11.24.2017

Your Passport to the World's Best Coffee



"I never laugh until I've had my coffee." – Clark Gable
Coffee is one of the most beloved beverages in the world, so much so that the annual global consumption of 60kg bags of coffee is more than 15 million. Still, not all coffees are made the same and aside from different bean types, there are also different ways of grinding and preparation that result in different taste and aroma, and only true coffee lovers will feel that difference. While coffee roots can be traced to Ethiopia, there are many other countries that excel in coffee quality.

Italy

Let us begin with the most obvious choice. Italy is famous for its small, yet strong cup of pure coffee capable of waking you up instantly. You’re right, we’re talking about espresso. A true Italian espresso is best when it is consumed without milk, syrups and other things that could compromise its strength and bitter taste. In Italy, it is usually consumed quickly, while standing at the bar.

Morocco

The coffee culture in Morocco is reminiscent of the one in Europe, especially France. Unlike Italians, Moroccans like to sip their coffee slowly while sitting in the café and savoring the taste. That’s why their best coffee includes a half-half mixture of coffee and milk – nous nous. Nous nous is usually prepared with Arabica beans, which means the taste is softer and sweeter than that of Robusta beans.


Turkey

Turks have a long tradition of drinking their coffee black and strong. It’s also typically unfiltered so there is an undrinkable sludge at the bottom of the coffee cup after you are done drinking. This may sound weird, but Turkish coffee (kahve) is oddly delicious.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has only recently joined the race for the best coffee in the world, but its blends of ground coffee beans have a lot to offer. What particularly stands out are notes of fruity (mostly berries) and chocolate flavors. During the mornings, Nicaraguans drink their coffee with milk, and for the rest of the day, they need a stronger dose of black coffee and sugar.

Australia

Whether you prefer whole coffee beans or freshly ground coffee, in Australia you will definitely find something that suits your taste. The beans types are very diverse and the ways of preparation vary even more. Still, the best way to drink coffee Down Under is to go to a café and order a flat white coffee which is famous for creaminess and a lot of thin foam.

Colombia

Colombia is one of the quintessential coffee countries and one of the greatest coffee growing nations. Since Colombia has many different microclimates, there are many distinct coffee bean flavors, even coming from two farms next to each other. A typical cup of coffee for Colombians (café con leche) contain strong coffee, milk and sugarcane juice.

Malaysia

Although Malaysia produces both Robusta and Arabica beans, it is the most famous for growing Liberica varietal which accounts for only two percent of the total global coffee production. Because Liberica generally has inferior flavor to two more popular types of beans, Malaysians have come up a great way to intensify its taste and texture – the Ipoh white coffee. This style includes roasting the coffee beans on palm oil margarine.

India

The region of Southern India is renowned for growing its own coffee and preparing it in a unique and delicious manner. After the coffee is roasted and ground it is the percolated and topped with frothed milk. Such beverage is later pulled between two metal containers (cup and saucer) resulting in cooled mixed coffee.

Vietnam

Vietnam is not only the second largest exporter of coffee in the world, it is also the country of origin of one of the most unique ways of preparing this beloved drink. Ca phe sua da or Vietnamese iced coffee is prepared by pouring hot water into a mini percolator of dark grains on top of a glass. That liquid is later dripped through the percolator and into sweet condensed milk. The final touch comes in the form of ice cubes.

Ethiopia

Finally, it is important to mention Ethiopian coffee, since it is the birthplace of this beverage. It also delivers great quality and fantastic coffee types such as Yirgacheffe (floral notes and sweet aroma) and Harrar (fruity, exotic). The method of preparation and drinking is a long ceremony: roasting, grinding and brewing three cups by reusing the beans (strongest, weaker and weakest cup).


These coffee beans and types are bound to put a smile on your face. Depending on what you like, you may find your favorite morning kickstarter on this list.




11.23.2017

5 ways to stamp out stress


They say stress is the biggest killer. Indeed, chronic stress has been linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, liver cirrhosis, many fatal accidents and suicide.

All animals feel stress – the release of the stress hormone cortisol triggers our survival mechanism, making our body tense and our mind more alert. This can be useful in the short run, but draining over a sustained period and eventually fatal. Unfortunately, human beings have evolved to feel stress in situations that aren’t life-threatening ranging from work to family issues. Where possible you should try to fix the source of the stress whether it’s taking on less work or getting relationship counselling or simply getting supports from friends and close relations. If this isn’t possible right now, there are still ways of counteracting stress. Here are just five ways that you can relieve some of the stress and feel more relaxed.

