January 18: National Gourmet Coffee Day
January 20: National Coffee Break Day
Clearly, we love coffee and couldn’t be more excited to celebrate and bring attention to our favorite hot beverage.
In our book, gourmet coffee is still brewed coffee beans; latte, cappucchino, mocha, etc. — all of those are espresso beverages and espresso, while related, isn’t coffee. However, if that’s how you prefer your java, by all means enjoy; we support all manner of coffee consumption.
To celebrate National “Gourmet” Coffee Day, we’ve got some tips to dress up your every day cup o’ joe and make it extra special.
Coffee beans are divided into two broad cateories, Robusta and Arabica. The beans themselves while they do produce different coffee flavor profiles, aren’t what most determine the coffee flavor profile, as much as how the beans were handled and mostly, how they were roasted. The beans themselves matter less than how they were roasted.
Knowing what you like will help you determine what roasting method is your preference. If you like your coffee smooth, with little bitterness, you’ll want dry, light colored coffee beans that have had a shorter roasting period. If you take your coffee black, this is probably going to be a better cup of coffee for you. If you prefer your coffee strong, bold and slightly bitter, you’ll want a bean that’s been roasted longer. These beans tend to bring more coffee oils to the surface and will still provide a strong coffee flavor when adding cream, sugar, or flavorings.
Regardless of the roasting method you choose, full flavor and richness of the coffee brewed diminishes dramatically and rapidly after the beans have been roasted. Look for coffee beans that have a roasted-on date and that you will consume within a couple weeks of that date.
For the freshest coffee, start with whole bean and grind just what you need. Coffee that has been pre-ground starts to go stale as soon as it’s ground and loses its flavor.
Brewing the Perfect Cup
There are many methods in which to prepare your coffee (aeropress, Cowboy Coffee, Percolator, Keurig)— we’re covering, in our opinion, the two most popular. Visit your local coffee shop to explore other preparation methods to determine what you like best.
Add your water, add your ground coffee, insert filter and let the machine do the work. This method produces a less rich, less strong cup of coffee, as the filter absorbs most of the coffee oils that give the coffee its flavor.
Add your coffee to the carafe, add hot water. Some coffee masters will tell you to fill the carafe only a quarter of the way or half and let the coffee steep, adding more hot water then, to dilute and make a ‘full pot.’ Others advise to simply fill the carafe and let the coffee steep, 5-7 minutes. Try it both ways, discover what works for you. Because there is no filter to absorb the oils, french press produces a richer cup of coffee.
Cream & Sugar, Please
Heat the milk. By adding warm milk you’re not bringing down the temperature of the whole cup. Add a quater to a half cup of milk to a microwaveable safe mug and heat on high for 1 minute. That hack should produce the perfect temperate milk, right around 95°. How can you tell? If the coffee mug is still cool to the touch, it’s not quite warm enough. If it’s hot to the touch, you’ve scorched your milk. If the coffee mug is warm, yet not hot, you’ve got it. The amount of milk, the temperature of the cold milk, and your microwave will all affect your heating.
Go fancy – froth the milk. So simple, and super easy, with a tool you already have on hand! No need to break out the handheld mixer or spring for a frothing wand. If you’ve got a whisk or a jar, you’re in business.
Jar: Add your warmed milk to a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Voila. Mind you, this will produce larger bubbles not quite like what you’d get with a latte, but in a pinch, you’ve got foamed milk.
Whisk: A gentler method, insert whisk into the mug of hot coffee and quickly but gently whisk the hot milk til it first foams, then produces bubbles.
Foamed milk adds a pleasing mouthfeel and a bit of sweetness to your coffee. For a more indulgent cup, consider half-and-half or heavy cream.
So many sweetener options these days! While white table sugar certainly works, to really jazz it up may we suggest Sugar in the Raw? Lighter than brown sugar but more caramel-y then white sugar. The flavor of the coffee beans still comes through, it just adds the slightest butterscotch notes to your coffee.
January 20: National Coffee Break Day
We hope you will take a minute on Saturday, January 20 to celebrate National Coffee Break Day by preparing a gourmet cup of coffee, then actually sitting and taking a moment to savor and enjoy your cup of coffee. There are few simple pleasures in life than a great cup of coffee.
Cheers! Did you try any of our gourmet coffee tips? Snap a pic of your coffee and hashtag it #coffeeandcocktailswithmc. We love to see your creations on Facebook.