Tag Archives: coffee

Coffee 201: How Much Do You Know About Coffee?

Last year, we covered the basics with Coffee 101. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into America’s favorite hot (or cold!) beverage.

How much do you know about coffee


While some people can’t imagine drinking coffee without the caffeine, others just like the flavor and enjoy drinking it decaffeinated. And as this blog has covered, people who have trouble getting at least seven hours of sleep should avoid or reduce caffeine, especially within six hours of their bedtimes. According to experts, caffeine occurs naturally in coffee beans, and roasters remove it from green, unroasted coffee beans, either with solvents (like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) or without. The solvent-free decaffeination method, also called the Swiss water method, takes longer but may maintain more of the bean’s original flavor. Note that even decaf coffee is not 100 percent caffeine-free; a study out of the University of Florida found that even coffees labeled as decaffeinated contained small amounts of caffeine.

Brew styles

  • The most common brewing method, both in offices and homes, is automatic drip. An automatic drip coffeemaker heats water to the boiling point and then slowly drips it over ground coffee beans. It is convenient, but it may make a weaker brew than some other methods.
  • For a stronger, more flavorful brew, try a French press. A French press requires a bit more manual labor: pouring boiling water into a pot of grounds, letting it brew, and then pressing the grounds down to leave only coffee. Because there’s no filter, the flavor is stronger (and some say better).
  • For the ultimate in convenience and customization, it’s hard to beat single-serve coffeemakers. First popularized by Keurig, single-serve coffee machines pour hot water through a pod—or “k-cup”—to create a variety of hot beverages, including coffee, tea, and cocoa. Coffee from single-serve machines tends to be weaker because it doesn’t steep or brew for very long. However, the flip side of the short brew time… is the short brew time; your coffee is ready in less than a minute, as opposed to the 10 minutes required for automatic and French press coffee. Single-serve machines are also a great choice for small offices where different team members have differing tastes in hot beverages; instead of brewing whole pots of coffee that may go to waste, single-serve machines allow everyone to brew his/her own drink to order.
  • For all the flavor without the bitterness, try cold brewing your coffee this summer. Like a slow-motion French press, cold brewing involves steeping ground coffee in cold water for 24 hours or more, then filtering out the grounds.


Thirsty for more? Check out USConnect’s full line of Route 66 custom-roasted coffees!

How Well Do You Know Your Coffee?

Coffee 101

How Well Do You Know Your Coffee?

Columbian Arabica. Sumatra Dark Roast. Blond French Vanilla. The names of coffees can be mighty confusing, and that’s before you even get to the brewing! If you’ve ever wondered what all those coffee terms mean, here’s your coffee primer.

What is Coffee? The coffee we drink comes from the beans—or seeds—of the coffee cherry. Since coffee trees grow best in cool temperatures but rich, tropical soil, most coffee comes from the mountains of regions in the “bean belt,” which stretches roughly from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Coffee farmers and producers harvest the coffee cherries, strip the fruit, and dry the seeds. The product is now “green coffee,” which coffee roasters buy as a commodity.

Species of Beans: There are actually only two varieties of coffee bean: arabica and robusta. Arabica beans, which have lower acidity and a more delicate flavor, are far more common: If you’re brewing coffee at home or ordering it at a high-end café, it almost certainly came from arabica beans.

Arabica beans must be grown at higher elevations and lower temperatures, and are also more labor-intensive to grow. Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger, more acidic flavor and also has more caffeine. It can be grown at lower elevations and is sold at a lower price. You are more likely to find robusta beans in instant coffee or other lower-cost products.

Geographical Origin:  Among arabica beans, there are hundreds of unique origins relating both to geographic region and bean processing. Broadly, the main coffee-producing regions are South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa and the Middle East. South and Central America’s coffees tend to be mild and medium-bodied, making them popular in the United States. Colombia’s mountainous terrain, in particular, makes it one of the world’s foremost coffee producers.  African and Indonesian coffees, on the other hand, tend to be fuller-bodied, with earthier flavors.

Roasting: Green coffee beans need to go through one more important step before they can be brewed and consumed: roasting. Roasting involves cooking the beans at a low temperature to reduce acidity and release sugars. Roasted beans can range from light brown to almost black in color, depending on the length and temperature of roasting.

Light roast coffees are known by names like Blond Roast or New England Style. Contrary to popular belief, lighter roasts actually have higher acidity than darker roasts, since roasting removes acids from the beans. Lighter roasts also have more caffeine, and because there’s less roasting flavor, they give a clearer taste of the green bean profile.

Medium roasts, which are most common in the United States, have names like Breakfast Blend, Full City, or Regular Roast. If you order a coffee in a restaurant, you will probably get a medium roast. Dark roast beans appear very dark brown and shiny, as the roasting process has released more of the oils from the seed. These coffees, with names like French Roast, Viennese Coffee, and Espresso have a sweet, caramelized flavor—sometimes with a burnt taste as well.

