Fresh Market

December 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Fresh Market opened in Crystal Lake and is carrying a selection of our fine, artisan roast, hand-packed coffees.

Coffee Review: Conscious Cup earns 94 point rating

December 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Coffee Review rates our Ethiopian Harrar among its highest-rated.

Blind Assessment: Intense aroma and flavor dominated by deep, jasmine-like flowers and tartly sweet fruit: pomegranate, bergamot, raspberry. Rich, complexly expressed acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. The finish is lemony, sweet, and very long.

Coffee Review 94 Point Rating for Conscious Cup Ethiopian HarrarNotes: Grown and processed by members of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, this coffee is Fair Trade certified, meaning it was purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. Harrar is one of the world’s oldest and most traditional coffees. As it has been for centuries, it is simply picked and spread in the sun to dry inside the fruit. Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters is independent and family-owned and operated cafe and coffee roaster specializing in socially and environmentally sustainable coffees.

Who Should Drink It: Those looking for excitement. Almost startling intensity and complexity in this unusually clean, bright Harrar.

The Economy We Control

September 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

None of us are likely in a position to, say, influence money rates in any meaningful way but we can control one element of our economy.

We can choose to support our communities and buy local.

The Benefits of Buying Local

I’m writing this after driving past Nick’s Pizza in Crystal Lake on an errand. The drive and parking lot was jammed. This followed a plea from Nick Sarillo that his company needed your patronage to stay in business. Nick’s had expanded into Elgin, a site that was beset by ill-managed road construction that, at one time without notice, left the Elgin restaurant with no visible access from Randall Road.

Unfortunately, Nick’s case probably isn’t as unique as his hutzpah. At lot of us could use a jammed parking lot and I’m uplifted by the image this night at Nick’s as an effect of his plea.

You can choose to spend your money locally, with locally owned and operated businesses and not the national chains. Crystal Lake, McHenry County and greater Chicago offer effective local choices at every level of commerce. Our friends at SMT Associates, Inc., in Crystal Lake, turned us on to the 3/50 project.. What a great idea. Identify three local businesses and spend $50 at each.

With the economy still struggling and risking a double-dip, we need to support each other. It’s important to buy local. If you’re running a business, check your vendors. As consumers, choose locally owned businesses over national chains. What goes around comes around when you buy local.

By some accounts, local businesses reinvest $0.45 of every $1 you spend with them back into the local community versus a $0.15 reinvestment by national chains. Of course, WalMart attracts a lot more of your money than either Nick’s or our Conscious Cup; I’d guess more than Nick’s or CC combined. So, I’m not saying you shouldn’t shop at WalMart, just think hard about what you need or want and then see if that can be met by any of our local merchants or service professionals.

Whole Foods

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Drove through a Monday morning rain to O’Hare, then, on the way back, stopped at Whole Foods Market in Palatine.

Our coffee looks good on their shelves.

Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters at Whole Fooods Market, Palatine

Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters at Whole Fooods Market, Palatine

Pour Over

August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the fast, no faster world of commuting Crystal Lake, we offer a pause, a moment of, um, coffee zen.

Take a little time to enjoy a hand-poured coffee from the coffee bar.

The flavor and aroma produced by pour-over coffee is different from our brewing system (which is fired up to serve go go commuters).

Hand preparation takes a couple of minutes longer but you’ll appreciate the break in routine. This is, by the way, a great opportunity to try a cup of our select coffees when available ahead of this holiday season.

Join us the second Saturday, September 10, September for Mike’s Coffee 101 and learn how to use the same Chemex or Hario pour-over used at our coffee bar.

The Quality Distinction of Latte Art

August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Latte art is a showy part of the barista’s craft but, even more, it’s a reflection of quality.

Latte art is a skill that displays exacting technique in preparing a latte or cappuccino.

Latte Art at Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters

Latte art can’t be done without properly pulled espresso, with a substantial, sustainable crema. Latte art can’t be done with a casual regard to steaming milk. The latter is most visible to you as a consumer.

The technique at the steaming wand for a latte versus a cappuccino is different; the latte only being capped with micro-foamed milk while the micro-foam holds a thicker (roughly one-third) position in the cup for cappuccino. A cappuccino requires the barista to draw more air into the milk to create a larger volume of micro-foam. The remaining milk in either preparation is steamed hot.

steaming milk for a cappuccino at Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters

Steaming technique

Whether or not your cup is topped with latte art, the techniques to getting the correct proportion of steamed milk to micro-foam cap are similar. The result allows the milk to be poured through the espresso crema in one uninterrupted motion, the crema infusing the micro-foam as a result. Look for a smooth, shiny surface unbroken by large bubbles. Latte art is a nice touch that can’t be done unless the steaming/frothing is done correctly.

Two big no-nos to watch for:

  • Don’t accept a drink poured from a large (bigger than a pint) pitcher that the barista supplements and reheats. It’s expedient but the result is scalded milk.
  • Amateurs use a broad knife to block the foam from the pour and then scoop or ladle foam onto the top of the drink. The foam doesn’t get infused by the espresso crema.

French Press Iced Coffee

August 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

Take a plunge into summer with a nice, freshly brewed iced coffee. This method will deliver a smoother taste than chilling coffee left over from your home brewer.

In a French Press, add 8.5 grams of coarse ground coffee per cup (8 ounces) of cold water. Of course, a gram scale is handy and essential if you’re a dedicated cook. Typically, a French Press comes with a scoop and recommends one scoop per “cup.” I’d check out the scoop’s capacity.

First, saturate the grounds so they don’t float. Pour in the remaining water (our French Press holds 4 cups). Stir until the grounds are fully saturated.

Place the French Press lid onto the pot with the safety lid in the closed position, covering the spout. Leave the plunger raised.

Let the coffee rest and chill overnight for 12 hours in the refrigerator.

The next morning, press gently down on the plunger.

In a tall, ice-filled glass, mix equal parts of the chilled, concentrated coffee with water, or add water to taste. If you wish, add milk and sugar or a flavoring like hazelnut or vanilla.

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