Topline Trends Tuesday: Coffee talk

July 28, 2009

iStock_000003030567SmallWhile retail experts expected grocery store coffee sales to grow 2.4% in 2008, the changes in the economy led many consumers to choose a homemade cup of java over a $4 latte. As a result, sales grew by 6% and are predicted to stay as strong as a Starbucks espresso.

In other coffee related news, the makers of Dippin’ Dots ice cream pellets are applying their super cold technology to coffee concentrate so that soon homecooks will have another, hopefully better, instant coffee option.

And, for those who still splurge on coffee shop coffee, a new website and iPhone application from Dunkin’ Donuts now makes placing large orders easier. The person making the coffee run can send out a group alert asking people what they want; then, those people can place their orders online. The person going to Dunkin’ Donuts can print out the order or look at it on his or her phone.

Personally, I’m not a huge coffee drinker. I usually have a cup a day, so buying my coffee from a coffee shop doesn’t have a big impact on my budget. What about you? Has the economy changed your coffee drinking habits in any way?


Breakfast wine

March 18, 2009

breakfastwineDon’t panic! I don’t need an intervention just yet. I’m still miles away from reaching the rehab centre door (although I do seem to be taking crooked pictures!). That said, breakfast was all I could think about when I tasted this new wine that Martin brought home from Vintages.

One sniff and I could pick up the delicious aroma of the coffee beans in this affordable pinotage (it’s $13.95 at the LCBO) wine that is short on fruit but has a soft, round, mocha finish.

It would be the perfect choice if you’re having eggs for supper, heading to a mid day brunch or just can’t decide between having a coffee or a glass of vino.

What do you think? Is coffee flavoured wine a good idea? Or, should coffee mugs and wine glasses keep to their respective corners of the kitchen?


Tea kettles: No longer only in Canada

January 28, 2009

electric-teakettlesWhen I started working in the test kitchen of Canadian Living magazine in the early nineties, I remember being surprised to learn that tea kettles, although common kitchen items in Canada, were relatively scarce is US kitchens. The rationale at the time was that Americans were more likely to drink coffee than tea so they didn’t give up counter space to an appliance they would use only rarely.

According to this poll and lengthy list of responses in popular New York City blog thekitchn, it looks like tea kettles are now popular on both sides of the border.

What about you? Do you plug in a kettle or put one on the stove top when you need a cuppa? And, are your current kettle habits new or rooted in long standing practice?

Edited to add:  I just saw this post on Not Martha which features a supremo kettle that has temperature settings for different kinds of hot drinks. So, if a kettle is on your shopping list, you might want to check this baby out!


Christmas gift idea for coffee drinkers: Bentwood cuff

December 10, 2008

lg-cuff9Every once in a while I find myself delighted with a new product that I can imagine myself truly using. Such is the case with this clever device that can be worn as jewelry when you aren’t drinking coffee or used to replace the environmentally wasteful sleeves that insulate your hand while you hold a paper coffee cup.  Style, function and sustainability: A design trifecta!

How much would you pay for a product like this one?  If I told you it was about $70 would you see the value or deem it an over-priced novelty?


Pileos a la Melanie

July 3, 2008

Every once in a while, a bright and enthusiastic young person crosses my path and I’m reminded of how food inspired and enriched my own young adult life. Melanie Chislett is exactly that kind of person.

Melanie was our June intern at the test kitchen. As part of her intern duties I asked her to research a French company that makes an ingenious little coffee time snack called pileos, cone shaped confections that are filled with chocolate. The idea is that you set a pileo over your coffee and the steam from the drink warms up a chocolaty centre so that you have a super yummy snack to go with your latte or espresso.

We found the website for the ingenious pileo makers and Melanie contacted them and learned all about their product. I was thrilled. She’d done her job very well. I popped their info into my trend tracking file and felt satisfied that I had all the info I needed to write about how this cookie is an emerging food product idea in an upcoming issue of Topline Trends.

The next day, Melanie surprised us by bringing in her own version of pileos (which she calls mileos) for us to have with our morning coffee. I was thrilled by her enthusiasm and wanted to share her story and her biscotti based recipe for pileos (um, I mean mileos) with you today.

