History of Latte Art

Who doesn’t enjoy their latte that a little bit more when the barista goes to the trouble of adding a little heart-shaped or leaf-shaped swirl on the top of the foam? This is what’s known as latte art, and it has become an increasingly popular art form in cafes across the world in recent years. In fact, it’s pretty much standard practice for a latte or a cappuccino.

Here are a few fun facts about this art form, how it developed and how it’s done:

  • Latte art is a method of pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso in a certain way, resulting in a pattern or design on the surface of the drink. It can also be created or embellished by simply “drawing” in the top layer of foam using a toothpick or similar implement.
  • These aforementioned methods are the two main types of latte art: free pouring (creating the pattern during the pour) and etching (using a tool to create a pattern after the pour).
  • Free pouring is far more common, and has resulted in the two most commonly seen latte art patterns —the heart shape and the rosetta, a fern-like design.
  • Latte art is made possible by the combination of the crema (which is an emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee) and the microfoam, which is a foam of air in milk.
  • David Schomer, the owner of Seattle’s Espresso Vivace coffee shop, is credited with bringing latte art to the forefront of coffee culture in the US.
  • Schomer credits the development of microfoam (“velvet foam” or “milk texturing”) to Jack Kelly of Seattle coffee shop Uptown Espresso in 1986.
  • Schomer worked on his technique of free-pouring the textured milk using the sides of the cup to form swirls and waves, and perfected the heart pattern by 1989. Then he saw the now popular rosetta pattern in a photo from a café in Italy in 1992, and worked for about six months perfecting the technique to create that design.
  • Today, free pouring latte art designs (such as the heart and the rosetta) have become pretty much standard practice when making drinks, and many baristas take part in international latte art competitions.

Coffee Art in OG showed its style in last year’s Organo Gold’s OGlicious Recipe Contest. In addition to fantastic coffee recipes, all the entries were compiled into a Holiday Cookbook in which proceeds go to OG’s charity – OG Cares.

Ooh-LaLa

The Ultimate Workout Boost

It’s official — gone are the days of people thinking of coffee consumption as a “vice.” Recent scientific findings indicate that coffee can help you improve your performance at the gym! According to a recent study, those who enjoyed a cup of coffee prior to their workout burned more calories than those who didn’t.

The Spanish study, which was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who ingested a placebo.

So just how much caffeine does it take to up one’s gym performance? The dose that triggered the effect was 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound woman, that’s roughly 300mg of caffeine, the amount in about 12 ounces of brewed coffee, a quantity many people are already sipping each morning. The British Coffee Association was quick to support this pro-caffeine and exercise study, stating that “about two cups an hour prior to working out improves endurance will help you perform for 30% longer.”

This isn’t the first study that has demonstrated the positive effects of caffeine, which has been shown to help increase a person’s heart-rate, circulation and mental alertness— all positive things in a fitness environment.

So, why not make this new study your new motivation to hit the gym, take that walk around the lake, go on that bike ride or make it to that yoga class? Just whip up a 12 ounce cup of Rae’s Gourmet Black Coffee before you head out to really maximize your exercise performance.

Ultimate Workout Boost!

A Nation of Coffee Lovers

They sure do love their coffee in Italy —it’s almost impossible to picture Italy without those small white espresso cups somewhere in the scene. To celebrate Italian coffee culture, we thought we’d take a look about the history and culture of the humble bean in this coffee-adoring country.

  • Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered an such essential part of Italian daily life.
  • Coffee is often drunk quickly, standing up at espresso bars in cities across Italy.
  • If your order “un caffè” in Italy, you’ll receive a shot of espresso.
  • Coffee was first introduced to Europe from Egypt through the Italian city of Venice, where a flourishing trade between the local businessmen and Arabs enabled a large variety of commodities and goods to be imported, including the precious new commodity that was coffee beans.
  • The first “caffe” reportedly opened in Venice in 1683, and soon became synonymous with comfortable atmosphere, conversation, and good food, adding romance and sophistication to the coffee-drinking experience.
  • It was two Italians who came up with that we know today as the espresso machine. First, in Turin, Italy in 1884, a man by the name of Angelo Moriondo lodged a patent for a “steam-driven instantaneous coffee beverage making device.” This patent is considered by many to be a precursor of the espresso coffee machine.
  • Then, in 1901, Milanese manufacturer Luigi Bezzera came up with some improvements to the espresso machine. He patented a number of these, the first of which was applied for on the 19th of December 1901. It was titled “Innovations in the machinery to prepare and immediately serve coffee beverage.” Bezzera was said to have come up with the idea in order to reduce the amount of time his factory workers spent on their coffee breaks!
  • An estimated 14 billion espresso coffees are consumed each year in Italy, and Italians consume approximately 8 pounds of coffee per capita, per year.

NationofCoffeeLovers

The Beneficial Brew

We’ve written before about some of the amazing health benefits of green tea — it can help with cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, promote longevity, fight against aging, improve brain function and concentration, and even help to ease anxiety. A recent study has also shown that green tea appears to boost the activity of DNA repair enzymes.

Researchers have long reported health benefits in green tea drinkers, but for this new study, Iris Benzie and her colleagues at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University monitored the activity of DNA repair enzymes in lymphocytes shortly after people drank a cup of green tea, and again after study participants had been drinking two cups of green tea each day for a week.

The team found that an enzyme (known as “hOGG1”) which is critical for fixing DNA damage from oxidation, and another enzyme that protects against such damage, were more active after the 16 study participants drank tea compared to when they drank just water.

The team also found 30 percent less DNA damage in lymphocytes 60 minutes after participants had drunk a cup of tea. According to Benzie, the finding “opens up a whole new avenue to look at the molecular mechanisms”of green tea’s effect on cells.

While only a preliminary study, these new findings again reveal that green tea is definitely beneficial, and there’s science to prove it. Thankfully, we love Organo’s Organic Green Tea so much, we don’t need science to tell us to drink more — but the data sure does help!

The Beneficial Brew

Coffee in Malaysia

Not unlike in China, Malaysia has traditionally been more of a tea-drinking nation, but coffee has been on the rise, as coffee culture grows more popular, particularly amongst young professionals, and coffee shops are mushrooming up all across the country.

Here are some facts and figures about the the history and recent growth of coffee culture in Malaysia:

  • Traditional Malaysian coffee, called “kopi,” is for some an acquired taste. It is made by pouring boiling water through grounds held in a cloth “sock” or filter, and is thick, strong and bitter. Kopi can be drunk hot or iced, and is often mellowed with sweetened condensed milk.
  • Liberica, a coffee variety native to Africa that’s considered inferior in taste to arabica and robusta, is thought to have been introduced to the Malaysian peninsula in the 1800s. The plant is still cultivated in small numbers, mostly in the central and southern states of Selangor and Johor.
  • Malaysian kopi’s distinctive burnt flavor comes from the butter and sugar that the beans are roasted with.
  • Whatever today’s coffee connoisseurs might make of kopi, the traditional coffee beverage is a cherished part of Malaysian cultural heritage.
  • Kopi is served in “Kopitiam” (“tiam” is the Hokkien Chinese word for shop) — traditional Malaysian coffee shops that also serve Western dishes like toast and eggs, and Malaysian standards such as fried rice and noodles.
  • Since the early 2000s, an array of kopitiam-inspired coffee chains with nostalgia-inducing names have sprouted across the country.
  • In a February 2014 article in Business Insider Malaysia, it was reported that “the mushrooming of coffee shops has even spread to Southeast Asia, and very visibly in the past two years, in Kuala Lumpur.”
  • “Coffee shops are a rising star in the specialty eatery industry and the fastest growing niche in the restaurant business, elevating the taste by offering brewed coffee and specialty espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes,” the Business Insider Malaysiaarticle reported.

