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Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide : 11.24.10

 

Eugene Weekly's Gift Guide 2010:

Reduce, Reconnect,  Rejoice! More ideas than just “coupon good for one massage” 

Organic on Your Skin Soaps made with love and garden herbs 

Caffeine Up Get through the holidays with the rituals of tea and coffee

Birds of a Feather Art and fashion in Poppy & Moe

Between Children and Young Adults Gifts for tweens straddle the line

Wood from the Heart Bad economy leads to lovely toys

Life, Death and Water Soothing fountains arise from crises

Drool-Worthy and Local Start a new, natural tradition

Kiss the Cook Better yet, get the cook one of these great holiday gifts

Genius Gift: Make your own Fizzy Water

 

Caffeine Up

Get through the holidays with the rituals of tea and coffee

by Zanne Miller

Dashing through the rain. Hanging lights. Lighting the menorah. (Finding the lights or the menorah where you stashed them last year.) Keeping up with your very, very (very!) excited children. Keeping the cat from knocking over the tree. No matter the reason, you — and everyone you know — might appreciate something to keep the energy going during the holiday season. 

Another reason to consider a gift of coffee or tea this holiday is the ritual, the one that forces you to slow down a moment while you’re recharging for whatever’s next. Grinding the beans. Brewing the coffee. Steeping the tea. Enjoying the aroma and a moment, possibly with friends who have dropped by. Ahhhhh.

Best of Eugene Best Coffee winner Wandering Goat (268 Madison, 344-5161, www.wanderinggoat.com) has plans to “make it easy” on gift-givers this year, says manager Taylor Nixon. The Goat’s once-a-year Solstice Blend ($12.50/lb) is the centerpiece of many coffee gifts, ranging from koozies ($3) to teapots ($10-$30) and French presses ($20-$40), Wandering Goat T-shirts ($15) and mugs ($6.50). A pound bag of any of the Goat’s more than 15 certified organic and sustainably grown blends makes a nice gift; pre-orders are welcome (Nixon recommends five days in advance), and all gift items will be presented “ready to go” in a nice gift bag. It also helps that the Goat is open every day (that’s 365 days a year, including Christmas, and usually until midnight). Mmmm … Heart of Darkness.

J-Tea, which opened its new location in October (2778 Friendly St., www.jteainternational.com), offers a unique tea bar experience worth stopping for while you choose a gift, perhaps a teapot/teacup gift set ($49) or a “five treasures” selection of teas ($43.75). The nearly 100 varieties include Butte-to-Butte Tea; Eugene Goddess; Emerald City Oolong — and also brewing guidelines. Owner Josh Chamberlain (featured in the Sept. 16 issue of EW’s Chow) lived in Taiwan for five years after graduating from the UO and learned to taste and buy tea; he now visits twice a year to visit small farms and choose teas. While there, he also chooses beautiful teapots and other accessories. The most popular, he says, is the Wen Shan Bao Zhong, a twisted leaf green tea that’s neither bitter nor grassy, and some roasted and rich oolong teas that are perfect for our rainy winter weather. Chamberlain says, “Tea makes a great gift because it’s a good way to extend the present.”

Coffee lovers who prefer to make theirs at home may also appreciate the Aerobie Aeropress, a one-to-four-cup coffee/espresso maker with filters — “looks intimidating, but anyone can do it,” says Kelsea McNutt of Hartwick’s in Fifth Street Public Market ($29.99, comes with 365 filters, with additional filters available for $3.99 a package). Unlike a French press, she says, with the Aeropress, you don’t end up with fine grains in your coffee.

High-end espresso machines are really cool, but let’s face it, they’re kind of a pain to clean — especially the steamer, which often gets all gunked up with milk. Serious connoisseurs (or lovers of high-tech gadgetry) might like the Swiss-engineered Nespresso C110 cappucino/espresso system, which uses a patented high-pressure extraction system and (recyclable in Seattle, but not in Eugene) hermetically sealed aluminum capsules. It’s very The Jetsons, actually — the capsule goes into the machine, and espresso lands in the cup — and there’s very little cleaning up. These capsules, called Grands Crus, and the coffee in them, have been “meticulously created by Coffee Experts,” according to the 37-page Nespresso catalog. Once you purchase such a machine, you’re automatically a member of a club, through which you can order more Grands Crus and accessories as well as speak with representatives 24/7. The C110 is available at Cook’s Pots and Tabletops (2807 Oak St.) for about $279. A more expensive model (the C120) includes the Aerocino Plus milk frother (also sold separately for $99.95) that includes its own heating element and makes impressively peaking foam — as Kathy Campbell from Cook’s Pots and Tabletops described it, “milk moustache” foam. 

If all else fails, you can also take a drive through Dutch Bros. on your way over the river and through the woods and pick up a gift certificate — who wouldn’t appreciate that? Gift certificates are available from all of these retailers in all denominations.