Cappucino or latte? What is the diifference?

Walking into almost any coffee shop these days means being confronted with a whole new vocabulary. Words like doppio, venti, affogato and breve are a part of that secret coffee language that can be so confusing. One of the choices on the menu is between a mocha latte or a mocha cappuccino, you know you like chocolate, but what is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? And which do you really want?

Both drinks are espresso based. They are made using shots of espresso and milk. The difference between the two is the proportions of espresso to milk. And choosing between the two is going to come down to two easy choices.

A latte is made by using approximately one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk. The espresso is poured into the cup first and the milk on top, usually leaving a very thin layer of foam on top, approximately a quarter inch thick.

A cappuccino is also made using one-third espresso but uses one-third steamed milk as well. The remaining one-third of the drink is the milk foam. Just like a latte, the espresso is poured into the cup, then the milk, followed by a generous amount of foam. A cappuccino can be adjusted to taste, being made “wet” or “dry.”

A wet cappuccino has less milk foam and more milk. A dry cappuccino has more milk foam and less milk. This will help suit your specific tastes.

The things that you must decide when choosing between are, how strong do you want your espresso-based drink, and do you enjoy milk foam on your drink? The cappuccino is going to be a stronger drink, having a larger espresso to milk ratio. The cappuccino is also going to provide you with milk foam.

If a cappuccino is more your style, experiment with the milk foam. A wet cappuccino is going to be weaker drink than a dry cappuccino, again, the ratio of espresso to milk is a major factor. If you enjoy having that frothy milk foam and enjoy a strong cup of coffee, a dry cappuccino may be for you.

The language of coffee may be confusing and intimidating, but don’t let it keep your from entering that coffee shop and ordering a delightful treat. Understanding the difference between some of the drinks on the menu will help you make a decision better suited to your individual tastes. Know your drink, make it your own, and enjoy.

Best Coffee to Serve at a Party

Coffee lovers can unite, during a good party, over aromatic blends and unique flavor combinations. Good food and even better coffees can turn even the most dull party into a bonanza. This might sound a little far-fetched, however most coffee drinkers tend to be more sociable when they have a cup of coffee in hand. 

Specialty coffee grounds

There are flavored coffees available for purchase at most grocery stores and coffee shops. You do not need to do anything special to these coffees, just brew and serve.

Kona

This full bodied coffee is grown in Hawaii and is prized for its sweet and slightly fruity notes. Kona coffee can be rather expensive, however some people feel it is well worth the price. When shopping for Kona coffee, be sure to check the label. Many companies will claim to be Kona, but in reality are only a Kona blend. 

French vanilla

This flavor of ground coffee really needs no introduction. Most coffee drinkers are well aware of this creamy flavor, even if they do not drink it themselves. Some people like French vanilla and drink it all the time, and some reserve it for holidays and special occasions. 

Raspberry Danish

This flavor is offered by the Gevalia Cafe company. This light roast coffee used to only be available for purchase during the summer, but it is now available year round. 

Irish cream

This is a beloved favorite of many coffee drinkers. This is not a reference to the famed “Irish Coffee,” but rather the flavored coffee grounds. This is indeed a party coffee with its rich flavor and wonderful aroma.

Create your own flavors

You can create your own party coffees easily by adding flavor agents to the grounds before brewing. By adding things like spices and dried fruit, you can come up with unique flavored coffees that are sure to be a hit at your next get together. The really fun thing about making your own flavors is that you can give your guests a one of a kind coffee experience. The other cool part is you can name your special brews. 

One suggestion is to come up with your own special coffees for holidays, birthdays and any other events during the year when you will be serving coffee. Who knows, your specialty coffees could become something people look forward to each month/year.

Spices

The trick to using ground spices is to experiment before the party. Always keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Some examples of spices you can try include: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and for a holiday treat you could add a little pumpkin pie spice. A good starting point is to add a 1/8 teaspoon of the desired spice, directly to the grounds before brewing. You can adjust the amounts to your liking. 

Hot cocoa mix

This addition to your grounds can result in a semi-sweet chocolaty delight. There are a couple of ways you can make this coffee. The first is to add equal amounts of hot cocoa mix and coffee grounds and then brew. The second is to simply add a little bit of the cocoa mix to your normal amount of grounds. This coffee is a nice warm treat on a cold winter’s day.  