Stay tuned for Coffee 102, where we’ll discuss flavor additives, brewing styles, and more.

What Were the Big Coffee Trends of 2016?

Here’s the buzz on America’s favorite beverage – coffee!

Plain Drip Coffee Consumption Is Declining.

According to the National Coffee Association’s 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) report, generic coffee made in a standard drip coffeemaker is losing popularity in What Were the Big Coffee Trends of 2016?favor of gourmet coffee drinks, especially those make with espresso. Here are some stats from the report:

  • Daily consumption of espresso-based beverages has nearly tripled since 2008, according to the latest data from the 2016 NCDT.
  • Between 2008 and 2016, past-day consumption of gourmet coffee beverages soared from 13% to 36% among 18-to-24-year-olds, and from 19% to 41% for those 25-39.
  • For espresso-based beverages alone, the jump become 9% to 22% for the 18-24 group and 8% to 29% for those 25-39.

Millennials Are Leading the Charge.

As this blog has noted multiple times, Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) are at the forefront of many workplace and nutritional trends, and coffee is no exception. The NCDT report found that “Millennials are drinking coffee out-of-home, turning coffee consumption into a public expression of individuality.” Millennials also crave a connection to the products they purchase, and tend to be willing to pay more for fair-trade-sourced coffee.

A Looming Coffee Shortage?

From its first use in the sixteenth century to today, coffee has been a mainstay of many people’s days: especially their mornings. Many of us find it difficult to start the day without coffee’s caffeine and bitter flavor. A recent report, therefore, may strike terror in the hearts of many coffee drinkers. The Climate Institute recently released The Brewing Storm: The climate change risks to coffee, which suggests that wild coffee could be extinct by 2080. Want to make sure that our children and children’s children get to enjoy coffee too? Check out things we can do to mitigate climate change and issues for coffee growers.


How to Make Iced Coffee at Work

Iced at the Office

The average American spends over $1,000 on coffee drinks per year; going out every day for a $5 frozen latte can be an expensive habit! Luckily, USConnect and Route 66 Coffee give you coffee-shop quality coffee right in the workplace, and with a few simple tricks, you can concoct your cold drinks right in your office kitchen. For cold coffee drinks, we recommend the bold flavor of Route 66 Chicago Dark Roast. Or if you’re looking for a less caffeine in the afternoon, try Route 66 Sonoran Desert Decaf.

how to make iced coffee yourself

Easiest Method Iced Coffee

If your office uses a Keurig or other single-serve coffee machine, pack the reusable cup with your favorite coffee, and choose the smallest cup size on the machine. This will create a strong, concentrated brew that you can pour directly over ice without worrying that the coffee will be too watered down. The best thing about this method (if you have access to a single-serve coffee maker) is that you can make iced coffee to order, whenever the desire strikes.

Plan-Ahead Iced Coffee

If you don’t have access to a single-serve coffee maker, you can still have delicious iced coffee; you just have to plan ahead a little bit. Simply brew your normal coffee, and once it has cooled somewhat, pour it into a glass jar to store in the refrigerator for about two hours. When it is fully chilled, pour it over ice, and voila!

Cold-Brew Coffee

Cole-brew coffee takes quite a bit of planning, but the smooth taste is well worth the bother. When the coffee grounds brew without heat, they don’t produce as much acid, creating coffee with lots of flavor but less bitterness.

To make cold-brew coffee in the office, you will need a large jar, a cheesecloth or nut-milk bag, and your favorite Route 66 coffee. Simply scoop 1.5 cups of coffee beans into the filter bag, tie the bag, and put it in the jar with eight cups of cold water. Keeping this ratio, you can halve, double, or even triple the recipe as needed. Leave the jar on your desk or in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to brew. At this time, remove the filter bag, squeezing the extra coffee back into the jar. You have your cold-brew coffee! This method makes quite a concentrated brew, so you will want to add milk, cream, or even just water to dilute it.



USConnect and Route 66 Partner with Life in Green to Provide Eco-Friendly Coffee Solutions

USConnect’s premium coffee service, Route 66, is pleased to announce its new partnership with Life in Green packaging and accessories. USConnect, the United States’ only nationwide wireless integrated food service network, provides the highest quality fresh food through a variety of customized dining services, fresh-food vending services, unattended retail services, and office coffee services.


For many years, USConnect had purchased coffee for its office coffee services from other vendors, but in 2013, USConnect CEO Jeff Whitacre started thinking about how USConnect coffee could stand apart as its own brand: a brand that reflected the company’s values. Recognizing the iconic power of Route 66 in American culture, Whitacre and the USConnect team chose Route 66 as the name for its new coffee line. “There’s nothing more American than Route 66,” says Whitacre. “It represents the American spirit of adventure, of travel and experiencing new things in new places. As people travel along Route 66, they stop in coffee shops and diners all across America. This coffee celebrates that journey and the spirit of those travelers.”

