea, black tea, and white tea. So growing Camellia Sinensis to cultivate teas from different regions can create many varietals of tea, which give tea consumers an even wider array of tea based product offerings.

Winegrowers often refer terroir as the natural environment, including soil, water, climate as the reason for imparting characteristic tastes, and flavor profiles that make wines unique. The same can be said of teas, so let’s hope Scotland tea producers continued success, and with great teas it can spawn other countries to produce teas as well. This would open up an entire new palate range for tea consumers to try, and enjoy.

May 28, 2015

recipe ›   tea ›  

Passion Fruit Iced Tea Cubes

Flavor your favorite drinks and chill them with our flavorful passion fruit iced tea cubes.


May 25, 2015

recipe ›   tea ›  

Looking For A Healthy Drink To Stay Cool This Hot Summer?

We just posted our recipe for Strawberry Iced Green Tea, check it out and stay cool this summer!