How I became passionate about coffee
I can remember first trying black coffee in high school. When I got my license, I started to stop by Speedway a couple times a week on my way to school to get a cup of joe. Surprisingly, I liked it without cream or sugar from the first moment that I tried it. Little did I know that in college coffee would go beyond just being a source of caffeine and actually become a passion of mine.
In November of my second year of college, I started casually looking for a new job. I happened to come across a job posting for a Barista at Starbucks in Kalamazoo. Shortly after submitting my application, I got a call from the Store Manager and was offered an interview the very next day. Upon finishing the interview she offered me the job and I started my training the following week. One of the things that I loved about Starbucks’ training is that they go beyond just teaching you how to make the different types of drinks. They also give you a bit of background information regarding the coffee growing, washing, and roasting processes.
After a year of working as a Barista I got promoted to a Barista Trainer and a Shift Supervisor and about a year after that, my Store Manager at the time asked me if I would be interested in going through the Coffee Master program along with her and another Shift from our store. Through this training I learned a ton about the coffee growing, washing, and roasting processes and further instilled in me a passion for coffee. After four years of working at Starbucks I hung up my apron, as I moved to Florida to teach Spanish upon graduating from college in 2016. However, I am still every bit as passionate about coffee as I was then and I continue to try new coffees, new recipes, and new brewing methods.
Favorite Brewing Methods:
The French press is certainly my favorite way to prepare hot coffee when I have time to sit and enjoy it. It was the brewing method that we used at Starbucks to conduct coffee tastings because a French press maintains many of the oils and flavors that you miss out on using a drip coffee maker with a paper filter. What gives coffee from this method so much flavor is the fact that you are steeping the coffee (like you do with loose leaf tea) and therefore all of the coffee grounds are saturated.
How to use a French Press
- Pre-heat the French press: Fill up the press with hot water. This ensures that the coffee brews at the right temperature.
- Weigh and grind your coffee: I use 56 grams of coffee for my 8 cup French press. Grind your coffee so that it’s coarse. Many coffee grinders actually have a specific setting for the French press.
- Add water: Pour out the water you used to pre-heat the press, add the coffee grounds, and then fill up the press about halfway with hot water. Set a timer for 1 minute.
- Stir: After your timer goes off, give the coffee a good stir to make sure all of the grounds are saturated.
- Add more water: Fill the press almost all the way up to the top with hot water, put on the lid, but do not press the plunger down. Set a timer for 3 minutes.
- Press: After your timer goes off, slowly push down the plunger until all of the coffee grounds are at the bottom of the press.
- Serve: If you are not going to drink all of the coffee right away, it is a good idea to pour the coffee into a carafe so that it does not over-extract and leave your coffee bitter.
The cafetera (which just means “coffee maker” in Spanish) is very popular in Latin America, Italy, and other parts of the world. I use this if I want to make espresso because it makes a very strong, concentrated coffee. I like to drink this black, as a café cubano with a little sugar, café con leche, or as a latte.
How to use a cafetera:
- Add water: Fill water to just before the stream release valve (looks like a bolt on the side of the cafetera).
- Add coffee: Put the filter basket in and add finely ground coffee.
- Tamp: Use the back of a spoon to push down firmly on the grounds.
- Screw on the top part of the cafetera and put it on the stove on high.
- As soon as the coffee finishes brewing, turn off the heat and serve however you would like.
**To make a café cubano (Cuban coffee), as soon as the coffee starts to move up to the top chamber of the cafetera, pour a little bit of it into a metal cup or tin with some sugar and mix it vigorously until it foams up and forms what almost looks like peanut butter. After the coffee is finished brewing, you can add this back into the cafetera or spoon it onto your drink.
**You can use a French press to create foam to make a latte or cappuccino. Heat up some milk in the microwave or on the stove and then add it to a French press. Push and pull the plunger up and down vigorously to create foam.
My favorite type of coffee to bring to work is cold brew coffee because I have a Klean Kanteen double-walled, insulated tumbler that keeps it cold all day, so I can enjoy it throughout the day at school. Cold brew coffee is also an excellent option for those who have stomach issues because of the acidity of coffee. Because there is no heat involved in this brewing method, many of the acids are not released in the process, and therefore it tends to be easier on the stomach. There are several different methods of making cold brew, but I will talk about how to make it in a cold brew maker (infuser) as well as in a French press.
How to use a cold brew maker (infuser):
I recently bought the Bean Envy 32 ounce cold brew maker pictured above from Amazon for $26.95 (linked below). It makes 4 cups of cold brew and is super simple to use.
- Weigh and grind your coffee: I use 85 grams of coffee. Grind your coffee so it’s coarse (French press setting if you have that setting on your grinder).
- Add the coffee: Add the ground coffee to the filter.
- Add the water: Pour water over the coffee grounds until the water is almost all the way to the top of the cold brew maker. Leave a little bit of space so that when you put on the top the water does not overflow. Put on the metal top (it comes with a metal one and a rubber one) and leave it on the counter to brew for at least 12 hours. Usually what I do is leave it on the counter for several hours until a go to bed, then pop it in the fridge overnight.
- Remove and clean the filter: After you have let the coffee brew for at least 12 hours, remove and clean out the filter.
- Serve: This creates a nice strong cold brew, so you might decide to add a little water, milk, or sugar depending on your preference.
How to make cold brew in a French press:
- Weigh and grind your coffee: I usually used a ratio of either 1:4 or 1:5 of coffee to water depending on how strong you want your cold brew to be. Grind your coffee so it’s coarse (French press setting) and add it to the bottom of the press. Because you do not get a lot of cold brew out of this method, I used to make a cold brew concentrate by using more coffee that I could then add a little water to so I could get more servings out of one batch.
- Add water: Add cold/room temperature water slowly in a circular motion so that all of the coffee grounds are saturated.
- Brew: Leave the French press on the counter to brew for at least 12 hours. After it is done brewing, slowly push down the plunger and pour the cold brew into a pitcher or mason jar to keep in the fridge.
Favorite Coffee Gadgets/Accessories:
Coffee tastes SO much better freshly grind! My recommendation is to invest in a burr grinder rather than a cheaper blade grinder. The problem with blade grinders are that it is difficult to grind coffee as fine or coarse as you want and the grind tends to be inconsistent. Burr grinders such as the one I have typically have different settings so you can easily adjust it from a coarse grind for a French press or cold brew maker to a medium grind for a drip brewer or pour over or a fine grind for a cafetera (Moka pot) or an espresso maker.
In addition, I recommend that you do NOT store coffee in the hopper of your burr grinder. Coffee should be stored in a cool (but NOT in the fridge or freezer) and dry place in an opaque container. If you are weighing out your coffee, it is a good idea to way it out before you grind it, so you should just add the coffee to the hopper of the grinder after you weigh it out so you can grind just the right amount.
Digital Kitchen Scale:
Another key to making the best quality coffee is to weigh your whole bean coffee prior to grinding it. Just remember to always tare your scale after you put the container that you are going to put the coffee into on the scale to weigh it. Most recipes for brewing coffee are in grams, so it is a goodI also love having a kitchen digital kitchen scale because sometimes I like to bake using recipes that are written using measurements of weight.
Products Mentioned :
This blog post is not sponsored, but below are links to all of the products that I mention.
Bodum French Press:
Bean Envy Cold Brew Maker:
Mr. Coffee Burr Grinder:
Taylor Digital Kitchen Scale: