“My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”
– Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks in the 1994 film Forrest Gump
Life is full of surprises, that’s what this often quoted saying from the film Forrest Gump, means to illustrate. It’s a great analogy for people that like surprises, or for folks who like all different kinds of chocolates. We realize, though, that not everybody wants a surprise when they bite into a piece of candy.
That’s why we’ve created our Candy Key. Our Candy Key, along with a few helpful tips, will allow you to decode your box of Winans chocolates. Candy makers use similar techniques to make the centers of their chocolates which mean many candies will have similar shapes.
Here are some basic candy decoding rules to keep in mind:
- Rectangle and square pieces tend to have chewy or crunchy centers; like a caramel, peanut butter delight or toffee square.
- Round or oval candies have soft centers; like our candy creams and mint patties.
- Markings are used to indicate what is inside of a candy. Usually, the marking used on top of a candy is the first letter in the name of the candy; like “M” for meltaway or “B” for butter cream.
- Toppers are also placed on top of candies to give customers a hint as to what is inside. Our sea salt caramels are sprinkled with sea salt and our cookie dough creams are topped with mini chocolate chips.
And here is a key to our most popular box of chocolates, our 1 pound assorted gift box. This is a guide for how we package our gift boxes. Due to the seasonality of our production, sometimes there will be different candies included in a gift box, or they might be in a different spot. They will definitely still be a delicious assortment of our chocolates!
A list of all of our candies is also available on our website under Candy Key.
A cute coffee jar terrarium is a great way to bring a little nature indoors, and show your love of a good cup of joe!
If you don’t already happen to have a small glass coffee jar, you can purchase one at a craft store or you could repurpose a different coffee container like a coffee pot or even a French press! These basic terrarium building rules can be applied to any container. The other items you will need can be purchased at any home improvement or gardening store.
The three main components needed in a terrarium are pebbles for drainage, charcoal to clean and purify the water and soil for the plants to grow in. The most important thing to remember when making a terrarium is drainage. A container like a glass coffee jar doesn’t have a drainage hole, but you can create drainage with pebbles in the bottom of the container.
To make your own coffee jar terrarium you will need:
- 1 glass coffee jar, or another container with a lid
- small pebbles
- potting soil
- small terrarium plants or mosses
- larger pebbles or other decorative items
- spoon (optional)
Before beginning the project, make sure your glass jar is thoroughly washed and dried. Once your container is ready, add the pebbles. You’ll want a small layer, about a 1-2 inches deep. If you’re using a large container, you can add more pebbles.
Sprinkle or spoon a layer of charcoal over the pebbles, about 1-2 inches thick. Add a layer of potting soil, about ½ to 1 inch deep.
If using small terrarium plant(s), take them out of the container you purchased them in. Gently tease the root ball so it’s a bit loose before setting the plant in the jar, on top of the soil.
Once your plants are sitting where you would like them, add potting soil around them. It’s easiest if you pre-moisten your potting soil with a bit of water before adding it to your container. Dry soil will get everywhere, but if your soil is damp or wet you will have more control. It’s easiest to spoon a little bit of soil into a plastic container, add water and stir before adding the damp soil to the jar. You can also use a spoon to add soil to the jar. Be sure to fill in all of the empty spots with soil and that the soil is level and even.
If you’re using moss, you can add a couple spoonfuls of potting soil to the jar, make small depressions in the soil and set the clump(s) of moss in the depressions.
Now it’s time for a decorative touch! We used a small glow-in-the-dark sun from the fairy garden section at our local gardening store. Fairy garden decor is perfect for a terrarium, though any small items can be used, a little plastic animal or another trinket just adds a little something extra!
Be sure to keep the needs of your plants in mind when caring for your coffee jar terrarium. Some plants need more light than others and you may need to occasionally water them if your jar does not seal air tight. If you use our DIY instructions and make your own coffee jar terrarium, please share with us on social media! We’d love to see what you create!
We’re back with our second post in our Coffee 101 Series: The Discovery of Coffee! Coffee has a long and interesting history, including dancing goats, smuggling and bouquets of flowers spiked with coffee seedlings.
Coffee is native to Ethiopia, in Africa, where it is still a popular part of local culture and traditions. Today over 12 million people in Ethiopia are involved in coffee production. A common phrase in Ethiopia is “buna dabo naw,” which translates to “coffee is our bread.”
Evidence of humans drinking coffee can be traced to the middle of the 15th century in Yemen’s Sufi monasteries. It is not known who actually discovered coffee, but there are several interesting theories and stories.
One story credits the discovery of coffee to a Yemenite Sufi mystic who was traveling through Ethiopia. He noticed some very energetic, lively birds and decided to sample the red berries he saw them eating. He quickly felt the energizing effects of the berry.
Another tale tells of a man named Omar, who was exiled from Mocha to a desert cave. He was starving and only found red berries from a small shrub to eat. They tasted bitter so he tried roasting, and later, boiling them. The fragrant smelling liquid he created from boiling the berries kept Omar alive for many days, allowing him to eventually return to Mocha with his “miracle drug.”
In the tenth century, coffee is said to have been eaten and fermented into wine. Ethiopian tribesmen used the coffee berries as an energy ball, crushing and mixing them with animal fat to sustain them on long journeys.
The most colorful of all of the coffee origin tales is the story of Kaldi and his goats. Kaldi was an Ethiopian goat herder who was looking for a spot to allow his hungry and tired goats to graze. Instead of pasture, his goats came upon a bush with bright red berries, which they devoured. The goats began to behave strangely, some stories say they danced, others claim the goats wouldn’t sleep at night. All tales agree that the goats became very lively after eating the berries. In one version of the story, Kaldi eats the berries and then shares his discovery with the monks who use them to make a beverage so they can stay awake through their late evening prayers. In another version, Kaldi shares his discovery with less open-minded monks: they throw his berries into the fire, creating a delicious aroma. Curious, the monks take the roasted berries out of the fire and grind them before dissolving them in hot water, thus making the first cup of coffee.
Regardless of which story is true (the story about Kaldi did not appear in writing prior to 1671, though the legend states the story took place anywhere from the 6th to 10th century), the image of dancing goats discovering coffee has become quite popular!
Coffee’s rise to becoming the world’s most popular drink after water began in the Islamic world. Coffee was believed to have restorative powers and was used as a religious potion to keep Muslims awake during their evening prayers. Coffee beans, exported from Ethiopia, were grown first in Yemen before spreading across the Arabian peninsula. In 1720 the port city of Mokka was the global coffee trading center. As the Ottoman Empire grew, so did coffee’s range. Soon people in Syria, Egypt, and southwest Europe were enjoying the “wine of Islam,” so named because Muslims do not drink alcohol, but were permitted to consume coffee.
Coffee houses quickly became popular meeting places. The first European coffee house outside of the Ottoman Empire was opened in Venice in 1645.
For centuries, coffee plants were carefully guarded. Exports of live plants or viable seed were strictly prohibited; only roasted coffee was allowed to leave Middle Eastern countries where it was grown. In order to become a widely grown and consumed beverage, coffee would have to be stolen and smuggled out of the Middle East.
In the 17th century, some enterprising Dutch merchants managed to sneak some unroasted coffee beans to Europe where they grew coffee in greenhouses. In the early 1700s, coffee seedlings were grown on islands in the Caribbean, as well as Brazil, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Coffee reached Brazil in an interesting way. Portugal wanted to get in on the lucrative coffee market by growing the crop in Brazil. The King of Portugal couldn’t get coffee seeds from neighboring French Guiana due to tight border restrictions. The King sent Sergeant Major Francisco de Melo Palheta to settle the border dispute and secretly obtain coffee seeds. In order to get the coffee out of the country, Palheta had to get creative. He seduced the French Governor’s wife, Madame D’Orvilliers, who secretly gave him a bouquet laced with coffee seedlings before he left French Guiana for Brazil. Palheta is credited with planting the first coffee trees in Brazil in the state of Pará in 1727. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, a position which the country has held since 1852.
Coffee became popular in America after the Boston Tea Party in 1773 when it became unpatriotic to drink tea. Today coffee is consumed daily by 54% of Americans over the age of 18 (that’s about 100 million people!). Specialty coffee in the U.S. is now billion dollar industry with Americans spending 18 billion dollars on their favorite drink a year.
Next, on our Coffee 101 series will discuss how coffee is harvested and processed. Stay tuned!
