With COVID-19 having an impact on schools, it can be easy for your student to fall behind. Don’t let it happen! Hire me to help your student brush up on their writing and prepare for the school year ahead!
I majored in English Writing and Publication and have two and a half years experience total as a writing tutor with all age levels, specializing in high school and college level writing. My tutoring style employs the use of the Socratic method of questioning along with metaphors and outside-the-box thinking to help your student learn how THEY best think, write, and go about problem-solving.
I am happy to boast that every student I have worked with has seen dramatic results reflected in both their school grades and self-confidence.
As a writer myself, I have been hired to write anniversary, birthday, and wedding poems, been an editor for religious pamphlets and novels, run an on-the-spot poetry booth, illustrated children’s books, been published in two magazines, and self-published three of my own books, with much more in the works! When it comes to writing, I’m all-in. My goal is to share my excitement of learning and writing with the student’s I tutor.
Contact me today to find out how you can give your student the personalized support they need to get a head start on the new school year!
I charge $50/hour and schedule based on your student’s needs and pace. Contact me via elexiabbott(a)gmail.com
[This is a writing I did in response to an ambiance video on YouTube that I was enjoying. You can find the video here.]
The Castle’s Library
It’s a dark, rainy night and I find myself in the castles’ library. The fireplace is adding an inspiring glow to the books on the shelf and the stone walls. I was to be at my simple home in the country by now but was asked by the king personally to stay. His specific words were to stay as long as I liked, but he was ordering a servant to put my horse back in the common stables when he did so. Suffice it to say, I got the impression that I was expected to stay a while. This library is most assuredly one of my most coveted rooms in all the castle. It’s a simple enough room but grand in all it’s written glory. To find a king that collects such fine books is most surely a rare sight indeed.
A man who I believe to be a visiting dignitary is writing his letters just behind me on a desk in the corner. I would feel obligated to move if not for the simple fact that I was here first! His mad bouts of scribbling are sure to drive any sensible person mad, but at the same time any sensible person will keel their mouth shut of such matters. What s pleasure it is to be able to sit and silently write about such misfortunes. Perhaps the important gentleman will find his way to one of the many other rooms of the castle and I can go back to writing in peace.
Peace is a funny word even in this tranquil setting. Just outside the ground is being pounded endlessly by sheets of heavy rain. Even the fireplace is bound to existence by violent means, devouring everything that cross into it’s stoney domain. And yet these natural violences combine with refined art and collections of sophisticated prose to creat an atmosphere of such ambiance that it has attracted, perhaps, the only two people awake in the whole castle!
Balance is a fickle thing. One carelessly misplaced strip of material and the fire would surely take the opportunity to crawl from it’s designated hearth. One stray lightning bolt on an over-dry plot of wheat and the town would be set ablaze by the fireplace’s larger cousin. I have witnessed many a time the king having to entreat himself to understanding the fickle nature of balance. Those that say the king is a greedy fellow are certainly correct, however they have no idea the burdens that lay upon his shoulders and his deep want to do good by his people. He is one of the few of us who is both able and allowed to indulge his carnal urges in food, drink, money, and intimate relations and he takes full advantage. But not so that his people go wanting.
Sure, they want. I hear their murmurings throughout every pub, farm, and shop from the center of town to the farthest placed home out in the kings countryside. But they want the treasures of fools. The king protects them, keeps them fed, and they’ve never known overtaxing a day in their life and yet still they gripe and moan. Such is the nature of humanity. Just like the destructive side of fire they won’t know to stop their campaign of devouring until they’ve eaten everything but their own mouths.
With these thoughts I do believe I will retire to my sleeping chamber. I grow weary of the insane scribbling just behind me.
Irish Breakfast tea – milk and sugar – rose teacup
This world is deep and yet flows without boundary. A twinge of sugar and rich softness decorate the bold result of a previously rigid and beautiful specimen ground up and covered in a hot bath. The vessel that the liquid sits in gives an overall delicate feel to a pool strong enough to heighten the senses despite the soft after tones. A rush of pleasant warmness fills from the core to the outer extremities and the thought, “this is peace” threatens to engulf.