Take a hot bath

Taking time out of your evening to relax in a hot bath can combat stress symptoms. There’s science behind it. When stressed we contract all of our muscles (as if preparing to fight or take flight). A hot bath loosens up all these muscles. When stressed our blood pressure also rises. A hot bath has been shown to lower our blood pressure. Both looser muscles and lower blood pressure can help to combat a lot of physical pain, which can also be a cause of stress.


Meditate

Meditation is an easy stress reliever that can be carried out at almost any time. It has been shown to have many health benefits including lowering risks of cardiovascular disease as the result of stress. There are many disciplined forms of meditation including Yoga and Angelic messages that could help some people to learn to meditate. When done correctly, it can reverse almost all the symptoms of stress by telling your brain and then your body to relax.

Exercise

Physical activity can also reduce stress. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, which are our feelgood chemicals (they’re also natural painkillers). Exercise can also improve sleep quality, further helping to combat stress. Any form of voluntary exercise that raises your heart rate can be a good stress relief.

Eat the right foods

Certain foods can fight stress. Unhealthy comfort foods aside, some of the snacks that can improve your mental wellbeing include avocado, blueberries, dark chocolate, turkey breast, pistachios and salmon. Sites like Happy Body Formula offer more information on what makes each of these foods so good for combating stress.  Try incorporating some of these into your diet throughout your day and see if you notice the results.


Listen to music

Listening to your favourite music can also be a good stress relief. Calming music in particular can help to regulate your blood pressure and prevent the mind wandering, make it harder for stress to take hold. Music can also be a great accompaniment for meditating to. 

Food Trends Around the World



What’s the up-and-coming avocado toast of the hipster foodie community? And how has the slow food revolution affected restaurants and chefs around the globe? We’ve all grown tired of the pre-packed, pre-made, processed meals, and we yearn for the good old days of yore, that smell of freshly baked bread and the feast ritual. Without further ado, here’s what the world has in the pantry for us!

Bite-sized sweets
Yum. That’s how they look, taste, crunch under your teeth and feel when you bask in their sumptuous flavor. I’ve always been a fan of mini cupcakes, and the macaroon craze had me at hello, but this is a whole new take on the healthy food that meets emotional meaning. 

A perfect example? Ben Shewry’s storytelling tarts, served in the suburbs of Melbourne, in the Attica restaurant. These three-per-serving tarts are crafted with local people, and local ingredients in mind. And as such, they reverberate to the tales of the area’s history, all neatly wrapped in tasty, fine-crafted bites.


The rise of the spirits
A hop across the globe takes us straight to the birthplace of the manliest drink ever created, the Scottish whisky and its infamous sibling, gin, but this time with a modern, urban twist. Newly-opened distilleries in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow aim for the lovers of artisan spirits that were locally made, with unusual flavors. 
But they are not alone – a single look at our own spirits-loving hood, and you’ll see craft spirits shops and distilleries popping up as we speak all over Australia and the US.


Artisan butchery
If you’re still having doubts about the slow food revolution, and the mega-market craze (ironically) slowly passing into oblivion, then the renewed love for artisan butcheries will eliminate all your suspicions. They are everywhere, they are unique, creative, and they are here to stay. 

As someone who loves meatless Mondays, I’m a benevolent carnivore with a deep appreciation for meaty meals, with access locally-produced quality meats from the best butcher in Sydney delivered to my doorstep. And the trend is omnipresent over the world, as people want to know the origin of their meat, its quality, and they once again prefer ethical production.

Brunch over dinner
Bring out your inner hipster and don’t take him out to dinner – take him out to brunch instead. This midday meal has become an absolute favorite among many Sydneysiders, and I’d take an educated guess by saying that Europe and the US aren’t too far behind. 

Take, for instance, the majestic Faro in Brooklyn where handmade pasta reign, and their brunch menu is the epitome of comfort food. Many restaurants also choose lunch specials to give their midday menu more versatility, and people are gladly taking that afternoon break from the typical nine-to-five hustle.


Sugar and flour alternatives
Ah, the two main ingredients of all the sweet goodness we’ve ever tasted, from muffins to good old cookies, traditional sugar and flour have gone through a remake of sorts, to be replaced with healthier, nutrient-dense alternatives. 

