White Mountain Gourmet CoffeeWhite Mountain Gourmet Coffee is a small coffee roaster in New Hampshire and since one of their cafes is local to me in Concord I decided to give them a try.

The cafe is well stocked with White Mountain coffee and has a full espresso bar, some food and a fair amount of seating. I picked out a couple coffees I wanted to try and asked the worker at the cafe to suggest a couple more. Service was good and I was ready to try out their coffee with 4 half-pound bags of single-origin coffee.

The first of White Mountain’s coffees I tried was their El Salvador Peaberry. This is a pleasant, full bodied coffee with a sweet flavor. Though not overly complex this coffee is very pleasant in the cup and has a nice long finish.

The Zimbabwe AA was also rich and flavorful. Somewhat more complex than the El Salvador this coffee has some brighter tones and good depth. Another rich, full-bodied offering, the Sumatra Mandheling had little acidity and a clean finish.

White Mountain’s Papua New Guinea is a nice, slightly earthy coffee. This coffee’s slight acidity is pleasantly balanced by a sweet flavor.

I specifically sought out rich, full bodied coffees to try, but all of my trials were regular roast. I found the regular roast to make a sufficiently rich coffee, but most of their coffees are offered as a dark roast as well. White Mountain has a long list of single-origin, blended and flavored coffees but my preference, as reflected in my sampling choices is to the single-origin.

All the coffees I tried from White Mountain Gourmet Coffee were excellent and I look forward to trying more of their offerings. While I am fortunate enough to be near one of their cafes White Mountain coffee is also available via mail order from their website.

dining, food, coffee, review, drink, beverage, gourmet

What would you do with a spare 8 cylinder car engine and a utility trailer? Here’s the best idea I’ve heard yet:

Margarita maker

So, when you’ve got a small-block 400, a trailer, assorted parts and the ability to custom fabricate a 6-inch tall replica of a blender blade out of stainless steel, what do you do with your spare time?

Make the world’s fastest margarita machine.

Add: 6 bags of ice, and 18 bottles of ready-to-drink margarita mix. Turn ignition, and rev engine for 10 to 20 seconds. Open valve and enjoy.



As far as I can tell there’s only one problem with this margarita maker: “ready-to-drink Margarita mix” but I guess I can’t blame a person for not wanting to squeeze all those limes.

via Carla and Make

food, drink, drinks, margarita, make, project

USB Warmer CoolerI’m a big fan of gadgets so when I saw that Vat19 had a USB device which would act as both a cup warmer and cooler I just had to try it!

Vat19 claims the device “Keep a beverage piping hot or cool as ice.” A bold claim for something which powers itself on the small amount of juice the USB bus can put out, but out of the box the device seemed well constructed, so I was optimistic.

First thoughts:

Unfortunately I noticed the first two flaws with the desktop appliance before I even plugged it in. First, there was no on/off switch anywhere on the unit which, while not tragic, would become a problem if your only free USB port is on the back of your system. Second, the switch to change from warming to cooling is on the back near where the cord exits. While neither of these flaws are tragic, both proved irritating.

In action:

Warmer Cooler TestI plugged the USB Beverage Warmer & Cooler into my free USB on my laptop and heard the fan on the unit spin up. Surprisingly the small fan made quite a bit of noise, considerably more than my Dell laptop, even more than most modern desktops.

Ignoring the noise I set the unit to warming mode and put my coffee on the unit. Now another problem… The heating/cooling element was too small for a normal sized coffee mug. A half hour later, with my mug straddling the heating element my coffee had cooled to its typical tepid.

For my next cup of the day I switched to a smaller mug which would fit on the heating plate and got somewhat better results. My coffee stayed warmer than usual, but still not warm enough to justify another device and the loss of desk space.

(Please ignore the small army of drinking birds in the background of the picture above. They are of no concern to you.)

Hoping for better results on the cooling side I unplugged the unit and let it cool to room temperature. After lunch I flipped the switch to cool and plugged it in. I was surprised at how quickly the plate cooled so I put my bar-style pint glass full of water on the plate. Half an hour later my water still seemed enjoyably cool, but was it cooler than without?

I decided to do a more scientific test of the cooling capabilities of the unit, so I got two cans of Coke out of my fridge and grabbed the trusty cooking thermometer. With one can on the cooler and the other on the desk (far enough away to not be heated by the exhaust from the cooler) I measured the temperature of each over a two hour interval.