Hello and welcome to my blog weary travelers! Today I issue you a writing challenge: write a short/micro story about a drink you are currently drinking.
If you do not currently have a drink in front of you, waiting until you do to try this writing challenge is perfectly fine, of course.
I wrote my first one about my Earl Grey tea (hot).
Mist rises over the land as the last clouds of a heavy thunderstorm trail away like dogs with their tails tucked between their legs. The morning sun giving strength to the power of light. Grass blades silently snap upright as they are strengthened by what little water was not swept away by the morning rays of sunlight. The meadow sings with the humming vibrations of life, the calm after the storm. A loon calls from a nearby lake and its eerie yet soothing melody carries over the previously thunder kissed hills.
So go out there, use the hashtag, and get writing! Post them below or use the hashtag to participate 🙂
The humans have all disappeared
and life is not the same
the birds are more plentiful in the sky
and there’s a sudden lack of acid rain
animals both big and small
are exploring outside their dwindling habitats
the canals have cleared and the air is near
as fresh as it’s been since we’ve attached
a feeling of love to mechanical things
and began to wander away from our original homes
in just a few weeks we can clearly see
a vast recovery in the world’s natural biomes.
So don’t tell me that climate change
is unaffected by human hands
this COVID-19 should really be
a wake up call that we need to make amends
I hope things are never the same again
I hope we all wake up from our slumber
I hope we all manage to clean up our act
and no longer on important issues lumber.
You can’t eat money and you can’t breathe stocks
but you can see the affect we’ll have when we’re finally off
the face of the planet and make room for nature to thrive
it’s time to take our eyes from ourselves and look towards the sky
the humans have all disappeared
and life is not the same
life is better and the land is unfettered
by the poisons we produce in economy’s name.
Roasting coffee beans is the act of cooking raw coffee beans to a certain degree. The darker/more roasted a coffee bean is, typically the bolder the flavor.
There are different levels of roasting for coffee beans: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roasts. The type of bean and level of roast both completely change the flavor profile and caffeine content of the resulting product.
Light roasts have an internal temperature 356 – 401 degrees Fahrenheit (180 – 205 Celsius). They have no oil on the bean and retain the most caffeine out of all the roasts (Coffee Crossroads). Light roasts tend to have a high acidity content and a toasted grain taste (Roasted Locally).
Medium roasts reach an internal temperature of 410 – 428 degrees Fahrenheit (210 – 220 Celsius). They, like the light roast, have no oil on the bean but lack the grainy taste that light roasts have. The caffeine content in medium roasts is not as high as in light roasts but still contains more than darker roasts. (Coffee Crossroads)
Medium-Dark roasts reach an internal temperature of 437 – 446 degrees Fahrenheit (225 – 230 Celsius). They have a richer color than medium and light roasts and have some oil on the bean and a heavier body. (Coffee Crossroads).
Dark roasts reach an internal temperature of 464 – 482 degrees Fahrenheit (240 – 250 Celcius). They are dark brown to black in color and have a layer of oil covering the bean. The original taste of the bean is usually drowned out by a bitter or smokey taste from the roasting process and the caffeine content is the least of all the roasts. (Coffee Crossroads).
Light roasts are commonly known as: Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast, and New England Roast (Coffee Crossroads).
Medium roasts are commonly known as: Regular Roast, American Roast, City Roast, and Breakfast Roast (Coffee Crossroads).
Medium-Dark roasts are commonly known as: Full-City Roast, After Dinner Roast, and Vienna Roast (Coffee Crossroads).
Dark roasts are commonly known as: French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, New Orleans Roast, and Spanish Roast (Coffee Crossroads).
First and Second Crack
Within the roasting process there are two key points. These key points are called first and second crack. (Click here to hear the sound of each of these stages)
First Crack is when coffee begins approaching edibility (Perfect Daily Grind). This occurs around 360 degrees Fahrenheit (182.22 Celsius) when the bean emits a popping noise and expands under the pressure of the carbon dioxide and water vapor that are produced by chemical reactions that happen within the bean as it heats up (Bridgehead).
