Keeping physically fit requires resolve! Nothing is more important than deciding to follow a fitness plan. Around the holidays so many of us make a New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy, but I’m here to tell you that everyday is the time for a health and fitness resolution! Though we often blame outward circumstances for our poor health (e.g. office treats, fast food, “the holidays,”) in reality, the true barrier to preventing us from reaching our fitness goals is our own procrastination.

How often have we told ourselves, “Someday I’ll fit into that dress,” or “I’ll get back to my college weight eventually”? Time and time again we delay our health a fitness resolutions until a future date. It is time to stop this incessant procrastination because all we end up doing is having a perpetual desire… endless wanting. Make the resolution to turn these dreams into a reality. The time for delay has come to an end. As Shakespeare says, “Defer no time; delays have dangerous ends.”

The secret to living a healthy life is rooted in the realization that tomorrow never comes! Our tomorrow is nothing but the consequences of decisions that we make today. When we think about it, it becomes obvious that today is all that we have. The past no longer exists. The future has yet to come. The present is all that exists! The person you want to be in the future, therefore, will only come into existence when the person that you actually are resolves to do something… NOW. Again, everyday is a health and fitness resolution!

To reach your long-term fitness goals requires a commitment. There are no short cuts! What this will entail is different for each person. The best way to maximize your time and efforts is to work with a personal trainer. He or she will help determine which exercises and diet is best for your physical make up and life situation. It is much easier to reach your fitness goals when you have an everyday plan directing you how to get there.

Despite the numerous gimmicks, fad diets and fancy exercise plans, reaching your optimal health and fitness goals is really quite simple. It requires two ingredients; 1) an exercise plan that fits your body type and goals, 2) your determination and resolution to follow this plan, each and everyday! I’m not saying you have to train every day, it’s the mentality that you want to be on top of. Armed with this two-pronged attack, physical fitness will lose its mysterious and elusive quality. Exercise and diet plans are out there. Finding a program that works for you is very possible. The real question that you must ask yourself is this; “Do I have the resolution and determination to work towards my goals each and every day?” Do I sincerely desire everyday to be a health and fitness resolution?

The great secret to happiness in life is the realization that today is all that we have. The seeds of the future you are present in the little decisions that you make today. Each and everyday is an opportunity and invitation for you to become the new and improved you. You want to be healthier? You want to increase your level of fitness? Then make the resolution today, and everyday, to do what is required! Make everyday a health and fitness resolution.

Nothing has been more distortive to muscle building information than the low profile prevalence of steroid use. What else can explain the vast amount of lousy and even useless training techniques for natural trainers that have become the prevailing wisdom in the bodybuilding industry? There’s an ongoing discord between fantasy and reality in what constitutes an effective natural muscle gaining routine. That discord is most likely attributable to the obvious yet often unaddressed contrast between the physiology of a steroid user and that of a non-user.

This contrast is the only explanation for bodybuilding’s longtime miring in misinformation; a muddling that’s often resulted in almost humorously contradictory recommendations and advice.

Here’s a list of strange observations I’ve made over the years that I think can be linked, either directly or indirectly, to some of that misinformation:

o In 1988, I attended a bodybuilding seminar put on by one of the top Mr. Olympia contenders of the time. When asked by an audience member about a specific workout routine, the pro bodybuilder answered that the workout schedule in question would be worthless for putting on muscle mass. Within a month, I saw that exact workout/recovery schedule being recommended in a bodybuilding magazine by the then-Mr. Olympia.

o In the ’90s, that same Mr. Olympia had a morning workout television program for mainstream fitness. During an episode, I heard him talk to Geraldo Riviera about the evils of “anabolics” (code-word for steroids). He was apparently trying to dissuade youngsters from using them. Yet he admitted within other mediums that he used them regularly (of course he used them; he was a pro bodybuilder).

o During the aforementioned seminar in 1988, that Mr. Olympia contender told the audience that when he began bodybuilding, he was able to put on “ten solid pounds of muscle per year”. He went on to reveal that in his advanced stages in the sport, he was lucky to add “two pounds of muscle a year”. These words were from an elite professional bodybuilder who admitted to regular steroid use. Yet we’re treated to claims of gaining “twenty pounds of muscle in twelve weeks” from average Joe’s on the Internet. (no wonder I don’t see pictures with these claims).