With an ambient temp of 70 degrees F and a starting beverage temp of 39 here are my findings over the next two hours:

After 30 minutes, can on cooler = 50, can on desk = 50

After 1 hour, can on cooler = 57, can on desk = 57

After 1:30, can on cooler = 59, can on desk = 61

After 2:00, can on cooler = 60, can on desk = 63

After the full 2 hours I sipped from each Coke and could tell some difference, but again, not enough to justify another device on the desk.

Conclusions:

While I love the idea of a USB beverage warmer & cooler the current model from Vat19 falls short of both “piping hot” and “cool as ice”. While the price point of $24.95 is very reasonable the novelty quickly wore off and the many drawbacks doom this gadget to the junk drawer. Perhaps a future rendition will bring improved performance and flexibility, but for now there are better warmers to be had and the cooling effect is not enough to justify this unit.

gadget, review, usb, food, drink, cooler, warmer, office toy

Well, this clearly qualifies for artillery of the week. This three barrel potato gun uses electronic injectors to deliver propane to each of its three champers, ignition coils and spark plugs for ignition, and the entire unit, including pan and tilt control is controlled through PIC micro controllers by a gaming joystick.

Triple barrel potato gun


The video has a ton of information on the device, but unfortunately only shows one shot, but if that’s not enough for you, you can make your own with the provided instructions*. I bet we’ll see more video of this potato gun sometime in the future.

* Check local laws regarding high velocity food products, and don’t blame me for the resulting accidents, lawsuits or potato famine.

via MAKE

make, diy, potato, food, potato gun, 3 barrel, atrillery, gun, project

The Coffee Snob cold drip coffee maker is yet another alternative to traditional drip or percolator coffee brewing. The beautiful device, which looks like belongs in a 19th century laboratory not a 21st century kitchen, slowly drips ice water through coffee grounds to make a concentrate similar to that made by the Toddy cold brew system. The coffee concentrate is then mixed down to your preferred strength and heated or served over ice.

Coffee Snob cold drip coffee makerThe theory as with other cold brew systems is to reduce undesirable oil and acidity extracted in the brewing process by using cold water. The end product, for better or worse, typically contains somewhat less caffeine as well. These are real benefits to people with a sensitivity to acid or who need to reduce their caffeine intake, but it is important to remember that there is still some caffeine present.

The coffee concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator and used to make a single cup at a time. This is the biggest advantage to this type of maker, especially to those who may be brewing a pot of coffee but may only drink one or two cups of it.

The process is different from other cold brew systems I have used. Instead of soaking the ground bean in water, water slowly (one drop per second) drips through the cup of grounds. A reusable cloth filter at the bottom of the grounds allows the coffee concentrate to drip down the amusingly twisted outlet tube and into the carafe.

The drip process is controlled by an easily adjusted valve at the bottom of the water reservoir. The use of ice, and a small amount of watter insures a slow brew using cold water throughout.

The brewing setup is easy but the brew will take many hours to complete (8 or more hours.) This is acceptable since the system makes a fair amount of concentrate in one brewing, but if you’re out of concentrate you can forget about that quick fix.

The only problem with brewing is where the coffee drips from the filter outlet to the carafe. Due to the height and open carafe there were coffee drops on the counter for two feet in every direction.

Cleanup (of both my counter and the Coffee Snob) was easy and the reusable filter is a big plus.

The results

The coffee concentrate is mixed with water to achieve your preferred strength. The ratio in the instructions (which I have lost since getting the unit) will result in a fairly weak coffee. I found a stronger mix of 1 to 2 parts water to 1 part concentrate to make a satisfying, somewhat strong American style coffee.

The resulting coffee is very good with considerably less acidity and with no bitterness at all. While some of the flavor and body of the coffee is still lost, the Coffee Snob creates a concentrate superior to the Toddy cold brew method.

The concentrate will also find uses in recipes and lattes and cappuccinos are easily made using the concentrate. Lattes and cappuccinos are different from the coffee shop fare as they lack the bitterness of a true espresso.

The Coffee Snob does require a fairly large amount of ground coffee for a modest amount of concentrate. This is typical to cold brew systems as less flavor is extracted with the cold system.

Conclusions

The Coffee Snob produces a very tasty cup of coffee with low acidity and little to no bitterness. While the brewing process takes some time, the resulting concentrate is convenient and ready to use.

The coffee is not as full-flavored as a traditional drip coffee and the cold brew system is less efficient in number of brewed cups per pound of coffee. These two factors keep the Coffee Snob from becoming my everyday brewer, but these are a small sacrifice for those with a sensitivity to acid.

Overall I would recommend the Coffee Snob to those who are sensitive to the acidity in coffee or those that are curious about cold-brew methods. The maker also offers the benefit of being a beautiful addition to any kitchen.

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