Second Crack is when the oils begin to travel from the inside of the bean to the outside of the bean. The actual popping sound of this stage is softer than of first crack. Only dark roasts achieve second crack as this is when the actual cellular structure of the bean begins to break down in the heat of roasting and when the flavor of roasting will begin to take over the flavor of the bean in the final product. (IKAWA).
During roasting there are 7 separate stages. Not all coffee beans will go through every stage. The amount of stages that the beans go through completely depend on the type of roast that is attempting to be achieved. These stages are taken from IKAWA. The site lists the stages as 9 separate one, the list below is a separate version focusing only on key points for the bean.
Pale – As the bean begins to heat up, it will first pale in color from green to almost white. This first stage will emit a grassy smell and is indicative of the bean first beginning to cook.
Yellowing – The beans will start to turn from the almost white color to a yellow color and begin emitting a smell close to hay. This yellowing is known as The Maillard reaction (when seeds reach 293 – 302 degrees Fahrenheit (145-150 Celsius)).
Orange/Tan – When the bean heats up past 329 degrees Fahrenheit (165 Celsius), caramelization begins to occur and the bean darkens in color. The smell shifts from that of hay to that of baking bread due to the reaction in the sugars of the bean.
Development time – The time after first crack is often referred to as the development time because now the bean is primed and begins to cook quickly. How soon first crack happens depend on how quickly the roaster heats up the beans, the cracking sound can happen quickly and be loud or it can be a drawn out and softer sound depending on the heat of the roast.
Second Crack – If the roast continues on long enough, a second crack will occur. As stated before, this is when the cellular structure of the bean begins to break down and when the oil starts to migrate outside of the bean.
Burnt – If you continue the roast much longer past second crack, the bean will begin to burn and will no longer be usable.
Cooling time – The beans will be cooled quickly to room temperature after they reach their desired roasting temperature (in order to create light to dark roasts). It is crucial that they are cooled quickly so as to be precise with the temperature and to not dull the flavor of the coffee through longer cooling times where the bean stays warm for longer.
After cooling the beans down, they are ready to be packaged and shipped to the appropriate stores so that they can eventually end up on your pantry shelf!
Thank you for journeying with me through the fascinating process of coffee harvesting, processing, and roasting. Stay tuned for more exciting installments like this and have a wonderful day everyone! Happy coffee drinking!
Wake up and smell the coffee – a phrase dating back to June 4, 1927 (Word Histories) – has a very literal meaning for many people every day around the world. As a coffee drinker myself, there’s nothing quite like a nice warm cup of coffee in my favorite mug.
In the last installation of this series, “Coffee – Where Does It Come From?“, you learned what kind of plant the coffee bean comes from, about the two main species of coffee tree, and how coffee was regarded throughout history and came to be an important part of our culture today.
Now, you’ll continue farther along the journey to discover how coffee is harvested and processed and the different methods that are used.
As we learned in the last article, coffee beans are the seeds of a cherry like fruit that grows on trees belonging to the genus coffea. These trees take anywhere from 4-7 years to fully mature and grow the fruit. The fruit is considered fully mature when the cherry turns from a green to a dark red or orange color. There is typically only one harvest time per year that lasts about 2-3 months. The specific time of year to harvest varies by altitude and region. In the Northern Hemisphere, the harvest lasts from September – March (Harvesting of Coffee). In the Southern Hemisphere, the harvest lasts from April – August (Harvesting of Coffee) or April – May (How Stuff Works).
During the harvest season, the cherries are traditionally picked by hand by using one of two methods: strip picking or selective picking.
Strip picking is when every fruit on the tree is harvested at one time. This method is used with Robusta coffee (coming from the species coffea canephora) either by hand or by a machine that shakes the tree until every fruit drops to the ground. (Harvesting of Coffee)
Selective picking is when only the perfectly ripened cherries are picked each time the harvesters visit the tree throughout the harvesting season. This method is labor intensive but allows most every cherry to be used to garner coffee beans from. Because of the labor involved, this is a more expensive way to harvest coffee. Arabic coffee is harvested using selective picking. (Harvesting of Coffee)
Throughout the season, an average of 100-200 pounds of cherries are picked a day on a typical farm. 20% of the total weight is comprised of actual coffee beans and only about 20% of coffee beans are considered high enough quality for store shelves. (Harvesting of Coffee).
