LaMill Coffee Factory Tour and Cupping

LaMill makes some of the best coffee in Los Angeles.  Well, actually, that is according to Abe who actually drinks the stuff.  We were invited to a tour of their Coffee Factory in Alhambra so I brought him along as my photographer and taster.

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John Martin, LaMill's Director of Coffee (that is his actual title) showed us what a raw coffee bean looks like, before roasting.  They're green, and smelly kind of grassy.

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They fly through a chute, into the roaster, and lose their chlorophyll in the process.  Once they're done getting all toasty, they are cooled, packed up, and ready to ship.  LaMill Roastery produces over 10,000 pounds of coffee a week!

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My favorite part about factories are all the buttons.  It totally reminds me of Willy Wonka.

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Next, we headed into their tasting room to do a cupping.  I have always associated this word with the Chinese medicine I do whenever I throw out my back.  But when it comes to coffee, cupping is a tasting to evaluate the aromas and flavors of the beans.  Basically you just pour water over grounds, then remove the layer that floats on the top via "breaking the crust" and "skimming."

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I didn't do any sipping, but I did try sniffing it.  I'm so horrible at figuring out notes and all the subtleties of flavor profiles; I just smell coffee!

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John shows us how, in cupping, you slurp the coffee, rather than sip it.  This drinking technique allows all of your senses to experience the flavors.  It is a loud noise.  Abe doesn't quite get it.  John also gives us some tips on how to brew a good cup at home - I never thought about how the tap water in Los Angeles affects the brew.  At LaMill's Roastery they use reverse osmosis water.

People always ask so I'll explain why I don't drink coffee.  I used to, once upon a time, but I always need to add a lot of sugar and milk.  When I was getting over my binge eating disorder, I decided to cut out a lot of the things I was addicted to - sugar, coffee, diet soda and cigarettes were at the top of the list.  It was hard for me to get rid of the diet soda, and sugar is obviously still a bit of an issue for me.  But coffee and cigarettes were shockingly easy.  One day maybe I'll start drinking java again.  Especially since it's come a long way, and so have I.

Taiwan: Culinary Exhibition in Taipei and Formosa Pearl

This meal and trip are hosted.

We're here in Taiwan!!!  After a 13 hour flight on China Airlines we arrive in Taipei at 9pm and go straight to bed.  I'm kinda obsessed with the "magic wall" in The Novotel's bathroom.

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I was up earlier than the sun; we checked out the hotel's huge breakfast buffet, which had everything from Pancakes and Trix Cereal to Noodles and Xifan (congee).  Abe had the latter...

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...I stuck to a very simple breakfast of fresh fruit, since I knew we had a lot of eating ahead of us!

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First stop - The Taiwan Culinary Exhibition, inside the Taipei World Trade Center.

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Since 1989, this event showcases the food and culture of Taiwan.  We sampled a whole bunch of goodies...

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...and stopped to admire the rest.

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Exhausted after walking around for a few hours.  There was a lot to see, plus a touch of jet lag.

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Next, we headed over to the nearby Taipei 101, one of the world's tallest skyscrapers.

You can ride all the way up to the top (which we did) but inside is a ginormous luxury mall, reminiscent of Las Vegas.

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On the first floor, Din Tai Fung!

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We've been to the ones in Los Angeles many times, but it was exciting to eat their famous soup dumplings in the city where they were born.

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As you can see, there was an insane amount of food ordered...and a lot of leftover dumplings.

Just a few hours later, we hopped in our tour bus, east to Yilin - and it was time to eat again!

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Formosa Pearl is one of the country's finest restaurants, focusing on Kaiseki Cuisine.

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No, we're not doing homework - we're writing postcards!  The restaurant offers to send them to any address in the world.  And if you're wondering what the calligraphy on the scroll in the middle is, that's the evening's menu - chef's choice.

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Eight courses!  Starting with Scallops and Pickled Radishes...

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...Shrimp, Sea Urchin, Sashimi... Grilled Red Throat Fish with Popcorn on the Stem...

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...Giant Prawns and Local Fresh Figs...

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...Mutton with Fish Sauce...

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...Toasted Nori filled with fried fish roe, yogurt, and rice noodles...

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(hand-rolled by candlelight)

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...Taro Balls in broth filled with mushroom, topped with Mochi, Crab, and Edamame...

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...and finally - Lotus Ice Cream on top of Passion Fruit gelee, with a milk chocolate fan.

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I know you're wondering about what my husband ate - not to worry - Abe enjoyed 8 special vegetarian courses as well, including this Golden Apple.  As in real, edible Gold on top.

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As bad as I felt to only take a bite of everything, I knew I'd feel even worse if I overate.  I made a promise to myself before this trip that I would pace myself.   I don't want to get sick - we've still got another five days of this left!

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Follow along on social media with the hashtags #LynninTaiwan or #ItsonTaiwan where Gigi, Tara, and I are posting up a storm.


This trip is being sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Board.  All opinions are on my own.

***UPDATE - You can watch my videos from Taiwan on my YouTube Page***