Who doesn’t love the wonderful smell of coffee brewing or being roasted? In addition to the smell, I just love the taste of good coffee! The perfect relaxing morning for me is sipping a nice warm latte while reading the paper or looking at news online. Better yet: I’m sitting in a cute little coffee shop! How can you go wrong? These days, a relaxing morning with me sipping my coffee is kind of a rarity. But, I still make sure to have a nice cup of coffee (or two) every morning. It’s part of our ritual. It is funny: Keenan knows that the first thing we do is make coffee, as he says. “Mommy, coffee!” while pointing to the coffee maker. On mornings where we need to get out the door quickly and I don’t have time to make coffee, Keenan never fails to remind me that I didn’t have my coffee!
My love for good coffee started when I studied abroad in Italy while I was in college. There was a little cafe down the way from my apartment, and my friend and I would stop in every morning on our way to class to get a cappuccino. Ah… I can still taste the creaminess of the milk and the wonderful, sweet, roasted-nutty flavor of the espresso. It was so creamy and rich, I never had to add sugar (that is what I call a perfect cappuccino!). While living in Italy, I would have at least 2 cappuccino’s a day, because they were SO good, not to mention, the extra lift of the caffeine helped keep me awake, as Italians stay up much later than we do (they don’t start eating dinner until at least 8 p.m.). Since studying abroad, my husband and I traveled to Italy a few of years ago (our big trip before Keenan was conceived) and I brought him over to the dark side! He had to have his cappuccino every morning, too!
Most recently, we traveled to Costa Rica with Keenan and visited a coffee roaster and exporter, Cafe Britt, which made me fall in love with coffee all over again! We learned and saw how coffee was grown, harvested, roasted, ground and–best of all–made into a delicious cup of joe (or luxurious cappuccino, latte and iced coffee). My husband and I both agreed that we had the best coffee in our life while we were there! Our Barista at Cafe Britt showed us how to make a latte or cappuccino using a French press, and how to froth milk with a French press. For a flavored latte or Mocha, you can add your flavoring to the milk, warm it in the microwave, froth it using the french press, and then pour it into your cup of coffee…YUMMY!
After returning home, we started making more of our coffee the way we learned at Britt, and we have not been disappointed! Drew likes French press, and I’m still an espresso girl. Here are a couple of ways we make our coffee:
French Press Style: (serves 2)
– 2 heaping Tbs of ground coffee *(Depending on your taste and the roast, you can add more or less, but the ratio is 2 Tbs per 6 oz. cup of coffee. We always add a little extra, because we prefer a stronger espresso-like flavor, since we make lattes)
– water *(start with COLD water, and it’s better if it’s pure and not treated, especially if you make cold drinks: Any off-flavors will be really obvious when everything is cold)
– 1/4 – 1 cup cup of milk, depending on your taste.
– 1 oz. flavoring of your choice *(I love Torani Brown Sugar Vanilla Sugar-Free Syrup. Drew goes with cocoa and sugar, or any other sweetener)
– 1 French Press
– Something to heat your water to boiling (we use an electric kettle)
1. Boil water. Pour ground coffee into French Press.
2. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat and let it sit for at least ten seconds, then pour into french press. Make sure that you move the water stream all over the coffee, so the grounds are completely saturated, or stir with a chopstick or whatever until the grounds “bloom” (you see some foam… really fresh coffee will foam a little more).
3. Put on the lid/plunger (making sure not to press any of the coffee). Let the coffee sit for 4-6 minutes. Maybe. This is one area that will really change on you every once in a while: The type of beans, the roast, the grind, the water, the brew time… everything will affect how your coffee will taste. Check out the many coffee forums available if you want to get hard-core like my husband (he geeks out on this stuff), but just remember that it should taste good to YOU. (Drew grinds our coffee with a hand-grinder, and is crazy about freshness… I just want my coffee.)
4. While you’re waiting, scald your milk, or heat it in the microwave for at least one minute to get the “professional” flavor.
5. Once the 4-6 minutes has passed, slowly press the coffee.
6. Shudder with anticipation.
7. Pour heated milk mixture into a clean french press (add flavoring, if needed) and pump the handle up and down until it nicely frothed.
5. Divide frothed milk into mugs and pour coffee on top and enjoy!
Note: *For a quicker way to froth milk (and if you only own one french press), you can purchase a battery-operated milk frother, such as Areolatte 5 Milk Frother and follow steps 2 and 3 above, and divide heated milk amongst two mugs and froth it directly in each cup. Remember that non-fat milk froths more, if you’re looking for thick foam. Pour coffee on top of milk and enjoy!
Stove-top Percolater Style *(I use the Bialetti 4 cup Stovetop Percolator)
– 3-4 tsp espresso-grind coffee
– 1/4 cup milk
– 1/4 – 1 oz. flavoring of your choice
1. Fill base with water (to the line on the inside of the base), insert basket and place coffee in basket. Top with inside lid and screw on the top of the percolator.
2. Place on the stove on low and wait for it to percolate!
3. In the meantime, you can follow French press steps, above, to make frothed milk.
4. Once your coffee is ready, add it to your mug filled with frothed milk and enjoy!