A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

Soaking Up A Little Culture

Last June, Steve and I joined the Tampa Bay History Center when we went to see a traveling exhibit about Spies In America. We were somewhat underwhelmed by the Spies exhibit, but we had time to see part of the permanent displays before closing time, and had a nice experience. 

Today, we returned to see their traveling exhibit about coffee:

As we entered the building, I started up the stairs ahead of Steve, and he noticed that I was exposing more than my thirst for culture and knowledge.

We made a hasty entrance into the gift shop and bought something to remedy my overexposure.

With the tail of this “Ladies 2X” (that my shoulders barely fit into), I was able to recover some of my dignity as I covered my flanks.

We proceeded to the Columbia Cafe that is inside the History Center building, just outside the exhibits entrance, and had a nice lunch while we watched the cruise ships move along Channelside. 

The Coffee exhibit was small, but interesting. I had always thought coffee was a new world crop, but it is actually native to Ethiopia and was imported to South America as part of the triangle trade. We also learned how very labor intensive it is to bring a coffee crop to market. Coffee plants don’t have a specific harvest period, with plants bearing flowers, green berries and ripened berries simultaneously, necessitating hand picking of ripened berries on a near-daily basis. The berries are then fermented to remove the fruit exterior, then dried, then shipped around the world to be roasted at destination. 

There’s probably more to it than that, but I was already distracted by the next display, which was some kind of electronic scent module in coffee bags. When you squeezed the coffee bags, the scent of that particular kind of coffee was emitted. There were only two bags, but one was for Ethiopian coffee and one for coffee from some other part of the world. It seems that the soil and growing conditions play a great part in the flavors of the different coffees. I am afraid that that distinction would be lost on me in my normal coffee consumption, however, as I add flavored syrups and a lot of half-and-half to my coffee cup each morning.

On our way out, we stopped in the gift shop again and I bought a small bag of dark chocolate- covered espresso beans, at which point I found out that our membership allowed a 10% discount on gift shop and cafe purchases.

It was too late to get the 10% off our lunch, but the young woman kindly offered to refund and re-ring my emergency t-shirt purchase in order for me to get my discount. As members, we also get parking validation 3x per year, which saved us an additional $5 in parking.

As we were leaving the History Center, we decided to have a look at all the little vendor booths set up along the river walk. It turns out that today was the Third Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest sponsored by Florida Voices for Animals. Several animal rescue organizations and groups promoting vegetarianism and veganism. We spoke to no one of the bacon-wrapped filets from Surf and Turf Market we had waiting at home for dinner. 


I love coffee.

Well, actually, I love coffee once I have added enough sugar and cream (real cream, NOT non-dairy cream substitute) to turn the nasty, bitter, black liquid into something that actually tastes as good as it smells.

I did not drink coffee until I reached my mid-thirties, when a good friend lured me to Starbucks and bought me a White Chocolate Mocha latte’ (cappuccino? I still don’t know which is which…) and I discovered that you can make almost anything palatable if you add enough cream and sugar to it. After spending more money than I ever should have at the local Starbucks shop, I broke down and bought a small coffee pot that made just enough coffee to fill the insulated travel mug that came with it.

That was sufficient for a number of months, but, we all know how addictions progress. The same friend who took me to Starbucks (Thanks, Joy!) later gave me a French press that made very nice, smooth coffee in larger quantities than my little travel mug set-up. After that came the 4-cup coffee pot, which is really misnamed because it only filled my coffee mug twice. Four cups, indeed. Then came the 8-cup coffee pot, you know, in case I had friends over who wanted coffee. When Mother moved in with me, I started making a 6-cup pot of coffee every morning, but sometimes when I went back for seconds, I would find the pot empty. This meant I had to start preparing an 8-cup pot of coffee every morning, just in case we both needed extra on any given day.

Now, over ten years after that first Starbucks experience, I have graduated to the 12-cup monster shown above. (I got it free from Gevalia by signing up for their coffee subscription service, after I forgot to turn the coffee pot off one day, and Steve found it 15 hours later, when he smelled something roasting at the other end of the house.) The spiffy new black-and-stainless pot has a clock/timer that allows me to set it to come on at a certain time, but more importantly, allows the coffee pot to turn itself off after two hours. Now I don’t have to worry about burning the house down with Mother in it.

Mother is drinking less coffee these days, so I’m back to brewing six cups every morning, an amount she and I split approximately 70/30. She has her coffee with a little cream in a regular coffee cup. I have my coffee with a lot of sugar and cream in a large mug (my favorite shown above – thank you, Sweetheart!). Sometimes in the afternoon, I will finish off the morning’s pot by making a nice, creamy iced coffee to drink on the way to work, as long as I don’t intend on trying to sleep before 2 a.m.

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