Cold Brew Coffee Review

cold brew coffee bottles

I love coffee. So when my brother sent me a Whole Foods gift card for my birthday, I lept at the opportunity to try out several cold brew coffees — a purchase I would normally consider to be extravagant.

Cold brew is a different process than normal hot‐brew coffee. “Cold” refers to how the coffee grounds steep during a long period of time via pressure and cold water — not using the typical just‐below‐boiling hot water.

And to be consistent in applying coldness to the whole experience, I drank each of these coffees in a clear glass over ice.

I generally enjoy coffee black with no sugar, please. If I’m at Starbucks, I’ll add half‐and‐half to my cup, along with one packet of unbleached sugar. Taste is a personal thing, and it varies for everyone depending on your mood. For example, if my drink is dessert, I will choose a different coffee than what I want first thing in the morning (dark with no sugar).

For the sake of this comparison test, I drank each coffee without any additions except for ice. And the order below is in the sequence of my testing. I drank one per morning until they were all gone.

My ratings are based solely on how much I enjoyed the taste. So without further fanfare, here are my ratings…

Chameleon Mexican Coffee: This Austin, Texas‐based brew is black with 11 grams of sugar added per serving. It’s sweet and all organic, like most of these coffees. It’s nice as‐is with a strong hint of cinnamon adding character. I felt like I was on a beach in Mexico in the morning, enjoying the cool before the sun really kicked in. 3rd

Califia Mocha Noir: This one’s very sweet, even though the label said, “Now with 25% less sugar.” The added almond milk made for a very chemical‐like flavor. It was shipped all the way from Los Angeles to Denver, which doesn’t do much for the planet. It’s vegan, gluten‐free, non‐GMO and direct trade (different than fair trade, in that the focus is on quality and not as much on the farmers). The label doesn’t say anything about organic and also features a very strange marketing phrase: “You have to be good, but you don’t have to behave.” They’re reaching a little too far! Last

Corvus Hopped: Denver‐based Corvus is the source of this one. Hops (one of the key ingredients in beer) are combined with cold‐brewed coffee. The beans are “steeped for 16 hours.” There is no sugar added, no calories and a bitter pure coffee flavor. The Rwanda single‐source beans supposedly are “balanced with notes of citrus.” I don’t really care where the beans come from, as long as they result in a good coffee (excepting that I appreciate fair‐trade sourced beans). And I dunno about notes of citrus, but it did taste like pretty good coffee to me. I couldn’t really taste the hops either. I really love Denver‐based Corvus, but this one left me cold. 4th

Lucky Jack Nitro Cold Brew Old School features no sugar, very light carbonation, and is super‐smooth without any bitterness, fair trade and organic. I loved the really velvety taste. This one’s from Las Vegas and thus “lucky” — at least in this contest! 1st

KonaRed Cold Brew Espresso: Another brew with no sugar, and minimal ingredients: purified water, coffee and Hawaiian Coffee Fruit Extract. Another smooth brew with little bitterness. KonaRed is based in California… I’m hoping that only the beans were from Hawaii, since the carbon footprint of shipping mostly water and glass across the ocean (or through the air) is not very appealing. 2nd — tie

Groundwork Cold Brew: Yet another no sugar brew, with extremely simple ingredients: filtered water and organic coffee. It was very smooth and not bitter. The packaging had the most basic label with very little philosophy and no vegan‐friendly icons. Groundwork is based in Los Angeles. 2nd — tie

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Grab creativity wherever you can

I’ve heard this: “She’s a super creative person.”

I also heard this: “Everyone’s creative!” (Source: Creative Mornings)

Both are true. Some are able to tap into creativity more than others. Some hold themselves back from expressing their creativity… and that may be a good thing — not all creativity is positive.


Here are a few random thoughts on creativity:

  1. It needs to be fun. If your creative expression is painful, what’s the point?
  2. You can express your creativity in your job or schoolwork — or in your spare time.
  3. Try focusing your creative energy in a way that’s easy for you to express. I’ve found it fulfilling to express my creativity in an area with few boundaries — this blog.
  4. You can be creative in areas where most people don’t expect you to be creative. A factory worker may add the same single component to the same device all day long. But if he thinks of a way to do that better, his creativity may save his company thousands of dollars.
  5. It may cost nothing to be creative. Think shoes… you can buy boring standard new shoes or go to a consignment store and spend the same amount to buy shoes that are more interesting but only slightly used.
  6. You can be creative in a huge way (moving to a different part of the world) or in a small way (brushing your teeth with toothpaste from a different part of the world).

You’ll find some more thoughts on creativity here.

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Rapid gentrification

restaurant out-of-business sign

I was sad to say goodbye. I didn’t even know they were leaving.

The Baker neighborhood of Denver is rapidly changing. I knew that — but when I tried to find a cheap place to grab a quick lunch on a recent Saturday, I discovered that all the inexpensive non‐chain restaurants were now out of business. Every one had shuttered their windows within the last six months.

A small New Mexican restaurant — gone. Famous Pizza — gone. Several other small independent eateries disappeared, all to be replaced by empty storefronts, while their owners await increased rents from more upscale establishments.

I daresay those landlords won’t be looking for tenants who will provide cheap eats.

My tummy is sad.

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The useless balcony

the traffic on East Belleview Avenue

Across the street from my office is a relatively expensive apartment building.

We’re not talking NYC levels — but the rent is similar for one of those Greenwood Village 2‐bedroom apartments to that of a suburban Denver 3‐bedroom house.

Yes, there’s location — I could walk to work if I lived there.

But I am not questioning the residents’ decisions to live there — I can understand some of the charms.

