CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
Like there's no tomorrow.
Because, hey, you never know.

Mike Russell and Cops for Cancer - Vancouver Island · 16.08.13 by colin newell

Mike Russell - VicPD - Cops for Cancer

My name is Mike Russell and I became a cop in 2005 with the Edmonton Police Service. My sole goal since joining as an officer was to make a difference in my community.

Since moving with my family (now consisting of my lovely wife and three kiddo’s) to Victoria in 2008 I’ve been completely overwhelmed at how this community bands together to overcome obstacles.

This in part inspired me to ride the Canadian Cancer Societies Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock this year. I’ve not been affected by Cancer personally, but the strength I’ve witnessed from children and their families who have battled this terrible disease is truly inspiring.

I want to do everything in my power to ensure a cancer free future for all kids, parents, families and communities. We can do it, but I’ll need your help.

You can help in a number of ways:

1. Come on out to one of our great events!

We’ve got an upcoming Mayfair Mall Drive in and Carnival on Wednesday, August 21st where we are showing Grease. You can win lots of prizes, eat cotton candy and even win a chance to see the movie in our historic Car 40 (cop not included).

On Thursday, August 22nd, we’re at Glo Resturant and Lounge. The awesome folks at Glo are putting on an amazing show this year with a fantastic dinner (and drink) included in the ticket prices. There will be some amazing prizes, live band, DJ and Live and silent auctions…and of course, lots of cool people.

2. You can also donate directly to the Tour de Rock through a few means.

Online here


You can text to donate at 20222 and enter code TOUR 19 for an immediate $10 donation.

Hope to see many of you at our events. Thanks as always for the support.

Mike Russell, 2013 Tour de Rock Team ride and VicPD Media Spokesperson and Social Media Officer.


Talking Thermomix with Don Genova · 4.07.13 by colin newell

Podcast –

The Thermomix kitchen tool!

As most of my readers know, I have been playing with coffee machines for a decade and a half – and in some of my in between times I do take the opportunity of horsing around with related gadgets that are used in the kitchen (that could also have a coffee connection…) and some not so much.

And it was with great delight that Andrea and I managed to arrange a loan of a Thermomix “food appliance” from Island food journalist and author, Don Genova – locally of Cobble Hill, B.C. and a regular on CBC Radio “Food Matters”. We had seen the Thermomix in use at one of Don’s popular cooking classes – on the subject of pasta. And guess what, Don had the Thermomix handy for not only making the pasta but also making the sauce for the pasta! And for this reason and a few others, I do not call the Thermomix a food processor – because (much to my surprise), it is much more than that.

The Thermomix is a powered blender, chopper, stirrer, mixer, digital scale and labor saver – Designed in Germany and manufactured in France, the Thermomix is more industrial grade multi-purpose tool than the kind of single use device that many people would spend almost as much on.

Many folks, in fact, often pick a Vita-Mix over the Thermomix as a cost saving measure – and as awesome as the Vita-Mix is (I have a lighter duty Cuisinart version of it…) – because it does what it is supposed to do really well, it cannot cook anything. And where the Thermomix really, really shines – is that it can prep a dish and then cook it… or steam it. Or do both at the same time for goodness sakes!

In the video below, Don tackles a recipe we tackled a couple of times… with awesome results!

Andrea and I gave the Thermomix a work out with a couple of variations of a popular and relatively challenging recipe: Risotto. For those who have made Risotto, it is labor intensive and requires your attention for the duration of the process.

Apart from getting the ingredients together and getting them into the Thermomix in the right order, the bulk of the work was done by the Thermomix with little interaction from me – the primary thing with Risotto is, of course, the stirring – often 10 to 15 minutes of stirring… which the Thermomix does gently and steadily. We ended up with a restaurant grade Risotto that we would have proudly served any chef in the city… or any of our friends.