Stir in ideas

These additives can go into the pot after brewing, or into a personal mug. Some people are really fond of experimenting with different flavor combinations, so be sure to have plenty on hand.

Extracts

These baking and cooking essentials can be added to a pot of brewed coffee. As with the spices, a little (usually a teaspoon) will do just fine. You do want to be careful not to use too much of an extract. You don’t want the flavor to be overwhelming to your guests. 

As you can see, there are many ways to create a party coffee, all it takes is an adventurous spirit! Please remember to experiment with flavor combinations before your scheduled party, this way you have time to perfect the desired flavor. 

Also, don’t forget the little extras like sprinkles, flavored stir sticks and colorful mugs. These little extras can make your party coffee even more fun.

Beer Reviews Harp Lager

Harp is a lager style beer whose home brewery is called the Great Northern Brewery and is located in Dundalk, Co. Louth in the Republic of Ireland, which is strategically located about half way between Dublin and Belfast. Harp was first introduced in 1960 as a result of the efforts of a consortium of six different breweries in Ireland and the United Kingdom. During the 1950s, lighter pale lagers from Europe, such as the Dutch Heineken and the Danish Carlsburg had made serious inroads into the markets of Ireland and the UK, nations known for their heavier, darker ales. To answer this challenge, the Dundalk brewery was purchased and a brew-master from Germany, Herman Muenster, was brought in and charged with the task of creating a “continental” style lager using Irish resources. Harp Lager was the result.

Today, there is an element of romance associated with Harp, and that is nearly entirely due to its associations, perceived or real, with the brewing legend Guinness. The fact of the matter is that Harp is less a Guinness product than an acquisition made by Guinness. It is true that Guinness was one of the original six owners that purchased the Great Northern Brewery for the purpose of creating Harp, but it was not involved in the creation of the beer or the management of the brewery. Over the course of time, Guinness did ultimately obtain sole ownership of Harp, and at least in North America, Guinness and Harp were frequently marketed together, leading many to believe that Harp was brewed by Guinness and was actually just a lager version of Guinness. Since the Diageo group purchased Guinness, Guinness and Harp are no longer marketed together, but Harp is still prominently advertised as being “from the brewers of Guinness.”

Recent controversies have arisen regarding Diageo’s marketing strategies regarding Harp. In Ireland and the UK, a completely new logo has been created and conspicuously absent is the Brian Boru harp that had been the symbol of Harp since its inception in 1960. In North America, however, the Boru harp remains, but the beer’s misleading labeling in the US has been a source of some consternation. In the US, Harp Lager is prominently labeled as an imported beer, and while technically this is true, one needs to read the fine print on the reverse side label to learn that it is not imported from Ireland, but Canada. Harp is brewed in three locations, the third being in Manchester.

Which brings us to the beer, itself. Historically, Harp has always promoted its lager as being “sharp.” Some people would characterize this as crispness; I describe this quality as having “bite.” No matter the nomenclature, some have questioned the “sharpness” of today’s Harp. For me, I was satisfied with Harp’s characteristic “bite.” I was also able to get a pleasant looking frothy head on top a nicely golden beer which created some very nice lacing all the way to the bottom of the glass. In regards to the beer’s ingredients, Harp Lager does not have its own website, and the Diageo site is not at all forthcoming. That said, I’m tasting a straightforward full-bodied beer without any adjunct ingredients like rice or corn. Also, there is no hint of fruit, just a straightforward beer. I’m not getting any of the floral quality that one usually gets from Noble hops. In regards to alcohol, Harp sits on the strong side of the scale, measuring 5% (ABV). For a pale lager, Harp has an unusually heavy taste, so it stands in stark contrast to a Bohemian style pale lager, such as Pilsner Urquell.

In regards to food, because of its heavy northern European quality, I would recommend Harp almost exclusively for red meats. A burger, a steak, what have you, maybe some of the meatier American Southwest dishes. I would dissuade anyone from drinking Harp with a pasta, pizza, poultry or fish meal. The beer would simply overwhelm the food.

A look at Japanese Craft Beer

Prior to 1994 Japanese law prevented any brewery from being licensed unless they produced  a whopping 2 million liters (528,000 gal) of beer per year. This made the much smaller craft breweries completely and utterly non-existent. Japanese beer was dominated by the four major companies – Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory. All of their beer is pretty much the same flavorless light beer compared to the macrobrewed beer in the United States.

