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helen hamilton

The Rise of Free-From Foods

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Every day at Mount Currie Coffee Company in Whistler and Pemberton, we’re asked if we have food or beverage products that are gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, and we’ve seen the popularity of using our alternative milk options for coffee soar in recent years.

The free-from food market was valued at 33 billion US dollars globally back in 2016, and it continues to grow steadily as consumers become more health conscious and mindful of what they’re putting into their bodies. It’s no surprise here in Whistler and Pemberton – an area full of outdoor-loving, wellness-minded folk – that our oat, soy, almond and coconut milks are frequently requested over dairy milk and our gluten and dairy-free muffins can often outsell the regular ones!

The consumption of free-from products has moved beyond just intolerances and allergies, and more towards those concerned about sustainability and animal welfare issues, as well as those that simply enjoy the taste and interesting flavours that alternative options can often bring. Most consumers who buy ‘free-from’ foods are doing so because they’re looking for less processed, more natural foods and have the desire to feel good about what they eat and drink, instead of guilty.

We are proud of our varied selection of free-from products at MCCC – our vegan banana bread is nut and dairy-free and is currently selling out on the daily! We also bake a gluten-free, dairy-free vegan muffin every day, as well as a vegan chocolate caramel tart and gluten-free, peanut butter and dark chocolate cookies – made using ground chickpeas. Other free-from food options in store include our chia seed pudding, curried tofu salad and dairy-free vegan wraps. We’ve also just added oat milk to our dairy-free milk line-up and customers are loving how creamy it is – foaming in a very similar way to dairy milk when heating owing to its canola oil content, which mimics the fat found in whole milk.

So why do people cut out gluten?

A gluten-free diet is a healthier option for people with gluten-related disorders such as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but there is little evidence that cutting it our entirely is beneficial for people who don’t have these conditions. However, many people find eating a diet low in or completely free from gluten can feel a lot lighter on the stomach, as well as the body as a whole. Gluten doesn’t actually provide any essential nutrients in itself and those that avoid it can often find themselves eating a healthier diet full of fresher, more unrefined foods.

There are studies showing that gluten can cause inflammation in the intestine and degenerate the intestinal lining, causing negative effects on the barrier function of the intestine and allowing unwanted substances to leak through into the bloodstream. Interestingly, there are also mental health conditions that respond well to a gluten-free diet, including autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy – based on studies which show gluten causes inflammation within the gut that can then spread to the brain. Of course ultimately, whether or not to eat gluten is a completely personal thing and a case of listening to your body to see what works best for you.

What about going dairy-free?

Dairy products can often show more obvious adverse reactions in the body compared to gluten, with a large percentage of the world’s population showing some degree of lactose intolerance – a reaction to the sugars found in milk. If your body decides that dairy is unwelcome, your immune system will fire up each time you consume it and for many people, the reaction is subtle and chronic, but for others, it can trigger an autoimmune flare-up and a host of health issues. Hormones and steroids found in dairy products have also been known to stimulate acne. It’s these hormones and steroids that can also negatively impact female hormonal health, by causing too much oestrogen within the body, and potentially reducing fertility.

Whilst you may want to cut back on milk consumption, soft cheese and yoghurt are actually better dairy options as they contain less lactose but plenty of friendly probiotics which are great for gut health. Butter is also low in milk proteins, and is consequently tolerated well by many people. Whilst we see many customers opting for skimmed milk to avoid excess fat in their diet, consumption of full-fat dairy products has actually been linked to a reduced likelihood of becoming overweight or obese. This is because the saturated fats in dairy prevent overeating by telling your body when you’re full, as well as helping to slow the release of sugars from your meal. Full-fat dairy also naturally contains fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K.

Final thought…

A truly healthy diet is all about balance and moderation with all foods, as well as listening to your body in a mindful and attentive way to see what works. Treating yourself to some delicious cake and a full-fat coffee every now and then can make you feel great and help relive stress, which is never a bad thing!

At MCCC, we make sure to prepare all our food in-house so we have control over every ingredient that goes in.

MCCC’s Top Ten Whistler Summertime Pursuits

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MCCC’s Top Ten Summertime Pursuits in Whistler, BC

Lapping up the Lakes

Whistler has a host of beautiful lakes to choose from, allowing you to relax, picnic and take a swim against a variety of beautiful mountain backdrops. Try your hand at some volleyball at Rainbow Park, rent a stand-up paddle board for the day at Lakeside on Alta Lake or bare it all at Lost Lake’s nudist spot. Watch out for the annual mass toad migration at Lost Lake in July, as tens of thousands of tiny Western toadlets make their march from the shores of the lake into the surrounding forest. Whilst it’s a little too cold for swimming, Green Lake offers some secluded beach spots which are worth a visit if you’re looking to escape the crowds.