We chatted with Don Genova on the subject of the Thermomix this afternoon at Victoria’s Cafe Roaster 2% Jazz at the Hudson – and future home of the Victoria Public Market. When asked, Don pointed out in the audio recording above, that all kinds of people buy the Thermomix and they buy it for a variety of reasons – the main thing for us was labour saving, streamlining processes in the kitchen and making food better – and maybe even saving some money in the journey and eliminating some waste – because the Thermomix measures everything very precisely, the end results are exactly the same every time.

The Thermomix is clearly well made (designed and built in Europe) with heavy duty components for years and years of service. Interestingly, you cannot buy the Thermomix online or in a store – it is sold by a network of dealers in Canada that are particularly hands on when it comes to training and initiation of new users to this very useful tool.

I had the Thermomix for around a week – and I think I may need to borrow one again for another couple of tests (my main loan this month was interrupted by a trip to Hawaii!). In the meantime, if you need any information on where you can find one in B.C. (or anywhere else in Canada…) just drop me a line!

For more information on what Don Genova is up to and where you can see/hear him, pop on over to his Blog

Podcast – If you cannot see the audio player above, click here for the mp3.

Comment [4]

Bed and Breakfast in the Cowichan Bay - The Damali · 6.05.13 by colin newell

Andrea and I did a wine and cheese pairing in Cowichan Bay a few weekend ago – and in the name of safety and enjoyment we decided to spring for a good Bed and Breakfast in the Cobble Hill – Cowichan Bay area. And it was on very short notice that I did a quick Google of B&B’s in the area. Some very attractive places jumped out and one of the most attractive was the Damali B&B Lavender Farm and Winery. Inasmuch as that is quite the mouthful, the website was very compelling and attractive.

The Damali B&B is a purpose built building that feels somewhat more like a spa-lodge for its spacious layout, awesome great room and cozy kitchen area. The folks that run the place really loving presenting this multipurpose facility and it shows – with a wide variety of loving touches, impeccable cleanliness, thoughtful extras and all that passion that you really need to engage strangers (like Andrea and I) on a regular basis.

And good for us as we literally phoned in less than 48 hours earlier looking for a place to sleep – luck would have it, all 2 rooms were available.

Damali, as I mentioned above, has a lot on the go – from a functional lavender farm to a winery. So, depending on the time of the year there are a lot of neat things to do there.

As we were attending a special event that night (At the Cow Bay Conference Center) hosted by Hilary’s’ Cheese of Victoria and Cow Bay, we had the good fortune of hanging out with two of the partners from the Damali Farm; Dave and Marsha – great folks who love their job.

The Damali B&B Winery and Lavender Farm are on 13 Acres on Telegraph Bay Rd. (on the left 50 yards before the Hutchinson Rd Junction — pay attention for the sign, you might miss it!)
By and large it is a great location, whisper quiet apart from the occasional dog bark and the evening air is filled with the sounds of crickets.

Check in is pretty informal – a quick orientation, and introduction to Chevy Chase, the sweet Jack Russell Terrier and a discussion of how and when we would like our breakfast and we are off to the events of the evening.

Sleep came super-easy in the comfortable and well-appointed rooms — the bonus being the quiet and darkness and the fresh air – knocks you out in minutes!

Breakfast was a brilliantly presented combo of fresh fruit in Yogurt, and a set of proteins; an nice egg dish with some thick cut bacon and artisan whole grain bread – tasty and perfectly portioned for a weekend morning.

Overall, a great experience – the only regret was leaving after one night! I could have stayed a week.
You can contact the Damali at:

3500 Telegraph Road, Cobble Hill,
British Columbia, Canada V0R 1L4
For BED & BREAKFAST Requests & Bookings

Email: [email protected] Phone: 250 743-4100 Fax: 250 743-4170
Toll Free: 1 877 743-5170

Damali B&B Lavender Farm and Winery

Damali B&B Lavender Farm and Winery


Waiting on the farmers and public market chapter one · 6.05.13 by colin newell

Hey everyone! Thank you for your patience. It has been a while since I have blogged regularly – no excuse at this point… and it is not like there isn’t a lot going on to report on… because there is. So let’s dig in already!

