Coffee Economics 101: Brazil

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee by far. So, it should not be a surprise that Brazil drives the supply side of the supply and demand equation for coffee. Here is a snapshot of the coffee producing countries from Bloomberg Business.

Total Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Brazil 54,500
Vietnam 18,725
Colombia 9,500
Indonesia 9,325
India 5,100
Arabica Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Brazil 41,800
Colombia 9,500
Ethiopia 4,400
Honduras 4,000
Peru 4,000
Robusta Coffee Production, thousands of 60 kilogram bags, 2010 to 2011 season
Vietnam 18,150
Brazil 12,700
Indonesia 7,950
India 3,600
Cote d’Ivoire 2,100


As the table shows Brazil is far and away the biggest coffee producer, especially in Arabica coffee and the second largest producer of Robusta coffee. Coffee economics have to do with supply and demand and Brazil controls the major part of the supply side.

Current Coffee Prices and the Brazilian Real

The Wall Street Journal recently published comment about how a weak Brazilian currency serves to drive down the price of sugar, coffee and orange juice.

Sugar, coffee and orange-juice futures tumbled Tuesday as a weak Brazilian currency encouraged growers and exporters there to sell the commodities onto already oversupplied global markets. A weaker real encourages Brazilian producers and exporters to sell their orange juice and other products because they get more of the local currency back when they repatriate their dollar-denominated profits. Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of sugar, coffee and orange juice.

Brazil is a large and largely self-sufficient country. Thus most things that people need are available in Brazil and not imported. The cost of living does not go up or down when the local currency suffers. But coffee is priced in US dollars and when the real becomes less valuable the value of coffee in the Brazilian currency rises. Coffee economics 101 tells us that the value of the Brazilian real helps drive the supply side of the coffee equation.

A Crisis in Brazil Means a Cheaper Cup of Coffee

So, we know that a weak real leads coffee farmers to sell coffee instead of storing it for later. Where is the real going next? Forbes polled those with investment experience in Brazil and currency risk in that country.

The biggest number of respondents, 32.8%, think the real is going to R$4.  Another 14.8% said it could weaken over R$4.  A small number, 8.2%, think the real will hold firm where it is now, which is closer to R$3.30.  Given the fact that the real is already R$3.20, the market is more short the real than it is long.

The financial experts think that the real is going to get weaker versus the US dollar. If that is the case coffee farmers in Brazil will have little incentive to hold on to coffee and will probably sell more into a market that is already oversupplied. Coffee economic 101 implies that a cup of coffee will cheaper over the next year.

Coffee Bloom

What is a coffee bloom and is it a good or bad thing? The coffee bloom is the release of carbon dioxide gas when hot water is poured over ground coffee beans. Carbon dioxide gas is trapped inside coffee beans when they are roasted. Darker roasts contain more carbon dioxide and lighter roasts contain less. Roasted whole beans retain the carbon dioxide longer than roasted and ground coffee and storing in a cool environment keeps the carbon dioxide longer. The antioxidant compounds that give coffee its health benefits and flavor are trapped in the carbon dioxide as well.

More Carbon Dioxide, More Bloom, More Flavor and Better for You

Store your coffee as green beans if you have the ability to roast. Store them as roasted whole beans otherwise. Store in a cool and dry location and grind just enough coffee just before brewing. Doing all of this will give you a bigger coffee bloom when you add water and better flavor and health benefits as well. It all has to do with the antioxidants after all.


Regular and organic coffee antioxidants are good for you and are what give coffee its flavor.

So, just what are antioxidants and why should we want to have more of them? Scientifically an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the cell damage and cell death in human cells caused by oxidative breakdown of other molecule in the cell. Oxidation is a factor in sickness and aging. Antioxidants help prevent the damage caused by excessive oxidation and to a degree inhibit the aging process. When an oxidative reaction brought on by disease gets going it produces free radicals that start chain reactions which in turn cause cell and tissue damage. The human body has or uses antioxidants to control this situation. Natural means of controlling oxidation include vitamins C and E as well as glutathione. It is low levels of antioxidants that can lead to a condition referred to as oxidative stress and resultant damage to cells in the body. Organic coffee antioxidants are in the same class of molecules that help reduce oxidation.