Indeed, Route 66 roasters scour the world in search of the best beans and blends to create the most flavorful coffees. Each American Heritage coffee (see full list below) is named for a different stop on Route 66, representing the scope of the American experience. But for USConnect, it wasn’t enough to just embrace the American spirit of adventure. In order to help keep America great, Whitacre and USConnect felt that Route 66 should be an eco-friendly company. To that end, Route 66 is partnering with Life in Green to provide cups and accessories with the smallest possible environmental footprint. It’s about celebrating what’s best about America!

From the sunny shores of California to the Lone Star State, Route 66 coffees will magically transport coffee drinkers from their desks to some of the most notable places of our great nation:

California Blonde: A light, lively, perfectly balanced cup that’s easy to drink all day

Rocky Mountain Blend: From the heights of the Andes to the heights of the Rockies, this 100% Colombian coffee is fresh and heady.

Lone Star Select Roast: This 100% pure estate-grown coffee is as rich in flavor as the Texas soil.

Sonoran Desert Decaf: This seductive blend of the most flavorful coffees carries a unique, rich flavor without the caffeine.

St. Louis Doughnut Shop Blend: This medium roast is a great way to start the day with a smooth, clean taste and delightful aroma.

Chicago Dark Roast: Every sip of this rich, deep, robust roast is as vibrant in flavor as Chicago’s great heritage.

Take a Tour of Route 66 Coffees!

Travel down Route 66 and discover flavorful coffees from all over the country with USConnect’s custom-roasted,  American heritage coffee line.
route 66 coffee

From the sunny shores of California to the Sonoran Desert to the heights of the Rocky Mountains to the Lone Star State, our Route 66 coffees will magically transport you from your desk to some of the most notable places of our great nation.

Take a tour down Route 66 every day, stopping to savor each of the distinctive flavors along the way. Route 66 offers four unique blends:

California Blonde

A light, sun-kissed roast

California Blonde is a light and lively, perfectly balanced cup that you can drink all day. Mild in flavor, with a light body and lively finish, California Blonde is as mellow as a day in the California sun.

Rocky Mountain Blend

The peak of flavor ­­– 100% Columbian

Flavor erupts from our Rocky Mountain Blend, a rare cup encompassing all of the qualities that first made Columbian coffee famous. Just like the heights of the Rockies, this blend is fresh and heady. You’ll have a 10,000-foot view of your day with this clean, mellow flavor balanced with a pleasant finish and distinctive aroma.

Lone Star Select Roast

An estate blend with the big, bold taste of Texas

Put some kick into your day with our Lone Star Select Roast. This 100% pure estate-grown coffee is as rich in flavor as the Texas soil. You’ll be transported to the ranch with the complex, pleasant aroma rising from your mug.

Sonoran Desert Decaf

A panoramic flavor experience

Take a trip to the Southwest with this seductive blend of our most flavorful coffees, where you’ll find a unique, rich flavor without the caffeine. We start with the finest Columbian and Central American coffees, then gently decaffeinate, blend, and roast them to perfection. You can enjoy this one all day long!

So take a coffee break and take a tour down Route 66.



Coffee is Both Popular and Good for Your Health

Did you have a cup of coffee this morning? If so, you were in good company.  According to the National Coffee Association’s annual study, 83% of Americans drink coffee, and 63% of them drink it daily. The survey also reported that consumption of traditional coffee is coffee is good for youdecreasing as more people choose espresso-based drinks. Single cup brewers (for example, Keurig K-cups) are also growing in popularity. K­-cups now account for 25% of ground coffee sales in the United States, and approximately 16 million households owned the brewing machines by the end of 2013.

Medical research is also starting to show that coffee may actually be good for your health. Why the reversal? According to the Mayo Clinic, earlier studies did not consider that other high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, used to be more prevalent in populations that consumed a lot of coffee.

According to a recent Harvard study, for most people, consuming up to six 8-ounce cups of coffee daily is a healthy, low-calorie choice, as long as the caffeine does not interfere with sleep. (Pregnant women and those with high blood pressure are still cautioned to avoid caffeine.) It is important to note that the 8-ounce cup of regular coffee referred to in the study contains 100 mg of caffeine, but a grande coffee at Starbucks has 330 mg of caffeine—so portion size is important.  Furthermore, the health studies only looked at the benefits of drinking black coffee. Adding whole milk and sugar adds significant fat and calories, which can change the impact of the coffee on a person’s diet. The Harvard researchers found that for people with high cholesterol,  it was better to drink coffee brewed with a paper filter. The paper filter helps remove a substance in coffee called cafestol that can increase a person’s cholesterol level.

According to newer research, drinking coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee may also improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.  For most people, that’s enough reason to refill their morning cups.