When the cherries are picked, the next step is to process them. When processing, one of three methods is used: Washed, Dry, and Honey. The washed and dry methods are most common. (Essense).
Wet (washed) – In the washed/wet method, water is used to cleanly separate the fruit from the bean with the water acting as a cleaning agent (Essense). This is achieved by using a pulping machine wherein water washes the cherries through the machine where the bean is then squeezed from the cherry pulp. Once this is achieved, the beans are then separated by weight, the immature ones are lighter than the mature ones. After being separated this way, they are then sprayed to remove more layers of coating from the beans before being stored in fermentation tanks where over the course of 12-48 hours, natural enzymes further break down the outside coating layers on the fresh seeds/coffee beans. When the washing process is finally complete, the beans are then dried to an 11% moisture content either in the sun or by mechanical dryers (Coffee Processing).
Dry (natural) – In the dry/natural method, the coffee cherries are left to dry in the sun before being separated by hand (Essense). They’re dried by being spread out over a concrete or brick patio where they sit in the direct sunlight and are raked every few days to keep them from fermenting. This process takes 7-10 days for the cherries to have dropped to 11% moisture, which is considered dry. The cherries, dried to a brown shade, are then stored in silos (Coffee Processing).
Honey – In the honey method of separation, techniques from both the wet and dry methods are combined wherein water is used to remove the pulp of the cherry but not the mucilage layers over the seed. The seed is then set out to dry in the sunlight, preserving the sweetness of the cherry itself when the coffee bean is then used to make the drink later on (Essense).
There are several types of honey processing (Taken directly from this source) :
White Honey process removes 90-100% mucilage from the bean and dries uncovered for a clean and balanced cup.
Golden Honey process removes 75-80% of the mucilage and dries uncovered that leads to a crisp and citrus-like cup.
Yellow Honey process removes as much as 50% of the mucilage, dries uncovered and produces a cup with floral and apricot notes.
Red Honey process removes 20-25% of the mucilage, dries uncovered and results in a sweet and syrupy cup.
Black Honey process removes none of the mucilage, dries covered which causes some fermentation and produces a coffee that is sweet, full-bodies with fruity depth.
Due to the nuances of the process, the honey process is not as common as the previously mentioned wet or dry processes.
All three processes produce beautiful, bountiful coffee beans that make the delicious drink we know and love.
Thank you for reading! I hope you found these last two articles as informational as I did. In the next article we will look at how coffee beans are roasted and how different methods affect the end-product.
Coffee – the magic bean, burnt bean soup, the reason many people get up for the day. It’s a wonderful drink that fills the senses with happiness and makes the morning routine bearable.
When you think of coffee, a popular image that comes to mind is a hot steaming dark liquid in a cup that may or may not have a famous symbol on it. Other than the drink being complete and in a mug or to-go cup of some sort, another popular image that comes to mind is of the bean itself. A little half-round, oval shaped thing that’s hard to the touch yet light and has the definitive crack down the flat side long-ways.
The coffee bean is a symbol of this beloved drink and we see it most everywhere in our society. We see it in the store, in commercials, and on packaging. We see pictures of the real thing or artistic renditions of the bean all showcasing that classic line down the flat side of the bean.
But where does it come from? We know it isn’t produced in the store. We’ve all heard it called a “bean” so we know it derives from a plant. But how is it grown? How is it harvested? What does a wild coffee plant look like?
Welcome to the first blog post in the series Coffee – Where Does It Come From?
The coffee fruit grows in the form of a “cherry” (as seen above) from a plant genus known as coffea from the family Rubiaceae. The family Rubiaceae is made up of 103 separate species that grow in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The plantsgrow the red/dark orange “cherries” and inside the fruit are two seeds. The seeds are what we harvest from select plants within this species. We take the seeds and roast them to then create what we all know and recognize as the coffee bean. Raw coffee beans are green and usually split into two separate seeds. When they do not split this is what Peaberry coffee roasts are comprised of and these seeds are sweeter, smaller, and denser than split, regular coffee seeds (read more here)
Coffee plants have common characteristics (as noted by The Roasterie)
They are generally covered in dark green leaves, though some plants have been known to grow yellow or even purple leaves.