So, when you see a substantial coffee bloom you know that you have stored your coffee correctly and that your coffee is full of healthy antioxidants. What are some of the health benefits of antioxidants?

Less Cancer, Less Diabetes and Fewer Neurological Degenerative Diseases

Drinking coffee is associated with a lower incidence of several forms of cancer. People who drink four to six cups of coffee a day experience half the incidence of Type II diabetes. And coffee drinkers are less prone to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It appears to be all about the antioxidants. And preserving these antioxidants is good for you.

More about the Coffee Bloom

When you store roasted coffee, it releases carbon dioxide or degases. That is to say the gas inside the bean seeps out. This goes faster in heat and slower in cold.  When you pour hot water over your freshly ground coffee the pleasant aroma and foam on top of the coffee is the coffee bloom, a sign of great fresh coffee.

How Much Coffee is Safe?

A government panel recently suggested that there are no long term health risks of drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. In fact they noted that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of getting Type II diabetes and heart disease. What are the benefits of drinking coffee and what are the problems if you exceed the guidelines? Big Think posted an article about the dietary guidelines relating to coffee.

Good news for coffee drinkers across America: a U.S. government-appointed panel of scientists has found three to five cups a day doesn’t pose any long-term health risks. In fact, a caffeine habit could even reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Just make sure you take it easy on the cream and sugar.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been charged with updating guidelines that act as suggestions for other agencies to follow, such as the FDA and Department of Agriculture. Roberto A. Ferdman from The Washington Post reports that this decision has broken the committee’s silence on coffee that’s gone on for over 40 years. One member of the committee, Tom Brenna, a nutritionist at Cornell University, said to Ferdman:

“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer – nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

The dietary guidelines folks are concerned that if you add too much cream and sugar to your coffee you are going to offset the benefits of drinking coffee. But, there are other concerns. So, how much coffee is safe, and why is that?

How Much and Why?

Time has published an article asking, how much coffee should you be drinking.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that strong evidence shows moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 eight-ounce cups per day, or up to 400 milligram/day caffeine) isn’t tied to any long-term dangers for healthy people. Now, the word “healthy” is key (read on for more), and this is a general statement, not a directive. In other words, the committee isn’t saying that everyone should drink 3 to 5 cups a day.

Even if it may offer some benefits, it’s important to listen to your body. Some people can drink a strong cup of coffee and feel fantastic. Others may drink half a cup and feel jittery and be left with an upset stomach. There’s a lot of individual variation when it comes to how coffee makes you feel. So, don’t take this as a green light to down a pot a day. Consider what feels best for you. (And if the answer is none, there’s no reason to start drinking java.)

In short, if you have stomach ulcers or esophageal reflux you may want to cut back on your coffee intake because caffeine stimulates acid secretion. If you have a troublesome anxiety disorder and get more jittery after you drink coffee you should probably drink decaf or skip coffee entirely. All of us are different and to the extent that coffee bothers you it may be wise to cut back. On the other hand there are a lot of really good benefits from drinking coffee.

Coffee Benefits

The benefits of organic coffee are those of coffee and those of organic production, processing and storage.

Coffee drinkers are less likely to develop any of several types of cancer. Drink coffee regularly and you are less likely to get type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or depression. There are, unfortunately a whole host of chemical impurities that may be found in a cup of regular coffee. The benefits or organic coffee over regular coffee hinge on the fact that healthy organic coffee is free of these substances.

Hundred and Thirty Chemicals That You Can Do Without

Health authorities in Australia have found that more than 130 different impurities may be found in a cup of regular coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development. The benefits or organic coffee start on the coffee farm when the farmer uses sustainable growing practices.

Reduce Risk of Age-Related Cataracts with Coffee

We have another health benefit to add to the list of reasons to drink healthy organic coffee and even regular coffee. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published an article showing that food antioxidants help prevent cataracts.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Information on incident age-related cataract diagnosis and extraction was collected through linkage to registers in the study area.

