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Magnolia Grill Blend Winner Posts...
I received my coffee as promised. The beans are dark, oily, and smell divine! The coffe has a rich, bright flavor--very nice way to start the day. Thanks so much to Cleo for this great "perk"....
Cleo here. Hi, Victoria! Thanks for letting me know you received the Magnolia Grill Blend. I'm very glad you enjoyed the coffee. Congrats on your win!
Next month's coffee giveaway will be announced the first week of October and will feature a brand new kind of coffee. Stay tuned.
P.S. If you're a new site visitor and you're wondering what's up with this conversation? Victoria is a subscriber to the Cleo Coyle Newsletter. She won my September free coffee giveway, which was a package of "Magnolia Grill Blend" - a signature coffee sold by Counter Culture Coffee roasters (click on the article about Magnolia Grill to learn more about it--just scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see the article's title in the white box). Anyone who signs up for my newsletter is automatically entered in each month's random drawing. Check out the right column for more info on the drawing and the newsletter.
Moka Pot problems
Hi Cleo, Your books convinced me to try a Moka pot. I had been drinking instant Folgers, too tired in the AM to fuss. I bought a Moka pot it worked great and now I am hooked. I grind my beans for each fresh pot. However sometimes it won't work. I do everything the same. Pot is clean etc... Water will boil in bottom but won't come up to top pot. What am I doing wrong?
NMI-no more instant...Lili
Hi Lili! Cleo here. Great post! You had me laughing about the Folgers: LOL on the NMI! Okay...this happened to me twicewith my Moka stovetop pot. The first time, I believed it was because I tried to pack way too many grinds into the basket. I realized that the unit screws together and forces the grinds down so packing them in that tightly wasn't necessary, and I reduced the amount in the basket. The second time it happened, I was sure there was something wrong again, but then I waited a bit longer and the boiling water finally came through okay. I don't know how much that helps you, but I can relate! If you discover another reason this might be happening, for sure post again and let me know!
Java joy to you,
hi! i have been waiting for the ghost and the femme fatale. when will that be out? i also love that series too!!
Cleo here (aka Alice Kimberly)! Thanks for you post, Donna! The Ghost and the Femme Fatale is due to be published in May 2008. I'm looking forward to posting the cover on this site whenever the publisher sends me a JPEG. Stay tuned! And thanks for supporting my Haunted Bookshop Mystery series, too!
Sending you a spooky shout-out,
Being a Navy veteran of 20 years I am well versed in the ways of Navy coffee.. all I can say is God Bless those who brought espresso and cappuccino to America!! I no longer settle for "instant"; it will be a cappuccino or nothing!! As for the series, I thoroughly enjoy the excursions around Manhattan with Claire and Madam; I've only been to NYC a couple of times but I am a huge fan!!
Cleo here. Hi Liz from NJ! Let me just say GO, NAVY! (I do believe it was the navy that brought us the term "Joe" for coffee--I'll have to recount this on a future post!)
Anyway, God bless YOU for your service to our country. It's an honor to have a servicewoman reading my books!
I do hear ya on the good versus bad coffee front. I myself put up with bad coffee for years in college (the kind of mud that's left on a burner for an hour before it hits your cup). Blech. I was really stuck with no altnerative at the time, and I swore after that (as you did) that I'd never again drink bad coffee!
Java joy to you and thanks for posting!
Here's a virtual cuppa latte art just for you!
Come on back now, y'hear?!
A request!I have read all of your fantastic books and as another reader stated I am having withdrawls too. Hurry! I do have one request you have great recipes in the back of your books my favorite is the Carmel Chocolate Syrup, yes I made it and found I couldn't leave it alone I am embarressed to say I would eat it with a spoon instead of in my coffee. Could you post some of your recipes on your site, because I have passed your books on to my daughter and she passed them on to my secretary etc. I want those recipes back. Thanks and just keep on writing those great books. Rusty Indianapolis
September 11 TributeAbout 4 years ago I was honored to be able to visit Ground Zero. Seeing the distruction caused to our country on television was like watching a bad movie, it was not real and you could forget it really happened to a real place in our country, until I actually saw the aftermath. I lost my husband almost 4 years ago and my heart goes out to everyone of the families that either lost a family member in the Twin Towers, on those airplanes, on the ground at the Pentagon and in PA. I honor the searchers, firefighters, police and military for a job that had very little rewards. I will never forget.