Hudson Market Coming in June!

Living in the urban environment of Victoria B.C. comes with a dynamic and ever changing set of variables when it comes to hunting and gathering – because let’s face it folks: Food and drink is the one thing that you spend the most time thinking about – go ahead, deny it. It is likely true.

For instance, when I am making breakfast, I am probably thinking about lunch and dinner (the latter more likely) and I am often looking forward a couple of days. Our weeks (lucky us) almost always include a date night. And date night means a dinner out – generally on Thursdays. We cook in virtually all the other nights and this is our reward. It is also a good habit to get into – it is good for the economy and it is great for a relationship.

And for those people that know Andrea and I, I might just be a little guilty of frequenting favorite places to the exclusion of a little variety and risk taking. But that is OK too – because becoming a regular at one or more local joints has it advantages.

Back to the gathering for a moment. One of my bad habits, locally, is not making much effort to do fully sensible shopping – and that would include going to farmers markets, local markets, even corner stores or natural food stores that go that extra mile to bring you local produce and products. I will not name any names but I shop at a local “Canadian owned” mega-mart that used to (they probably still do…) sends Island grown products to Vancouver for sorting – and then ships them back to Victoria – which is utterly and inexcusably bad on so many levels.

Anyway – just around the corner is the June opening of the Hudson’s Public Market in the old Hudson’s Bay building on Douglas, Blanshard, Herald and Fisgard blocks. I am so ready for this – and yes, I know there are markets like the “Moss” that is closer that I do not currently take advantage of. My bad. Baby steps right.

Victoria’s last year round Public market closed in the late 50’s – so technically, I have been waiting that entire time for a public market in Victoria. There have been a few sad attempts in Victoria… but clearly, they never succeeded. So. It’s coming. I am excited. And I really hope that the city of Victoria embraces this market – because we need it – for Oh so many reasons.

On one hand, there are great food products around us – which is awesome. On the other hand, there are some fabulous products and foods being produced on the Island that are not readily available – maybe until now – and yes, I get that there are various neighborhood markets… but they are only open on the weekend.

So expect to see me in the front of the line on opening day!

This is the first in a series of hunting and gathering on southern Vancouver Island – how important it is to better understand our food supply – and to embrace and preserve natural, healthy and holistic food production on Vancouver Island.

Stay tuned!


West Coast Living - the survival chapters - chapter 1 · 7.11.12 by colin newell

For those of us that have lived on the West coast for a while, almost everyone has encountered a minor tremor – an earthquake – or even more rarely, a staggering wind and rain storm that knocks out the power for a few hours – and even more rarely, a snow storm that brings everything to a standstill.

One such snow storm occurred, casually at first, on December 21st, 1996 – By Christmas day there was over 1 foot of snow in most places around the Victoria area – the snow picked up in earnest over the next few days and by the afternoon of December the 28th, the snowfall was full on with little indication of stopping anytime soon – and by the afternoon of the 29th, we had a 2 day record of 124cm or 48 inches – a whopping 4 feet of snow! This event seized up the transportation system. The roads were impassable. Telephone lines and power, for the time being, remained thankfully stable.

What was immediately problematic was – everyone was a shut in. For senior citizens and those unprepared for this kind of weather, the prospect of being “locked in” for 48 to 72 hours was almost completely probable.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody died or froze to death – but it was an excellent exercise in the area of “surviving” when at least one or two elements of mobility were taken away – in this case, the ability to “move” and the ability to “gather” supplies.
Most of us, at least, have 3 to 5 days worth of food on hand – some people more, some people less. And as much as I would like to have a larger supply of water in the house, I do not. (Yet) But I do have over 40 bottles of wine and 25+ pints of homemade beer – and that alone is a valuable source of nutrition! Friends, make a note of where I live!