Their leaves have a waxy texture.
Their leaves grow in pairs.
Coffee “cherries” grow on the plant’s branches.
Coffee cherries are shades of red and dark orange.
Out of the 103 species in the coffee family, only two of them are widely used for beverage purposes: Coffea arabica which is native to South-Western Ethiopia and Coffea canephora, native to Central and Western Africa.
Coffea arabica is a small tree or an upright evergreen shrub that caps its growth at 10-15 feet tall. The plant has been cultivated in Arabia for the last 1000 years despite being native to Ethiopia . The Plant prefers climates between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and they first flower at 3-4 years of age. The flowers are white and star-shaped and the berries themselves ripen to a deep red. The berries are edible with grape-like pulp, but the plant is commercially harvested for the seeds that are known as coffee beans. The coffee that comes from this plant is known as Arabian coffee. (Missouri Botanical Garden)
Coffea canephora contributes to 30% of the world’s production of coffee. When it is grown as a hybrid along with Coffea eugenioides the resulting plant is Coffea arabica. There are two forms of the plant found in Uganda, the erect plant known as erecta and the the spreading type known as nganda. The two forms of the plant are crossed often with each other to form mixtures of the resulting fruit. The resulting coffee from this plant is known as Robusta coffee. (Science Direct)
The exact origins of coffee is unknown but was first discovered on the Ethiopian plateau. Later it migrated over to the Arabian peninsula where the plant was first cultivated in order to produce coffee. By the 15th century it was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it had traveled to Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.
Coffee became widely used in both personal homes as well as in public spaces known as coffee houses – first known as qaveh khaneh. The popularity of coffee paired with it’s energizing effects caused people to gather in the coffee houses and created a communal space where conversation and the art of dance was shared within communities. Coffee houses became known as “Schools of the Wise” due to the amount and frequency of information exchange within them thanks to the popular drink.
This “wine of Arabia” spread from the popular city of Mecca to Europe by the 17th century. The drink was received with disdain by the more holy places of Europe so much so that the drink was condemmed in 1615. It took Pope Clemet VIII drinking and enjoying the beverage so much that he gave an official statement of approval before coffee was fully accepted into the community.
The same phenomenon of coffee houses was seen in Europe. Instead of “Schools of the Wise” they were called “Penny Universities” as the cost of the drink was only a penny and the information one could gather just by talking to other patrons was valued as a type of education.
in the mid 1600’s coffee reached Amsterdam and eventually spread to the New World, rising in popularity above tea after the protests against taxes in 1773. The effects of the drink can be seen in modern times as the bean is prevalent in our society. (History of Coffee)
Thank you for reading, I hope you found this information as fascinating as I did. Please stay tuned for future posts in this series where I will be going into detail about how the beans are harvested and roasted and what differences in this process produce the various kinds of coffee we can see on the store shelves today.
Last weekend on Friday (Nov 15) and Saturday (Nov 16) I participated in my first ever market/convention/vendor opportunity at the Holiday Market in Jasper!!
Let me tell you, for a first time I think I nailed it as a vendor. My booth consisted of two tables, one long fold out table and a square fold out card table. On the long table (as seen above) I displayed one each of my current books for sale on Amazon as well as a sign explaining how much they cost and some cards for people to take so they could get in contact with me. On the card table I had my portable printer and laptop and a sign introducing myself and on-the-spot poems for $10 each!
Set up was a success! There were a few bumps such as when I accidentally plugged my computer into a non-working outlet at home to charge over Friday night. But the booth next to me was very generous and shared their wall plug-in with me to charge it up.
Throughout the market I was privileged to write 11 custom on-the-spot poems and the recipients absolutely loved them! I was also privileged to sell two of my books :). The whole market was a success not just because I was able to make money but because of the valuable things I learned and the connections I was able to make with my work.
I am filled with so much happiness that my writing can bring happiness to others and I am so excited that it appears I can build a real career out of my writing.
I am looking forward to the next market and am searching for new ones I can sign up for. (So if any of my readers knows of a market in search of a poet/writing vendor PLEASE send me a message!) I am pumped for the next one!!