A Happy AddictOkay, I admit, I've turned into one of those "why-bother" people - only because of a terrible allergy to caffeine. But I still delight in the smell of that wonderful liquid silk that I can no longer drink - and in Clare Cosi's life both in and out of the Village Blend. Please write faster - I am already having wothdrawal and I just finished "Decaffeinated Corpse" yesterday. Oh well, if I can't drink it, I can still dream about it . . . . and Clare's mystery solving skills. And my vote goes to Mike Quinn . . . . . .
I was there too!
As I make my way through my work day I can't help but think about 9/11 as well for I was also there. I was 26 living that Single Girl in the city life on the Upper West Side literally on the subway going to my job on the Lower east side. It is by far the most surreal experience of my life, even more surreal than having a baby. I left New York in June of 2002, the reason had nothing to do with 9/11 but I never felt more like a New Yorker than on that day.
Clare's CatOne question about a character in On What Grounds. What happened to Java? Those of us with pets, especially cats, think of them as one of the family. I sadly have more pictures of my cats than of my grandchildren. Shouldn't Java be around a little more?
Realistic Characters and Setting
I just read Elizabeth’s post on Decaffeinated Corpse. I agree that I felt sorry for one of the characters. My daughter and I had the same reaction to the end of Latte Trouble (actually more than one). We discussed who was the actual victim/s. This is what makes great writing. When the characters are so real we feel something, it means the writer has done something that is memorable. I would also like to visit the coffee house, but alas, I live in Texas and don’t travel much except via reading. Thanks so much for the biscotti (really love the stuff) & Bob says thanks for the brownies. My daughter, Crystal, wants to open a Café and has had a lot of it planned out in her head for years. Your books have helped us in deciding what to serve, as well as, how to set up a real coffee house.
Catherine Lane of Amarillo
I have read your response to my first post!! Awsome! You are the first author to answer a post, that I've seen. That is so cool and says alot!! Just like Tara from New York you have hooked me forever!! I went out this weekend and bought a stove-top esspresso maker. I looked up on the other blogs and have learned how to use it!! This makes far better esspresso's than my electric esspresso maker. So I got rid of my electric one and now I only use the stove top maker. My 7 year old daughter says that it smells so good in the house after I get home from work and make my esspresso, that she wants one too! Yeah right!! I told her she could have one when she is older!! For now hot chocolate has to do. LOL!!! Your web-site has opened my eyes to the gourmet side of coffee. I cooked the Coffee Steak recipe from "Through the Grinder" , the last night, and LOVEd it. So did my daughter!! Kudos to you and your site!! Good food, good coffee, and good reading to all!!!
Till next time,
Leah From Destin, FL
P.S. I also made the Caramel - Chocolate Latte and syrup!! Gosh, this is heaven!! You are a Genius, Cleo!!
Hi Cleo, I previously posted "You've Got Me Hooked" when I was curious about Clare's future, if any, with Jim Rand. Well, I had only read Murder Most Frothy at the time and didn't have all the facts. I went back and started reading from the first book, currently on Latte Trouble, and I've changed my mind. I also started reading some of the previous posts here and see that there had been a Matt and Quinn debate going on before. I'd like to weigh-in with Matt - Whatever it is about bad guys and good girls, I have no idea, but I personally think he's misunderstood. Whether my opinion changes with Decaffienated Corpse, I'll have to let you know. It's so much fun, I love your books - please keep me guessing for a little while longer. Oh, and I'd like to tell you about the marked improvement in my coffee habits. My French Press never has time to get dusty now-a-days. I'm having so much fun trying out new coffee blends and flavors and have taken an instant liking to Lattes (which, can you believe, I never had before). And I love your website, I used one of your links to learn the proper way to use a French Press, right down to the water temp, and what a difference!
