But First… Coffee

Oh yawn… not that quote again.

“A yawn is a silent scream for coffee!”

That’s better.

Now. Where were we?

“Coffee has given me unrealistic expectations of productivity.” 

Yep.

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I (Daniëlle) recently stumbled upon a 961 page book on quotations at one of those free bookshelves (where else, at a coffeeshop) and had to chuckle at a few good coffee quotes. (“Way too much coffee. but if it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever” – David Letterman). Apparently there’s a Dutch saying that states “coffee has two virtues, it’s wet and warm” (figures) so chasing my heritage I went on a hunt for some more quotes.

In the arena of staying positive and energized: 

“Coffee: the most important meal of the day.”

“A good day starts with a positive attitude and a great cup of coffee.”

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How we lose functionality without our coffee:

“The problem with coffee is how to make it when you haven’t had any yet.”

“I’m not a morning person or a night owl. I’m a “whenever my coffee kicks in” person, and then I’m a “need more coffee person.”

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Some good chuckles:

“Pilates? O heavens no! I thought you said pie and lattes.”

“Coffee: because anger management is way too expensive.”

“When I read about the evils of drinking coffee, I gave up reading.”

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For the true coffee lover:

“Ways to win my heart: 1. Buy me coffee. 2. Make me coffee. 3. Be coffee.”

“A day without coffee is like… just kidding, I have no idea what that’s like.”

“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”

“I love you more than coffee (but please don’t make me prove it).”

“Nothing goes better with coffee than more coffee.”

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Combining the dreamiest of pastimes:

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee?” – Anthony Trollope

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I found hundreds of coffee quotes, but these definitely spoke to me (or put a knowing smile on my face). What quotes can you most relate to?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

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Caffeinate Your Workout

“Bro, do you even lift?”

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The only lifting happening here are these noodles to my mouth.  [Credit: Sarina Raman, IG: @ramanoodleseats

Lauren is an avid yoga enthusiast (even goes on Yoga retreats) and I am a Tony Horton convert – a forever and loyal P90Xer. I used to hate working out – sure I’d run, clear my head- but the times that I would REcommit myself to a gym and a complimentary personal training session, I would always be reminded that to increase bone density I needed to lift weights.

So now I power through my workouts in the morning, but even though I love them (and I love it when people notice that I work out ;)) it’s not always easy to start that warm up.

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Unless I’ve had my coffee.

Caffeine gives us a buzz. It wakes us up and energizes us. Caffeine can increase the release of dopamine – simply put, a compound that makes us feel good. So it makes sense that having a cup of coffee about 30 minutes before our workout would give us that nudge that we need.

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P90X for life.

Caffeine can also help blood circulation, thus moving more oxygen to your tissues. And in studies on the performance of athletes, that performance is typically increased when there is caffeine involved- perhaps it’s psychological but I’ll go with that. And the antioxidant bioflavonoids that are so beneficial in coffee? They lose their effectiveness after the coffee is ground, so in addition to tasting better, freshly ground coffee is also better for you.

Furthermore, the chemical compound adenosine is what helps us sleep, and caffeine helps block its receptors. It takes about 20-40 minutes for caffeine to travel through your intestines, through your bloodstream, to your brain. More proof that it’s a good idea.

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Stopping for a cortado at the beginning of a ride

Grace Street Coffee paired up with Lululemon in December for a “coffee nap.” [Grace Street Coffee’s general manager Angel is a Lululemon Brand Ambassador]. For the coffee nap guests were offered a cup of Indian Yelnoorkhan Estate coffee and then invited to lay comfortably on a yoga mat for 20 minutes (sleeping helps to naturally clear some of that adenosine). At that point, after the caffeine was absorbed and working its magic, they ran through some revitalizing yoga poses, using the caffeine to its maximum potential.

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The owner of Filter Coffeehouse is an avid cyclist and made headlines a few years ago when he opened his Brookland location- where they share their space with the cycling shop ‘The Bike Rack.” Here you can get caffeinated and have your chain lubed at the same time. Once that caffeine is in place to block that adenosine, you’ll be ready to hop on and get moving.

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Washington DC is abundant with paths and trails for cycling,                                                       running, walking and circuit training.

A few notes: be sure to keep hydrating – while coffee is liquid, it is also a diuretic and it’s important to stay hydrated! I always down a tall glass of water before I start on my morning coffee ritual. Another consideration – while I assumed the best way to do this was to drink your coffee black, it’s a good idea to have a flat white and let the protein in the milk to do its work too!

For a few more tips on creative and productive foods – check out my ramen lifting friend’s article on Spoon University (the list includes chocolate!)!

I can think of quite a few other cafes that are near gyms or trails in the DC area. What are some of your caffeine/workout routines?

Stay Grounded,

Daniëlle

Size Matters

Don’t let people fool you. Size DOES matter! That is, when it comes to your coffee grounds.

It might not seem like grind size would matter – I mean, it’s all the same bean, right? WRONG! The wrong size has the potential of ruining the most perfect cup of coffee. Imagine a beautiful Geisha tasting sour because your barista didn’t carefully control the size of the grounds before making your pour-over. At this very moment, I honestly can’t imagine anything worse.

Coffee extraction, without getting too science-y, is the process of bringing out soluble flavors from coffee grounds by exposing them to water. The ideal extraction yield is 18-22%, which is largely controlled by the size of the grind. If beans are ground too coarse, they can be under-extracted, leading to a sour taste. This is because the acids are extracted early while the other balancing flavors might not have the opportunity to be brought out. If beans are ground too small, they can be over-extracted, which might sound like a good thing because more flavor! But the truth is it results in a bitter taste that masks all the goodness that coffee could have been because the bitter components continue to be extracted long after the acids and sugars.

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To what size you grind your beans is dependent on how you plan to brew your coffee. For instance, due to the shorter brew time and intense method of extraction, espresso is much finer than grounds would be for a French press, which are typically coarse due to its extended brew time and the way its filtered. A drip machine requires a medium grind while a pour-over might be just a bit finer. The finest grind is typically reserved for Turkish coffee (a method of preparation, not the product itself) where the grounds are so fine you can’t individually tell them apart, and oftentimes you need a specialized grinder to produce this size.

When I first started trying to brew specialty coffee at home, I figured step 1 would be getting myself a grinder. However, I did not do my research, and instead went with one of the cheapest options on Amazon- a blade grinder (the HORROR!). I would have been better off buying pre-ground beans from the grocery store. First off, the grounds produced by my blade grinder were uneven, meaning an uneven cup of coffee – some grounds would be under-extracted while others over-extracted. Second, there was no way to control grind size, so my brew options were limited. Third, blade grinders require a lot of heat and friction to grind the beans which affects the taste of the grounds. Safe to say, my coffee always tasted off. Most people in the coffee industry recommend a burr grinder, but if that’s too much of an investment right now, a simple hand grinder where you can control the grind size will suffice.

Clearly there are other factors that play an important role in the taste of your coffee, such as roast, water quality, and brew time. However, we can’t downplay the fact that size matters when it comes to your grounds.

Stayed tuned, because soon in the Coffee Info section of our site we’ll provide a detailed breakdown of grind size for various brewing methods. Until then, consult your local barista if you have any questions – they know what they’re doing!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren