puff & pao

Food Facts

The History of Coffee

Origin - What is Coffee? Today, there are two types of beans used in making coffee, Arabica and Robusta. Here in the United States, we primarily use Arabica beans because of their smooth and mellow taste. Arabica beans are grown exclusively at high altitudes from plants that are very fragile and temperamental. Robusta, on the other hand, can be grown in lower altitudes, and the beans that the plants yield are larger and grow more quickly than Arabica. While the flavor profile of Arabica is positive, many Robusta strains have a negative flavor profile, and do not produce the delicious taste found in Arabica coffee. Although Arabica coffee is the most popular and is found in most cafes, Robusta beans are still used in specialty coffee blends found in Europe.

The Legend of Coffee

The origins of coffee can be traced back several centuries to what is now Ethiopia. The popular legend says that a goatherd named Kaldi discovered his goats dancing after having eaten berries from a dark-leafed shrub. Their behavior prompted him to try the red berries growing from the shrubs for himself, and he soon realized that their ability to keep him very alert throughout his long day would benefit people from every trade and area of the world.

Spread of Coffee

Coffee plants spread from Ethiopia to Yemen, where coffee production as we know it today actually began. The priceless quality of coffee made it very popular throughout the entire Middle Eastern region, but in order to guard their precious trade, the Yemenese began to roast the coffee beans so that outsiders couldn't take raw seeds and grow their own plants. The city of Moka (an Arabian port on the Red Sea) was especially integral to the coffee trade, because their wildly popular brew contained hints of a chocolaty taste. People outside of the region began adding chocolate to their coffee to imitate this taste, and that is how a chocolate-infused espresso drink became the modern-day mocha. After coffee had made its way across Europe, it was easy to see that it was going to make a those who could cultivate it properly quite wealthy. All of the coffee in the New World is said to have descended from one single plant, brought across the Atlantic by a Dutchman. He was so dedicated to the plant that at one point during his voyage, he even sacrificed his own drinking water in order to keep the plant alive. The success of his coffee plant spread from Central America to South America, and across the Pacific to Asia. Currently, Indonesia and Vietnam are some of the world's largest producers of Robusta coffee. Following the spread of coffee from Yemen to Central America and across the Pacific, the institution of a cafe where people could gather and congregate all while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee became very popular. During the mid-160's, scholars and philosophers across Europe were embracing the stimulant quality in coffee, and made the coffeehouse a bona fide gathering place as well as a place where they could discuss politics and philosophy. Many historians believe that much of their success should be attributed to their choice of coffee rather than ale. Reportedly, Voltaire drank between 50-75 cups of coffee each day! The cafe is still one of the most popular and cherished places in Europe, as well as here in the United States, where the cafe has become a gathering place as well as a home for budding poets and musicians.

Process of Making Espresso

Pulling a perfect shot of espresso is a delicate process that has taken over a century to perfect. Traditionally, espresso is made from a blend of beans selected to produce a flavorful and smooth shot of espresso. First, 7-9g of espresso coffee beans are ground finely and packed into a portafilter. Then, the coffee is compressed with 30-35 lbs of weight to form a tightly packed puck of espresso. After this, the portafilter is inserted into the espresso machine, where is it then infused with hot water under very high pressure for 25-30 seconds. The water extracts the flavor from the beans, producing a one-ounce 'shot' rich and smooth in texture that can be drank alone or with steamed milk (producing a latte).

Here at Puff & Pao, we have taken into consideration our espresso blend and our machine to perfect our espresso process and the beverages it produces. We use a double-s hot portafilter with 14g of ground coffee every time so that it yields two shots of espresso with each extraction. The result is a delicious cup of espresso that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Coffee Stats (according to SCAA): Every day, Americans drink more than 300 million cups of coffee -- that's more than one cup of coffee for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.

In 1683, one pound of coffee in New York was worth as much as four acres of land. Surprisingly, espresso contains less caffeine than a regular serving of drip coffee. In fact, during the espresso brewing method, water is in contact with the grounds under high pressure for only 20 to 25 seconds and extracts less caffeine than the 'drip' method of making coffee, where the water is in contact with the grounds for several minutes. Coffee is the second largest export world-wide, second only to petroleum.

The world's largest coffee producer is Brazil with over 3,970 million coffee trees and is responsible for 30 to 40 % of total world output. Colombia comes in second with around two thirds of Brazil's production. Over 53 countries grow coffee worldwide, but all of them lie along the equator between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. No coffee is grown in the United States or its territories, with the exception of Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

It takes 42 coffee beans to make a single shot of espresso.

More Coffee Facts...