Problem is, for Island residents, we have become somewhat complacent over time. When 25 – 35 years or so passes with little or no consequential seismic activity locally, we do not take the risks seriously. Recent events in the area of the Haida Gwaii and the central coast have been something of a wake up call – but how awake are we today, some weeks after the event. Who among us has become completely prepared? Here is a fairly complete list of what you probably need and what you should know in the event of an Earthquake or storm resulting in the loss of power, shelter and/or communications.

Here is one of the hardest facts that we all need to swallow: You may and likely will be without immediate help for up to 72 hours – that is 3 days. Prepare to settle in – and hope that the weather is not too unpleasant!

Water – Have a minimum two litres of water per person per day (including small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order) – Most people do not drink enough water during normal day to day routines – but when there is a crisis, water is going to keep you alive and you are going to go through it quicker than you think and you may be sharing. Have some in your home, in your office at work and in your car of you have one. I may be a bit more cautious, paranoid or prepared than most people but I have a liter of water in a steel jug with me at all times – not just at my desk but on my person – when I am at work or when I am doing my weekend hike around town.

Food – The number two most important item. You are not going to last very long or stay well in a crisis with zero food intake – and the good news is that there are lots of dry alternatives that you keep you out of trouble; energy bars, dried fruit, nuts and canned foods – you need to replace most of this annually, so you can consume as you go, day to day, but try and maintain a stock of protein and carbohydrate rich snacks. And keep in mind that many energy bars require a ready supply of water – do not consume them without water.
And once again, you can keep stuff like this in your car, your office and your home.

Tool and Health kit – Being a technician at a local University I always have a tool bag slung over my shoulders – I call it my “Jack” bag – after Jack Bauer of 24 – It has basic tools, tech gadgets, water bottle, wires, soldering iron and a leatherman utility knife, bottle opener and/or a cork screw – My wife often winces when we hit the road for a trip over the Malahat – but it is in the trunk and out of site and has enough “McGyver” bits and pieces to find a solution to any problem that comes along.
What you should have is: a knife, bandages, antibiotic cream, aspirin and any medications that you might be on, a flashlight (even if its daytime!), extra batteries, waterproof matches and yes, candles. Hey, it cannot hurt! A palm sized transistor radio is a must have even if you have a radio in your car. Under no circumstances should people rely on cell phones to get them out of a bind after an Earthquake or major weather crisis. This technology is way too dependent on other technology and electricity to be reliable during a crisis.

I call my preceding Tool and Health bag a “1 day solution” – settling in for a 3 day state of isolation requires an investment in some more stuff…

The 3 Day Kit – in addition to what we have covered so far, you need to think about the following items:

Shelter – nothing makes your temporary stay out of doors more challenging than no cover – and if you are lucky enough to find yourself at the mercy of a conflagration generated by mother nature during summer time, count your blessings – chances are, it is going to be in January. So you need to have warm clothing handy. And you need to have a method of staying warm outside and being able to sleep on the ground or somewhere with no heat. Items that come to mind are sleeping bags (that come at all prices and levels of sophistication down to basic foil survival blankets – 1 per family whichever you pick.
The 3-day kit should also include garbage bags (for personal hygiene, disposal of clothing and waste…), Toilet paper X 4 rolls which should serve a family of 4 for a few days, rubber or vinyl gloves – several pairs per day per person, a few heavier tools that the ones listed in the kit bag above; hammer, big screwdriver or a universal screw driver, a pair of variable pliers or a pair of locking vise grips – super duper useful!
And now, really important: More water! 2 additional liters of water per person per day! For cooking and cleaning. Yup, we use water like this in real life! Makes you think twice when you are letting the water run when you are brushing your teeth!
Some optional goodies could include a good quality camp stove – and be careful, the fuel cells for these are highly flammable – storage might be a challenge – a method of boiling water and cooking is very handy, particularly among us coffee drinkers.
And it that regard, think about having pouches of ground coffee or a bottle of instant coffee – it has caffeine in it and trust me, you are going to need your caffeine in a crisis!

I will stop there for now – in the next chapter, more on the other skills and things you might need during and after an earthquake or crisis here on the west coast.


Previous Next