For those keen to experience Malaysian coffee culture first-hand, here’s a quick glossary of “kopi” and how to order this national beverage:

Kopi:               hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk

Kopi O:           hot coffee with sugar only

Kopi kosong: hot coffee with no sugar and no milk

Peng:              added to any of the above will get you the said version in a glass, over ice

Kaow:             added to any of the above will get you an extra strong cup (or glass).

Malaysia

All the Coffee in China

China was the birthplace of tea almost 5,000 years ago, when it is said that tea leaves fell into a pot of water the emperor Shen Nong was boiling. While more legend than historical fact, this tale nonetheless illustrates the central role that tea has played in Chinese culture for literally thousands of years.

But while coffee may have taken a while to make inroads in China, it is rapidly becoming more popular. So popular in fact, it has even provoked alarmist headlines, wondering if coffee will overtake the ancient Chinese affiliation with tea. “Is Coffee a Threat to Chinese Culture?” asked a headline in the Bejiing Review, April, 2013? “As the number of cafés continues to grow in China, could the teahouse become a thing of the past?” queried writer Elvis Anber. That’s unlikely, but the massive recent growth of the coffee industry — and the increasing widespread acceptance of coffee houses amongst the influential younger and more affluent demographic — does reveal a pro-coffee shift in mainland China.

Here are some facts and figures about the history and amazing growth of the coffee market in China:

  • Coffee’s history in China goes back to the 19th century. Coffee is thought to have made its first appearance in China when a French missionary planted beans throughout the Yunnan Province in the 1890s. And many Western missionaries and businessmen brought coffee with them to treaty ports such as Shanghai.
  • During the 1920s and ’30s, as Shanghai basked in its reputation as the cosmopolitan “Paris of the East,” cafes became one of the many examples of the city’s international flavor, but were shut down after Mao and the Communists took control of the country in 1949.
  • The reemergence of coffee shops in Shanghai since the 1980s has been part of the reemergence of China itself on the global stage. As historian and writer Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in his essay ‘All the Coffee in China’, the recent proliferation of cafes and coffee culture in mainland China’s big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing represents “both a novelty and a resumption of an old cosmopolitan trajectory that was interrupted for a time.”
  • Coffee is seen as a symbol of the Western lifestyle and China’s emerging middle class, and is associated with fashion, modernity and prosperity. Not surprisingly, coffee consumption in China is highly concentrated in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — appealing to adventurous, open-minded, young, affluent, urban consumers. These consumers are more exposed to Western influences and tend to look up to Western lifestyles.
  • “Café chains only really began to appear in China in the late 1990s, and have since grown very rapidly in number,” said Matthew Crabbe, Director of Asia-Pacific Research at Mintel, the UK-based market research company, in a recent press release. Part of the appeal, particularly for the aforementioned young, affluent crowd, are the lifestyle factors associated with coffee and café culture —namely those of exclusivity and luxury.
  • According to Mintel research, the number of cafés in China rose to 31,783 in 2012, double the 15,898 of 2007. That’s about 1,025 cafés for each of the Chinese mainland’s 31 provinces and municipalities.
  • China’s coffee market has reportedly grown by an estimated 10-15 percent annually over the past decade, in comparison to the worldwide average of just 2 percent.
  • In 2006, coffee consumption in China was roughly 45,000 tons. Some industry analysts predict this number could reach 300,000 tons annually by 2020.

AlltheCoffeeinChina

Landed in Taipei

Taipei is city of over two and a half million people that is considered the economic, political and cultural center of Taiwan. It’s an incredibly vibrant city — bustling with night markets filled with delicious street food, a generation of 20-somethings that have an obsession with cafes and coffee shops to rival that of Seattle, and a striking mix of contemporary and traditional Chinese (and Japanese) architecture.