o In the late eighties, there was a bodybuilding book that claimed you could gain 30 pounds of muscle in six weeks from doing “super squats” and drinking a lot of milk. That book should have been titled ‘How to become an over-trained gasbag within a month and a half’.

o I’ve actually heard a top professional bodybuilder say he didn’t believe in over-training; only “under eating and under sleeping”. So, even though our bodies are designed to burn and renew a finite amount of energy each day, just stuffing them with more food than they can process and sleeping until we’re drooling on our pillows will compensate for excessive muscle teardown? A very misleading statement.

o In the early ’90s, a bodybuilding guru was espousing an extremely high calorie diet for gaining muscle. I think he was the guy who started the “no such thing as over-training – just under-eating and under-sleeping” nonsense. Anyway, in order to make sure we could all take in our recommended 10,000 calories a day, he’d sell MCT oil to everyone. Just dowse some on your meals and add a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon so you can be in an “anabolic state”. The funny thing was that he recommended doing aerobic exercise each day to burn excess calories. Now let’s see, I think I’ll spend money on extra calories so I can try to burn them off each day before I turn into Jabba the Hut. Yeah… that makes a lot of sense. Yet there were write-ups about this guy in magazines as if he were a genius.

o I read an old interview of Arnold Schwarzenegger in which he estimated that anabolic steroids only gave bodybuilders like him a five percent edge over what they’d accomplish without them. Did he expect readers to believe that? Why would anyone risk their health for such a meager boost? If that were true, couldn’t he find a way to make up that little five percent in a less destructive manner?

o Back when the andro thing was big, a bodybuilder who worked in a supplement store tried to talk me into buying some. He said he gained five pounds of muscle in three weeks from using it. I knew he wanted to get super big, so I immediately wondered why he wasn’t continuing to cycle it so that he could gain umpteen pounds for the year. I told him “I’m not impressed; I can gain or lose five pounds of water weight in a single day”. Within a few months, he did a steroid cycle. I wondered what happened to his belief in andro.

o A competitive, steroid-built bodybuilder who works out at my gym sidelines as a personal fitness trainer. I witnessed him simultaneously train two people on a leg workout that had those unfortunate clients wobbling for the door as if he’d turned their underpinnings into wet noodles. He’d coaxed them to perform set after set of forced reps on a leg press machine. They were shaking their heads in disbelief as he wore an expression of self-indulged smugness. I guess he forgot to tell them they’d need to make secret trips to Mexico in order to recover from such a “workout”.

Some of these are kind of humorous, but not that last one. I’ve seen too many people hand over their hard-earned money for instruction in natural bodybuilding from those who don’t build their own bodies naturally. That’s money being paid oftentimes to merely feed the ego of someone that probably knows less about your body than you do. In the case I described above, he sure doesn’t know enough about bodybuilding to realize that the simplistic “harder you train – the more you gain” mantra most often leads to wasted time and disappointment.

My advice to natural bodybuilders: Seek unorthodox methods for making muscle gains. The routines that keep getting regurgitated in mainstream bodybuilding and fitness magazines are usually not the most conducive to long-term muscle gains.

Freshly picked culinary herbs add flavour to food and many are delicious additions to salads. Edible herb flowers such as pot marigold, nasturtium and rosemary can also be added to the salad bowl. Many culinary herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals and when freshly picked and eaten raw they can form part of a well-balanced diet. Raw herbs can also be used to add flavour to oils and vinegars for cooking and for salads.

Parsley

Parsley leaves gives a fresh flavour to sauces and salads, when added just before serving. The stems and leaves of parsley can also be used in bouquet garni. Parsley tastes particularly good with pasta dishes, omelettes, vegetables, fish and any meat or poultry.

Parsley is one of the most widely known and used of the culinary herbs. There are two main types of parsley – curly leaf and flat leaf – and both are excellent for culinary purposes. Both of these herbs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they can be used to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes and green salads.

