galaxy

Caffeine And Alcohol Are Wrecking Your Sleep Patterns

Caffeine is a drug (yes, a drug) that I’ve dispensed with years ago.

Back in the day I used to drink a triple-shot latte during or after work…and that was before I worked as a barista. I would still be able to sleep just fine afterwards, all hail community college exhaustion, but it was a gamble. Nowadays? Just two cups of decaf coffee without a span of time in-between will be enough to have me jittery. It’s incredible how much has changed. I think my former usual would give me a heart attack now.

Alcohol isn’t all that different. While I love a cold beer or a glass of wine at night, I have to have it early enough for it to leave my system. If I drink it too close prior to laying down my body goes into ‘nap mode’, with no more than three hours in before I’m waking up again. This short TED Talk dives into the science behind why our bodies react the way they do to caffeine and alcohol, from how our REM is affected to just how long caffeine actually stays in your system.

Caffeine and alcohol are great in moderation, but can easily wreak havoc on your health unchecked. I think I’ll skip a day or two this week.

blk & bold coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: BLK & Bold’s Coffee-Ish

I’ve been wanting to buy from this brand for a hot minute.

Black-owned businesses have seen a significant boost in sales these past few months, with the coffee and tea industry no different. BLK & Bold was a name that came up frequently: I knew I’d have to exercise some patience when it was among the first names to crop up in the search bar. Cue me checking back several times over the past month and a half to see their if decaf coffee was available. Good things come to those who wait, right?

(I also bought one of their decaf teas, which I’ll be reviewing in an adjacent series to this one.)

After a rather rough week, I was delighted when I finally got my package in the mail (doubly so for how large the bag is in comparison to others I’ve bought). Does BLK & Bold live up to its hype? We’re going to find out with another specialty decaf coffee review below. If you’ve missed my previous posts, check out my review of another black-owned coffee business for Boon Boona Coffee’s decaf.

Let’s take a look:

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You Don’t Need To Shell Out $50+ For A Great Bottle Of Wine

Expensive wine and good wine aren’t always one in the same. Who knew?

A lot of people, as it turns out. Just unlikely the ones pricey bottles are actually aimed at. Vox released this short and amusing video on the convoluted nature of the wine market: already infamous for gatekeeping and snooty attitudes, it always goes a step further with its pricing model. The idea that expensive = quality is so pervasive that experienced wine tasters will outright contradict themselves on taste tests.

I rarely spend more than $30 on a bottle of wine, with my range usually between the $15 to $25 mark. If you could use a little more convincing that affordable is the way to go, my roommate’s parents are long-time wine drinkers who are all too happy to share their wine knowledge. When I asked if they’ve ever had a really expensive bottle of wine, they told me yes. When I asked if it was worth the price, they promptly told me no.

And there it is. At the end of the day, what you like is what you like.

Are You A Fan Of Sparkling Wine? You’ll Want To Keep Your Eye On Brazil

My favorite wine really depends on my mood and what I’m eating. That’s nothing new. What is new is how Brazil is set to take center stage.

Beverage Daily has a brisk, yet detailed breakdown on Brazil’s sparkling wine scene and why it’s set to dominate over the coming years. According to a few studies and interviews, it’s a mixture of several factors colliding at the perfect time: rising interest in sparkling varieties, high-quality flavors and very proactive marketing campaigns. That latter’s importance cannot be understated, as a lack of wine knowledge and exclusionary attitudes can be a huge barrier for new drinkers.

If you’re like me and are a fan of wine and coffee, Brazil is the perfect place to start looking.

You don’t have to be a wine expert to know the most prestigious wine origins hail from France, Spain and Italy. Following close behind is the ever-popular California, as well as a smattering of notable Canadian and South African producers. Wine is undergoing a very vivid cultural shift these past few years as drinking demographics change and the environment sees yet more blows to stability. What we know as traditional quality may very well not apply in the next decade. Why shouldn’t Brazil toss its hat in the ring?

Sparkling wine is fun. It’s tasty. This is far from the first time I’ve heard of its growing popularity and it won’t be the last.

How This Hmong Couple Eliminated The Coffee Middleman

This coffee couple takes ‘eliminating the middleman’ to a whole ‘nother level.

This is the kind of story I live for. This Catholic Hmong couple grows coffee beans in their small hillside village in Thailand, alongside a medley of fruits, vegetables and herbs. They made the decision to grow, roast, and grind their crop locally due to many buyers actively seeking out high-quality beans for very low prices (sound familiar?). The coffee supply chain may have several necessary skillsets involved in bringing your cup to life, but it also has a lot of exploitative garbage, too.

I would love to see more farming communities go this route.

So much of the exploitation of coffee farmers (and adjacent industries) come from an acute lack of education. It’s hard to argue your worth when you don’t know what that is. It’s hard to stand up for yourself when you’re poor and isolated. Giving coffee farmers the opportunity to call the shots in more areas of the industry will help immensely with weeding out exploitation, climate damage and outright theft. …If they don’t just take that opportunity themselves, that is.