We’ve gone coconuts here at Winans Chocolates + Coffees! We’re featuring all of our favorite coconut sweet treats this summer, including a blast from the past: our coconut chews! We used to make coconut chews on a regular basis at Winans, but about ten years ago we debuted a new cream: coconut almond bliss. We’re not getting rid of coconut almond bliss, but our coconut chew is here to stay!
These are some of our favorite coconut treats:
Coconut Chew: chewy coconut enrobed in milk or dark chocolate
Coconut Almond Bliss: chocolate-covered coconut cream with almonds scattered throughout the chocolate
Coconut Haystacks: chocolate-covered coconut flakes
Coconut Brittle: coconut and peanut pieces that are buttery and crunchy with a touch of salt
Piña Colada Smoothie: non-alcoholic smoothie made with real pineapple puree and cream of coconut
Toasted Coconut Flavored Coffee: a customer favorite!
We recommend pairing our coconut treats with our fair trade and organic single origin Honduran coffee. This coffee has notes of lemon and a hint of caramel, which perfectly compliment the tropical coconut flavor of our coconut chews!
Coconuts are used around the world for a myriad of purposes – and not just for eating! Check out some of these fascinating facts about the coconut tree!
Fun facts about the coconut tree
- The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the palm family. Coconut palms are grown in more than 90 countries of the world, most of the world production is in tropical Asia.
- A coconut is not actually a nut, it is a fruit called a drupe. Other fruits that are drupes are mangos, olives, apricots, cherries, peaches, and coffee! A full-sized coconut weighs about 3 pounds.
- The word coconut is thought to have come from 16th-century Portuguese explorers who thought that the three holes on a coconut looked like a human face so they called the fruit “coco” meaning “grinning face, grin, or grimace.”
- Coconuts are known for their great versatility, virtually every part of the coconut palm is used by humans in some way. Coconuts are used as food, in cosmetics, in construction and building – even in religious ceremonies!
Coconut has a wide variety of culinary uses – though we like it best when it’s covered in chocolate! Coconut oil is used for cooking in its liquid form and as butter or lard in its solid form. Coconut meat can be eaten fresh or dried and is added to both sweet and savory dishes. Coconut flour is used in baking, it makes a great gluten-free flour alternative for those with gluten sensitivity.
Coconut water is consumed as a sports drink and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can ever be used as a substitute for blood plasma! The high level of sugar and other salts make it possible to add the water to the bloodstream, similar to how an IV solution works in modern medicine. Coconut water was used during World War II in tropical areas for emergency transfusions.
The apical buds of adult coconut palms are edible and are known as “palm cabbage” or heart of palm. They are considered a rare delicacy, as harvesting the buds kills the palms. Hearts of palm are eaten in salads, sometimes called “millionaire’s salad”.
Coconut is also widely used in the commercial, industrial and cosmetic industries. Coir, fiber from the husk of the coconut is made into ropes, mats, doormats, brushes, and sacks, as caulking for boats, and as stuffing fiber for mattresses. It is also used in horticulture in potting compost, especially in orchid mix. The leaves of the coconut palm can be made into toys, brooms, baskets, mats and roofing thatch. Coconut trunks are used for building small bridges and huts; they are preferred for their straightness, strength, and salt resistance.
Coconut is highly valued for use in the beauty industry as moisturizers and body butter. Due to the chemical structure of coconut oil, it is readily absorbed by the skin. It also used in cosmetics, hair oil, and massage oil. The coconut shell may also be ground down and added to products for exfoliation of dead skin.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy coconut?
Coconut From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fun Food Facts for Kids: Fun Coconut Facts
Is Coconut a Fruit or a Nut? From the Best of RawFood
This year will mark the 3rd year for the Winans to Winans Half Marathon. The half marathon starts in Troy, near Winans’ downtown Troy location. The 13.1-mile course winds through parks in Troy, connecting with the bike path and running past the historic Eldean Covered Bridge, following the bike path to finish in Piqua. The race ends at Winans’ Hometown Store + Tasting Room in downtown Piqua.
Race participants receive a t-shirt and their choice between a race medal or a travel coffee mug. At the finish runners and walkers are rewarded with beer and sweet treats from Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Xcel Sports Medicine will be on site to answer injury questions and give short post race massages. Winners in each group are awarded beer growlers with the Winans to Winans Half Marathon logo emblazoned on them. The top three finishers overall will have their growlers filled with beer.
