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Saturday, April 18, 2020
COFFEE BEANS & BEINGS / PROS SPILL THE BEANS ON HOW TO GET COFFEEHOUSE QUALITY AT HOME
interviews coffee pros on how to make better coffee at home, simply and without
GUEST BLOG / By Ashlie
D. Stevens, writer Salon.com--So, you want to make a better cup of coffee at
home. Whether it's because you're spending too much money on daily lattes or
you'd simply like to be able to recreate your coffeehouse favorites without
changing out of your pajamas, there are a lot of ways — both simple and more
involved — that will let you really up your at-home coffee game.
spoke with Ren Doughty, the outreach and customer support coordinator at
Batdorf & Bronson Roasters (and at-home coffee enthusiast), for his tips
your home coffee game with different — maybe better — beans
is a really simple suggestion, but one that I definitely needed to consider,
especially when I first started working from home. When I worked in a physical
newsroom, part of my daily routine included trekking two blocks from the office
to the coffee shop to get a caffeine jolt before morning meetings. The only
time I thought about having "good coffee" at home was when I had
company staying overnight, and even then I was more likely to suggest we grab a
cup while we were out.
Ashlie Danielle Stevens
when I started working remotely, it was time for a new routine that included
sourcing better beans.
recommends trying a little bit of everything to find what you like. Not every
kind of coffee is going to be what you want to wake up to, but variety is fun.
like a cheap world tour," he said. "You can decide that you want to
try something from Papua New Guinea, Guatemala or Ethiopia — just something
that you wouldn't normally purchase."
a new brewing technique
advantage of some of the spare time you've got right now and try that new
brewing method that you haven't before," Doughty said.
example, if you are part of the Keurig crowd, maybe give a French press a try.
are a lot of benefits to the French press method. A big one is the texture or
mouthfeel of your coffee will actually be different — velvety and more
sumptuous — because the oils from the coffee are preserved in the brewing
process. More broadly, a French press is great to experiment with because it
really puts the person in charge of the final product instead of a machine. You
can vary the amount of time that coffee grounds are steeped, the type and size
of grounds used, and the temperature of the water.
with those variables are a great way to get acquainted with your new beans,
your favorite coffee shop drinks with a moka pot
of us don't have an espresso machine at home (and if you do, you probably don't
need this guide to making better coffee). But since espresso is a key component
of most coffeehouse favorites — lattes, cappuccinos, cortados — you might find
yourself a little stuck trying to recreate your daily order without a way to
brew the base.
Coffee Pro Ren Doughty
where the almighty moka pot comes in. A moka pot is a stove-top or electric
coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water, pressurized by steam,
through ground coffee. Doughty is partial to the Bialetti brand.
lot of people are fond of calling a Bialetti a stovetop espresso machine,"
Doughty said. "I'd call it astovetop deliciously-strong coffee device. I say this because the
espresso that you get at your neighborhood coffee shop is made with a pump that
is pumping water at nine bars — that's a unit of pressure, about 135 pounds per
square inch of water — through your tightly-packed or tamped finely-ground
espresso in the portafilter, the component of the espresso machine that holds
your ground beans."
stovetop set-up can't quite do that, but your moka pot can make a passable
at-home substitute, especially if you grind your beans just slightly finer than
you would for drip coffee. (Doughty recommends "maybe a six on the normal
1 to 11 grind scale"; grind 8 is the standard for regular drip coffee.)
you have that going, grab a small saucepan, a whisk and your milk of choice.
Bring your milk to a light simmer. Do not let it boil. Whip until frothy.
simply combine with your coffee based on your preferred ratio of milk to
espresso. For reference, a latte tends to be 1 part espresso to 3 parts milk.
extra-strong coffee for iced coffee beverages (and grab your ice cube tray)
big mistake that a lot of people make when first making iced coffee at home is
making it too weak. Remember, ice waters coffee down. Doughty recommends
brewing your coffee a little stronger than you typically would if you were
going to drink it out of the pot — maybe use that French press he recommended?
— and letting it come to room temperature before sticking it in the
refrigerator in an airtight container.
option: ice your coffee with coffee ice cubes.
add some of your room temperature coffee to an ice cube tray. You can add these
to your cold coffee without worrying about diluting the flavor. They're also
handy for making at-home Frappucino knock-offs.
know that when I was first starting to experiment with these kinds of drinks at
home, I would put milk coffee and ice cubes into the blender and, inevitably,
by the time I got it to the consistency I wanted, my coffee would be way too
watered down," Doughty said. "So the key is to put your milk in the
blender, maybe some sweetener like Sugar in the Raw or a squirt of honey, get
that going, and then start adding your iced coffee cubes until you reach your
a note from the cocktail world
it's just my friends' quarantine activity of choice, but I've seen a lot of
Facebook and Twitter posts to the effect of: "I've got a jigger of coconut
rum, Amaro, two sprigs of wilting rosemary, a pint of blackberries and a full
spice cabinet. What should I make?" And I get it.
possibilities inherent to cocktails seem boundless and the combinations of
their components— spirits, liqueurs,
fruit, simple syrups, herbs and spices — are almost endless. Will all your
creations be home runs? Nah, but that's part of the fun in experimenting.
according to Doughty, more people should approach coffee-based drinks in the
same way. Play with or up the notes of your coffee much in the way you would
build a cocktail or mocktail around the natural flavors of a spirit or juice.
simple: you probably have already had a coffee drink sprinkled with cinnamon or
mixed with cocoa powder. Try clove next; its distinct warmth and slight
astringency is a perfect mate for a cup of coffee.
maybe steal from the world of cocktails and try a dash or two Angostura bitters
next. I know it sounds weird — I thought so too when Salon's Erin Keane gave me
this tip — but the spiced flavor of the bitters that lean heavily towards clove
and cinnamon notes make it a winning addition.
since, as Doughty said, it's getting to be the season for cold coffee drinks,
get creative with muddled herbs and fruit.
fresh mint to your iced coffee, with coconut milk and just a touch of
sweetener, instantly ups the refreshing qualities of the drink. Frozen fruit in
iced coffee — either as ice cube substitutes or blended in — can be a fun way
to add dimension to your drink. Blackberries or blueberries parallel a brew's
sweetness, while more tropical fruits like mango and pineapple highlight its
acidity without being overpowering. Same with the essential oils from citrus
peel, which you can add to your drink by twisting the peel over your glass (and
even rubbing the peel on the rim for extra flavor).
of acidity, Doughty says we shouldn't be afraid to play that up.
America, people think acidity in your coffee is a bad thing," Doughty
said. "But I prefer to think of it as the treble notes in a musical chord.
Part of a good coffee journey is allowing yourself the psychological freedom to
expand the aperture of your lens and increase your flavors you tell yourself
you will enjoy."
of the ways you can do this is, obviously, drink more coffee. Take notes on
what you like and don't like (there are some nifty notebooks meant to help you
track this). When you're doing this, it's helpful to have some background and
terminology to help you put words to your discoveries; Doughty recommends the
book "The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for Everyone" by
Sprudge founders Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen as a good place to start.
The author of this
article is a freelance writer in Louisville, KY.She can be reached at her webpage: click here.