Thanks, Tara, NY
I really enjoyed the "Meet the Village Blend Staff" part of the website! It is so very different and fun to see the charectors in the books, the same way you see them. I enjoyed learning more about the charectors and I look forward to see the next pics you put up! These mysteries you write are a breath of fresh-air to me. Your writing makes these charectors really come alive. your books are not just one more mystery I read, but kinda like sitting with a friend and talking about mystery and coffee! Anyways... Have fun out there y'all!
Sincerly , Leah (Destin, FL) P.S. Can't say it enough, Cleo, love your books! And coffee!!! :) Congrats!! To the new Coffee King! I didn't even know this possition existed until I read that article. :)
Great BooksI just read four of the Coffeehouse Mysteries in the past two weeks. Now I hope to find "French Pressed" in the store. My favorite coffees are Green Mountain.
Coffee in Italy and Greece
Hi Cleo, I'll be traveling to Italy and Greece in October and would appreciate tips on how to order coffee and what to expect.
Thanks Phyllis Plymouth, MI
My favorite coffee
I just discovered www.bocajava.com, they have great coffee and they also donate a lot of coffee to the troops and give each member the opportunity to donate with each order. they also have a delicious selection of flavored teas that get put in 16 to 20 ounce bottled water. I am hooked and haven't had the cravings for pop in a while.
Cleo here. Hey, there! Thanks for the heads up on BOCA JAVA coffee. I activated the Boca Java link in your Coffee Talk post above, so if anyone is interested in checking out Boca Java's coffees, they can click on the link above. Or Click here to go to Boca Java's Home Page.
I've been hearing a lot of radio commericals for Boca Java coffee. I haven't yet tried them, so thanks for the heads up. I think their policy of donoting to our troops is wonderful.
For people who want to know more about donating delish coffee to our troops via Boca Java, click here. It will take you right to the page that talks about Operation 5 Million Cups, their latest goal for donating really good coffee to troops who appreciate getting a good cuppa quality Joe from home.
I really enjoyed reading some of the notes of thanks from the troops, which the Boca Java folks have posted on their site, too. FYI...
Here's a photo that was posted from Iraq, along with a note of thanks to Boca Java. Click here or on the photo below to read the Major's letter from Iraq.
Photo posted on Boca Java's troop donation thank you page from...
Major Jack N., Operations Officer
1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion (Centurion)
1st Brigade Combat Team (Ironhorse)
1st Cavalry Division (America's First Team)
Thanks again for telling us about Boca Java!
How do I Make coffee with a 3-cup stovetop espresso pot?
Help, I just bought a 3-cup stovetop espresso pot and it doesn't have directions. How much whole beans do I use in my coffee grinder? (It has a blade that does the grinding) How long do I grind the beans? then how long does it take from start to finish when the coffee is done? Also, do I press it in or leave the coffee loose in the little holder.
Cleo here. Hi there! Great questions. I love my 3-cup stovetop espresso pot (aka a "Moka" pot, which was invented in 1933 by an Italian metal worker and inventor named Alfonso Bialetti).
For those wondering what this is, click on the picture to of the stovetop Moka Express pot to the right to learn more...
I'll try to help with your situation...
1. Your whole bean question - I find that whole bean measure to ground measure is almost equal. In other words, 1 Tablespoon of whole beans should yield you about 1 Tablespoon of ground coffee (maybe a little more, but don't worry about the small amount that's extra).
2. You should grind your beans fine for espresso. Somewhat courser for drip coffee. And coarser still for French Pressed coffee. NOTE: when you grind your beans for the espresso pot, DO grind them fine, but DO NOT grind them so fine that they become a powder. This will give you a bitter cup. Your fine grind should look like ground pepper or maybe fine particles of black sand. You'll have to eyeball it and get a feel for it as practice always makes perfect. So don't be too critical of yourself as you experiment with the first few pots. Your tastebuds will tell you what to try next to help improve the cup. How long to grind depends on your grinder. You need to be the judge of when the grinds become fine but not powder. Again, practice will make perfect, so don't be too hard on yourself for getting it wrong a few times before you perfect your technique.
3. How long to brew? For a 3-cup stovetop espress pot, I put my timer on 5 minutes, then I put the pot on the burner on medium high. Usually the coffee is done within one or two minutes of the buzzer going off. This is a great time to use your senses in cooking. You will actually HEAR the water boilig in the base of the unit and you will SMELL this amazing aroma of the strong coffee being pumped into the top of the pot. Then you can lift the lid carefully and SEE whether the dark, rich coffee has finished filling the shiny silver top of the pot.