Basil

Basil goes with almost any dish but it has a special affinity with tomatoes and is a favourite in Italian cooking.

Sweet basil with its soft green leaves and creamy white or purple tinted flowers is the most popular type of basil. This culinary herb can be used in sauces and salads and to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes such as soups and stews. Perhaps the greatest basil dish is pesto sauce, eaten with spaghetti. This combination makes a wonderfully delicious meal.

There are many other types of basil. Purple ruffle, dark opal and Greek basil are three of the other more unusual varieties, all with differing flavours.

Mint

Spearmint and peppermint are two members of the mint family most widely known and used as culinary herbs. There are many varieties of mint, some with distinct scents and flavours and some can be used for a variety of culinary purposes, such as in sweet and savoury dishes, in salads and for herb tea.

Spearmint is a favourite for mint sauce to accompany lamb and tastes particularly good with dishes such as soups, stews, plain meats, fish and lemon-based deserts.

Peppermint is also popular as a culinary herb flavouring. This herb is most commonly used as flavouring for sweets and chocolates etc. and is also used to flavour cordials. Fresh peppermint leaves can be used to make peppermint tea and the leaves can be added to fresh green salads.

Thyme

Thyme can be used to improve the flavour of most dishes. Both the fresh and dried leaves of this herb are used for cooking. Fresh thyme leaves are useful in many savoury dishes.

Thyme has a rich flavour which makes it an ideal accompaniment to roast meats and tastes good in slowly cooked dishes such as stews and soups. The finely chopped fresh leaves may be added to new potatoes or salad.

Thyme is regarded as one of the great culinary herbs and is widely used in European cooking. This herb is an evergreen perennial it is recognisable by its mauve flowers and small leaves.

Have you ever seen a picture of your blood plasma after you’ve eaten a meal from McDonald’s or Burger King? It’s not a pretty picture. It looks thick and cloudy. Fast foods are loaded with fat and sodium. They use white bread and rolls, which means they’ve used white processed flour, with very few nutrients in them.
And how do you feel after a Big Mac and french fries? You need a nap, don’t you? All that fat will drag you down and make you feel sluggish.

Going on a diet is hard, but think about some of the things you do when you go on a diet. You eliminate those high fat, processed, high-sodium foods. You eat less, true. But you also eat more raw fruits and vegetables. You drink water. And the results of eating this way are increased energy, less need for sleep. Processed foods, with their high fat content are hard to digest. They take an enormous amount of the body’s energy to consume. When your body’s energy isn’t used up digesting all that fat, it’s available for YOU – for work, play, love, exercise – in other words, for LIFE.

These aren’t drastic concepts. You don’t have to make drastic changes in your lifestyle. But take a good look at what you consume without even thinking about it. We reach for the potato chips, or stop at McDonald’s or Taco Bell when we’re hungry and we want something in a hurry.

It’s much easier these days to have snacks on hand so you don’t have to stop at a fast food place when you’re hungry. If you’re on the road a lot, and get hungry, pick up a bag of vegetables or apple slices at a grocery store. Yes, it’s easier to drive up to Wendy’s, but taking a few extra minutes, not to mention a few extra steps, will be well worth it in energy and vitality.

As a pet owner, no doubt you want to give your dog or cat the best care possible. And caring for your pet means feeding him the best diet you can. By making your own pet foods, you’ll be saving money, up to 80%. And to top it off, it’s easy; making pet food at home is probably a lot less time-consuming than you may have thought. With hundreds of websites offering free pet food recipes online, it’s now easier than ever to make your own pet food.

To prepare healthy and nutritious food for your pet you should study your pet’s natural habitat and food sources, and then prepare foods that most closely resemble their own natural or original diet.

Animals, because they are color blind, choose their foods by smell. Most dogs like gamey flavors best, as well as liver, fat, garlic, onions, horsemeat, lamb, beef, cheese and fish. Cats enjoy chicken, liver, fish, turkey, lamb, and yeast, and prefer fresh to aged flavors.