Coconut sugar, stevia as a sugar substitute, almond-meal, spelt, and the like, are all finding their special spot in every chef’s kitchen. Luckily, it’s also a trend that’s permeating the home cooking sphere, as in this delicious almond loaf cake, so those who prefer to stay in no longer have the excuse not to choose the healthier, nutrient-richer variety.

Everything spicy
Plain popcorn? No, thank you. What about chocolate ice cream? Still not good enough. It’s time to bring out the big guns in the world of flavors, and mix and match even those that seem the least likely of all. This is where India, China and other corners of the Orient have started infusing the rest of the world with their imaginative aromas. 

Turmeric has become an absolute, all-time favorite in breakfast omelets, while a visit to California-based McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream shop can give you a taste of cardamom-enriched scoops, but you can also go for the more daring tastes of whisky, or the Thanksgiving-inspired pumpkin pie. 



11.22.2017

Cost effective ideas to jazz up your home


Every house becomes a little neglected and worn-out over time. It’s only natural that you’ll start to let standards slip in terms of household maintenance once you have a family, work, and other adult responsibilities on which you need to focus. Before you know it, your home stops feeling quite so homely; things break, the aesthetic looks outdated, and the clutter has piled up. Of course, time and money are things that are hard to come by. Are there easy ways to renovate on a budget? Yes. Here are some cost-effective ideas to help you jazz up your home.

The kitchen.
As the most important room in the house, you should definitely focus on the kitchen when you’re trying to jazz up your home. You spend most of your time cooking and relaxing with the family here; it might not be the room you’d immediately call the most important in the house but there’s no denying it forms a warm and inviting center of your humble abode (or, at least, it should). You should really utilize the potential of the space in this room. Rollout drawers within cabinets can provide an easy and organized way to store crockery but this could also be used to store your trash can (you could avoid leaving it out for display on the kitchen floor).

You could also put up shelving units on the walls as additional storage space; the goal is to make your kitchen look as minimal and spacious as possible so that it feels like a larger and more inviting space. The colors you use can also achieve this effect. You could repaint the walls in a neutral color such as white so as to naturally brighten the room; neutral colors will naturally reflect the sunlight pouring in through the windows. Mirrors, shiny surfaces, and other “bright” furnishings can help to make your room feel more open and spacious. None of these improvements have to cost you very much at all if you opt for the DIY approach.

The space.
As we discussed above, minimalism and spaciousness can really help to open your kitchen in order to make it feel a little more inviting and welcoming. Of course, there’s no reason as to why this method should be reserved for the kitchen. If you really want to jazz up your home then you should be striving to make the entire home look more contemporary, modern, and minimalistic. Clutter should be left at the door. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford modern furnishings that you’ve love to have in your home then start to think about ways in which you can raise funds through getting rid of your old stuff. Decluttering can be a huge money-maker if you find valuable things that you no longer want. Those profits can be used to afford newer and sleeker furnishings to replace the old ones. That’s how you lessen the cost of a renovation project.

The coziness.
Another effective way to jazz up your home is to make it feel… well, like a home. And the best way to do that is to improve the cozy factor. This doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, it can be more cost-effective. Temperature is a big factor in the coziness of your household. As the winter months approach, the last thing you want is to feel cold in your own home. You should think of smarter ways to heat up your humble abode than turning up the heating and sending your energy bills through the roof.

Insulating your walls and getting thicker glazing on your windows are two ways of better trapping heat in your home and reducing your energy bills. You can make your house warmer and spend less money in the long run. You should also look into central heating options if you’re currently using a space heater because this will help to reduce the heating cost you face every month. At the end of the day, you’re looking for ways to spend less money and make your home feel more comfortable. That’s a win-win situation.


The garden.
Your property’s exterior is just as important as its interior if you want to jazz up your home. First impressions really count. Of course, the thought of constantly maintaining your garden to keep it looking neat and vibrant sounds both time-consuming and costly. That’s why you should be striving to turn this outdoor space into a low-maintenance area. Fake grass can look just as trim and sleek as real grass and it saves you all that time and hassle of constantly mowing the lawn in order to keep it looking neat. In addition, you should get plants which require very little care; cacti essentially look after themselves. You don’t want to be worrying about forever replacing dead plants that are ruining the aesthetic of your garden.

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