The Quest to Find a Decent Decaf Coffee

After trying these three coffees all week, I feel like I can give an official review of them. Due to health reasons, I cannot have loads of caffeine, hence the decaf. I purchased these three coffees off Amazon after reading high reviews. They had their other merits too. My favorite coffee of all time is Dominican caffeinated coffee. It has a heavy and richness that I have not found anywhere else. Thus, when I found they had a decaf, I jumped on it. The other Tiny Footprint Coffee I bought because it’s obvious environmental merits. The Café du Monde I bought because of the fame of the café in New Orleans – it has got to be good!

I brewed each coffee twice, with varying degree of intensity to try to find the best taste. I also sweetened each with avocado honey (I find this honey closest to sugar – it doesn’t have that pollen taste that most honeys have) and with organic pure cane sugar. Overall, the coffee sweetened with the sugar was the best. I generally do not like dairy in my coffee so I didn’t try any of these with milk or cream.

coffee Santo Domingo Coffee

Like I mentioned, this is my favorite coffee of all time – when it is caffeinated. Dominican coffee is predominantly “wild” from what I’ve seen – it grows with minimal cultivation and often in the shade of established forests. This makes it more environmentally friendly. Caffeinated Dominican coffee has a delicious deep, rich, dark taste to it. It has a subtle cocoa taste to it and medium acidity.

For the most part  – I did taste the deep, rich, cocoa taste. However, it was a weak coffee. It almost tasted watered down. In a blind taste test you could clearly taste that it was decaf. Enter my disappointment. The sugar was definitely better and enhanced the coffee. The honey didn’t quite give it the extra kick, but hey – honey is better for you. I tried to make it a little stronger – but it just made it bitterer. I give this coffee at 6.5 out of 10. It wasn’t a complete dissatisfaction. I could still identify it as Dominican coffee.

Tiny Footprints Coffee
Coffee is a major cause of deforestation. Every cup of coffee consumed destroys roughly one square inch of rain forest. These are the lungs of our Earth. Coffee has one of the highest (top three) pesticide user after corn and soy. This contaminates the water and kills the soil. Furthermore, coffee is originally a shade-grown crop. The highest yields of coffee are those that are shade-grown. Shade-grown coffee also requires less water, less pesticides, keeps weeds from growing. In my experience, shade-grown coffee tastes better too (as evident by caffeinated Dominican coffee).

Enter Tiny Footprints Coffee. According to the website, it is “the world’s first carbon negative coffee. Roasted locally, sourced ethically.” In addition to being the leading cause of deforestation, coffee also produces a lot of carbon dioxide from growth to distribution. Tiny Footprints eliminates their carbon footprint by offsetting their coffee trees with planting trees that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They also use Arabica coffee beans – these are shade-grown and have a high yield. Their coffee is organic certified and Rain Forest Alliance fair-trade certified. Their bags are biodegradable, have a green building and factory, and compost their waste.

All that environmental stuff is all good – but how does the coffee TASTE? Pretty good. The first sip there’s a slight weird taste, but it quickly dissipates. The coffee is rich, deep and tasty. It is full-bodied with hints of chocolate and apricot. It doesn’t taste watered down or weak at all. It makes me wish I could have caffeine so I can taste their caffeinated coffee since the decaf is so good. I sweetened it only with sugar – haven’t tried the honey yet. I would give this coffee a 8/10. The taste is great – but it also gets extra merits for it being environmentally friendly.

Café du Monde Coffee & Chicory

Chicory is a weed. You know those lilac colored flowers you often see on the side of the road during the summer? That’s chicory. It has been cultivated and used for over 5000 years – the ancient Egyptians and Romans used to use it for medicinal purposes. It was a common coffee substitute during hard times – like slavery and the Great Depression. It is also caffeine free.

Chicory1I can’t speak to the environmental aspect of this coffee. I am going to guess it’s on the “conventional” coffee list though. Chicory is grown a lot like sugar-beets – a very dirty crop. However most cultivated chicory comes from Europe who have higher standards than we do in the USA. I also cannot find anywhere as to what beans they use or where they get them.