Results: There were 4309 incident cases of age-related cataracts during the mean 7.7 years of follow-up (234 371 person-years). The multivariable rate ratio in the highest quintile of the TAC of the diet compared with the lowest was 0.87 (95% CI, 0.79-0.96; P for trend = .03). The main contributors to dietary TAC in the study population were fruit and vegetables (44.3%), whole grains (17.0%), and coffee (15.1%).

That’s right. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and coffee all contain antioxidants that help reduce the incidence of age related cataracts. Although there are foods with higher antioxidant concentration than coffee, the amount of coffee that people consume is such that most people derive the most antioxidants in their diets from coffee. So, you can reduce the risk of age-related cataracts with coffee.

What Are Cataracts?

The Mayo Clinic web site defines cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.

Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face.

Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.

Cataracts from old age show up in a person’s 70’s and 80’s. If you reduce your risk of age-related cataracts with coffee you may be looking at your 80’s and 90’s as when you need to be concerned.

Why Does This Work?

Why can you reduce the risk of age-related cataracts with coffee and other high anti-oxidants foods and beverages? First of all what are antioxidants? The Nutrition Source at the Harvard School of Public Health defines antioxidants.

The body’s trillion or so cells face formidable threats, from lack of food to infection with a virus. Another constant threat comes from nasty chemicals called free radicals. They are capable of damaging cells and genetic material. The body generates free radicals as the inevitable byproducts of turning food into energy. Others are in the food you eat and the air you breathe. Some are generated by sunlight’s action on the skin and eyes.

Free radicals come in many shapes, sizes, and chemical configurations. What they all share is a voracious appetite for electrons, stealing them from any nearby substances that will yield them. This electron theft can radically alter the “loser’s” structure or function. Free radical damage can change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA. It can make a circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL, sometimes called bad cholesterol) molecule more likely to get trapped in an artery wall. Or it can alter a cell’s membrane, changing the flow of what enters the cell and what leaves it.

We aren’t defenseless against free radicals. The body, long used to this relentless attack, makes scads of molecules that quench free radicals as surely as water douses fire. We also extract free-radical fighters from food. These defenders are often lumped together as “antioxidants.” They work by generously giving electrons to free radicals without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves.

The point of all this is that antioxidants defend us against the degrading effects of free radicals and in general promote good health.

More than Just Protection against Cataracts

Coffee and especially good organic coffee offer more than reduction of the risk of age-related cataracts. Consistent coffee consumption reduces the risk of Type II Diabetes, various forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and the risk of suicide. Enjoy your morning coffee and benefit from those healthy antioxidants as well.

Drink More Coffee

No less an authority than the Dietary Guideline Advisory Panel says that you should drink more coffee. The Washington Post reports on why Americans should drink more coffee.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The recommended level is three to five cups a day but the average American coffee consumption is one cup a day. The elite dietary panel says that you should drink more coffee. We also have a couple of suggestions regarding what kind of coffee you drink.

Grind Just before Brewing

Whole bean coffee lasts longer than ground coffee. So buy roasted coffee beans and grind just enough just before brewing. Not only is flavor preserved but regular and organic coffee antioxidants, the chemicals that make coffee healthy, last longer inside a whole bean. The Post also notes that most Americans drink bad coffee, namely ground coffee that sits on the shelf forever and has lost much of its flavor and health value.

People in this country, on the whole, are actually drinking worse coffee today than they have in the past. And the reason appears to be that they value cheapness over quality – and convenience over everything. “A lot of people in America would take a sip of single origin high-end coffee and not appreciate the taste,” said Howard Telford, an industry analyst at market research firm Euromonitor.

“Price is important because if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it, but convenience is the one thing that’s really changing trends these days.” Indeed, the bulk of this country runs not on single-drip artisanal coffee, but standard, pre-ground coffee, which, by most coffee snobs’ measures, is one of coffee’s most inferior forms.

So, skip the convenient, cheap, ground, bad coffee and grind your whole bean coffee just before brewing. And, by the way, make it organic.

Why Organic Coffee

The point of drinking healthy organic coffee is that it is good for you and good for the environment.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study by the Australian Food Standards Authority revealed that as many as 133 contaminants may be in a cup of commercially available coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development.

