We know: change is uncomfortable. Especially when it includes your coffee routine.
But January has a way of casually inviting change. Maybe because our worn-out livers are asking for a course-correction? Or perhaps we just need a new start every now and then. Whatever the reason, the new year brings with it an opportunity to experiment in our lives.
So, if you’ve been interested in stepping out of your coffee comfort zone, here are a few ways you can add a little spice to your coffee life.
Make a Coffee Smoothie
Here’s a time saver: incorporate your coffee into your breakfast. This recipe for a Cafe Campesino “Wake and Shake” combines bananas, cold brew coffee, cocoa powder and your choice of milk into a tasty morning smoothie. Add a half a cup of blueberries or a teaspoon (or more) of cinnamon to up its nutritional value. Will it become your new morning ritual? Who knows! It will be fun to experiment, though.
Find a New Favorite
Golden Iced Latte
This recipe for a Turmeric Iced Latte (also known as a Golden Iced Latte) is an increasingly popular coffee house trend that you can easily make at-home. Again using cold brew as its base, this Golden Iced Latte can either be served over iced or blended. It’s fun not only for its color and caffeine content, but also for its health benefits. Both turmeric and cinnamon have been proven to reduce inflammation in your body, helping to lower your risk of developing certain diseases. Our recipe suggests serving it over ice, but you could also throw-in half a banana and blend it like a smoothie. Choose your own [coffee] adventure.
Try a Natural (or Unwashed) Coffee
If you’ve never tried a naturally processed coffee, you are in for a sensory adventure. Natural (or “unwashed”) coffees often have a distinct berry-like aroma and flavor. (The term “natural” does not refer to how the coffee is grown, but instead how it’s processed after harvest.) Often, the coffee bean (or seed) is removed from its ripe coffee cherry shortly after the fruit is harvested. Once the fruit is removed, the seed is washed for several hours and left to dry on concrete patios. A natural (or “unwashed”) processing method doesn’t remove the fruit at harvest, though. Instead, the seeds ferment inside the coffee cherry for up to 30 days or more after harvest. When the seed is finally removed and prepared for export, it has absorbed berry-like aromas that release when the coffee gets roasted, ground and brewed. Farmers at the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union do an excellent job with this processing method. Our Sidama Natural coffee is a key component in our espresso blends and a deliciously aromatic coffee on its own. Experiment at home with a bag, and let us know what you think.
Experiment with Decaf
Okay. We know. There are a lot of decaf-haters out there. “What’s the point of drinking coffee if you don’t get the caffeine?” Or “Is decaf really considered coffee?” We know. We’ve heard it. But, the truth is, our decaf coffees really taste good. And there comes a time in many peoples’ lives when they reach a limit on their caffeine intake. So, for the coffee-lovers out there who have to cut-out or cut-back on caffeine, please know: we got you. Our natural-water processed decafs are delicious. AND (added perk): we sell them in in whole-bean (in addition to ground), so you can still delight in the smell of freshly ground coffee filling your kitchen. Our Decaf Full City Roast is a crowd-favorite. Give it a try.
Play with Brewing Equipment
There’s a world of coffee-brewing gadgets out there, and at first they can seem pretty intimidating. But they all work off the same principles for brewing and extraction, so once you experiment with one brew method, you can apply the same rules to others. The basic variables that will affect any brewing method are: grind-size, water-to-coffee ratio, water quality, water temperature and turbulence. Yes, different brew methods and filter types will impact your final cup, but if you start to experiment with grind-size and water-to-coffee ratio, you can play with those variables in any brew method you choose. Here’s some basic guidelines to start experimenting with brewing equipment:
In general, the longer your brew time, the coarser your coffee grounds. Take cold brew, for example. The cold brew method has coffee grounds sitting in water anywhere from 8-24 hours. That’s a LONG time in the world of coffee brewing (especially when you realize most espressos brew in 30 seconds or under). So brew methods that require shorter amounts of time will likely need finer grind sizes. For folks experimenting at home, your finest to coarsest brew method would be: Aeropress, Hario, Kalita Wave, and Chemex. Using an automatic drip pot? Depending on the size of the batch, your coffee grounds should probably be about the same size as a Chemex, or slightly more fine.
Here’s a brewing formula to live by: use 1 gram of coffee to anywhere from 15 to 20 grams of water. This is the drip-coffee brew ratio used by baristas around the world. I know, it involves a scale (! ) (which sounds like a lot of work), but the pay-off can be pretty fantastic once you get it down. First, weigh your ground coffee before you brew (one 8-12 oz. cup can use 18-28 grams of coffee). Then, tare your scale and pour hot water over those coffee grounds until your water weight is 15-20 times your dry coffee weight. It’s that simple. Using an automatic brewer? Just weigh your coffee and water using the same 1:15-20 ratio and let the machine do the heavy-lifting for you.
Once you find the grind-size and water-to-coffee ratio you like for a particular coffee, you’ll start brewing more consistently satisfying cups. Want to start experimenting? Try with one of these pour-overs.
Develop Your Coffee Knowledge
Enjoy a cup of coffee while learning more about the industry as a whole. There’s surprisingly SO MUCH to learn about coffee. Take a gander at our YouTube page to see some of the videos we’ve accumulated over the years, or learn why we only source fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee. If you want to dive even deeper into the social and environmental impact of our trading model, take a look at our first-ever Impact Report that we published last year.
In fact, you might find it interesting that the small-scale coffee farmers we source from are helping to cool the planet. The agroforestry systems they use to produce coffee have a regenerative and restorative impact on their soils. Learn more.
Evolve your Coffee Comfort Zone
So, as with many things in life, “it’s the journey, not the destination” that matters. Even if your coffee routine ends up staying exactly the same as it’s always been, at least you’ll have dipped your toe in for a sensory adventure. And who knows what seed that might plant? This time next year, you may be roasting your own coffee in your garage … or traveling with us to origin…. or drinking exclusively decaf? :)