Cats are fussy eaters and it is not wise to continually feed them their favorite foods. Soon they will refuse to eat anything else; it is your job to see your cat has a balanced diet.

Animals do not need salt added to their diet as the natural salt in the food is enough for them.

Dogs may eat any vegetable they want, but cats should not have any starchy veggies, like peas and corn. Some dogs and cats even enjoy fruits!

It’s a good idea to always add a grain, such as Kibble, wheat germ, cooked oatmeal or whole wheat bread to meat dinners. For dogs use 75% carbohydrate foods (grains and vegetables) to 25% meat; for cats use half carbohydrate foods to half meat.

You will find, once you begin making your own pet foods, that it is really relatively simple and you will save some money as well. Remember that all pet foods should be served at room temperature; don’t serve food cold from the refrigerator nor hot from the stove.

Homemade pet food should take a ridiculously small amount of your time. As a general guide meats should be raw and vegetables must be finely chopped in a food processor or by a hand grater.

When it comes time for feeding, it is important that you let your dogs and cats eat as much as they want at the time of feeding. Once their body becomes nutritionally satiated, they will cut their food intake, sometimes by half the amount, and go on a maintenance diet. Incidentally, you should know that cats should be fed three times a day, while an adult dog needs only one meal a day.

All over the world, people drink coffee from basically one of two types of coffee beans: Arabica beans (“<0;Coffea Robusta”)

Arabica beans are aromatic, flavorful coffee beans used for gourmet, specialty coffees. The term refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species named for the genus responsible for about 75% of the world’s commercial coffee crop. Coffea Arabica is a woody perennial evergreen that belongs to same family as Gardenias.

Robusta beans contain twice the caffeine as Arabicas. Robusta beans are somewhat bitter and lack the flavor and aroma of Arabica beans. Robusta beans are used to produce blends, instant and freeze dried coffees.

There are other types of coffee species but they are very rare or non-existent in the export market. As a result, the fact is that we all drink either Arabica or Robusta coffee. Sounds simple, right? Not quite.

There are many “varietals” within Arabica coffee trees which yield coffee beans with distinct flavors and characteristics. This is where the fun begins. To name a few,

ETHIOPIAN COFFEE: Ethiopian Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. Each is named after their region of origin and they have very distinct flavor characteristics. For example, Ethiopian Harrar is known for its medium body, earthy flavor, almost no acidity and a very smooth mouth feel. This is a complex coffee with light spicy tones and a fruity flavor that some people compare to the taste of dry red wine. As the ‘birthplace of coffee,” Ethiopia has a unique place in the coffee world.

KENYAN COFFEE: Kenyan AA. This coffee comes from the area surrounding Mount Kenya, a region with fertile red volcanic soil. The coffee is known for its very acidic taste you taste right away in the mouth, and then followed by a medium body with an aftertaste of earthy flavor.

TANZANIAN COFFEE: Tanzanian Peaberry focuses on pea berry instead of traditional coffee beans. Coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree. Each fruit has two seeds facing each other. On the coffee tree, there is a percentage of the fruit that has a single seed or peaberry and the rest will have two flat beans for the usual two (2) seeds per fruit. The single bean peaberry occurs in less than 5% of any crop and is generally considered to produce a more concentrated flavor.

COLOMBIAN COFFEE: major cultivars of Arabica beans include Bourbon, Caturra, Maragogype and Typica. Colombian coffees also include the name of the growing regions such as Cauca, Nariño, Amazonas, Bucaramanga, etc. Colombia accounts for more than a tenth of the world’s entire coffee supply. Colombian Arabica coffee is perhaps the most well-known, partly due to its “living” and successful coffee advertising iconic symbols recognized worldwide, Juan Valdez and Conchita, the mule. The more generic Colombian coffees are rated as Excelso and Supremo. These terms simply refer to the size of the coffee beans, not necessarily to better coffee grades.

COSTA RICAN COFFEE: Costa Rican Tarrazu is a prized Arabica coffee. It is named after the San Marcos de Tarrazu valley, one of the four premium coffee growing districts surrounding the capital city of San Jose. The other varietals include Tres Rios, Heredia and Alajuela. Costa Rican coffees are balanced, clean, with bright acidity featuring citrus or berry-like flavors and hints of chocolate and spice in the finish.