Bear Spotting

A trip to Whistler isn’t complete without encountering one of BC’s cuddliest creatures. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are home to nearly 60 resident black bears and cubs, who live alongside all the action of mountain sports, seemingly without much interest in us mere humans! With an organised bear spotting tour, you’ll travel in a 4×4 to traverse the largest concentration of mother bear ranges in the region. Take an even closer look with short walks to feeding sites and wander through old growth forests where bears have hibernated through many winters. With experienced and qualified guides, you’re sure to get a truly incredible outdoor experience.

Find out more info here!

Mountain Biking

BC is one of the greatest places on earth for mountain biking terrain and every year, thousands flock from all over the world to try out the epic trails on offer here. Bike trails carve through many of the town’s surrounding mountains, so if you’ve got your own bike, you can easily spend several days exploring all the different trails in the area, offering something for all levels of ability. If you’ve not tried downhill biking before, it’s for sure worth a go. With Bike Park 101, you can learn all the basics of downhill biking for two hours, will full kit and lift pass provided.

Find out more here!

Seaplane Tours

Unique to British Columbia’s coast, floatplane tours are one of Whistler’s most spectacular activities, departing daily during the summer months from the glorious Green Lake. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the stunning surrounding mountain ranges, glaciers, valleys, rivers and lakes. A complimentary shuttle runs between Whistler Village and the plane dock, which makes it super easy to access and the floatplane base is only a few steps away from the Jack Nicklaus Clubhouse, which features ‘Whistler’s most scenic patio’ – the perfect spot to edit some photos post-flight!

Visit the Harbour Air website here!

Zip-Trek Adventures

Operating in a true old-growth temperate rainforest above Fitzsimmons creek, there is spectacular scenery and amazing views to take in with a Zip-Trek session. Your inspiring journey through the forest happens via a combination of suspension bridges, treetop observation platforms, ground based trails and ziplines. The educational component provides a unique insight into the surrounding environment on both a local and global scale, all whilst providing an adrenaline rush like no other! Choose from various tours including The Sasquatch – longest zip-line in Canada & the USA! This ultimate zip-line experience spans a mind-blowing distance of over two kilometers, so you’ll experience spectacular views and over 7,000 feet of pure eco-exhileration!

Visit the Ziptrek website here!

The Garibaldi Lake Hike

The hike to Garibaldi Lake is an 18km (return) intermediate-expert hike that is accessible in the summer months between July and September. Elevation gain on this hike is 820m and should take around five hours (add on extra time for sightseeing and rest stops). Garibaldi Provincial Park’s rich geological history, diverse vegetation, snow-capped mountain, iridescent waters, abundant wildlife and scenic vistas all contribute to the immense beauty. The park offers over 90 kilometers of established hiking trails, making it a favourite year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

River of Golden Dreams

A summer visit to Whistler would not be complete without a paddle down the River of Golden Dreams – a popular activity for the locals. This journey will take you across Alta Lake through the Whistler wetlands down a scenic glacier river to Green Lake. See plenty of Whistler’s flora, fauna and wildlife en route, all in the comfort of a rented kayak or use your own Explorer inflatable, just like the locals. You can take a guided float on the river too – with qualified adventure guides showing you the ropes. Don’t forget to bring snacks and refreshments – the journey can take between three and five hours, depending on your speed!

Scandinave Spa

Tucked into the hillside, just north of the village, this haven of tranquility is a real treat for the mind, body and soul after a day of action in Whistler. Spend an evening between various rock pools of different temperatures, and experience the age-old Finnish tradition of soaking in outdoor baths at Whistler’s most unique spa. What’s more, there are saunas and steam rooms, relaxation areas and a yoga room, ensuring maximum relaxation. Enjoy healthy treats at the on-site cafe and treat yourself to a world-class massage from one of the spa’s experienced therapists.

Visit the spa website here!

Vallea Lumina – limited time only!