When coffee reached Christian World, priests believed that it was the drink of the devil; and if a Christian drank this devil brew they would risk eternal damnation. However, in the late 1500's Pope Clement VIII settled the dispute after sipping a cup of coffee. The Pope was intrigued by it's taste and aroma and so then blessed the coffee, and baptized it on the spot.

Both the American Revolution and French Revolution were 'born' in coffee houses.

Due to the controversy over England's Tea Act of 1773 (eventually resulting in the Boston Tea Party), Americans began to boycott tea. In an effort to separate themselves from the British and break their reliance on the product, coffee became much more widely consumed and accepted.

The expression 'a cup of Joe' used to denote coffee, was first coined during WWII, when American servicemen (G.I. Joe) were identified as big coffee drinkers.

The popular drink 'Americano' (which is a shot of espresso poured over hot water) came from World War II, when American soldiers stationed in Europe were known for their love of coffee but did not like the strong taste. In order to make it more palatable, they added hot water, and the drink was coined 'Americano' in their honor.

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Puff and Pao: Specialty Food

The unique experience guaranteed with each cup of coffee is best complimented by one of the fresh treats made daily in the store. From cream puffs to cheese bread and salads, there is a delectable selection of eats to satisfy your appetite. All of which share a natural quality by eliminating any processed ingredients from the recipes. Now no one is a stranger to the cream puff. The light, but rich, hollow pastry filled with cool, sweet custard has satisfied taste buds worldwide.

It first called a choux pastry after the French word for cabbage, although the cream puffs do come out of the oven looking like little cabbages. Originally referred to as choux buns, this dessert's history began in 1533, when Catherine de Medici left Florence to marry the Duke of Orleans who was later to become Henry II (151-1559), King of France. She brought with her to France her entire court, which included her chefs. Seven years later in 1540, her head chef, Panterelli, invented a hot, dried paste with which he made gateaux (cake). He christened the paste Panterelli but as the original recipe changed through the years, so did the name. It became known as Popelini, which then became Popelin. A patissier called Avice perfected the paste in the middle of the eighteenth century and created Choux Buns. The Popelin became known as Choux, since only Choux Buns were made from it. In the nineteenth century the recipe was finally perfected and is still used today at Puff and Pao where we offer a variety of cream-filling flavors as well, including a sugar-free option.

The filling remains chilled, as each puff is piped to order. Therefore, our customers are able to experience more than one flavor at a time making this pastry impossible to resist. Additionally, we specialize in Pao de Queijo, which is the Portugese term for cheese bread. In the 1600's, while the slaves of our Minas Gerais state were making Manioc Flour to the rich farmland owners, they used to crop manioc (yucca root), peel them off, finely grate them, and soak them in a big wood bowl with plenty of water. After washing and draining the grated manioc they spread it on a tiled floor outdoors and let it dry under the sun. When dried, they scraped the manioc into big bags and stored them for food consumption throughout the year. After taking out the manioc flour the slaves found themselves with a fine white powder; this was the manioc starch that dried out in the 'gamelas' after preparing the flour. So the slaves managed to scrape this white starch off the gamelas, make small balls and bake them. These manioc starch balls had neither cheese nor milk in them, just plain manioc starch but became popular among the slaves. After more than 200 years later, cattle farms became widespread in Brazil and slaves (that were being freed by that time) gained access to better foods such as milk and cheese. So they began to increment the baked balls with milk and ultimately cheese. In the twenty-first century at Puff and Pao, our cheese bread recipe has been modified to enhance both texture and flavor catering to the New York taste trends. Our paolitos are crisper, less oily, lighter, and have more of a cheese-packed flavor.

Made with gluten-free manioc flour and either New York cheddar cheese or European farm house cheese blended with Grana Padano, the texture is unique dense with a crisp outer crust and a chewy center that is permeated with the fragrant aroma and flavor of the cheese. In the morning, the paolitos can be eaten on their own or made into a breakfast sandwich sliced horizontally and filled with scrambled eggs and market fresh fillings. For lunch, the bread can be stuffed with a choice of the salad offerings of the day for an on-the-go sandwich. It's an authentic, savory snack which will fulfill you while sipping on our LaColumbe espresso/ coffee beverages!

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History of Tea

According to legend, tea was discovered by Buddha (Zen Buddhism father), who fell asleep during a 7-year long meditation. He awoke frustrated with himself and cut off his eyelids to prevent sleeping again. Where his lids fell, two tea plants grew.

The Chinese word “ch'a” is also another term for “tea,” which means to test, check or investigate. This term came about because Shen Nung , the father of Chinese medicine, felt sick after tasting various plants one day but luckily noticed tea leaves nearby. After ingesting some of the leaves, he began to feel cured and investigated the tree's healing quality. Tea spread to Japan, Korea and then the Middle East before it became popular in the west during the 16th Century. Britain's later initiative made India the largest producer and exporter of tea.