BRAZILIAN COFFEE: Brazil Santos Bourbon comes from the hills of Sào Paulo state in the south-central portion of the country near the port of Santos. Historically, these Arabica coffee plants were brought to the island of Bourbon now known as the Island of Reunion. Brazil Santos Bourbon is a light bodied coffee, with low acidity, a pleasing aroma and a mild, smooth flavor.

INDONESIAN COFFEE: Java is the most famous Arabica varietal from the island of Java. The top grade of Java coffee is cultivated on former Dutch plantations and is called Java Estate. This is a clean, thick, full body coffee with less of the earthy characteristics that other Indonesia coffees feature, such as Sumatra or Sulawesi. The Java coffees provide a smooth complement to the Yemen Mocha which is very intense. The traditional Mocha Java blend is the combination of Java and Yemen Mocha.

SUMATRAN COFFEE: Sumatra Mandheling and Sumatra Lintong. Sumatra Lintong originates in the Lintong district of Sumatra near Lake Toba. This coffee has a medium, bodied coffee, low acid, sweet with a complex and earthy aroma. Sumatra Mandheling has a rich, heavy body, subdued acidity and unique complex flavor. This coffee actually does not originate in the Mandheling region but is named after the Mandailing people in the north of Sumatra.

HAWAIIAN COFFEE: closer to home, in Hawaii, the best known Arabica varietal is Hawaiian Kona coffee. This Arabica bean grows on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa which makes it not only exclusive to Hawaii but also to the Kona District specifically.

JAMAICAN COFFEE: the Arabica varietal that grows predominantly in the Blue Mountain region of this island is called Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The Blue Mountains stretch between Kingston and Port Maria in Jamaica. This region enjoys a cool and misty climate. Due to its limited production quantity, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is expensive.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA COFFEE: located just north of Australia, Papua New Guinea coffee cultivation was started in 1937 using imported seeds from Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain region. As a result, Papua New Guinea has noticeable similarities to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The rich volcanic soil and excellent climate produce a mild and mellow, full-bodied coffee with moderate acidity, broad flavor and very interesting aromatics.

Is this all? No, there are many more varietals, brands, and special flavors of Arabica coffee to try and discover.

For now, what about a cup of Ethiopian Harrar or Papua New Guinea coffee?

Today, the awareness about physical fitness is quite common and widespread among common public. Generally, people are genuinely concerned about their fitness levels. Previously gymnasiums were mainly intended for athletic people who wanted to develop a masculine physique. Most of these gymnasiums have metamorphosed into health clubs where one can find people from all walks of life: from students to retired professionals. This heightened interest in fitness has opened up one more avenue in the ever-increasing job market. Fitness trainers are in great demand now.

At present, fitness trainers are required in health clubs, star hotels, tourist resorts, and in luxury cruise lines. Rich and famous people like sports persons and film stars hire personal fitness trainers. But that is usually reserved for well-known and experienced trainers. Most people tend to start their own health club or fitness center after getting some experience in any of the above-mentioned institutions. Another attractive proposition is running a fitness consultancy. A fitness consultant provides training to individuals for maintaining a certain level of fitness. The services of fitness consultants are hired by large private companies and charity organizations working in the field of public health.

Getting an entry into a physical fitness-training job is now not that easy as it once was. Previously what one needed to have was a good physique and a good knowledge of gymnasium procedures. At that time, people who were interested and proficient in bodybuilding naturally graduated to the level of physical trainers. But today, as people became more aware about health and fitness, they began to demand more from a trainer. Ideally, a fitness trainer should have a certificate from a well-known institution, he or she should have good inter-personal communication skills, and above all he or she should have excellent knowledge about fitness regime and medical aspects.

There are universities that provide certificate courses in physical fitness training. Some universities even conduct distance education courses. An ideal platform for launching a career into this field is a certificate from a good institution. One can find several institution that offer courses on fitness training through a simple search on the internet. Normally, these courses will cover fitness and health concepts, importance of nutrition, specific exercises such as yoga or meditation for relieving stress, specific fitness programs to prevent or heal common diseases, exercises for weight control, and procedures for gymnasium workout.

