• August 13, 2019 /  Food

    Ever wonder where the coffee beans in your morning coffee come from? You probably know words like Arabica and Robusta in terms of taste, but did you know that these words can also tell us where those coffees were grown? Here is a look at three of the world’s best specialty coffees and the regions in which they originated. Read on to discover the rich history of these coffees.

    Yemen Arabian Mocca

    Grown in the mountainous region of Sanani in south Yemen at an altitude in excess of 4,500 ft, Arabian Mocca is the world’s oldest cultivated coffee, distinguished by its richness and full body with chocolate undertones. Yemen is on Asia’s Arabian peninsula, a stone’s throw from Africa. Since there are no other Arabian coffees, it is classified as part of the family tastes of North African coffees.

    It is here that the term “mocca” was coined. Its correct spelling is Mokha, for the port city that Yemen coffees ship from. Yemen’s arid climate contributes to the production of one of the best-loved specialty coffees that led Europeans to fall in love with coffee many centuries ago.

    Yemeni coffee is one of the most distinct and prized coffees in the world. It’s been called a “wild” or natural cup, earthy, complex, pungent — to some it may be strange and bitter. This coffee can also be characterized as dry, winey, and acidic with chocolate and fruit undertones, rustic flavors, and intense aromas.

    (Source: http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.arabia.yemen.html)

    Mexico “Spirit of the Aztec”

    The state of Veracruz produces many average coffees in its low-lying regions, but atop the tall mountains near the city of Coatepec an excellent Arabica bean coffee called Altura Coatepec reigns. The word Altura itself means “high grown”. Altura Pluma indicates the finest coffee of Mexico. Coetepec, a coffee district of Veracruz, provides particularly outstanding coffee beans. Mexican Altura beans have a full medium body, fine acidity, a wonderful bouquet and a satisfying flavor that is mild and sweet. This fine Mexican coffee is noted for delivering a consistently smooth taste and fragrant flavor with good body, depth, and overall balance. It is likely one of the most underappreciated coffees around.

    Mexican coffee botanists celebrate Mexico’s highest altitudes (with their approximately one hundred species of Arabica coffee plants) as the finest region of all the world’s gourmet coffees. An inferior grade of coffee bean known Robusta grows at lower altitudes. Mexico itself produces huge quantities of these unremarkable coffee beans, often utilized as dark roasts, supermarket coffees and beans for blending.

    Arabica coffee arrived in Mexico at the start of the nineteenth century from the West Indies. Today, Mexico ranks among the world’s top coffee exporters. Most Mexican coffee is processed by the wet method to ensure better acidity and body. Mexican coffee is graded based on the altitude where it is grown. The plantations of Veracruz account for 60 to 70 percent of the Mexican coffee crop. Approximately 5 million bags of coffee a year originate in Mexico. Most of the better beans are grown on large plantations in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero. These are producers of “high-grown” Altura Coatepec coffees, among the finest coffees grown in the Americas.

    Their flavor is light and nutty with medium acidity and a mild, well-balanced body. With a fine chocolate tang and a hint of sweet undertone beneath the finish, these coffees make an ideal beverage for those of us who enjoy a smooth, mellow-tasting brew that is not overpowering. Altura’s smoothness produces many loyalists of the coffee drinkers who sample it. Mexican Altura Coatepec is an incredible morning coffee, as it could be used in a blend to tone down accompanying fuller-bodied coffees, or better yet, alone for the pure regional flavor.

    (Source: http://www.coffeeuniverse.com/world_coffee_latin.html)

    Java “Dutch Estate”

    As a synonym of coffee, “java” introduced itself in the seventeenth century when the Dutch began cultivating coffee trees on the island of Java (part of the islands of Indonesia) and successfully exported it globally. Often the standard by which all other coffees are measured, Java’s finest golden beans are roasted to yield a piquant aroma, displaying an exquisite acid balance, a heavy body with chocolate undertones, and a lighter finish than Sumatran.

    At one time the island of Java was ruled by sultans and dominated by mysticism. The early Dutch settlers who came in the late 17th century found Java to be a wonderfully diverse place with high mountains, thick tropical rain forests and a sultry climate that revolved around the monsoon rains. The Dutch and the Javanese settled the coastal volcanic plains, while much of the interior of the island was left to the jungle and a few tribal groups. The Dutch found that coffee grew very well in this climate, and began to set up plantations around their initial foothold in Batavia (modern day Jakarta). Initially Arabica coffees were planted, but many of these were killed by the coffee rust plague that devastated the region in the 1800’s. Robusta was the logical replacement — a tough plant resistant to many diseases.

    Eventually the Dutch plantation owners conquered Java and took on the elements. Large plantations were established in the east of the island, as well as in Central Java and the west. After the Japanese occupied Java in the 1940’s many of these plantations were destroyed or absorbed back into the jungle with their owners imprisoned by the Japanese. After the war and the ensuing independence struggle, many of the larger plantations ended up under the control of the government. Today the big Java plantations (such as Nusantara XII) are still government-owned. However there are many medium and smaller growers who produce excellent quality Arabica beans. These coffees are known as “Government Estate” Java. They are primarily produced at 4 old farms (Kayumas, Blawan, Djampit, Pancoer). The Government body grows about 85% of the coffee in East Java, close to Bali on the Ijen area. The range of altitudes suitable for coffee production is 3,000 to 6,000 feet, with most growing in the plateau region at 4,500 feet.

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  • Distorting the Worlds of Muscle and Fitness

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    May 8, 2019 /  Food

    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.

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