4. I use approx. 3 Tablespoons of finely ground coffee in my 3-cup maker. (I say approx. because as I said above sometimes my 3 Tablespoons of whole beans grinds up to a little more than 3 T. So don't worry about the little extra.)
5. You don't really need to press the grounds down, simply because when you screw the pot together, the pot itself will tamp down the grounds for you. (Unlike a machine that requires tamping into the portafilter handle.)
6. It's worth noting that although a dark roast is often used for espresso, many baristas prefer using a medium or full city roast. (Espresso refers to the way coffee is made and not to a particular type or grind of coffee.) Again, you should experiment with what YOU enjoy!
Finally, for anyone interested, Click here to see a step by step process for making espresso in a stovetop (Moka) pot. This cup is a very strong cup with a profile somewhere between an espresso and a cup of Turkish coffee. The $1,000 machines in coffeehouses will give you a different kind of espresso (with reddish/brow crema). But I really enjoy the stovetop espresso too. Many of my Italian relatives drank it every morning when I was growing up.
I myself enjoy it with a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of lemon zest. (I'm talking zest from the rind of the lemon only. A typical bartender's twist of lemon peel will work, too. Not a lemon wedge, mind you, no juice or pulp involved! Just a bit of peel to give a lovely brightness to the sweetened black coffee).
Yum. Easy and fast, too.
I hope this helps you! Thanks for posting and let me know how it goes!
Thank you, Cleo!
Dear Cleo, I just read your response to my post! Never did I think I'd receive a response from you, I just wanted you to know what a difference your writing has made in my recovery. Thank you so much for the big-hearted cookie! Your gracious response has certainly made my day, week and year! I will cherish you encouraging words as I work through my recovery. I, too, am looking forward to new AVATARS. I have such a picture of Madame in my mind, it will be interesting to see your description of her.
Karen C. from NE
Cleo here. Thank YOU, Karen. Wow! You have so much positive energy. I can feel it in your posts. Keep on smiling, okay?!
Here's a virtual mocha latte for ya! And I hear you on Madame, by the way. Stay tuned! She'll be tricky to create, but she should be making an appearance on the site this fall.
Wishing you all good things,
Great Coffee Produces Good Karma!
Last week our town had a major flood - the worst in 100 years (Findlay, Ohio). The BEST local coffee house, COFFEE AMICI, was located right downtown where the worst of the flood was. By some miracle (and an unknown good samaritan who placed sandbags at the door), the coffee house received NO flood damage. Great coffee and good people really do produce good karma!
Cleo here. What a great story!! Thanks for posting this! No doubt the good karma was aided by the good samaritan's urge to protect his valuable cuppa Joe. Love it!
If any Coffeehouse Mystery fans live near Findlay, Ohio, they might want to check out Coffee Amici! (Amici meas friends in Italian, by the way) Click here to go to their website.
I love the Coffee Amici coffeehouse philosophy (pasted below FYI). Clare Cosi would definitely be in agreement with it!
We believe talent in the fine arts is a gift to be shared. Some are given steady hands to paint and sculpt. Another may have a clear voice for song. Instrumentalists have the passion to practice endlessly. Coffee Amici has been designed to showcase these gifts. Make plans to stop by Fridays and Saturdays from 7-10 P.M. Relax and enjoy the fine arts with your friends and family at our gathering place.
Thanks again for telling us about Coffee Amici surviving the flood in Ohio. Java joy to you,
Just finished Decaffeinated Corpse
I really enjoyed it, I was a bit sorry for one of the characters at the end but otherwise I couldn't let it down. I had no idea you were Alice Kimberly too & I have enjoyed the bookshop mysteries too. I love Clare & Matteo avatars, I hope there will be more in the future, it's so much fun. I know it takes time to do these though. Thank you for creating such special characters & wonderful books. I live close to New York City & I often feel like going to the Village Blend.