But the most important factor for succeeding as a physical fitness trainer is the aptitude for the job. The job aspirant should be genuinely interested in fitness activities and must be comfortable in handling both people and gymnasium equipment. One must also have an abundance of patience, as some people, especially senior citizens, take time to learn exercises and certain workouts properly.

Looking for the best cup of coffee? Do your homework first! Coffee is coffee, right? Wrong! Quality coffee is the RIGHT coffee. Ignorance is bliss, yes? Wrong again! An informed consumer is always ahead of the game. Choosing your coffee is not any different from picking out a holiday ham. You are fussy about the bread you buy or how much sugar is hiding in your kids cereal. Be discriminating about your coffee. Be informed. The informed coffee consumer is always ahead of the game. From the freshly roasted coffee beans, all the way to the cup you use, choose your coffee wisely. Don’t stick your head in the consumer sand bucket and settle for less than the best. Being willing to accept the coffee commercials and hype they feed us as gospel can cause you to settle for second-rate, low quality coffee beans from a year ago. Vacuum sealed cans were designed to make you think your coffee is fresh and bursting with flavor, when you hear the seal pop. Don’t buy it!

If you start with fresh you get fresh. Quality gourmet coffee is roasted hours prior to shipping and is at your door step within…at the most a week of roasting. It should arrive in a vacuum sealed bag with a breathing seal. Starting with fresh high quality beans means being willing to settle for nothing less than the best high quality coffee beans you can find. Most sites that sell coffee offer fresh ground coffee beans as an option. If you don’t own a coffee grinder, this may work for you until you can purchase one. Purchasing coffee from one of the coffee sites offering this option will at least ensure that your coffee is reasonably fresh, however, it needs to be used up right away, or stored properly. If you buy coffee already ground, you as the consumer want to bear in mind that already ground coffee loses the original quality quickly. Storing coffee in a mason jar with a tight lid on a cool shelf in the pantry is a wonderful way to keep it palatable for up to a month.

Ever purchase ground coffee in the store, open the can, take a whiff, and it smells wonderful? Inside of 24 hours that same can of coffee will not only lose potency, but will smell like it’s been sitting there on the counter for months (a trained nose detects this after a little bit of practice). There are two basic reasons for this phenomenon:

1. The coffee in the can is gleaned from poor quality beans to maximize the profit margins of the mass producing retail market industry. These coffee beans are either low quality arabica beans or they are robusta beans, which are like a weed in the coffee world.

2. The coffee was roasted months ago, vacuum sealed and the quality in the fresh roasted coffee beans is broken down significantly. This is done to meet mass demand in a hurry.

3. (I know I said there were only two, but this one is nagging at me) When you lose flavor you destroy the antioxidants! Antioxidants are our justification for drinking coffee in the first place! Justify your case!

Are you convinced by now that there is no substitute for good quality coffee? Buying quality freshly roasted beans is the best option. Although it does require an initial investment of a good quality grinder, it is well worth the investment. A decent quality grinder can be purchased at your favorite online coffee retailer for between thirty to fifty dollars. Put it on your Christmas wish list to Santa! Hang on, I need a second cup of coffee. There, that’s much better. By the way, I had to make a second pot. Fresh ground and freshly brewed coffee doesn’t last at our house more than 5 minutes, and our pot holds 10 cups. We like it fresh to the last drop! A dyed-in-the-wool coffee lover craves the freshly ground bean.

To complete your investigation and make an informed decision regarding the purchase of freshly roasted coffee beans, you will discover an interesting difference in the spent coffee grounds when comparing store run-of-the-mill name brand coffee to freshly ground. After brewing, grocery store coffee grounds are dead and fall in a heap when they are discarded. They stick together, plop out of the basket, and are not fluffy as they should be. Freshly ground, high quality spent coffee beans are fluffy and moist. You can run your fingers through the fluffy spent grounds and they almost float and feel alive. Once you’ve handled fresh ground gourmet coffee beans in your hand, after brewing, you will agree there is no contest. Freshly ground coffee beans are superior to any other. It is no small wonder that your plants love the spent grounds from fresh ground coffee. They thrive on it as much as we do our first delectable cup…second…and third. Even plants prefer the freshly ground coffee beans and seem to thrive on the hidden nutrients still looming in the recyclable beans. Another justification for our love of good coffee. Not that we need any.