Those ambitious runners and walkers who have signed up for all three years of the race will be given a pint glass with the race logo and the words “completed 39.3 miles.” Next year those who compete for their fourth race will be given a memento that says “completed 52.4 miles.”
The concept for the half-marathon was brought to life by Joe Reiser, co-owner of Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Joe says that running is “just one of those things that are part of my life that I’ve shared with the business and now the business has taken it into other people’s lives.” Joe brought his passion for coffee to Winans in 1994, coffee now makes up 50% of our business. In the past several years he has brought another passion, running, to the Winans family.
Joe started running when he was 18 and a freshman at The Ohio State University. He saw people running around on OSU’s beautiful campus and thought it looked cool. Running quickly became a part of his life. He didn’t run races, he just ran for his psychological well-being. Running became Joe’s way to keep his mind clear for studying for exams and a way to destress, which he continued to do after graduating college.
The idea to host a half-marathon started about seven years ago. Joe wanted to host a marathon from one Winans store to another. He mentioned his idea to Levi Fox. Levi had an office over the downtown Troy Winans location and was a former cross country star at Troy High School and state champion runner.
Levi, familiar with the intense amount of work involved in setting up and running a marathon (both the logistics and the actual running) instead suggested they start a running group. The Winans running club started in February 2011 and has been going strong ever since. The group philosophy is that there are no dues, no membership and you don’t have to attend every week. The one and only rule is that they meet every Saturday morning at downtown Troy Winans; if you run or a walk a mile you get free coffee.
It’s become this cultural thing in downtown Troy. There’s this group of people out running and you’ll see us hanging out drinking coffee. In warmer weather the group will hang out outside, in the cooler weather they sit in the back area of the store. They run no matter what. They have run when it’s -30°F below or 105°F. It’s just what we do. – Joe Reiser
The running group has become an extension of the Winans family. Some of the runners were not coffee drinkers before joining the group, and they are now die-hard Winans coffee drinkers. They support each other in races and they get together to celebrate birthdays and other holidays, usually in the back of the Winans store in downtown Troy.
In April 2013, Joe and his wife, Laurie, were in Boston for the Specialty Coffee Association of America Annual Exposition & Symposium. The Monday after the SCAA event ended was the Boston Marathon. Joe had a friend running the marathon, so he and Laurie went to the finish line to watch him finish. As Joe says, “they went there for coffee, stayed for running.” They ended up watching race finishers for three hours. Joe was impressed with the runners and the marathon itself, “it’s an amazing event if you’ve never done any, no matter what sporting event you’ve ever done this will be the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.”
The two met up with friends to go eat lunch, while runners were still finishing the race. While sitting in the restaurant, they heard a loud boom. Joe thought it was a dumpster being emptied or construction. Laurie was concerned. After another loud boom, they saw people running in the streets. The Boston Marathon bombers had detonated two bombs near the finish line and race finishers were being rerouted down the street that the Reisers were eating lunch at. Joe and Laurie tried to help the rerouted runners, who were confused and upset as they tried to finish the final portion of the marathon. They also tried to help runners and spectators find their hotels – even though they aren’t from Boston and weren’t familiar with the area.
When Joe and Laurie returned home, the local press found out that they were at the bombing. They interviewed Joe and he told them that “we’re dedicating our running group this Saturday to Boston.” He had no idea how far that simple statement would reach. The next Saturday morning, almost 200 people showed up in downtown Troy for the running group. They wore blue and yellow and brought balloons and signs that read “Backing Boston from Ohio.” Some runners starting throwing money on the counter in the store, Joe quickly asked a fellow runner to collect the donations. They raised $2,000 and an anonymous donor matched it. They sent $4,000 to two young men who were spectators who lost their legs in the bombings because Joe and Laurie were spectators.
The next year Winans’ first half marathon was held on the second Sunday in September. Winans hosts the marathon but does not make any money off of it. Levi Fox’s company organizes the race and takes on all of the work organizing and planning the race. Every year the half marathon has grown. In 2014 about 300 people participated. The next year 400 people ran. This year we’re expecting over 650 people!
If you would like to join us for the 3rd Winans to Winans Half Marathon on Sunday, September 11th, check out all of the details to register here.