Old Coffee at the Office: Drink It or Dump It?

old office coffee

Old Coffee at the Office: Drink It or Dump It?

guest post by Brittany Goodwin

In the corporate world, access to large amounts of coffee is a pretty basic necessity. For many office workers, a coffee break is not only a way to get some energizing caffeine into their systems; it’s also a good excuse for a mental break and a chat with some co-workers. But having your coffee in the office presents some unique problems, such as the question of what to do with old coffee: drink it or dump it?

Well, that depends on a number of factors:

How Long the Coffee Has Been Sitting There

Anything that has been left out in the open air has a relatively short lifespan. And while you were concentrating on that report for your boss, your coffee may have become somewhat unpalatable. The oils in your coffee can start to go rancid after four hours or so and, while this is usually not enough time to make you sick, it won’t make the coffee taste any better. Not sure when you put that cup down? When in doubt, pour it out and get a fresh one!

Verdict: Dump It!


 

Whether You Put Creamer in It

Creamer limits the life of your coffee even more, as we all know that it’s generally a bad idea to leave dairy products out. However, between the preservatives, pasteurization process, and existing bacteria that is in dairy, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that you will get sick after a short amount of time. That’s why you’ll hear people tell you that they drank coffee with cream from the day before and were fine. Nonetheless, the longer that the drink sits there, the more bacteria in it will grow (and you do not want to be the exception who gets food poisoning). Thus, it’s a good idea to just grab a new cup if your cream-filled coffee has been there for more than a couple of hours or so ‚Äď just to be on the safe side.

Verdict: Dump It!


 

Whether You Kept It in the Fridge


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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge…Coffee Style : #IceBucketChallenge #StrikeOutALS

 
 

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge…Coffee Style


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been dominating my social streams for weeks. It is easy to get annoyed at most things that have this viral component, but this is something unique. It is good!

Sure, there are a ton of worthy causes out there, and I do give to many, but the Ice Bucket Challenge is contagious. First of all, I witnessed a strong, burly friend succumb to this horrible disease. I couldn’t imagine going through that myself, let alone watching a family member suffer the same fate. ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It slowly paralyzes its victims, but cruelly leaves the brain function in tact. Learn more at ALSA.org

There are many things that make this phenomenon exceptional, and here are just a few;

  • The challenge didn’t start in a board room, a PR agency, or even from ALSA.org at all. The challenge was already taking place, when an ALS sufferer, Pete Frates, saw an opportunity to link it to ALS, which was one of the most underfunded research programs.
  • Awareness is great, action is better. While being aware of ALS is important (I’ve taught my children about the disease and I’ve thought about it daily for the past 3 weeks) This movement also encourages participants to make a financial contribution or get personally involved in other ways. I’ve challenged some friends, and required them to make donations. (I contacted them privately, so as to not add a public humiliation component)
  • There are tangible benefits. To date, the challenge has inspired people to donate 42 million dollars. Compare that to the 2.1 raised in 2013, during the same time period.

 
This is a movement to raise funds to support ALS research, and those currently suffering from the disease. It isn’t strictly a fundraiser for ALSA. Some folks have refused to participate, stating moral reasons for not wanting to support embryonic stem cell research. Good news, there are several alternative organizations, who do not participate in this type of research, to donate your funds to. Here are some that I have found…

I’d like to mention that I used water from a nearby river, as well as stale coffee beans.

Like Coffee? : The First Steps Towards Loving Coffee

 
 
Like Coffee?



So, you like coffee?

We learned the difference between “like” and “love” in junior high (at least we thought we did). You walked your sweaty-palmed self to the object of your affection, and s/he proceeded to stomp your guts out. Hopefully, your story ended better than mine. The point being, there are millions of people who “LIKE” coffee, but they don’t love it. They may think it’s love, but really they’re just fooling themselves and it’s puppy love. So how does one develop a deeper understanding of the coffee world? Just like everything else, you can learn through trial and error, or my personal favorite, learn from the mistakes that others have made!

Taking the First Step

If you’re already a specialty coffee connoisseur, then this message isn’t for you, but it may come in handy when you want to point someone to an introduction to better coffee. If, however, you’re currently drinking grocery store coffee, or subjecting yourself to $5 coffee drinks, this message is made especially for you. If you’re the latter, you probably do not realize that you are spending almost $2000/year. If you’re the former, do you realize that you are drinking a rancid beverage? The first step is admitting your need of help. Even if you think you are perfectly happy with your current situation, there is always room to improve upon it.