Still not convinced? Does your coffee taste old or burnt an hour after brewing? Coffee made from freshly ground beans stays fresh in the carafe as much as 4 times longer, if it lasts that long at your house. The acid build up is at a minimum and the quality is mouth-watering. There is nothing like it on the planet known to man, beast, and plant life. Once you switch to freshly ground coffee beans, you will never want another cup of stored grocery store coffee again! You think you are addicted to coffee now? Just try freshly ground quality coffee beans. You will be hooked for life! Choose freshly ground coffee, grind it fresh, brew it fresh, drink it fresh. Find a quiet spot, sit back, savor the taste, and simply enjoy the drink of a lifetime. The best cup of Joe begins with freshly roasted high quality coffee beans.

A barista is an interesting profession very suitable for socially-minded people who like to talk, meet people, listen to stories and enjoy the memories of special “coffee moments.” One of these special memories is the story of a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee that a coffee patron shared with a barista friend.

The coffee patron was very specific in his order of genuine gourmet Sumatra Mandheling coffee. He sighed at the absence of Kopi Luwak on the coffee menu. Kopi Luwak is among the most expensive coffees in the world. For this reason, it is not something a coffee shop would feature for regular consumption.

However, the coffee patron said to the barista, “…you realize how delicious coffee really is when you taste a cup of genuine Kopi Luwak coffee as I did during my travels in Sumatra. It is a paradox to learn that a Paradoxurus or “Luwak,” basically a little mammal that goes unnoticed and is not very beautiful, produces “animal coffee” for which humans pay hundreds of dollars per pound! Sumatran locals call the little mammals “Luwak.” Paradoxurus is their scientific name more fitting for the high priced coffee droppings collected to make this marvelous coffee. These animals live in the trees in Sumatra. One of their favorite foods is red, ripe coffee cherries. Interestingly, they eat the cherries, bean, everything. Once the coffee cherries get to their stomach, the animal’s body produces enzymes and gastric juices that process the beans.

A scientist from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Doctor Massimo Marcone, ran scientific tests on Kopi Luwak coffee. This scientist proved that proteolytic enzymes penetrated into all the “Luwak” beans. This is what causes substantial breakdown of storage proteins and reduces the caffeine level in this special coffee. Apparently, these animal enzymes prevent bitter taste and caffeine jitters. The “Luwak’s” stomach is almost like a natural “coffee mill.” When the beans exit through the animal’s digestive system, the beans are still intact.

The animals move primarily at night. They creep along the branches of coffee trees. The animals sniff the coffee cherries and pick only the reddest and tastiest ones. They chew the exterior of the cherry but swallow the whole beans. Amazing to think there are Kopi Luwak farmers who follow these creatures through the Sumatran forests. The beans stay in the animals’ stomachs for about 36 hours before they come out. The farmers are familiar with the “Luwak” territory so they scour the grounds for animal droppings to collect. The farmers clean the beans thoroughly. Then they can roast the beans and grind them just like any other coffee. Funny to think that the origin designation for this coffee is “Kopi Luwak.” The price tag is a high one but worth every sip!…”

The barista nodded and the coffee patron continued. “…Aah! Kopi Luwak coffee: rich and strong aroma. Full bodied like no other coffee, almost “syrupy” and with a hint of chocolate taste. It is coffee that lingers on the tongue with hints of malt coffee. A shame the production is so low, only about 500 pounds per year. But you know, it is not the only fruit digested by an animal, excreted and then collected for human consumption as a pricey drink. There are others….”