Also, I love that one of the co-founders mentions she drinks coffee in moderation so she doesn’t get heart palpitations. Maybe they’ll release a decaf bag I can try in the future?

Carbon-free Roasting Is A Trend That Should Stick

It’s amazing how much damage an everyday product can create. We’re so saturated with coffee it’s very easy to overlook.

‘Going green’ sounds great on paper, but requires a dedicated overhaul of old, inefficient ways of running business. Getting just one detail wrong could cause yet another ripple effect to make up for in the future. Coffee is a titan of an industry, with the United States alone drinking an estimated 400 million cups per day. Roasting coffee beans, in particular, is a delicate process that can make or break the final cup. Not only do you have to get the right profile, you have to leave the right carbon footprint.

What fascinated me in Forbes’ recent analysis/review was this new way of reducing carbon emissions while still crafting a high-quality roast. The Bellwether Roaster reuses the same air without using gas, drastically reducing its harmful output through a new approach. Even better, this machine also comes with an app that allows customers to choose their own roasting curve. If you thought a soy decaf latte was specific, imagine being able to select a medium-dark roast on top of it all.

Today’s harmful climate change is accelerated primarily through ongoing business activity, not individuals or even communities. If the figures in this analysis are accurate, this roasting technology should become the new default.

Certified Or Not? USDA Updating Its Regulations For Coffee Brands

It’s difficult to figure out which brands are legitimately organic and which aren’t. That’s the point.

It’s hard to demand better when you don’t even know where to start, right? The coffee industry’s supply chain has long since danced on a thin line between necessary and highly convoluted, with many today calling for ‘snipping the links’ to improve transparency. This could mean farmers also operating as roasters. This could mean importers receiving less money. It’s a lot of talk with not much action…but the USDA has had about enough.

Short for the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA is a well-known organic label on many specialty coffee brands. So well-known, in fact, it’s starting to lose meaning entirely. New standards are now being implemented to better manage a severe lack of oversight on ethical and eco-friendly farming standards in the coffee industry. Inconsistent implementation, misinterpreting the rules and a lack of consequences for those that shirk responsibility are cited as common issues with the label.

You can never ask too many questions. Do you often look into organic labels when buying a product? If so, do you go the extra mile to see if they’re legit?

The Coffee Crisis Is Worse Than You Think

It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of an entire planet on the brink of no return.

Climate change is a powerful-yet-nebulous force that only seems to manifest in detached news reports and the occasional quip we make about the weather feeling ‘off’ this year. The plight of farmers makes our hearts ache, yes…and we can still feel entirely powerless on how to actually hold corporations responsible for the damage they do. It’s all a lot of numbers and shrinking minutes, not at all helped by a lack of awareness.

Fortunately, we still have time left.

Vox just published a video on the global coffee crisis — with a predominant focus on Colombia — and what it means for the people who work there. They explore the differences between the two major coffee varieties, how even mild changes in temperature completely overhaul the coffee growing process, and the change of coffee prices over the decades. It’s very telling how some of the rhetoric bragged about in the 1920’s is rather similar to the rhetoric used today. A lot of fluff about respecting farmers without the numbers or working conditions to match.

Give this video a watch if you need to catch up on what’s affecting one of today’s top coffee producers. While there’s still more work to do on the consumer end of things, knowledge can only make things better.

woman drinking tea

Teatime At Any Time: Five Heartfelt Songs About Tea

I may not write about tea as much as I do coffee and wine, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less.

If anything, I’ve found my love for tea blossoming even more now that I’m extra cooped up and going through the predictable side-effects of concentration issues and insomnia. Boba tea is sorely missed (fare thee well, local boba shop) and my mother recently got me a superberry flower tea for my birthday. It’s forever been a part of my life, which got me to considering a playlist that reflects it. Tea is delicious and soothing, yes…and like coffee, it’s yet another outlet with which to express ourselves.

The noun alone conjures up images of serenity and relaxation. Chilly evenings and long summer days. Sweet tea, anyone?

You see these instinctual reactions to tea reflected in all kinds of songwriting. Chamomile tea is used to invoke tenderness or sleepiness. Chai tea can be sultry or heartfelt, especially when mixed with other romantic ingredients like milk, sugar and honey. Tea in general is a fleeting moment of peace, an anchor warming your palms or cooling you off before the outside world floods in again. It can be so many incredible things and I want to share what I’ve heard.

I explored five songs about coffee a few weeks back and how this drink was interpreted through metaphor. Here are five songs that are either about tea or reference tea meaningfully:

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roasted coffee beans

Wrap Up Your Workweek With A Cute Coffee Bean Cookie Recipe

The news cycle is, as usual, depressing at best and maddening at worse. You have to actually remind yourself there’s good stuff out there.

Give your workweek a hearty dose of the munchies (with a side of ASMR) with this adorable coffee bean cookie recipe. They look exactly like freshly roasted beans, with a crisp and slightly crunchy texture. I can only imagine how good they smell. This is going high up on my list of ‘recipes to try’, right alongside the dalgona coffee I keep telling myself to make and forgetting.