10 Facts About Taipei

  1. The city was founded in the early 18th century for shipping and trade, and was pronounced the capital of Taiwan in 1886. It is situated at the northern tip of Taiwan, on the Tamsui River.
  1. Taiwan became a colony of Imperial Japan in 1895, following a treaty signed at the end of the first Sino-Japanese War. A number of Taipei landmarks and cultural institutions reflect the period of Japanese rule, including the Presidential Building and the Red House Theater.
  1. The Republic of China took over Taiwan in 1945, following the Japanese surrender that brought the hostilities of WWII to an end.
  1. The city’s population reached one million in the early 1960s, then experienced rapid growth, exceeding two million by the mid-1970s. While the population become relatively stable by the mid-1990s, the city remains of one the world’s most densely populated urban areas. The city proper, known as Taipei City, has a population of 2.6 million, while the larger metropolitan area (known as theTaipei-Keeling area) has a population of 6.9 million people.
  1. A prominent feature of the modern Taipei skyline is a skyscraper known as the Taipei 101. It was the largest skyscraper in the world from 2004 to 2010, and boasts 116 stories, 101 of which are above ground. Within the building are 61 elevators, and (for those not afraid of heights) there’s an observation deck on the 91st floor. The building measures 1,670 feet (509 meters) from ground to top, which made it the first skyscraper in the world to break the half-kilometer mark in height. Designed to withstand typhoon winds and earthquake tremors, it incorporates many engineering innovations and has won numerous international awards. Taipei 101 remains one of the tallest buildings in the world, and holds LEED certification as the world’s largest “green” building. Its luxurious shopping mall and indoor and outdoor observatories draw visitors from all over the world, and the building’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display is often featured in international broadcasts.
  1. The city is also renowned for its many night markets, the most famous of which is the one in the Shilin District. The markets usually open in the later afternoon and stay open well past midnight, getting extremely crowded during the evening as locals and tourists alike shop at stalls selling primarily food, but also some clothing and consumer goods.
  1. The Ximending neighborhood has been a famous and extremely popular area for shopping and entertainment since the 1930s. It is home to a mix of historic structures, including a concert hall, a cinema, and the renowned Red House Theater, as well as large modern buildings that are home to karaoke clubs, cinemas, electronic stores and a wide variety of restaurants and boutiques. The area is especially popular with teenagers and has been compared to Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
  1. It is not uncommon to see multiple 7-11 convenience stores on one intersection. Taiwan reportedly has more 7-11 stores per capita than any other country (7-11 was acquired from its former American owners by a Japanese company in 1991).
  1. Not unlike New York, Taipei is a thriving city that never sleeps. In addition to late-night eats and all-night karaoke clubs, it is also home to the Eslite Bookstore, one of the only 24-hour bookstores in the world.
  1. There are so many stylish cafes focused on tea and coffee in Taipei, it has been reported that many Taiwanese baby boomers are worried that their children are too busy opening coffee shops with their friends to make a difference in the world or strive for “important” jobs in society.

Taipei City View

Japanese Tea History Part 2

Tuesday, we looked at how tea arrived in Japan, by way of Buddhist scholars who brought it back from China in the early 800s. Since then, tea has grown to become an important part of Japanese culture. Here’s a look at how tea became such an integral and popular item in Japan.