Cleo here. What a wonderful post, Elizabeth. Thank you! I'm especially lovin' what you said about sometimes feeling like you want to go to the Village Blend. That makes my day because it tells me the place is as real to you as it is to me. That's why I finally decided to create a virtual coffeehouse - it's as close as I can manage to creating the real VB. That and the Coffeehouse Mystery tales, of course. I'm glad you liked Decaffeinated Corpse, too. And I know what you mean about feeling sorry for one of the characters (Clare felt that way too!). Murder is a tough business!
Thanks again for posting, Elizabeth. I hope you'll come back again and again to my virtual Village Blend!
Java joy to you,
P.S. Here's a virtual Latte Art pour for you, just for stopping by!
More Dante, Please!
I haven't been to the 1369 Coffeehouse in Cambridge yet, as I tend to frequent the North End when I'm in Boston, but it's definitely on my list now! I live in RI and enjoy the Coffee Exchange and Cafe Zog, both on Wickendon St. in Providence, the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House on Douglas Ave. in Providence (which is probably the closest thing we have to what I picture the Village Blend to look like), Cafe Bon Ami in Cranston, Sofia's in E. Greenwich and Brew'd Awakenings in South County.
I'm still looking for an approximation of the wonderful European coffeehouses I've visited, particularly those in Belgium. How civilized to get wonderful coffee in a real cup and saucer, with a piece of gorgeous chocolate on the side! I like the European coffee bisquits, too, but chocolate is always better. I was delighted that your new barista, Dante, is from RI. I'd love to see him included in additional storylines.
You offered recipes for our State drink, coffee syrup, in DECAFFEINATED CORPSE; also, you can buy a preprepared bottle of it in every grocery store here for a couple of dollars - Autocrat and Eclipse are the best and most readily available. I think the CoffeeHouse Mysteries would make a wonderful TV series, along the lines of Robert B. Parker's SPENSER FOR HIRE. Would that be something you'd consider?
Cleo here. Hi again, Carol C. YES! Dante Silva, fine arts painter, tattooed barista, and native of RI, will return to the Village Blend in future books. Have no fear. I love that character. And down the line, I'll be scheduling him for a staff page avatar too (he just needs to be in a few more books)!
Thanks very much for telling me about your Belgium coffee experience. How wonderful! I've visited cafes in London, Paris, Rome, and West Berlin but never Belgium! (And, yes, chocolate is always better! And I'm SURE it's amazingly better in Belgium!)
I virtually checked out some of the coffeehouses that you mentioned. How wonderful! Now I have a starter list of them to look up when I'm in your neck of the woods.
Here are some links for anyone who wants to check out a few of the coffeehouse recommended by Carol...
Here is the coffeehouse that Carol says reminds her of the Village Blend...
Like the Village Blend, the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House is located in an historic district (only this district is located in Providence, RI, and not New York City. Yes, don't be fooled by the Brooklyn name - it's a Rhode Island location!).
The old brick building (well over a century) once housed a grocery. Then a local artist with real vision bought it and restored the property . How wonderful!! This is a place I'll definitely want to check out someday!
And here are a few more of Carol's local picks...
COFFEE EXCHANGE (they mail order freshly roasted coffee)
I love their policy of giving free shipping to all orders of 4 pounds or more. This is an excellent deal because shipping costs really are a bummer when it comes to getting coffee via snail mail. I'll have to check this out! Also, they clearly have some great programs to help coffee farmers. Bravo!
BREW'D AWAKENINGS (Cleo says: very punny!)
COOL website! Wow! I also like their menu: "The Curious George" - a coffee drink that includes chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter" and I'd love to try their "Frozen Cappaccino" Yum!
Finally, to answer your question about TV adaptation - that's something that would indeed be a lot of fun. Seems to me we've gone far too long without a more modern version of Murder She Wrote (I loved that series).
I think the TV version of Coffeehouse Mysteries would lean a little more towards the comic end. But I can just see Clare and Matt sniping at each other while trying to solve a murder, serve customers, AND stay out of hot water (OOOOOOH bad pun)!
LOL, Carol, Java joy to you,
Village Blend Staff
Hi Cleo, My vote for the next postings on the staff to be for Joy (she helps out) and would like to meet Quinn.