The barista said, “Really, did not know that.” The coffee patron replied, while taking his last sip of Mandheling gourmet coffee, “…In Brazil, they have Jacu Bird Coffee. In Vietnam, the weasel is what produces Weasel Coffee. I find “Luwaks” prettier than weasels, don’t you? In the Philippines, the ‘civet” (a “Luwak” by another name) produces Kape Alamid Coffee. I could go on and tell you about the Argan oil story, a tale of nuts and tree climbing goats from Morocco. But, it is late and I need to go. By the way, the Sumatra Mandheling coffee was great!…”

Yes, genuine gourmet Mandheling Coffee tastes great and it is available for the asking. Go ahead; treat yourself to a cup of this delicious specialty coffee!

Research has shown that just over half of all Americans drink coffee on a regular basis. This equates to coffee being consumed by over 100 million people everyday. It’s important to consider though that America’s population is made of people from all over the world. So, opinions on what constitutes a good cup of coffee vary greatly across the country. Fortunately for consumers there are a number of different styles of coffee maker on the market today.

Coffee drinkers are able to choose a brewing machine according to their own individual preferences. Popular styles of coffee maker include Automatic Espresso, Percolator, Automatic Drip, Stovetop Espresso, French Press and Vacuum type. Each type has advantages and disadvantages and the user’s control over the end product will vary from machine to machine.

Automatic Espresso

These types come in three versions, being, semi-automatic, fully automatic and super automatic. The semi automatic types will tamp the coffee grounds, brew the coffee and then fill the cup. Fully automatic models will also be able to grind the coffee. The super types come with extra features such as built in water filters.

Percolator

These come in the electric variety and the stove top style. The latest models are electric and are programmable. Some of these models can produce up to twelve cups of coffee in one time. Many companies use large coffee urns which will operate on the percolation principle and can brew upwards of 100 cups of coffee in one go.

Percolator coffee machines are not as popular as they used to be. These makers will often run the boiled water over the grounds and coffee connoisseurs say this has a detrimental effect on the taste of the coffee.

Sometimes coffee made using this method can be too strong and quite bitter tasting when compared to other brewing methods.

Automatic Drip

These are probably the most popular choice amongst American consumers. They are reasonably priced and are not complicated to use. The different brand types will work based on the same principal. A filter basket will contain a paper filter and this holds the coffee grounds. Cold water enters into the reservoir where it is heated up and then poured over the grounds. The coffee that is produced travels into a carafe and it is kept warm by the hot surface below the carafe.

Some people do not like this type of machine and the type of coffee it produces. You can get a tastier cup keeping the coffee maker and the carafe clean, using throw-away paper filters and good quality coffee.

Stovetop Espresso

These can be used anywhere where heats exists, be it a stove top or over a camp fire. Water is put into the bottom boiler and the funnel filter is put inside the boiler and filled with coffee. The top of the device is screwed on lightly and then it is placed over the source of the heat.

When the top of the boiler has filled up with coffee the device is taken away from the heat source and the coffee can be served.

French Press

These are also known as plunger or press pots. The pot is a porcelain or glass cylinder and this contains a mesh plunger that operates as a filter.

The user of the machine will measure out coffee grounds into the pot and then nearly boiling water will be added. The plunger is ready to go but will not be pushed down until the coffee has been steeped for a few minutes. After the plunger has been pushed the coffee is ready to drink.

The coffee needs to be drunk nearly straight away as there is no hot surface to maintain the temperature of the coffee.

Vacuum

This type of maker looks more like something out of a chemistry set. There are two containers connected by a syphon tube. There is a filter in the base of the top container.

Water is placed in the lower container and coffee grounds in the upper. The maker should then be placed on top of a stove and the heated water is vaporized and then passes through the tube and into the upper container.

The whole brewing process will last about three minutes. When the machine is taken away from the heat the vapor will transform back to water and will go through the filter and back into the lower container. The first automatic vacuum coffee maker was designed by Farberware while the first real modern machine was created by Sunbeam.

Not many companies manufacture these types of coffee makers in modern times. They have become something of a collector’s item and can be found in antique stores and on online auction sites.

There are many coffee makers available for coffee lovers these days. Coffee drinkers can be very particular about the type of coffee they drink but with so many styles available every taste and budget can be catered for.