That being said, this is some of the best tasting decaf I have ever had. It was so good that I didn’t believe that it was decaf. I waited for my heart palpitations, a migraine to start, and trouble sleeping – my telltale signs of having caffeine – but none happened. This coffee truly is decaf. And it is damn good. It makes me regret not visiting Café du Monde when I went to New Orleans. The first time I brewed it, I used only 2tbs and sweetened it with sugar – this is when I had my coffeegasm. The 2nd time I brewed it I put a little bit more coffee in the brewer and sweetened it with honey. I prefer it with the sugar. I also read that it should be brewed on the light side since it tends to be stronger tasting than coffee. Lesson learned! I would give this coffee a 9/10. I would like to know more about the environmentally friendliness of this coffee, but the taste is so good!

The Verdict

Santo Domingo Coffee – 6.5/10 – you can tell it is decaf, but it does have some environmental merits.
Tiny Footprints Coffee – 8/10 – super tasty and has great environmental merits.
Café du Monde Coffee – 9/10 – you can’t tell it is decaf, but no clue on how environmentally sound it is.

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Thanks to Climate Change, This Might be the End of Breakfast as We Know It

Thanks to human-induced climate change, we are digging our own graves by endangering our food system. Sure everyone is aware that there is a drought going on in California jeopardizing certain crops and industries. Yes, everyone is also aware that there is a crisis going on with honey bees and that they account for 1 out of 3 bites of food that we take, but are people personally taking account for their actions? Nope. They’re still buying Round-Up at Home Depot. They are still planting invasive species and decorative species that starve bees rather than help them. They are still watering their lawns and carelessly using water.

Besides the global bee crisis and drought, there are some staples in our food system that are close to collapse – with or without bees. Due to climate change, there seems to be a rise in disease and fungus. Breakfast will never be the same. How would our mornings be without that latte? Or a cup of orange juice? Or that bowl of oatmeal without slices of banana?

Coffee
A new study came out recently from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England that 70 percent Arabica beans could be nonexistent in 36-66 years. With a warming climate also comes disease and pests and mountainsides that are now becoming too warm for the beans to flourish. When the plants are exposed to warmer temperatures the beans grow and mature too fast resulting in foul, bitter tasting coffee. The warmer temps also allow pests like berry borer beetles and diseases like leaf rust fungus to thrive. The study showed a very high risk of extinction of the world’s 2nd favorite warm beverage (after tea, which is not in as much danger as coffee, yet). Sadly, the study leans towards the conservative side because it did not take into account extensive deforestation in the highland forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan, so it could be a whole lot worse.

coffee

Citrus
This 2013-2014 citrus season has been Florida’s worst season in 29 years. This is due to a disease called greening which infected the entire state’s population of citrus. It impedes the trees’ ability to hang onto its fruit and the harvest falls before it can mature. This has affected grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, and tangelos. The price for citrus has already risen domestically. In addition to the fungus, there is also an introduced little Asian pest that is eating away at citrus in California (besides the drought) that is not helping our lemons and limes. Environments that were previously uninhabitable to pests are becoming more inhabitable as they become warmer.

OrangeBloss_wb

Banana
There is a serious threat attacking bananas all over the world that has yet to reach the banana crop in Latin America, the world’s largest exporter of bananas, but really, it’s only a matter of time. There’s this fungus called Panama disease that rots the shallow and fragile roots of the banana trees. It was found in Asia in the 1990s and recently it has been decimating the banana crop in Mozambique. Some scientists already believe that the fungus has already spread to Latin America, which provides us with 70% of the world’s bananas. Should the fungus continue to spread, and should we find no cure, economies and countries collapse and we will lose the beloved banana.

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We need to start taking account for our actions and educating ourselves about the threats to our food system. This is only a fraction of the food that is suffering at our hands. While larger issues of climate change may seem far away and not affect us directly, like melting icebergs in Antarctica, our morning breakfast is in our kitchens every day. Perhaps more people will be willing to make little changes in their daily lives to make big change in the long run.