It’s All in the Grind


Most people don’t know that the coffee grinder is actually the most important element to brewing a perfect cup of coffee. Sure, you must start with great beans, and you need to have a decent brewer, but those things will be all for nothing, if you don’t have a suitable grinder. The popular home coffee grinder is a cylindrical looking appliance, with blender looking blades at the bottom. If you are currently using one of these, then you are needlessly drinking a poorly brewed beverage. All home brewing folks need a reliable, burr grinder. Why? There is only a percentage of the coffee bean that is soluble, and an even smaller percentage that you want in your cup. For this reason, each brewing method requires a specific, uniform coarseness of the coffee grounds. The blades on the cheapo models cannot possibly be made to create a uniform grind. A poorly ground batch of coffee will see many fines (coffee dust), as well as chunks, leading to too much of the fine particles being dissolved, as well as not enough of the chunkier pieces. Conversely, a properly ground batch of coffee for your brewing method, will result in the optimal amount of the coffee being dissolved into the beverage (extraction).

If you are going to brew regular coffee (non-espresso), then the most economical grinder that I can confidently recommend is the Baratza Encore ($129). To most of you, this may seem like a huge price to pay, but there are grinders that cost thousands! You will also realize an overall savings by having a well constructed grinder that lasts for years, allowing you to brew better coffee at home than in most coffee shops. Additionally, you will also be able to save on the brewer, as most people think that the bulk of their budget should be spent on the brewer. This is simply not the case. If you have $150 for your overall coffee equipment budget, I will tell you to get the grinder and recommend a $20 brewer. If you are strapped for cash, but you don’t mind a bit of an arm workout, I can recommend a $40 manual grinder, The Porlex. This grinder is a great choice for non-espresso folks, and its sturdy construction makes it a great travel grinder too.

Choosing the Right Coffee Maker

There are probably hundreds of different ways to make coffee, but most people opt for the automatic drip coffee maker. While not producing the optimal beverage, it is easy to use. The drawbacks to the auto-drip are internal cleaning/descaling, which is vital to maintain the internal parts as well as providing the best possible taste. Also, many of these brewers do not sufficiently heat the water to attain proper extraction. Personally, I stay away from any brewing system that is enclosed. If I can’t see that the parts are clean, then there is always a nagging voice in my head that is telling me that it’s dirty. Another advantage of manual brewing options, is the level of control over the entire process. I know how hot the water is, I know the equipment is properly cleaned, and I know how long the water is in contact with the ground coffee.

Here are a few options of coffee brewers that are perfect for the beginner, not requiring a great amount of learning, while only requiring a small amount of time and effort.

  • The French Press – This brewer has been around for a long, long time, and with good reason. Even the most snobbiest of coffee snobs will brew via French Press. The ease of use, repeatability, and the tasty beverages it produces make it an excellent choice. (CoffeeNate’s French Press Tutorial) The press that I use is stainless steel, but aside from the durability, I really love the single piece filter of this press. Most French Presses use a filter screen, which is held in place between two plates at the bottom of the plunger. The con to this is the tendency for the coffee grounds to get stuck between these plates, often requiring disassembling to properly clean. My press, the Bodum Columbia, costs about $79. That is nearly double the price of a quality glass press pot, but it was well worth the investment to me. The single piece filter makes cleanup a breeze, plus my kids were constantly breaking the glass ones. I spent $79 on the Bodum Columbia, and $200 on the cheaper glass ones. ūüėõ
  • Moka Pot – Also known as a ‘stove top espresso maker’, this brewer makes a powerful cup of coffee. If you don’t enjoy the concentrated beverage, simply add hot water to taste. You can also add hot milk. The nice thing about the Moka Pot, is that you don’t need to bother with measuring the amount of coffee you use (although it will help with consistency and reduce waste). You simply fill the chamber that holds the coffee, put it on the stove, and when it’s full, you’re ready to enjoy. (CoffeeNate’s Moka Pot tutorial)
  • Chemex – This method is rather easy to use, but will require a couple of tries before you achieve your desired results. Once you get it down, it will be second nature, and you won’t even think about it. This brewer looks like a glass pitcher with a glass funnel attached to the top. A filter sits inside of the funnel, and you simply pour the hot water onto the coffee. This method typically uses a paper filter, so the resulting brew will be quite a bit smoother than the previous methods mentioned. A brewer that uses a metal filter will allow much more flavor to enter the cup, while the paper will trap it. Which is better? It’s subjective, but I tend to prefer the metal filters. I sue a KONE filter for my Chemex, and I works fabulously. (CoffeeNate’s Chemex tutorial)
  • V60 – This method is another pourover style brewer, and is perfect for brewing single cups of coffee. At about $17, the price is also right. The style is similar to the Chemex, except you only get the funnel portion. You can use the paper cone filters, or use a metal KONE.

Off-Topic Plug: CoffeeNate readers can enjoy a 1 year subscription to Hallmark eCards for just $10 (20% savings)! Just use coupon code ECARDS2OFF¬†at checkout. I’m always sending eCards, because they are much cheaper than traditional cards, but much more personal than saying “Happy Birthday” on my friends’ Facebook profiles (along with 500 other people). This 20% offer expires on March 31st, but even at $12, I’ve found this to be a good value.

