Category Archives: Coffee

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!

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 Yen For Coffee

Written by Lori Thiessen

When I think of Japan, I have a tourist’s romantic view. Visions of kimono-clad ladies, cherry trees in full-bloom, the beautiful and elaborate tea ceremony cloud the reality of modern Japanese life. Apparently, coffee drinking has become quite fashionable there. In fact, Japan is the 3rd largest importer of coffee, just behind the USA and Germany.

The Dutch brought coffee to Japan in the late 1800’s. The Japanese found it appropriate to drink coffee, considering it is a Western drink, when discussing Western topics. But these days, the Japanese prize coffee for itself and for the caffeine boost.

Coffee is available in many ways in Japan; through vending machines, and coffee shops called kissaten. The Japanese brew their coffee strong and they don’t generally offer milk for those who are faint of heart.

Starbucks began their conquest of Japan in 1996 and they set a new standard in coffee quality. More and more Japanese coffee drinkers are demanding higher quality in their coffee and they are willing to pay for it. A cup of coffee at a kissaten can cost as much as $8.00US.

But there are more coffee chains alive and well in Japan other than Starbucks. Doutor Coffee is one of the biggest coffee shop chains and it is Japanese owned. It serves coffee priced well below Starbucks and there is a shop at nearly every train station.  As for other chains there are Beck’s, Tully’s and Caffe Veloce all which are there to serve and encourage the Japanese taste for coffee.

But coffee is more than just a taste, it is a performance in some upscale cafe’s. Here is a video of the now popular syphon method which was derived from the old vacuum style of brewing coffee. Enjoy!


Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!

Coffee Benefits

Written by Lori Thiessen

The January 2009 edition of the Readers’ Digest has a short piece on the benefits of coffee. It seems that coffee may help to prevent a whole host of diseases including Type 2 diabetes, gallstones and the development of some cancers.

According to some studies, black coffee seems to have more antioxidants than a serving of fruit juice.Underline black coffee. If you put whole milk, whipped cream or sugar in your cuppa joe, you knock out any benefits the coffee may have.

If you are feeling stressed, perhaps you should think about taking a deep breath from your coffee jar. Some sleep-deprived rats were shown to be much calmer after taking just a whiff of roasted coffee beans, according to one study.

Of course, if you drink too much coffee then you are heading into a whole world of trouble. Labelled a ‘soft’ drug, coffee needs to be taken in moderation if it’s going to do you any good. More is definitely not better when it comes to coffee.

Most experts recommend not exceeding 2 cups of coffee a day. Anymore than that and you run the risk of becoming de-hydrated or raising your blood pressure.

Coffee apparently contains a substance called cafestol which can raise your cholesterol. Avoid drinking coffee made in a French press. Rather, drink coffee made with a paper filter or try instant coffee.

But do be sure to limit your coffee intake to 2 cups per day and drink ’em plain!

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!