Another evening activity that you won’t forget in a hurry – Vallea Lumina is an immersive, light-up night walk created by Montreal-based entertainment studio, Moment Factory and Whistler’s very own ‘The Adventure Group’. This 1.5 km walk is staged at Cougar Mountain, just eight minutes north of Whistler Village by car and uses the lush rainforest and a stunning array of mountain and valley views as its backdrop. Through the use of emotive lights, video, soundscape, and scenography, guests are transported to a magical world with opportunities to touch, play and explore their surroundings. Vallea Lumina will run daily until October, beginning at sundown and walks will occur every 20 minutes.

Visa the Vallea Lumina Website here!

Come and enjoy Whistler’s best coffee

Your time in Whistler should most definitely include a taste of some of the best coffee in town! Cool down in the summer heat with some of our delicious iced coffee drinks including the Epic Mocha Frappe, Espresso Milkshake and Afffogado (a double shot espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream). We can offer most of our usual hot drinks on ice too for the warmer weather – from Iced Chocolate, Iced Americano, Iced Latte, Iced Chai and Iced Canadiano. There’s a host of treats to eat too including freshly made burritos, cakes and salads.

Coffee: From Seed to Cup

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Coffee: From Seed to Cup

Serving hundreds of coffees a day, it’s sometimes strange to think that our menu of delicious coffee drinks all originate from the soil and one small little seed – the coffee bean. When choosing coffee beans and blends, it’s helpful to know how the entire process works, from planting to harvesting and drying to milling, as each stage can have a strong effect on the final taste of the coffee you drink.

We’ve put together a 10-step guide to help you understand the entire coffee process and if you’re anything like us, it will just make you love your coffee that little bit more!

The 10 Stages of Coffee:

1. Planting & Growing

The coffee bean is actually a seed. When dried, roasted and ground, it’s used to brew coffee but if the seed isn’t processed, it can be planted to grow into another coffee tree. Coffee seeds are generally planted in large beds in shaded nurseries. The seedlings will be watered frequently and shaded from bright sunlight until they are hearty enough to be permanently planted. Planting often takes place during the wet season, so that the soil remains moist while the roots become firmly established.

The best coffee is grown at higher altitudes, typically between 4,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. The beans mature slowly at the higher elevations due to cooler nights, allowing the sugars to develop and creating a dense, sweeter coffee bean. Arabica coffee represents approximately 70% of the world’s coffee production and is typically grown between the Tropic of Capricorn (the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead) and the Tropic of Cancer (the northernmost latitude). Coffee plants require mild temperatures – neither too hot nor too cold (a heavy frost will destroy the plants) and about 60 inches of rainfall yearly.

2. Harvesting

Depending on the variety, it can take up to four years for a newly planted coffee tree to bear fruit. The fruit – called the coffee cherry – turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested – usually about eight months after the flowers blossom. Typically, there’s one major harvest a year, though in countries like Colombia, where there are two flowerings annually, there is a main harvest and a secondary crop.

In most countries, the crop is picked by hand in a labor-intensive process, though in places like Brazil where the landscape is relatively flat and the coffee fields very expansive, the process has now been mechanized. Whether by hand or by machine, all coffee is harvested in one of two ways:

Strip Picked – all of the cherries are stripped off of the branch at one time, either by machine or by hand.

Selectively Picked – Only the ripe cherries are harvested, and they are picked individually by hand. Pickers rotate among the trees every 8-10 days, choosing only the cherries which are at the peak of ripeness. Because this kind of harvest is labor intensive and more costly, it is used primarily to harvest the finer Arabica beans.

A picker averages approximately 100-200 pounds of coffee cherries a day, which will produce just 20-40 pounds of coffee beans. Each worker’s daily haul is carefully weighed, and each picker is paid on the merit of his or her work. The day’s harvest is then transported to the processing plant.

3. Sorting & Processing

Once the coffee has been picked, processing begins as quickly as possible to prevent fruit spoilage. A preliminary sort is done to remove items like twigs, rocks, and unripe/overripe cherries. This sort is accomplished with screens and separation through floating in water. Depending on the location and local resources, coffee is then processed in one of two ways:

The Dry Method is the age-old method of processing coffee, and still used in many countries where water resources are limited. The freshly picked cherries are spread out on large surfaces to dry out in the sun. In order to prevent the cherries from spoiling, they are raked and turned throughout the day, then covered at night or during rain to prevent them from getting wet. Depending on the weather, this process might continue for several weeks for each batch of coffee until the moisture content of the cherries drops to 11%.