So, drink more coffee and reduce your risk of Type II diabetes, various forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and more. And drink healthy organic coffee and avoid the impurities too often found in regular coffee.

What Is Bird Friendly Coffee?

There are various certifications to look for when you want healthy organic coffee. We have written about USDA certification and certification by the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. And we have written about shade grown coffee. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has come out with a certification for Bird Friendly Coffee!

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

That’s right-no other bag guarantees that every bean is produced organically and under high-quality shade. Our seal of approval ensures tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds find a healthy haven when they travel from your backyard to those faraway farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.

Bird friendly coffee comes from coffee plantations with a variety of shade trees and not just a monoculture on one kind. The Smithsonian requires native trees appropriate for native birds. But, what makes bird friend coffee so great?

Shade Grown Coffee

Growing coffee in the shade is nature’s way of growing coffee.

Growing organic coffee in the shade is how growers follow the traditional means of growing coffee. Coffee is grown in the tropics and traditionally grows on the sides of hills and mountains. The time honored means of planting is to put 20 seeds in a hole of which about half survive to grow into coffee bushes. Traditional planting takes place at the start of the rainy season. It takes several years for coffee to mature and start producing coffee beans. Thus traditional growers often plant other crops amount the coffee while it is maturing. Today most growers follow the example set in Brazil of growing seedlings in a greenhouse and then planting outside when they are ready. Growing organic coffee in the shade is done by two methods. One is to partially clear forest and plant coffee. The other is to plant trees among the coffee in order to provide shade. When fruit trees are used the coffee grower enjoys two crops on the same land.

And when trees are left in place the result is bird friendly coffee. Most experts agree that shade grown coffee is better coffee, more flavorful and mild. But the best part of shade grown coffee is preservation of the environment. This method of growing coffee protects the soil, the water table and the plants. Because plants are not bunched together they are less likely to be infested by insects or plant diseases. This removes the need to use powerful insecticides and pesticides so that the end result is organic shade grown coffee. And not using insecticides and fungicides also results in healthier birds!

Orange Collared Manakin

Orange Collared Manakin

Which Birds Are We Talking About?

Here is a list of the birds that inhabit or migrate to tropical and semitropical coffee plantations and are primary beneficiaries of bird friendly coffee growing, courtesy of Audubon.

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Lesser Nighthawk
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  • Traill’s (Willow and Alder) Flycatcher
  • Least Flycatcher
  • Hammond’s Flycatcher
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher
  • Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
  • Western Kingbird
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Yellow-green Vireo
  • Violet-green Swallow
  • Cliff Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Wood Thrush
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Northern Parula
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Worm-eating Warbler
  • Ovenbird
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • MacGillivray’s Warbler
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Yellow-breasted Chat
  • Summer Tanager
  • Western Tanager
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Painted Bunting
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole

What Is a Bronx Bomber?

No. We are not asking about Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth. The Bronx Bomber we refer to is a coffee drink with alcohol. The Bronx Bomber is a summer drink but you will be forgiven if you make it in the depths of winter. Our preference is to make Bronx Bomber coffee with healthy organic coffee and all organic ingredients. So, what is a Bronx Bomber?

Bronx Bomber Coffee

Bronx Bomber Coffee

The Recipe

Fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.

Add 1/8 ounce of absinthe and 1 ½ ounces of gin.

Make a double shot of espresso with one of the Colombian organic coffee brands, pour over the ice and shake briefly.

Pour liquid, straining out the ice, into an eight ounce glass

Drink and repeat process as desired.

Why Organic Coffee?

You can make this drink with regular coffee but we prefer organic. Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study by the Australian Food Standards Authority revealed that as many as 133 contaminants may be in a cup of commercially available coffee. These contaminants include metals such as aluminum and zinc, pesticide residues, ochratoxin A, acrylamide, furan, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found to cause cancer. Furans have been associated with skin disorders, liver problems, certain kinds of cancers, impairment to the reproductive, endocrine, and immune system, as well as effects on embryonic development.