Rather I’m questioning the residents who choose to put patio furniture on their small balconies. You see, there’s a steady flow of traffic during all waking hours. Noise and diesel fumes are part of the experience a resident would enjoy by sitting on their balcony for a glass of wine at sunset.

What’s different about watching and listening to waves crashing on the beach? Those sounds also ebb‐and‐flow. Water flows past your feet, just as compact utility vehicles do along East Belleview Avenue.

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Plan a‐h‐e‐a‐d

worn-out street name letters on a sidewalk

Reminder to self… plan ahead.

At one intersection in downtown Denver, what were once beautiful street names are rendered in sunken brass letters.

As you can tell, most of the numbers either got stolen or simply knocked off through wear‐and‐tear.

The solution would have been for the street‐name sign creators to have made the letters about three times deeper, so the surrounding concrete could have more firmly held onto the letters. Or for the letters to be made of a different material that would wear at exactly the same rate as the surrounding concrete.

But they were thinking the concrete was sticky enough and permanent enough to hold the letters in place for years to come.

No.


The obvious analogy is for me and you to build our efforts and things to last.

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Go backwards — drive a manual

6-speed manual transmission

It happened very quickly.

Jay, my oldest son, was shopping for a newer car to replace his dying (and uncool) Toyota Corolla. He invited me to look at a car he was considering. I drooled, and he yawned. The car was just not his style — but it did fit my age group rather well.

Heather, Rachel and I played around with the idea of replacing our Honda Fit that year‐older German car — with very little difference between each sale price. Our discussion turned into action… within a week, the title was signed over to us.

But it has a manual transmission.

A few years back, I said that I’d probably not get another car with a manual — you know, it’s just too much work in any stop‐and‐go commute.

But the car was so nice. The previous owner had maintained it meticulously and kept complete service records. “Only Mobil 1 for oil changes.” I could tell he was not lying, judging by the condition of every part of the car.

After a few weeks of driving, I realize that the extra effort of shifting has faded into the background. I love it.

Don’t say, “never again.”

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Hiking etiquette

backpack with bluetooth speaker

A peaceful hike up a mountain trail. Birds chirping, wind lightly touching treetops, the soft thump of your boots touching the rock face.

The music of Drake suddenly starts entering the wilderness… a faster hiker is sharing his music with everyone via his bluetooth speaker and smartphone.

Serenity is gone.

Please friends, when you go hiking, leave your bluetooth speaker at home. Not everyone may enjoy your favorite music. There’s this little invention called headphones…

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A simple way to make a difference — with paper towels

paper towel hanging from an automatic dispenser

It’s super simple to use less resources.

Many times when I visit the men’s room in my office building, I hear men get two or three paper towels from the automatic dispenser.

It’s very easy to dry your hands with just one towel. Use every corner of the towel and dry each part of your hands more than once.

And think of that savings multiplied by once or twice a day times however many days you work a year… that is a lot of paper.

The saving is more than just paper. There’s the total cost of consumption to consider.

And you will be saving your property management company money that they will not have to spend on more paper towels.

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Chinese companies need help with branding

chinese backpack names

Have you ever noticed that Amazon sells lots of cheap stuff with weird brand names?

These goods are shipped from China to you (sometimes direct) without any help from American marketing experts.

Look at the backpacks that were featured in the top eight results from a search on Amazon for “packable backpack”:

  • Zomake
  • Neekfox
  • Venture Pal
  • Hikpro

Only one of those brands would even get close to appealing to an American: Venture Pal. But even the word “pal” is not part of American English anymore. None of those outdoor equipment brands are as attractive to American consumers as:

  • North Face
  • Osprey
  • Herschel
  • Patagonia

Admittedly, several of those known brands have a lot of equity — years of making quality products. But they evoke the untamed destinations, rugged adventure, or at least a feeling of quality.

And the Chinese brands are often very good value for the money. They may even be made in the same factories as the big brands. But those companies are cutting themselves out of a lot of profit that could be realized if they had better branding.


My recommendation to companies that produce products like Hikpro (“hick‐pro”) and Neekfox (what?!) — simply hire a group of American teenagers. They can come up with a better unique name within 20 minutes of brainstorming than five hours spent by a team of Chinese nationals sitting in a room in Shenzhen.

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The ultimate commuter vehicle

Fuji Sanibel bicycle

I recently took the plunge and bought my first new bicycle since eighth grade.

Electric.

Though many consider electric bicycles “cheating” (when they zip past regular bikes on a trail), I had many reasons for venturing into this new category of cycles.

  1. In October‐ish, my office is moving from 7.2 miles one‐way to 11.4 miles one‐way. The difference in my regular bicycling commute will be roughly another 40 minutes out of my day. A commute on this bike is close to the time of driving. And with the typically bad traffic along the new route, the electric bike might actually be faster!
  2. Every time I ride the electric bike rather than drive, I’m preventing a significant amount of pollution. (I plan to ride as many days as I can.)
  3. It’s still exercise… the motor won’t go unless you are pedaling. (It’s a “pedal assist” bike.) Even though it doesn’t provide as much exercise as a commute on my road bike, I am still getting way more exercise than I would be behind the wheel of my small automobile.
  4. It’s a lot cheaper to charge the battery than pay for gas (once you factor out the cost of the bike).
  5. Upkeep expenses will be undoubtedly less than for any of our cars.
  6. It can only go 20 miles per hour, so it’s pretty safe.
  7. 50% of the bikes sold in Belgium are electric (source). They must know something.
  8. Ironically, the frame color is very similar to that of my road bike, which I had custom painted a million years ago.
  9. It was a super good deal, via Performance Bicycles — like less than half of what most electric bikes go for.
  10. It’s fun.
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