The Wet Method removes the pulp from the coffee cherry after its harvested, so the bean is dried with only the parchment skin left on. First, the freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the bean. Then the beans are separated by weight as they pass through water channels. The lighter beans float to the top, while the heavier ripe beans sink to the bottom. They are passed through a series of rotating drums which separate them by size. After separation, the beans are transported to large, water-filled fermentation tanks. Depending on a combination of factors – such as the condition of the beans, the climate and the altitude – they will remain in these tanks for anywhere from 12-48 hours to remove the slick layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still attached to the parchment. While resting in the tanks, naturally occurring enzymes will cause this layer to dissolve. Once fermentation is complete, the beans will feel rough to the touch and are rinsed by going through additional water channels, before they are ready for drying.

4. Drying

If the beans have been processed by the wet method, the pulped and fermented beans are now dried to approximately 11% moisture to properly prepare them for storage. These beans, still inside the parchment envelope (the endocarp), can be sun-dried by spreading them on drying tables or floors, where they are turned regularly, or they can be machine-dried in large tumblers. The dried beans are known as parchment coffee, and are warehoused in bags until they are readied for export.

5. Milling the Beans

Before being exported, parchment coffee is processed. Hulling machinery removes the parchment layer (endocarp) from wet processed coffee. Hulling dry-processed coffee refers to removing the entire dried husk – the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp – of the dried cherries.

Polishing is an optional process where any silver skin that remains on the beans after hulling is removed by machine. While polished beans are considered superior to unpolished ones, in reality, there is little difference between the two. Grading and Sorting is done by size and weight, and beans are also reviewed for colour flaws or other imperfections. Beans are sized by being passed through a series of screens and are also sorted pneumatically by an air jet which separates the heavy from the light beans.

Defective beans are removed either by hand or by machinery. Beans that are unsatisfactory due to deficiencies (unacceptable size or color, over-fermented beans, insect-damaged, unhulled) are removed. In many countries, this process is done both by machine and by hand, ensuring that only the finest quality coffee beans are exported.

6. Exporting The Beans

The milled beans, now referred to as green coffee, are loaded onto ships in either jute or sisal bags and loaded in shipping containers, or bulk-shipped inside plastic-lined containers.

7. Tasting the Coffee

Coffee is repeatedly tested for quality and taste. This process is referred to as cupping and usually takes place in a room specifically designed to facilitate the process.

First, the taster (usually called the cupper) evaluates the beans for their overall visual quality. The beans are then roasted in a small laboratory roaster, immediately ground and infused in boiling water with carefully-controlled temperature. The cupper smells the brew to experience its aroma – an essential step in judging the coffee’s quality. After letting the coffee rest for several minutes, the cupper breaks the crust by pushing aside the grounds at the top of the cup. Again, the coffee is smelt before the tasting begins.

To taste the coffee, the cupper slurps a spoonful with a quick inhalation. The objective is to spray the coffee evenly over the cupper’s taste buds, and then weigh it on the tongue before spitting it out. Samples from a variety of batches and different beans are tasted daily. Coffees are not only analysed to determine their characteristics and flaws, but also for the purpose of blending different beans or creating the proper roast. An expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them!

8. Roasting

Roasting the green beans chemically alters the hundreds of compounds found in a coffee bean and results in the rich aroma and flavor everyone loves. Roasting is generally performed in the importing countries because freshly roasted beans must reach the consumer as quickly as possible. Most roasting machines maintain a temperature of about 550 degrees Fahrenheit which seems pretty high, but the beans are kept moving throughout the entire process to keep them from burning.

When they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, they begin to turn brown and the caffeol (a fragrant oil locked inside the beans) begins to emerge. After a few minutes of roasting, popping sounds from inside the roaster indicate that the beans are well on their way to being properly roasted. The beans are undergoing a chemical process that includes a conversion of starches to sugars. This process called pyrolysis is at the heart of roasting and it produces the flavor and aroma of the coffee we drink.

Most of the coffee served in MCCC is roasted in Vancouver by Pallet and this close proximity to Whistler means the beans are extremely fresh when they get to us! Pallet’s delicate roasting process centres on the bean itself, taking into consideration its origin, varietal, and processing style: in this way Pallet are able to unlock the bean’s naturally unique characteristics. We opt for medium roast over a dark roast as the flavour profiles are more delicate and there is a much better balance between acidity and body. With a medium roast, you’ll still be able to taste the original coffee, but the beans’ brightness will be complemented with a fuller body that is introduced by the roasting process. When drinking a dark roast, you’re almost exclusively tasting notes from the roast alone. Because the original coffee’s qualities are mostly lost at this roast level, it’s difficult to pick out the characteristics of a specific coffee’s origin.