In 1994 with the tax law changes, breweries producing as little as 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons) were able to be licensed and the market for craft beers opened up. There was immediately a surge of smaller breweries experimenting with beer. In Japan, craft beers are referred to mainly as local beers and there are now around 200 microbreweries licensed in Japan. These local brews are often higher priced due to tax rates and because many ingredients have to be imported, so it can be difficult for the craft breweries to maintain their footing in the competitive beer market. But as the microbrewery craze continues to boom around the world, Japan is not being left behind by any means. 

The Yoho Brewing Company makes a popular craft beer called Tokyo Black. Tokyo Black is a dark porter that is a stark contrast to all of the highly carbonated, light macrobrews of the Japanese big wig breweries that everyone is familiar with. Yoho also makes several pale ales, a blonde ale and a barleywine. Most of their beers are American or British style beers and are available in cans. Many Yoho beers are now available around the world and are worth looking for in Japanese restaurants and specialty beer stores, but they will be a bit higher priced than other beers. 

The Kiuchi Brewery is also of note and is arguably the best of Japanese craft breweries. It is definitely the most widely known. Kiuchi was originally a renowned sake-maker, but then added craft beer to their repertoire in 1996. They are makers of Hitachino Nest Beers, which include pale ales, a stout and more. In 200, they began to export these carefully crafted beers to the United States. You can spot them quickly with their owl logo. Their beer is all made using the same methods used to make sake, but combined with European brewing technology and interesting ingredients. 

Unfortunately, not very many Japanese craft beers have made it out of Japan just yet. In the country though there are bars that serve only local brews, sometimes called “Craft Beer Bars.” Among these are Popeye, Ushi-Tora and Kura-Kura all located in Tokyo. Similar bars are growing in popularity as the price of the yen is dropping causing the prices of imported beers to rise. They are also rising in popularity because people are becoming more interested in variety when they go out for a drink and also want something more flavorful for their money. The macrobrewers still hold contracts and exclusive rights in many Japanese restaurants, so when visiting Japan it can sometimes even be a challenge to track down Japanese craft beers outside of specialty bars.

How to make delicious bubble tea with tapioca pearls

The bubbles in bubble tea are not caused by the big round tapioca pearls, but are the result of shaking the tea like a cocktail. The tapioca pearl ‘bubbles’ were a later addition. However, they are what makes bubble tea so much fun to drink. This exotic tea drink originated in Taiwan in the 80s, and took off like wildfire when it was introduced to the west. Making bubble tea with tapioca pearls at home is time consuming, but it’s a great option if you cannot satisfy your craving at an outlet nearby.

Tapioca pearls are sold online at Amazon, and in Asian supermarkets and grocery stores. You can buy them as pure white tapioca pearls, colored pearls or black pearls. First you need to cook your tapioca so you have the pearl bubbles. You will need tapioca pearls, which can be obtained in clear or black varieties. The clear pearls are just pure tapioca starch, while the black have caramel added for color and flavor.

The pearls need cooking in a lot of boiling water – about 8 cups of water to one cup of pearls. When the pearls rise to the surface, cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Then you will need to turn off the heat and let the pearls soak in the hot water for a further 25 minutes. Give them an occasional stir to prevent them sticking to each other.

Strain into a large strainer and rinse thoroughly under a running cold water tap. The water should run clear after a while, and the pearls are ready to use.

You will need sugar syrup to sweeten your bubble tea, so boil together one cup of white sugar, one cup of crushed palm sugar, and two cups of water until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool, and keep in the fridge between uses.

To make the tea, you will need black or green tea, according to your taste, which can be made with tea bags. You can experiment with herbal teas, fruit teas, or just about anything that takes your fancy on the shelf. To this add some sugar syrup, a tablespoon of powdered coffee creamer, or condensed milk, and some shaved ice. You can whip it all in a blender, or shake it up in a cocktail shaker. Fill your serving glass to about halfway with bubble pearls, and pour the tea mixture over the pearls.

You can use other ingredients to personalize your bubble tea. You can add fresh fruit, coconut cream instead of milk, spices such as cinnamon (for a chai bubble tea), and instant coffee, or milk tea powder. It’s all good, so have fun and try different combinations – as long as you have tea and pearls, you have bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a great way to entertain guests on a hot summer’s day, both in making it and drinking it. But if you want to use straws, you will need to obtain the right kind – big enough to let the tapioca pearls pass through!