There was a point in time where I didn’t drink coffee — hard to believe now, as I write this with a steaming cup in my hand. In fact, my freshman year roommate loves to tell the story of how I threw up the first time I had “real” coffee (it had three espresso shots) in order to pull an all-nighter.
But coffee culture and corporate America are neatly woven together, hence how my daily morning (and afternoon) cup of coffee routine began. And it isn’t black coffee, mind you. I am that person who tried Starbucks’ Tie-Dye Frappuccino (would not recommend).
Because I am stuck in the mindset that coffee should taste more like a milkshake than the traditional black available at work, I stop by a coffee shop most mornings. But after reading “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together,” I noticed that the $5 lattes really began to add up.
Which is why I decided to become a barista, or at least perfect the art of a good cup of coffee. And I started by going straight to the source. I ask Erin Meister, former barista and author of “New York Coffee: A Caffeinated History” the key to a perfect cup of coffee, to which she replies: “Flexibility! There’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ in coffee, so I think the key is enjoying what’s in front of you, looking forward to the next one, and constantly exploring new techniques, beans and brewers.”
So, I don’t aim for perfection, but I do aim for guru status. Mainly because “coffee guru” has a nice ring to it. Keep reading to see what I bought to upgrade my coffee from the coffee shop good to homemade spectacular.
Organic Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are always fresher than pre-ground coffee — coffee grinds oxidize and after 15 minutes lose up to 60 percent of the aroma and intended flavor. If you need to grind beans, I recommend this coffee grinder that can easily be kept at your desk.
And then there are the types of beans. “I typically like coffee with a bit of acidity, stone fruit notes or tropical fruit flavors, and not much chocolate or nut tones,“ says Meister. “I will almost always buy a southern Colombian coffee if there’s one available, preferably within 1–2 weeks from the roast date.”
If you are not satisfied by your 2004 coffee pot, four-cup Mr. Coffee, or are abstaining from Keurig and their environmentally unfriendly K-cups, don’t fret. There are many small coffee brewing devices that can be kept at arm’s length.
While oat milk sounds like yet another alternative milk diluting the shares of whole milk at grocery stores, I have never supported something more. And the coffee market agrees: In 2018, the oat milk market growth rate went up 8.2 percent according to a study done by Future Market Insights. Oat milk is the creamiest of the alternative milks, turning every coffee drink into a sweet velvety concoction.
Every now and then I feel stagnant and look for any friend or activity that can guarantee to spice up my life. The little extra something that is missing. Now take that metaphor and apply it quite literally to the cup of coffee in front of you. I like to add cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg to my coffee as it brews.
If you are someone who enjoys a nice foam base in your coffee, you will need a milk frother. There are plenty of small handheld ones out there that can be stored underneath your desk. Make yourself a latte, cappuccino, or might I suggest … a hot chocolate in a moment’s notice.
Ignore this section if you are one of the previously mentioned adults who enjoy the flavor nuances of a hot cup of black coffee. For those of us who refuse to grow up, the 1883 Maison Routin syrups are derived from the French Alps and used at many high-end coffee shops like La Tropézienne Bakery in Los Angeles. I keep a bottle of lavender syrup underneath my desk but now that spooky season is approaching, I have made the switch to pumpkin spice.
I wrote about my favorite supplements before, but this is a perfect opportunity to boast about them again. Even if it is all placebo, I like the idea that a tasteless powder can upgrade my mood, skin, hair and nails. I like Moon Juice’s Beauty Dust, which combines amla, ashwagandha, rehmannia, schisandra, goji and pearl to improve the skin’s clarity, but here are some of my other favorite options.
After all of this effort, it would be cruel to pour your coffee into a mug that your real estate agent gave you with a 1-800 number on it. I love knowing that my mug reflects my personality. It is the little things in life.
I want everything I own to be Instagram-friendly, even if I never post a picture of it. I would like people to exclaim “cute!” when they see my flower mold ice trays. Aesthetics are central to my identity, which is how I ended up with a series of items my mother would say were a waste of money.
No, not coffee table books. Actual books about coffee. Although I guess the two could be interchangeable. For those of you who enjoy the history of things, here are some books on everyone’s favorite beverage.
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