Using the right roasting equipment helps too; even the best coffee can be ruined when roasting with poor equipment. Pallet roast all their coffee using two Joper Roasters, a 3kg and 15kg, to ensure they can always get the best quality and quantity. With Joper’s state of the art roasting profile system and the ability to finely regulate and adjust both air flow and gas power, they are able to create roast profiles that efficiently bring out the amazing natural flavours and characteristics of the carefully selected coffee beans.

9. Grinding the Coffee

The objective of a proper grind is to get the most flavour possible into a cup of coffee and that is what we specialise in at MCCC. How coarse or how fine the coffee is ground depends on the particular brewing method. The length of time the grounds will be in contact with water determines the ideal grade of grind. Generally, the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared. That’s why coffee ground for an espresso machine is much finer than coffee brewed in a drip system.

At Mount Currie Coffee Co, we continually adjust the grind of our espresso coffee throughout the day, to make sure the flavour remains just right and the pour time is correct. Room temperature and how long the beans have been exposed to air, can all play a part in how the coffee responds to the grinding process. We make sure to keep all our coffee sealed whether in bags or in the grinder hoppers, to maintain absolute freshness.

10. Brewing

In a drip coffee system, the contact time should be approximately five minutes – at MCCC our brew coffee usually takes four minutes to pour using exactly 100g of freshly ground coffee. For coffee using a French Press, the contact time should be between two and four minutes.

Espresso has an especially quick brew time – the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds – at MCCC we usually run 18-19g espresso shots for 28-30 seconds for our Pallet Benchmark and Decaf beans, and continually test the flavours throughout the day to see if anything needs adjusting. Just a few seconds to short or too long can dramatically alter the taste of the coffee – making it too bright or too bitter.

Cold brew, on the other hand, is usually steeped overnight for about 12 hours – giving it a rich flavour which isn’t too bitter. A good cold brew should offer a smooth, almost sweet flavor and texture (compared to hot brew) because cold water doesn’t extract the bitter compounds of coffee as readily as hot water does.

If you have any questions about the coffee we serve and how we make it, don’t hesitate to come in to our Whistler or Pemberton store and ask!

We’ve joined Straw Wars Whistler!

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Join Straw Wars with us!

As we move into summer (although recent rainfall might have you thinking otherwise) we’re set to see a big surge in smoothie and iced coffee sales at Mount Currie Coffee Co in Whistler and Pemberton, as customers opt for a refreshing 100% fruit smoothie or cooling iced latte over their usual hot brew. And every iced drink we sell usually means a straw is used…but not any more.

We’ve joined Straw Wars Whistler – the movement to eradicate the billions of straws that are trashed annually. While a small straw may not seem like a huge problem, when you look at the reliance on this single-use item on a global scale, it becomes starkly apparent that this unnecessary habit poses a huge threat to the health of our planet. At MCCC, we’ve long been using biodegradable, compostable straws made from corn PLA, but we’d still like to join the campaign and minimise their usage where possible.

Non-biodegradable straws are made of the petroleum bi-product polypropylene – the very same stuff that fuels cars. Plastic straws do not degrade naturally, and when they do break down, they release harmful polluting toxins and degrade into tiny irretrievable pieces of plastic. Animals commonly mistake these small pieces of plastic for food which means plastic is slowly seeping into our entire eco-system, which has some seriously hazardous consequences for human health.

Plastic products also constitute more than 90% of all trash currently floating in the world’s oceans and straws make it annually on to the Ocean Conservancy’s Top 10 most collected items at beach cleanups.

In support at MCCC, we’ve now removed all straws from our self-service counters and we are asking customers to request if they want to use one with their drink. While some customers have seemed a little inconvenienced by having to ask us for a straw, others are fully embracing this eco-friendly movement and simply take the lid off their iced drink, sip and enjoy without the use of extra plastic.

In a beautiful resort town like Whistler – where the nature that surrounds us plays a huge role in the enjoyment of our outdoor lifestyles – there’s no real excuse to be using more packaging products than completely necessary.

You’ll be pleased to know that our straws, coffee cups, lids, clear smoothie containers and take-out cutlery are all made from bio-degrable materials. Adding to that, we strongly support the use of keep-cups for coffee and cold drinks, and offer an array of styles and sizes for sale at both our stores. We also give a $0.20 discount every time you purchase a drink with your own re-usable cup!

