Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.11.14 PM“No, coffee stunts your growth,” was my reply, every time Braxton asked for a cup. “How about when I am taller than you, Mom?” was usually his comeback question. Braxton passed me a few years ago in height, but has only recently become a coffee snob. After numerous cups of varying bean and brew styles, Braxton has learned how to attain coffee nirvana. We spent an educational few hours in the kitchen tackling all aspects of that morning cuppa he has come to love so much. Here’s how Braxton sees it…

Let’s get something out of the way; Coffee has become an essential part of my daily routine. I’d put it on the level of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It sounds a bit crazy when owning up to my somewhat borderline coffee addiction, but I’m sure there are loads of folks out there that can relate. My obsession with the black gold has inspired me to learn more about the drink, encouraging me to try new brews, different sweeteners, and so forth. That’s why spending a morning in the kitchen exploring our options for what kind of java to prepare was a blast. The first thing you may be wondering is why at home? A stop at Starbucks would surely do the trick, but where’s the fun in that? (Full Disclaimer: Starbucks is great, but those cups of heaven add up monetarily.) There are a world of options available to tinker with at home, and making the perfect cup of coffee is what we set out to do. As you’ll see below, we came away with some fantastic creations, ranging from quick and convenient presses, to patiently prepared and savory cold brews – coffee never ceases to melt my face in its majesty.

The morning workshop, where coffee, creamer and sweetness come together…


Ingredients for a great cup of coffee are easy to have on hand in the pantry and in the refrigerator.

Let’s start with the sweet… simple syrup.bScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.45.54 PMSimple syrup is just that… SIMPLE! Any ratio of 2:1 depending on how much you want. We wanted a big batch so we did 6 cups of sugar to 3 cups of boiling hot water.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.11.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.11.36 PM

Stir until sugar is dissolved, microwave if necessary.

Stir until sugar is dissolved, microwave if necessary.


  • 1 cup warm simple syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean

Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add to warm simple syrup and stir well. Let sit 24 hours to achieve full flavor.
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  • 3 cups simple syrup
  • 4-6 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Combine in container of choice while syrup is warm. 

Side Note: When making vanilla syrup, use the best quality vanilla you can afford. This Lagrima vanilla made in Seattle, is fantastic. You know it is quality when even a tiny jar comes with an actual vanilla bean.
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.12.28 PMALMOND SYRUP

  • 2 cups simple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Combine in container of choice while syrup is warm.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.13.06 PMAnd now for the beans… get the good stuff, it makes a difference. The best deal we have found is from Running Pump Roasting which you can find at Grocery Outlet stores. They have a wide selection of coffee beans from all over the world and all that we’ve tried have passed our taste test. Conventional coffee can have a lot of pesticides and no one wants a toxic cup of coffee so this is one area where organic pays off. In some cases, there isn’t even a cost difference.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.13.23 PMGrinding your own… YES! Just the aroma is worth the few minutes of extra work here. After using a blade coffee grinder for years, I knew there was something missing from my cup of coffee. There is a depth you get from using a burr grinder that can’t be replicated in a blade grinder. We started out with the most inexpensive burr grinder we could find and are very happy with the Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill. It looks like lots of other people are happy with this as it has a sold 4/5 stars on with over 3,000 customer reviews.bScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.45.32 PMWhen you want that coffee NOW! French press is the best option. For 1-2 cups we use the small one, 2-4 we get out the OXO.bScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.45.41 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.07.05 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.07.23 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.07.37 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.07.57 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.08.06 PMNo one in our house drinks a black cup of coffee. But how we “cream” it can vary. Whole milk, 1/2-n-1/2, coconut milk, evaporated milk or the decadent, sweetened condensed milk (Vietnamese-style coffee) are all options around here.aScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.06.52 PM

Unless it’s going into an iced coffee, the milk or cream must be warmed (stovetop or microwave) and frothed. The Froth-a-Matic we use is old and not even available anymore. However, there are many other options. I recently used the Epica Frother at a friends house and loved it.aScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.08.14 PMaScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.08.29 PM

Another amazing coffee drizzle is flavored sweetened condensed milk. On this latte is Eagle Brand's Chocolate flavor.

Another amazing coffee drizzle is flavored sweetened condensed milk. On this latte is Eagle Brand’s Chocolate flavor.


Whipped cream is always a nice option as a coffee topper. Here, we've also added some dark chocolate shavings.

Whipped cream is always a nice option as a coffee topper. Here, we’ve also added some dark chocolate shavings: cocoa powder, cinnamon or nutmeg also add a nice flavor.


Now if you have a little more time, cold brewed coffee is actually our brew style of choice. Less acidic, cold brew coffee has all of the flavor other methods have it is just more gentle on the stomach. Our cold brew ratio is about 1 1/2 cups of coarse ground coffee with 8-9 cups of cold water. Adjust how much coffee you add to suit your tastes. We like it strong and will add a bit of water when warming up a cup.  Place freshly ground coffee beans in a glass container and add cold water. Do not stir. Let sit 3-4 minutes and then give it a vigorous stir. Place a lid on the pitcher and place in refrigerator 12-18 hours. Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.13.44 PM

After coffee has cold brewed, pour through a fine mesh strainer or any kind of drip brewer to remove the grounds.

Coffee can also be filtered one serving at a time using a single cup coffee brewer and a filter, these are also available in stainless steel. Smaller grounds will settle into the bottom of the pitcher so do not stir after removing the grounds.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.14.09 PMCold brew coffee is ready for iced coffee anytime and can be warmed on the stovetop or in the microwave for a warm cup. Cold brew coffee last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator (ours never lasts that long).Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 4.46.26 PM

Another flavor option we enjoy is the Pumpkin Latte we perfected last fall.

Another flavor option we enjoy is the Pumpkin Latte we perfected last fall.

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