And organic coffee is good for the environment. Organic certified coffees are grown to reduce and prevent soil erosion. Growers use only natural fertilizer and avoid chemical use. They follow good farming practices including integrated pest management, avoid deforestation, and protect water sources, native and endangered species and use native fauna for shade grown coffee.

Why Would a Bronx Bomber Drink Bronx Bomber Coffee?

The last two years were not kind to the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year shortstop and backbone of the team, Derek Jeter retired. This was year after star reliever Mariano Rivera hung up his glove. Bronx Bombers and Bronx Bomber fans may be forgiven for wanting to imbibe an alcoholic drink to help forget the 2015 season. However, the Bronx Bomber drink contains espresso! So, that will hopefully give the New York Yankees the wakeup that they need to get back on top. Spring training starts in February and the first game against the Phillies is March 3 in Clearwater, Florida. So, pack up your cocktail shaker, absinthe, gin and Colombian organic coffee and buy your ice in Florida just before the first game. Come cheer for the Bronx Bombers and enjoy a Bronx Bomber or two in honor of the home team!

Rain in Brazil Means Cheaper Coffee

Coffee prices fell to their lowest level in a year as drought relief comes to Brazil. The Wall Street Journal writes about expected weather and how coffee sinks to a one year low.

Coffee prices tumbled to the lowest level in nearly a year, as investors recalibrated their expectations for supplies amid signs that weather conditions in Brazil support a healthy harvest.

Arabica coffee for March delivery fell 8.20 cents, or 4.9%, to settle at $1.5940 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange. This was the lowest close since Feb. 18, 2014, and the biggest one-day percentage drop since Nov. 20.

The weather in Brazil has been better than some investors had expected. Intermittent rainfall is keeping coffee trees hydrated and on track for a healthy crop, said James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading Group in Tampa, Fla. Brazil is the source of roughly half of the world’s arabica beans, a type of coffee prized for its mild flavor.

Brazil is now “getting showers every day or every other day, which is quite normal for this time of year,” Mr. Cordier said. “The idea that the coffee crop would be weighed down by dry weather conditions is just incorrect,” he said. “The drought is far behind us, and the trees have recovered quite well.”

In short, rain Brazil means cheaper coffee. Brazil is the big dog in the coffee world and when drought damaged crops last year prices went up globally.

End of the Downturn, or Not

According a United States Department of Agriculture report global coffee production forecast for the 2014/15 growing season is that coffee production will be down 2.7 million bags compared to the previous growing season. This is because increases in production elsewhere were more than offset by a loss of 5 to 10 million bags in Brazil because of the draught. A bag of coffee weights 69 kg or 152 pounds. But, now the news from Brazil is that it is raining every day as it should during this time of the year. But according a report from Reuters it is not clear that all crops are safe or that drinking water for city residents will be plentiful with a good Brazil water supply.

Southeastern Brazil is getting some rainfall a year after a record drought started, but not enough to eliminate worries about electricity rationing, drinking-water shortages or another season of damaged export crops, meteorologists said.

Record-high temperatures and the most severe drought in at least 80 years punished southeastern Brazil last year, a region accounting for 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Lingering climate challenges could threaten a tepid economic recovery.

Private weather forecaster Somar warned of irregular rainfall in the center-west soy belt as well as the southeast throughout the month as an atmospheric blockage prevents a cold front from advancing over the key producing regions in the world’s largest exporter of coffee, sugar, soy and beef.

That is especially worrisome in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, which produces half of Brazil’s coffee. Drought there last year wiped out as much as a third of the crop in some areas, causing global Arabica prices to rise 50 percent over the year even as most other commodity markets tumbled.

As with all agricultural endeavors the farmer simply needs to plant and tend his crops and hope that the weather cooperates. While a drought means reduced production a rain in Brazil means cheaper coffee. And for us at Buy Organic Coffee that means more healthy organic coffee as well.

Add a Little More Zip to Your Chocolate Mocha Latte

Chocolate mocha latte is a popular coffee house coffee. A way to add a little more zip to your chocolate mocha latte is to add an ounce of two of Kahlua. You probably will not get the Kahlua with you mocha at the coffee house but you can make it at home. And, don’t forget to make your espresso with healthy organic coffee.