Vancouver straw ban

It’s pretty good timing then, that Vancouver City Council has just this week voted to approve a ban on plastic straws, polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers.

The ban on the distribution of these materials within city limits goes into effect on June 1, 2019, six months earlier than initially proposed. The approval of the bans and reduction strategies are part of the current City Council’s exciting vision of turning Vancouver into a ‘Zero Waste‘ city by 2040.

‘Cities around the world recognize the detrimental impacts of plastic waste on our environment and are taking bold steps to cut down or eliminate waste through bans and innovative reusable programs’ said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.

‘In Vancouver, we’re hearing strong support from local businesses, environmental groups and the general public and I’m confident that this comprehensive strategy will help us become a clean, zero-waste city.’

According to recent findings, a whopping 2.6 million to-go coffee cups are thrown in the trash in Vancouver every week. But overseas, business owners are getting the right idea. Independent coffee chain Boston Tea Party is believed to be the first in the UK to ban the sale of hot drinks in disposable cups.

From 1 June, the cafe-restaurant chain, which has 21 stores across England, will only sell hot drinks in reusable cups. Customers must either bring in their own mug, buy one in store or pay a deposit on one they can return to any branch.

And with countries like Taiwan planning a blanket-ban on single-use plastic items by 2030 including straws, cups, and shopping bags, let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit.

Some plastic facts:

Plastic never goes away. Plastic is a durable material made to last forever, yet illogically, 33% of it is used once and then thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastic spoils our groundwater. There are thousands of landfills in North America. Buried beneath each one of them, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals is seeping into groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

Plastic attracts other pollutants. Manufacturers’ additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPAs and PVCs, can leach their own toxicants. These oily poisons repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.

Plastic threatens wildlife. Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36 to 1.

Plastic piles up into the environment. North Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8% of that gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is incinerated, or becomes the invasive species known as ‘litter.’

Plastic poisons our food chain. Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.

Plastic affects human health. Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

Plastics cost billions to abate. Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish & birds – because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.

(Source: Plastic Pollution Coalition)

Coffee and the Brain

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Coffee and the Brain

Many of us can’t seem to function without our morning coffee, and with over two billion cups enjoyed worldwide every year, it seems the world’s growing love affair with a good brew crosses continents, uniting us all in our mutual love of a daily caffeine hit. And it’s not just us humans either – did you know bees get a stimulant effect from caffeine? It’s similar to the one we experience and works out pretty well for the coffee plant too – bees pollinate coffee plants like crazy!

With our favourite locals in Whistler and Pemberton stopping by to regularly consume what is essentially a powerful psychoactive substance (yes, really!) we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the science behind what coffee can do for the brain. So take a sip of some coffee (to increase your attention span and focus!) and read on…

Let’s get down to some key facts first…What are the most common effects of coffee on the brain?

– Coffee makes us more alert and awake
– Coffee gives us more focus
– Coffee improves our memory
– Coffee increases our attention span
– Coffee is a mood booster
– Coffee improves our ability to learn
– Coffee consumption is associated with a longer lifespan

Why coffee keeps us awake

It’s pretty normal for us humble humans to become more tired as the day progresses, especially after a busy day at work or at play. This is because our brains naturally produce more of a molecule called adenosine throughout the day – from the time we wake up until bedtime. Scientists believe this is what helps us to fall asleep at night. The reason why coffee hinders sleep and tiredness is because caffeine hijacks this natural process by mimicking adenosine in the brain. It latches onto the receptors designed for adenosine, pushing them out of the way and, as a result, we’re left feeling more alert and awake because adenosine can’t do its job properly. Eventually, however, adenosine wises up to caffeine’s crafty act and makes new receptors for the sleep-inducing molecule to start latching onto again. This is why your morning coffee can slowly turn into two or three cups – the more receptors your brain creates, the more caffeine you need to block adenosine.

Coffee and genetics

Do you know somebody who’s able to drink five double espressos a day and sleep like a baby each night, while you’re still buzzing for several hours after a single-shot cappucino? Although some of us slowly become more tolerant to increased coffee consumption over time (well…practise makes perfect!), the reason one person is more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than another could actually lie in your genetics. Caffeine sensitivity varies between humans because of an enzyme called CYP1A2 which metabolizes coffee in your liver. How much CYP1A2 you create depends on your CYP1A2 gene and small changes in this gene can affect how a person processes caffeine. Needless to say, no two coffee drinkers are exactly the same – your genetic make-up and unique brain chemistry build your very own relationship (or passionate love affair) with caffeine.

