My Christmas Morning

written by Lori Thiessen

This year’s Christmas was very special so I thought I’d share my day with you.

My mom and I spent Christmas Eve’s at my sister’s place;  complete with our jim-jams and everything. My mom settled down for her Christmas sleep in the lazy boy and I in the fold-away sofa bed which tends to want to fold-away even if someone is trying to sleep on it.

At 5 am, Mom heard the pitter-patter of my niece and nephew’s feet and their stage whisper: “Santa’s been!”

Showing remarkable restraint for children on Christmas Day morning, they waited until 8 am to see if Grandma and Auntie (that’s me!) was awake. My nephew shone the flashlight in my face and said in a surprised voice, “Oh, they’re still asleep!”. Christmas Day had truly begun.

My sister asked me if I wanted o.j. or coffee. I muttered, “Coffee.” She asked what I would like in my coffee. The choices included such tantalizing offerings as Kahula, Bailey’s, rum, and other delicious but decidedly un-ordinary condiments.

I requested Frangelico. My sister who is the soul of generosity ladled in a hefty helping of the liqueur. The result was that by 9:30 a.m. I was feeling quite… tiddly.  It is only once a year.

The day wandered along wonderfully well. A multitude of presents were unwrapped and thoroughly enjoyed.  We breakfasted on my sister’s amazing baking powder biscuits, fruit salad and orange juice plus more coffee (however, sans frangelico because some propriety must be maintained).

I decided to have a short, pre-lunch nap. I awoke to my nephew exclaiming, “I can’t believe that Auntie Lori has slept for 3 whole hours!”Apparently, the spiked coffee had more of an effect than I imagined.

My mom and my sister were busy in the kitchen preparing the Christmas dinner.  Though I was planning on being an active member of the kitchen squad, I wasn’t. I sucked. Sigh. I did peel some potatoes later on and that made me feel a bit better, but not much.

My brother-in-laws parents arrived for the Christmas feast and we had a marvellous time.  The food was delicious, the company very pleasant.

After dinner, my nephew pulled out a book on making hand-puppet shadows he had received from his Nana and Papa. My brother-in-law produced the hand-crank camp light he had been given. The lights were turned off. Darkness was all around us, save for one bright light.

We saw reindeer, bats, alligators and other shadowy creatures on the diningroom wall.

As the peaceful darkness over took us all, my mom and I packed our bags, presents and memories. We thanked my sister and her husband for a truly magical Christmas.

We soon drove out of sight into the long, dark winter night.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful, joyous holiday season!

Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop

Written by Lori Thiessen

Ah, good ol’ Tim Horton’s. Timmy’s. T-Ho. No matter what name you call it, it’s a Canadian institution.

I was taking in a couple of Christmas concerts by two amazing homegrown choirs, Vancouver Cantata Singers and Musica Intima in downtown Vancouver on Saturday. (PS. The BC Govt has cut 81% of its funding to the arts. Support your local arts!)

I had some time to spend between the concerts and there was a Tim Horton’s nearby, as luck and capitalist empire building would have it.

Since it is the Christmas season and it’s traditional to be a little short on cash at this time of year, I decided that going to Timmy’s was the best option.

I wandered up to the counter, order a small black coffee and a low-fat cranberry muffin. The clerk asked me if I wanted milk or cream or sugar.  Apparently, you have to ask for cream or milk at the time of ordering.  Neither condiment is available anywhere else in the shop.

The coffee was fine. Not great but fine. The muffin was dry, but then that’s to be expected of a low-fat muffin.

The shop itself was fairly consumer industrial: plastic everything in colours that don’t quite suit my taste. But it was warm and dry plus there was food and drink at low prices.

I think that’s the critical point about Tim’s: coffee at low prices. Where else can you get a cup of coffee for less than $2 these days?

Q: Do you prefer Tim Horton’s or Starbucks? Why?

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!

Warming Coffee Drinks for the Dark Winter Days

Written by Lori Thiessen

My Dear Readers, the frost is on the meadow and we have all but hidden away in our respective burrows for the duration of this wintry weather. To help while away the hours, invite some close friends in for conversation and sample the following warming beverages.

The Polar Bear

Though there are many variations on this cocktail, most of them cold, I recommend the following concoction to warm the cockles of your heart. Pour into a heat-proof cup or mug:

  • 2 oz of Peppermint Schnapps
  • 3 oz of good quality hot chocolate
  • 3 oz of medium strength, good quality hot coffee

You may want to top the mixture with a dollop of whipping cream and a candy cane to give it a festive twist!

Christmas Coffee

Here’s a post festive dinner coffee that could double as dessert!

  • 6 cups strong, good quality coffee
  • 4 tbsps sugar
  • 1 organic, unsprayed orange studded with 3 whole cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 1/2 tbsps of Van der Hum, tangerine flavoured liqueur
  • 1/2 cup of brandy
  • 1 cup of cream
  • freshly ground cinnamon

Put the first 6 ingredients into a heavy bottomed cooking pot. Set the heating element to low — just warm the ingredients, DO NOT BOIL.

In a metal soup ladle with an insulated handle, warm the brandy near the coffee. BE VERY CAREFUL. Hold the soup ladle full of warmed brandy over the cooking pot of coffee. Light a match and set the brandy aflame. Carefully pour the flaming brandy over the coffee.

Pour the coffee mixture into heavy mugs (your fine china teacups cannot handle this!). Place a spoon over a mug and slowly pour a little of the cream so that it floats on the top of the drink. Sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon. Repeat with each mug. Serve.

Special Christmas Morning Coffee

This coffee is a great way to start your Christmas Day!

  • 10 cups strong, good quality coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened good quality cocoa
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup water

Whipped cream, optional. Frangelico, Amaretto or Bailey’s Irish Cream, optional. Freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg for topping. Milk and sugar for serving.

Brew your coffee in the regular way. Take the next 4 ingredients and put them into a small, heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat. Pour mixture into the coffee. Stir well. Add Frangelico, Amaretto or Bailey’s, if desired. Pour into mugs. Top with whipped cream, if desired. Top with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

I hope these recipes will delight you and your friends and keep you warm.

Please remember to limit your alcohol intake during the Christmas holidays and be responsible. Call a cab if you’ve had too much.

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!

Village Coffee Lounge

Written by Lori Thiessen

A friend and I met for coffee the other week at a coffee shop neither one of us had been to before.

On Twelfth Street in New Westminster (a suburb of Vancouver), is the Village Coffee Lounge.

It is quite a small place but with a real homey atmosphere. There is an old upright piano resting comfortably in the back. Brass instruments adorn the walls. Live music concerts take place here from time to time. Phone to find out when the next event will be happening:  (604) 522-8567‎.

There is a table inlaid with a checkerboard for those who want to play checkers or chess. Most of the other furniture is a mish-mash of styles, ages and rickety-ness. Very charming.

My friend tried the hot chocolate and I tried the maple spice latte. Though my friend didn’t comment on her hot chocolate, I must say that the maple spice latte was wonderful.

It is a regular cappucino but made with maple syrup, nutmeg and other spices and topped with a dusting of brown sugar.

I also had a zucchini muffin which was moist and flavourful.  I’ve never seen a zucchini muffin anywhere else so it must be freshly made by either the owner or a local baker.

We spent about an hour there and I was heartened to notice that people kept popping in and out; a city workman, a senior gentleman, a young mother, a courier, among others chose this small, unassuming place to get their mid-morning pick-me-up.

You can find the Village Coffee Lounge at:

705 12th Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 4J7

(604) 522-8567‎
I’m planning on going back again soon. Perhaps I’ll see you there!
Until Next Time,
May your coffee always be freshly brewed!

Coffee Helps Us to Go Green

Written by Lori Thiessen

Have you ever looked at the used coffee grounds from you coffee maker as you throw them out and lament the waste? I mean, coffee costs quite a bit of money and to just throw out the grounds hurts frugal folks like me. And think about all the used grounds from all the used coffee shops everywhere. Ouch.

Let the hurting stop.

There are two new uses for used coffee grounds, printer ink and biofuel.

CNet’s gadget blog, CRAVE reports that RITI print box uses old coffee grounds or tea leaves and a little water to create ink. The drawback is you likely won’t have a lovely black print experience plus you have to swish the ink cartridge along and pull the paper through the printer at the same time; not very efficient.

However, this might be the start of something amazing!

According to Renewable Energy, coffee has come under the microscope as a possible biofuel. More stable than other biofuel sources like used grease from restaurants and with an equal amount of oil from pre-processed biofuel sources like soybeans, used coffee grounds might be the substance the biofuel industry has been looking for.

Using used coffee grounds as a biofuel has other added benefits like your car exhaust could smell like a fresh cup of coffee plus coffee is quite high in antioxidants so using coffee as a biofuel could be an added health benefit instead of being gassed by carbon monoxide.

Coffee may play an even bigger part of our lives in the future aside from the quick pick-me-up liquid we’ve counted on for years!

Q: In what ways do you recycle your coffee grounds?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!


Growing More Than Coffee

Written by Lori Thiessen

The coffee bean we value so highly and pay so much for generally comes from some of the most economically depressed and sometimes politically unstable regions of the world.

Now that consumer compassion is a considerable force in the marketplace, most of the major coffee companies are building in not only environmental sustainability projects into their bottom line but community development projects in these poverty stricken countries, too.

Look at what three of these major coffee companies are doing to support positive, local social change.

Tim Hortons takes a keen interest in their coffee suppliers with a view to improving the coffee farmers and their families lives. By teaching and nurturing the small coffee growers to become better business people, it strengthens the local community and also creates a better product.  Tim Hortons now has improvement projects established in Guatemala, Brazil and Colombia.

Seattle’s Best Coffee also supports Fair Trade certified coffee and claims to invest in social and education projects that help to nurture the communities from which they buy their coffee.

By 2015, Starbucks has declared on its website that 100% of its coffee will be “responsibly grown and ethically traded”.  Through its Shared Planet Program, Starbucks invests in improving the health of coffee growing communities where it buys coffee. Starbucks also participates in foundations that loan money to local farmers at a better rate than they would normally get. These loans help farmers to weather the bad times and make their start-up experience easier and more profitable.

Coffee growing and buying is far more than just the land it grows on.  Without the small scale coffee farmer and his community, we coffee consumers wouldn’t have as much of that black gold to sip.

Q: Do you buy your coffee based on the company’s involvement in ethical sourcing?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!



A Fresh Cup

Written by Lori Thiessen

There is the old saying that when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Well, the caffe culture twist on this is: when life grinds your beans,  make coffee! And boy, let me tell you, in the last few months life has ground my beans to super fino espresso powder. But enough about me.

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has dropped by this space over the last few months. Your interest in the cafe lifestyle is much appreciated.

This blog will still cover everything to do with the artier side of the coffee shop lifestyle, very fun and frothy but with an underlying intellectual kick. Everything from how to make a great cup of coffee to investigating coffee houses around the world and through the ages will be discussed here.  There will also be reviews of coffee houses included in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Caffe Culture is the sister blog to “Coffee Shop Office” which talks about how the coffee shop has become the alternative or even preferred office of people from all walks of life and business.

So look for new posts, new fun facts and a new insight into the cafe lifestyle!

Until next time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!