(PRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE ALPINE AVALANCHE)
Isn’t it amazing how one little bean can make or break your day? Pick you up when you’re feeling low? Leave you feeling empty inside and unable to function without it? Power you through the day with its rich and mighty fierceness, wrapped up in a little, bitty package?
My favorite way to drink coffee – in a mug almost the size of my head and with no cream or sugar to tamper with the flavor.
A well-known story of the origin of coffee dates back to around the Sixth Century, when a sheepherder noticed his sheep were restless and excited when they ate the red berries off a certain plant in the Ethiopian region of Caffa. The sheepherder decided to try those berries and found he was energized and more alert than usual. A monk from a nearby monastery passed by and scolded him for partaking in the “devil’s fruit” but soon after, the monk decided to crush the berries into powder and poured hot water over it to make a drink, which proved to be more heaven-sent than he first believed. Word of the wondrous drink spread from monastery to monastery, and so the popularity of coffee arose and spread like wildfire.
In the wild, coffee trees can grow more than 35 feet tall which is too difficult for bean-picking, so most trees on coffee plantations are kept between six and 15 feet in height. The trees don’t produce until they are three to five years old, and once they start can produce for up to 60 years. Coffee beans start out as white flowers that turn to a red fruit resembling a cherry, with two seeds inside that are coated in a parchment-like film. It takes about nine months for each little coffee berry to ripen before they can be roasted, popped out of the shell, ground up and savored.
There’s quite a bit involved before you get that morning cup of java in your hands.
Out here in far West Texas, we’re lucky to have Big Bend Coffee Roasters at our fingertips. Owner Joe Williams has his shop set up in Marfa, just 20 minutes or so from his home in Fort Davis, and has been serving the community more than terrific coffee since 2008. Using only shade-grown, certified Organic and Fair Trade beans, Big Bend Coffee Roasters roasts coffee daily to provide the best sip of that ol’ devil’s fruit to ever pass your lips. You can buy whole beans or ground coffee, and quite a few of the coffees are even available in single-serve cups for using in a Keurig coffee maker. I prefer grinding mine fresh for every cup.
Above: Display of the single serve cups available at our local Porter’s.
Each month, 10% of the sales of that month’s best-seller is donated to a local charity through the Give Back program. There’s typically a sign with the coffee display that indicates which roast and charity are going hand in hand for the month, and that’s the one I tend to buy. October’s coffee is West Texas Wildfire. To order coffee online or to learn more about Big Bend Coffee Roasters, check out their new website at www.bigbendcoffeeroasters.com
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons ground coffee
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup walnuts
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter. Mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Then add walnuts, eggs, and vanilla and mix until a fairly dry dough forms. Divide the dough in two equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, use your palms to shape each half of the dough into a 14 x 1 3/4 x
1-inch cylinder. Transfer to the baking sheet and pat the tops of each cylinder to 3/4 inch high. Bake until the logs are firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer logs to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the cookie slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Lower the oven to 300°F and bake the cookies for 20 minutes, turning once. Transfer the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool completely… they will get crispy when they cool. Dip them in your favorite Big Bend Coffee and get ready to be energized.