Making specialty coffees at home

Coffee is awesome. It’s delicious, gives you a boost of energy and is good for you in moderate doses. An excessive amount is bad, but an excessive amount of anything is bad. Did you know you could poison yourself with water? True story.

I really love a good cup of coffee. While I will drink a standard cup with great joy, I also love a specialty coffee or fancy coffee. I make a hobby, actually, of making specialty coffees at home.

The problem is that specialty coffees are expensive! Even if you make them at home, it costs money. And most indie writers are not rolling in cash. I sure as hell don’t have the money or time to have a whole coffee shop set up on my kitchen counter. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that education can compensate for a lack of money any day. So today I’m going to share with you what I know about making a good cup of specialty coffee at home.

Tools

Here is a list of tools I use to make coffees at home.

  • A Mr. Coffee Kurig
  • A Mr. Coffee standard coffee pot. Super boring, there’s not even a timer on it.
  • A french press. Don’t be scared, these are hella cheap.
  • A glass mason jar

The Keurig is for when I don’t want to or don’t have the time to make a specialty coffee. So don’t feel like you need to have one. To make specialty coffees, you just need the last three things. I spent $15 on my coffee pot and $7 on my french press. Mason jars can be had for a dollar, or if you buy a glass jar of jelly.

Roasts

When we’re talking about coffee, we talk about roasts. Blond, light, medium and dark roasts are the basic ones you’ll see. The lighter the roast, the lighter the flavor.

Here’s something a barista at Starbucks taught me. The lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content. So if you want something to wake up in the morning, a dark roast might not do it for you. This is why a breakfast blend will almost always be a light roast. (I hate breakfast blends.) Most specialty coffees can be made from any, depending on your preference.

The lingo

Now, this can be useful to know just if you’re ordering a specialty coffee at a shop. Honestly, do you really know the difference between a cappuccino and a macchiato? Well, now you will

Espresso- This is just a shot of concentrated coffee. We’ll discuss how to make this without an espresso maker later.

Black Eye- Another name for this is called a Shot in The Dark. It’s a shot of espresso at the bottom of a cup of coffee. My favorite morning drink. It’s a cup of coffee, with a cup of coffee inside.

Americano- This is a shot of espresso in a cup of hot water. I don’t love these.

Cafe late- One part espresso, two parts steamed milk and topped with froth or foam.

Cappuccino- One part steamed milk, one part foamed milk and one part espresso.

Macchiato- 4 parts espresso, one part steamed milk. My personal favorite.

Now that you understand the basic recipes, making specialty coffees is as simple as understanding how to make four things and knowing what combination to put them in.

Making coffee- Coffee pot, Keurig, french press. Take your pick. I assume I don’t need to tell you how to use a coffee pot or a Keurig, and we’ll be discussing a french press below. But I do have some all around tips for coffee making.

  1. Clean your coffee pot out. I clean mine once a month, using vinegar. I run a pot of half water, half vinegar through. Then I do a whole pot of straight water to rinse.
  2. Follow the instructions on the container in relation to how much to put in the machine. At least, the first time. You might find that your tastes call for more or fewer grounds. But the first time you try a new blend, follow the directions!

Making espresso- I use a french press to make espresso, and here’s how. I put in the number of coffee grounds I would use for one cup of coffee, usually about a tablespoon. Then, I put a two shot glasses worth of almost boiling water into the french press. I stir it all up and let it sit for three to five minutes. And there you have some fresh espresso.

Making frothed milk- Pour your desired amount of milk into a glass jar. Put the lid on and shake it like hell. Now you have frothed milk.

Making steamed milk- Take your frothed milk, and take the lid off of the jar. Pop it in your microwave for thirty seconds. Now, you have steamed milk, and it’s wonderful.

Sometimes it’s just all about the mug.

I kind of collect coffee mugs, and it’s part of why I like having coffee at home. A good mug, instead of a chipped old mug that your kids stained while painting even though they swore they were going to clean it out, can make the experience for you. My husband and I just got our first matching dish set of our married lives. A cup of homemade macchiato in my new blue and gray mugs is now my favorite thing.

No coffee shop required.

What are your thoughts on coffee? Do you have any special tips for making it at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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