Bob Lane in Amarillo
Cleo here. Hi Bob in Amarillo! LOL on Joy. Thanks for your vote on Clare's wayward daughter! I just added her to the bottom of the STAFF page today as "coming soon" - and Mike Quinn will be fun to create, for sure.
I also undertand I have YOU to thank for introducing your entire family to the Coffeehouse Mysteries (via an impulse purchase of Murder Most Frothy). Very cool!
I baked you some delish virtual brownies for a big chocolate thank you.
Wishing you Java Joy,
Re Village Blend Staff from C. Lane
Glad to let ya know the three of us did enjoy the page! I'm sure there are plenty of others, y'all speak up. We don't use violins around here, they're fiddles! How well we understand time constraints. Take all the time needed, ya hear. I agree it's a great idea to let us know in the newsletter. In the meantime, we'll keep checking out the site.
Village Blend Recipes
I just read the post from Margaret requesting a recipe from one of the books. I agree no one should post recipes or any part of any copyright. That's what they are all about. I recommend she should buy the book with the recipe. Hey, Cleo! How 'bout checkin' into publishing a book with the recipes (coffee lattes as well, cause they're hard to find in recipe books). That would help those of us who keep libraries and want to cook without messin' up our books.
Catherine Lane in Amarillo
Cleo here. Hi again, Catherine in Amarillo! Love your posts (fiddle and all). Great idea on a Cleo Coyle coffee recipes book. If things continue to go well with the series, that's a great idea down the line!
Best java wishes to you,
Village Blend Staff
When will we be able to meet more of the Village Blend Staff on your site? I love the characters, very real, and enjoyed the internet versions as well.
C. Lane in Amarillo, TX
Cleo here. Hi C. Lane in Amarillo! THANK YOU for your post! I loved creating the "Village Blend Staff" page and you're the very first person to mention it! Hooray! Now I know SOMEONE out there likes it!
Creating the Avatars for Clare and Matteo was tons of fun for me. Unfortunately, the process is a time consuming one, and I've been under major deadline stress lately (yeah, I know, poor me, break out the violin). I plan to add more CM characters to the page in the coming months. Madame is next on my list of Avatars. She should be a challenge!
I appreciate your mentioning the page, and you've actually given me a great idea with your post. The next time I add a staff member (probably later this fall), I'll announce it on the Home Page and mention it in the e-newsletter, so you (and others) will be able to see right away that there's an update.
Thanks for dropping by the virtual coffeehouse C. Lane! Come on back again anytime, y'hear!
Is there a portion on your website for recipes
I would love to have the recipe for the chuck roast with coffee. Unfortunately I've misplace my copy of on what grounds. could someone please post it. thank-you
Margaret, Ferndale Ca
Cleo here. Hi Margaret in Ferndale, CA. Thank you for posting! The recipe that you're looking for is "Coffee Marinated Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Hearty Coffee Gravy."
It's a delish recipe--very earthy and it's got a real jolt in there from the caffeine. However, that recipe is not found in the back of ON WHAT GROUNDS (there are other great recipes in the back of that book, too, just not that one). The coffee marinated steak recipe is in the recipe section of Coffeehouse Mystery #2: THROUGH THE GRINDER. (Cover is pictured left.)
I'm thrilled that you're interested in the recipe, but please understand, the recipes are part of the book purchase. So no one should be posting the Coffeehouse Mystery recipes on this site or any other site without permission. To answer your question about recipes on this site, I do occasionally post recipes on the Home Page. And I'll also be sending those out via my e-newsletter. The newsletter is free, and you are most welcome to subscribe to that. In the coming months, I may very well be sharing the popular Coffee Marinated Steak recipe in my newsletter, too. Great idea!
To get the recipe faster you can always borrow THROUGH THE GRINDER from the library or (eee gad!) even purchase a copy for yourself because as I said, even if you misplaced your copy of ON WHAT GROUNDS (woops), it isn't in there!
Warmest wishes and thanks sincerely for taking the time and effort to post a message. I've just launched this site, but you make a good point that a section of the site devoted just to recipes might be something for me to consider in the next year or so. I hope you'll come back to the virtual Village Blend again, Maragret. Enjoy a vritual cup of java just for stopping by!