Mocha Latte

Mocha Latte

Chocolate Mocha Latte: Coffee House Version


The basis of coffee house coffee is espresso. Espresso is very concentrated coffee that retains a lot of dissolved as well as suspended solids from the roasted coffee bean. It is made by forcing steam (boiling water) through fine ground coffee. It has a thicker feel because of the suspended solids and foam because of the pressurized steam. Espresso concentrates the flavors of coffee and is served in a small cup, usually an ounce (30 cc). A cup of espresso typically has between 40 and 75 milligrams of caffeine while a standard cup of percolated coffee contains about twice this much but in an 8 ounce cup. Thus coffee house coffee espresso is about four times more concentrated than the cup of coffee that you had a home for breakfast.

The standard variations on the coffee house coffee theme are Americano, Breve, Cappuccino, Latte and Mocha.

Latte and Breve

Both of these are made with espresso and foam. Latte is made with steamed milk and breve is made with half and half. For latte think “coffee with milk” or café au lait and for breve think “coffee with milk and cream.”


Mocha is for coffee and chocolate lovers. It is made with espresso plus chocolate syrup plus milk. Saying chocolate mocha is redundant as mocha is made with espresso and chocolate.

How to Make a Chocolate Mocha Latte with Kahlua

The ingredient used to add a little more zip to your chocolate mocha latte is the Kahlua. But, to make this a great drink you need to get all of the steps right starting with the espresso.

You will obviously need an espresso maker and will need to learn how to make espresso. Make two ounces of express for each serving.

Ingredients include ice, 4 ounces of skim milk, three tablespoonfuls of chocolate syrup and two ounces of Kahlua. Ideally, if you are using organic coffee, you want to use organic ingredients throughout.

Add chocolate to the glass and then the espresso and then the Kahlua and then the ice. Steam the milk and layer out over the drink and serve.

Not only does Kahlua add a flavorful zip to your chocolate mocha latter but it tends to relax the drinker as well, making conversation easier and spirts rise. So be sure to have lots of coffee and other ingredients on hand because this drink may become addicting causing you to make repeated batches for your guests over an evening.

Espresso Martini

A sophisticated drink with coffee added is the espresso martini. This alcoholic coffee drink should not be confused with a traditional martini although it is served in the same kind of glass. The standard martini has been around for more than a century and was a favorite drink during Prohibition when bootleg gin was plentiful. A  traditional martini, is made by pouring gin and sweet, white, vermouth, at a ratio of 1:1, into a mixing glass with ice cubes. The mix is stirred or shaken and then poured through a strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. An espresso martini however, uses Kahlua and vodka along with a shot of espresso served in the same kind of glass.

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

How to Make an Espresso Martini

You will need Kahlua, Absolute Vodka and any of the Colombian brands of organic coffee. A cocktail shaker is a good idea as well as a supply of cracked ice and a strainer. And do not forget martini glasses.

Grind you coffee and make espresso. You will need one ounce to make an espresso martini.

Add an ounce of espresso, an ounce of Absolute Vodka and an ounce and a half of Kahlua to your cocktail maker and add a couple of ounces of ice chips.

Shake vigorously for a minute and pour through the strainer into a martini glass. Enjoy.

The Mystique of the Martini

Although the traditional martini is still made as described there are variations. A dry martini is made with dry, white, vermouth. By the 1920’s it became common to ask for them. Over the course of the century the amount of vermouth steadily dropped. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1 and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, or even 50:1 or 100:1 martinis became considered the norm.

A dirty martini uses a splash of olive brine or olive juice and is typically garnished with an olive and a perfect martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth. Some famous martini lovers had their own preferences. For example, Noel coward suggest just forgetting the vermouth or at most “waving the glass in the direction of Italy” where much vermouth is made.

How about the Espresso Martini?

It is not Prohibition and the espresso martini skips both vermouth and in favor or coffee, Kahlua and vodka. But this is the era of the coffee shop, specialty coffee and the rise of healthy organic coffee. It may well be that the espresso martini could become the sophisticated drink of this century. Try one and see how you like it!