Coffee for athletes

Living in one of the world’s meccas for adrenalin-fuelled sports and home to a high-conentrateion of talented athletes, we were pretty smart to open up coffee shops in Whistler and Pemberton, if we do say so ourselves! This is because caffeine is one of the best-tested ergogenic aids (substances that enhance an individual’s energy use, production, or recovery) and is known to help athletes train harder and for longer. The average improvement in sports performance is about 12%, with more benefits noticed during longer, endurance exercise. Research also indicates that coffee stimulates our body to utilize fat stores as fuel during long workouts. Instead of ​utilizing muscle glycogen (sugar) during exercise, there appears to be a shift to fat stores, allowing for prolonged use of working muscles. We’re pretty stoked that what we do at Mount Currie Coffee Co can help contribute towards our local athletes killing it on the mountain!

Good mood food

Having only just started drinking proper, caffenated coffee earlier this year after joining the team at Mount Currie Coffee Co (Whistler) in January, I’ve been genuinely amazed at the mood-boosting effect a double espresso has on me within about an hour of drinking it. This new love of espresso (thanks to the delicious flavour of Pallet’s Benchmark beans) follows a ten-year caffeine hiatus, whereby I only drank the occasional decaf soy latte and opted mostly for herbal teas. I had always been aware that coffee could wake you up and help your attention span (my brother and sister have always been huge fans), but I genuinely hadn’t realised there was a mood-enhancing connection, so I was particularly keen to find out more.

It turns out, when caffeine blocks adenosine in the brain, it stimulates the chemicals glutamate and dopamine, allowing them to flow more freely. This gives you a surge of energy, improving mental performance and mood, and also slows age-related mental decline. Caffeine also increases serotonin – a major mood influencer and the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating and digesting. This boost makes you feel more positive and motivated, and is strong enough to measurably affect depression. That’s right – a morning cup of coffee can actually make you a happier person! Hurrah! Interestingly, some studies have found that decaffeinated coffee can also improve mood, suggesting that substances other than caffeine – such as chlorogenic acids – may also affect your mood and performance. Studies have also shown that mid to late-morning might be the best time to reap the benefits of a mood-boosting coffee.

Coffee drinkers live longer

According to a study of just under half a million people from 10 European countries, drinking three cups of coffee a day may help you live longer. Published in ‘The Annals of Internal Medicine’ journal, the research suggests that an extra cup of coffee could lengthen a person’s lifespan – even if it is decaffeinated. Researchers who have analysed the diet and health of hundreds of thousands of individuals have suggested that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer and diabetes, among other conditions. However, we do know that there are many factors that effect lifespan and a healthy diet and a lifestyle with plenty of exercise is most important. So we suggest ditching your car today, and taking a walk, run or cycle to your local coffee shop (preferably us) to enjoy that life-extending latte!

How much coffee is too much coffee?

As much as we love the taste and the positive effects of coffee, like everything in life, sometimes having too much of a good thing isn’t always right for us. Caffiene from tea, coffee and energy drinks can remain in the body for up to 5-6 hours so if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, it’s probably best to switch to decaf after 3.00pm to ensure a relaxed evening and peaceful night’s sleep. And if you’re going to limit your coffee intake at all, why not go for quality over quantity? That’s where Mount Currie Coffee Co can help with our delicious flavour profiles and expert coffee-making knowledge, so you can be sure to receive a first-class coffee, every time.

Caffeine can sometimes cause heightened feelings of anxiety or jitteriness too. This might be particularly noticeable if you drink a lot of coffee but don’t use the extra energy and adrenaline that it creates for you – either through an active working day or through exercise. Caffeine excites our brain cells, which tells our hormone control centre – the pituitary gland – that there’s an emergency. The pituitary tells the adrenal glands to flood the body with adrenaline, which is the hormone behind the ‘fight or flight’ response. Adrenaline prompts us to either stay and face a threatening situation or flee a scene. It’s because of this that too much coffee or caffeine can make us feel more irritable, anxious, and sometimes far more emotionally charged.

So listen to your brain and your body and make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of water, which will have a diluting effect on caffeine, should you need it. And don’t forget – at Mount Currie Coffee Co, our decaf tastes just as good as our regular coffee thanks to Pallet’s Ethiopian Sidamo bean, which is decaffienated with a gentle 100% chemical-free process by the Swiss Water Decaf Company.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to find out more about what we do at Mount Currie Coffee Company.