The Opium Wars between England and China were a direct result of the tea trade. While England was buying tea solely from China in the nineteenth century, they had no way to safely transport their money between the distant lands. Instead, they used their territory in India to start cheaply producing opium to barter for their tea, creating an instant supply and demand system. This system remained in place until 1908, when the British obtained a tea plant for themselves and were able to grow tea of their own in India and Sri Lanka.

Nowadays, tea is back in popularity throughout the United States and worldwide. With the exception of water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage globally.

The Tea Plant

All true teas come from a single plant. Its Latin name is Camellia sinensis. The plant is grown and processed in Asia, Africa, and Australia, but the finest teas currently come from five Asian countries: India, China, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Japan, and Formosa (Taiwan).

There are four major varieties of tea, including Rooibos:

  • Black (Red) tea is made by fully oxidizing tea leaves. It darkens the color and gives the eventual brewed tea its familiar "tea taste."
  • Green tea is made by steaming the tea leaves before they are rolled. Green tea has a leafier, more herb like taste than black tea.
  • Oolong and Pouchong teas are partially oxidized for half the time of a black tea.
  • Rooibos is a wild-grown tea plant of South African origin. It is naturally caffeine-free, and is packed with antioxidants used for soothing colic infants and pregnant women.

Tea Facts.. Did you know?

  • All types of tea, in particular green tea, are packed with antioxidants that help prevent certain conditions such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
  • Tea carries only half the amount of caffeine found in coffee.
  • Iced tea was invented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis by Richard Blechynden. He had come to the fair to offer free samples of his hot tea, but upon realizing that no one was drinking the hot beverage in such humid weather, he dumped a load of ice into his freshly brewed tea, and it was an instant hit.
  • Today, more than 80 percent of the tea served in the United States today is iced tea.

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Historical facts about Chocolate

Originally consumed as a beverage, chocolate comes from the seeds of 'melon-like' pods on the Cacao trees found in Central and South America. The Aztecs as well as many other ancient cultures within the region began mixing ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, thick drink called xocoatl that was quite different than the chocolate consumed in America today. Europeans later added sugar to this New World beverage to enhance its sweetness to suit their taste. Eventually, the Dutch formulated a powdered cocoa requiring only added water in order to create their own version of the chocolate drink. This cocoa drink gained popularity as a medicine and aphrodisiac, but eating solid chocolate was not introduced until the late 17th century.

How is chocolate made?

Workers cut the fruit of the cacao tree, or pods open and scoop out the beans which are allowed to ferment and then dry. After being cleaned, they are roasted and hulled and once the shells have been removed they are called nibs. Then they are ground up and the cocoa butter is released. The heat from the grinding process causes the mixture of cocoa butter and ground nibs to melt and form a free-flowing substance known as chocolate liquor. From this point, different varieties of chocolate are produced.

Chocolate must be tempered before being used in baking. Tempering returns the cocoa butter crystals to suspension within the chocolate mass and produces a chocolate with a dark glossy appearance and a firm consistency. The three steps to tempering chocolate are melting, cooling, and warming. These steps are done through the use of double boiler, which controls heat exposure to the chocolate. When the tempering process is complete, the chocolate is is brought to the most stable cystalline form, resulting in a hard, shiny chocolate that is ready to be used for any baking purpose.

Is chocolate really an aphrodisiac?

Chocolate contains three substances that have three very different purposes; caffeine, theobromine and phenyethylamine. The caffeine in chocolate acts as a very mild stimulant while the theobromine stimulates the heart muscles and nervous system. The phenyethylamine in chocolate has been shown to be a mood elevator and an anti-depressant. The combination of these three substances,giving you extra energy, making your heart beat faster, as well as making you a bit jumpy is the reason that chocolate is considered by many to be an aphrodisiac.

Chocolate Facts

  • One study shows that the smell of chocolate increases theta waves in the brain, which is and indicator of increased relaxation.
  • The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature (98.6 degrees) — which is why it literally “melts in your mouth.”
  • The average American consumes almost 12 pounds of chocolate each year.
  • Chocolate is America's favorite flavor, according to recent surveys with a little over 50% of adults preferring chocolate to other flavors.

*Our drinking chocolate is made with the purest ingredients to enhance the chocolate flavor. Our milk chocolate is primarily chocolate with a little sugar added for a bit of sweetness, and fat to enhance the texture. Our European-style chocolate does not use any milk or dairy products, and produces a pure, rich, intense chocolate flavor that is as close to drinking chocolate in a cup as possible. For those that prefer milk chocolate, we offer an American-style chocolate drink using our European chocolate as a base with added steamed textured milk.

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