You NEED Good Coffee

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Improve Your Garden With Used Coffee Grounds

amazing uses for coffee grounds
used coffee grounds garden fertilizer

Improve Your Garden With Coffee Grounds

You’ve enjoyed your pot(s) of coffee, and now you’re left with a clump of coffee grounds to dispose of.¬† Don’t throw them out, or worse yet, rinse them down the drain!¬†You’ll be happy to hear that your used coffee grounds make an excellent organic fertilizer for your garden or lawn. Many cities, including mine, have outlawed the use of chemical fertilizers.¬†Misuse of these chemical fertilizers can negatively impact the water supply, as well as the condition of your soil. You’ll also save money! We’re already drinking coffee every day, why not take advantage of this added benefit from the coffee beans? There are a couple of ways that you can use coffee in your garden;


  • Collect the spent grounds in a large bowl or bag, and add them directly to your garden soil on a weekly basis.¬†Coffee is one of the few things that you can add right away, without having to compost it.¬† Coffee adds Nitrogen to your soil, and helps it to retain moisture for a longer period of time.¬†I don’t have a compost pile, so this is the method that I use.
  • Add the coffee into your compost pile.¬†Coffee adds much needed Nitrogen to your compost, and retains moisture.¬† Mix the coffee into your compost pile to evenly distribute it throughout your compost.¬†This will boost the effectiveness of your composting efforts.

Even if you don’t drink coffee, or you only drink a small amount, you can still benefit from this natural organic fertilizer.¬†Just visit your local coffee shops, and let them know that you will be happy to take their grinds off of their hands.¬†Starbucks, and other shops, will automatically store their used grounds in a large bag. The best part is…IT’S FREE!¬†Starbucks puts out large bags of grounds and they are marked “Grounds For Your Garden”. If you haven’t seen this at your local shop, ask the employees when they usually put them out. Another idea is to ask them to store a couple of bags for you to pick up at a scheduled time.

buy bodum coffee online grinder french press

Coffee Ground Fertilizer BONUS…Goodbye Snails & Slugs!

You will also be pleased to learn that coffee in your garden will naturally repel unwanted pests, such as snails and slugs! Apparently, these creatures do not appreciate caffeine as much as we humanoids do! Place a mount of spent grounds around each plant to create an impenetrable barrier, and block the creepy crawlies from your flora.

Coffee Filter BONUS Tip

Keeping soil in your planters can be a challenge. Many times when you water your planter, you lose soil through the drainage holes in the bottom. To eliminate the soil loss, while allowing them to properly drain, place a coffee filter in the bottom prior to adding your soil. The filter will keep the soil in, and let the excess water out.

What are YOUR tips for using coffee in unique ways?

 
 

These are Coffee Beans :: What REAL Coffee Is :: Poetic Rant

 
These are coffee beans

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Would you drink curdled milk? ¬†Perhaps you would enjoy a tasty piece of chicken that has been hiding behind the milk jug for the past 2 weeks? ¬†Didn’t think so. ¬†Of course we wouldn’t subject ourselves to these obviously rotten, and potentially dangerous foods. ¬†Then why to do we do it with coffee?!

 Coffee is a food!  The coffee bean, is the seed inside of a piece of fruit.  When this seed is roasted, the sugars inside of the seed transform into very flavorful oils.  When left inside of the whole bean, they are protected to a certain extent, but once the bean is ground these oils are exposed to the elements, and there is nothing that we can do to stop the aging process.  Even if the coffee was fresh when packaged (highly unlikely), once the package is opened the timer starts.  

You must be figuring that the hypothetical timer must be set for a couple of weeks or so.  Actually, that timer is set for about a half an hour!  Those oils are


dead within minutes, and rotten within hours. ¬†That is the precise moment that the majority of coffee companies package the coffee…after it is already rotten. ¬†No wonder why the masses load their beverage with vanilla this, and caramel that. ¬†They are trying to disguise the grotesque flavor. ¬†That is exactly what the Vikings used to do with their rotten meat. ¬†They would plaster it with various seasonings to hide the foul smell and flavor. ¬†

The good news is that we don’t have to live this way! ¬†You can choose fresh roasted whole bean coffee, grind it just before brewing, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee…real coffee. ¬†You may still prefer to put some cream in it (not me!), but you will do this to enhance the flavor of the coffee, not to mask it. ¬†

So what’s stopping you from trying fresh roasted coffee?

How can I help you make the switch?

Why do you drink your Folgers / Maxwell House / Nescafe junk?

I would really love it if you would answer in the comments below.  I want to help you to make the transition, save money, and save you from having stomach pain due to drinking rotten coffee.  The first step is to admit it.  Why not start now?

A couple of suggestions of where to buy coffee online are:

GoCoffeeGo.com –¬† These guys have a collection of coffees from the best roasters in North America, all in one spot!¬† They have frequent deals, and they make it easy to try new stuff with one easy checkout process.

Camano Island Coffee – This company has a few amazing coffees.¬† They could have more, but I’ve only had a few of them and I loved all of them.¬† Most notably was the Papua New Guinea.¬† A company built on sustainable practices.¬† Check out my full review of Camano Island Coffee Roasters.

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