Tea History in Japan: Part 2

  • In 1740, Soen Nagatani developed Japanese sencha, an unfermented form of green tea. To prepare sencha, the tea leaves are first steam-pressed, then rolled and dried into a loose tea. The dried leaves are brewed with hot water to yield the final drink. Sencha is now one of Japan’s mainstay teas.
  • The other more traditional type of green tea in Japan is matcha, the finely powdered green tea that is the focus of the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha is prepared using shade-grown tea leaves that are rolled, laid flat to dry and then stone ground to form a bright green, fine powder.
  • At the end of the Meiji Era (1868–1912), machine manufacturing of green tea was introduced in Japan, and began replacing handmade tea. Machines took over the processes of primary drying, tea rolling, secondary drying, final rolling, and steaming of the tea leaves.
  • The first time tea was exported from Japan was in 1610, by the Dutch East India Company from Hirado, Nagasaki.
  • In 1859, when the ports of Nagasaki, Yokohama and Hakodate were opened to foreign trade, tea became one of Japan’s main export commodities, with an estimated 181 tons of tea exported in that year alone.
  • The three largest producing regions for Japanese tea are Shizuoka, Kagoshima and Mie. Shizuoka, which is located in the area between Mt. Fuji and the Pacific coast west of Tokyo, accounts for around 40% of Japan’s annual commercial tea production.
  • While Japanese culture is now renowned for the elaborate tea ceremony that developed over thousands of years, in today’s fast-paced modern culture, convenience is key. So ready-to-drink green tea products, particularly bottled or iced in vending machines, now account for an estimated 20% of all green tea consumption in Japan.
  • Green tea is so ubiquitous in Japan that whenever tea or “ocha” is offered, 99.9% of the time, it is green tea, which of course comes from the same plant as black tea, but does not experience fermentation or oxidization, and instead is steamed soon after being picked to stop the oxidization process.

Of course, we at Rae’s Café have always admired green tea, which is why Organo’s Organic Green Tea is one of our most popular products.

Part 2-Japanese Tea History

Thanks A-Latte Comes to Life!

I have a Latte 101 blog post entitled “Thanks A-Latte!” and wanted to show everyone how easy it is to make gourmet latte at home. This saves you time and money…also, makes you sound pretty cool! I did this in one take…I’m still learning how to do side shots correctly LOL If you enjoy, PLEASE like and share my video…also, subscribe to my YouTube channel for new videos every week! #GBYD #GourmetLivesMatter #RaezCafe

https://youtu.be/RaTAoJdJmks

Japanese Tea History Part 1

Obviously, Japan has a long and storied history when it comes to tea. So, we thought we’d take a look at how tea arrived in Japan, and how it became an integral part of Japanese culture over the years.

Tea History in Japan: Part 1

  • Tea is thought to have been first brought back to Japan from China by Buddhist scholars, who were sent as envoys to learn more about Chinese culture.
  • Ancient texts indicate that the first batch of tea seeds were brought back to Japan by a Buddhist priest named Saicho in 805, and then by another named Kukai in 806.
  • After that, during the latter part of the Heian period (794-1185), Emperor Saga was said to have encouraged the cultivation of tea plants in Japan.
  • At this time, tea was extremely valuable, so it became a drink of the royal classes, and was enjoyed primarily by imperial court nobles and Buddhist monks.
  • In 1191, in the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333), Eisai, founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, brought back a new type of tea seeds to Kyoto from Sung-dynasty China.
  • It was Eisai who wrote the first specialty book about tea in Japan, called Kissa Yōjōki or How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea. The two-volume book was written in 1211 after Eisai’s second and last visit to China. The first sentence states, “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.”
  • Eisai was also said to have been instrumental in introducing tea consumption to the warrior or Samurai class.
  • Slowly, green tea became a staple among cultured people in Japan — a brew for the gentry and the Buddhist priesthood, alike. Production increased and tea became increasingly accessible, though was still a privilege enjoyed mostly by the upper classes.
  • The pastimes made popular in China in the 12th and 13th centuries – reading poetry, writing calligraphy, painting, and discussing philosophy while enjoying tea – eventually became popular in Japan, particularly within the Samurai society, and helped spur the development of the tea ceremony.
  • From the late 15th to the late 16th century, tea masters such as Murata Shuko, Takeno Joo and Sen no Rikyu developed a new tea ceremony, referred to as Wabicha. This style of tea ceremony gained a strong following among Samurai, and is the origin of the tea ceremony still practiced today.

As you can imagine, there’s so much more to the history of tea in Japan. So stay tuned for Saturday’s post, where we’ll look at the next stages in the evolution of tea culture in Japan.

Part 1-Japanese Tea History