Introducing Pallet Coffee Roasters

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Voted the number one coffee roaster in Vancouver at the 2017 Snobby Awards, it’s easy to see why we use Pallet Coffee Roasters as our coffee supplier. At Mount Currie Coffee Company, we love to support local BC businesses (like us!) and Pallet seemed the obvious choice, with their exceptional coffees and close proximity to Whistler.

Founded in Vancouver in 2014, Pallet roast all their own coffee in-house, so the quality you can expect from them is always next level. Coffee selection is a critical part of Pallet’s success and their approach is simple – look for the best beans to make exceptional tasting coffee. They source coffee from some of the most renowned growing regions in the world, with a focus on specialty green coffee. To ensure exceptional quality and taste, roast profiles are specially created to achieve the best flavour, aroma, body, acidity, sweetness, aftertaste and balance.

With three of their own cafes becoming increasingly popular in Vancouver – at East Village, Kingsway & Kits – we urge you to check out one of Pallet’s coffee shops next time you’re in the city. You’ll find their cafés all offer a varied style and vibe, fitting perfectly into each different community, whilst still offering a consistent coffee experience.

Find out more about Pallet >>

About the Pallet coffee we use at Mount Currie Coffee Company

The main espresso bean used at Mount Currie Coffee Co in Whistler and Pemberton is Pallet’s ‘Benchmark’ bean – a rich blend of Brazillian and Colombia coffees. We’re big fans of this particular blend, we find it to be a crowd pleasing espresso that tastes great on its own or with milk – it’s approachable, well-balanced, and easy-to-drink coffee.

Have a read below about the coffee beans we’re currently using. We’re always updating our beans to bring you new varietals and fresh crops, so stay tuned to the blog for future bean updates!

Pallet Benchmark Blend

Pallet’s Benchmark blend is currently our main espresso bean at Mount Currie Coffee Co. With a pulped natural Brazil base to create medium-full body and deliver a smooth cocoa finish, Benchmark is blended with a sweet and fruit forward Colombia bean that produces a sweet, juicy tropical finish. All these qualities come together to deliver a well-balanced, always enjoyable cup!

Pallet Summit Blend

This blend has been developed specifically for Mount Currie Coffee Co, designed for those wanting the character of a dark roast – full bodied and low acidity – without being burnt. It’s an honest, easy drinking coffee and a great one to help open the eyes in the morning! The coffee is a blend of two beans – one from Brazil Fazenda Recreio, a family-run farm in São Sebastião da Grama, Brazil and the second, from El Salvador Buenos Aires – a Buenos Aires growing community located on the north face of the Santa Ana Volcano.

Our new single-origin bean – Pallet Honduras Cooperativa RAOS

We’re currently stocking Pallet’s Honduras Cooperativa RAOS, a tasty single-origin coffee made exclusively by a cooperative of 77 smallholder women coffee growers in Honduras. Cooperativa RAOS’s philosophy supports the development of training farms and integrated farm management programs, with a focus on helping to increase access to these programs to female coffee growers. We’re really excited about supporting women growers – many of our super-talented baristas in Whistler and Pemby are women, so supporting gender equality across the world is a massive bonus for us!

Pallet single-origin Ethiopia Bean

We use two Ethiopia beans at Mount Currie Coffee Co. Grown at an altitude of 1900–2200 masl in Guji, Ethiopia, the Ethiopia Guji bean offers a mix of sweet berries with floral notes, citrus fruits and smooth chocolate. In contrast, the Ethiopia Kayon Mountain bean gives rise to blueberries with green apple acidity and subtle notes of bubblegum.

The Kayon Mountain Coffee Farm in Guji spreads across 287 hectares, and has been owned and operated by Ismel Hassen and his family since 2012. Overseeing a staff of 25 permanent full-time and 300 seasonal employees, farm management offers free transportation services as well as financial support for building schools and administration buildings for the local community

Pallet Ethiopia Sidamo Decaf

We use Pallet’s Ethiopia Sidamo Decaf – made by the Swiss Water Decaf Company, this Ethiopian Sidamo is decaffienated with a gentle, 100% chemical-free process. Swiss Water® is the innovative craft of using pure water to gently remove caffeine in small batches, whilst not removing any of the original flavour.

Learn more >>

If you have any questions or comments about our coffee or Pallet, don’t hesitate to come and speak to one of our coffee-loving, fully-trained baristas at Mount Currie Coffee Company – Whistler & Pemberton.