Melanie Chislett’s Mileos

1 cup oil
3 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup refined sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 box semi-sweet bakers chocolate (for the center)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325oF. Beat eggs and sugar to blend together, add oil. Add 3 cups of all-purpose flower and mix until well blended. Place in fridge for 30 minutes. Fill well-greased tart pans 3/4 full with dough and place 1/3 of a semi sweet bakers chocolate bar in the middle of the tart before placing in oven. This creates a pileo. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Place back in the oven and let bake for another 5 minutes to give the pileo a hard biscotti crust. Remove, let cool, then gently remove the pileos from the tart pan. If desired, sprinkle icing sugar on top of the inverted pileos.

Enjoy the smooth chocolate center after letting the pileo sit on top of your hot espresso cup for about 30 seconds.


Real breakfasts

June 23, 2008

We’ve all heard and acknowledge as correct that a good breakfast should be the way we start our day. In fact, a new study shows that women who eat a big breakfast lose more weight than other dieters. But, how many of us eat a morning meal that nutrition experts would classify as balanced and appropriate?

New York Magazine recently polled 60 people to see what real people were eating for breakfast. The results ranged from the expected bagels and oatmeal or coffee and Danishes to more peculiar choices. For instance, one man had a bloody Mary for his morning meal while another admitted to indulging in a gut wrenching protein binge that included four hard boiled eggs, two fried eggs and a ham and cheese sandwich washed down with orange juice. I need to lie down just after reading that menu!

What interested me was how many of the respondents had savoury food such as salads, pizza, Moroccan cous cous with grilled chicken and hummus, and chicken melt on rye.

Curious to know if New Yorkers are a breed unto themselves or a North American barometer, I held my own poll. I asked my 300 or so facebook friends what they ate for breakfast and almost 25 people replied. It turns out my friends stick to more traditional breakfast fare. Below are the results of my poll. Although I’ve excluded names, I’ve used bold text on the responses shared by people who have jobs as food industry professionals. Can you guess which entry is mine?

1. Nature Valley Instant Oatmeal (flax flavour).
2. Starbucks breakfast sandwich.
3. Flax seed bagel with greaves peach jam, almond butter and local maple butter, half each an apple and pear, glass of cranberry blueberry juice and a big cup of home roasted Ethiopian Yirgachaffe.
4. Strawberries and a glass of water.
5. Eggos with fresh strawberries and syrup, toast with peanut butter and chocolate milk.
6. Farm fresh eggs with fresh smoked bacon made the night before at Harvest Restaurant, sour dough toast fresh baked at Harvest with blackberry jelly from Prince Edward county.
7. A slice of homemade no-knead bread, toasted, with peanut butter and kawfee made from instant espresso.
8. Toasted light rye with peanut butter.
9. English muffin with bacon and tomato.
10. Homemade muesli with organic yogurt, raspberries, black berries, walnuts, grated apple and oats, dash of cinnamon and a drop of pure vanilla extract.
11. Oatmeal with 2 tbsp soy protein, 3 tbsp cottage cheese, 1 tsp non-hydrogenated margarine, 3 tbsp brown sugar and 2 cups of coffee.
12. 2 starbucks double tall, non-fat, bone dry cappuccinos and a spinach breakfast sandwich that was found sadly lacking in spinach.
13. Raisin bran and decaf coffee.
14. Coffee.
15. Slice of deli roast beef, the cold heel of my child’s abandoned, toasted buttered, whole-wheat bagel.
16. Shake made with whey protein, greens+, almond milk, sesame seeds, frozen wild blueberries and plain yogurt.
17. Toasted cashews.
18. 2 slices white toast with a bit of butter and coffee.
19. Apple and glass of water.
20. Toasted whole wheat bagel and peanut butter.
21. Whole grain toast and peanut butter.
22. Homemade muesli, 1/3 cup bran buds, ground flax, unsweetened soymilk, 1/2 cup yogurt (Dana’s note, this respondent reports losing weight since she made this her daily breakfast!).
23. A healthy bowl of cereal and a chic dark chocolate cupcake.
24. Raisin toast and earl grey tea with milk.

As you can see, my facebook friends stick pretty close to the expected breakfast menu even when they make less than stellar choices. What about you? Are you more like the New Yorkers or like my pals? Tell us what you had for breakfast today.