The Perfect Pour-Over (at home!)

Hey Guys! Before I left for Central America, I collaborated with one of my old friends Ryan Martin on this blog. Ryan is a coffee expert and takes his coffee pretty seriously. After an evening of making and drinking a TON of coffee, taking photos, and then writing and editing the process, we bring you this mini tutorial on how to brew your own perfect cup of joe. We hope you like it! 

All photographs by Meagan Kathleen Photography. 

Before I get into the techniques and details of manual brewing, there are two things that will radically change the taste of your coffee regardless of how bad you mess up or get frustrated with the process. These two things include brewing with fresh roasted and fresh ground coffee beans. While other factors like water temperature and ratios (more on that later) will create variations in your cup, I believe those two things will have the greatest impact. Here’s why.

Fresh Roasted

Think about this for a moment: How long do you think that bag of roasted coffee sat on the grocery store shelves before you bought it? How long do you think it sat in their warehouse before putting it on the shelves? Even further, how long do you think it sat in the warehouse of the coffee company before they shipped it to the grocery store? And so on. My guess is about a few weeks for every stage, resulting in a few months since the time it was roasted. That is just way too long. I am going to say something that will probably make you a little uncomfortable - you might even spit out a bit of that store-bought “coffee” that you’re drinking. Ready?

Roasted coffee has an expiration date of about 14 days.

That’s 2 weeks.

Not months.

The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee cherry that grows on millions of trees around the world. And it is quite sensitive. After the bean has been picked from the cherry, it is considered “green coffee.” This green coffee exasperates its freshness at a much slower rate than roasted coffee. It can go over a year before going stale. However, to get it to your cup, it has to be roasted.

    Upon roasting, the coffee bean is heated to extremely high temperatures, eventually “cracking” and beginning the activation of the many flavors inside this little seed of wonder. But as soon as this process begins, the clocks starts ticking. Even just a several days after roast, your coffee will taste different, slowly losing the nuances of flavor. So imagine how much more delicious your coffee would be if you brewed much closer to the time it was roasted! Without beating a dead horse, I am sure you understand what I am saying here. Get fresh roasted! The two most convenient ways of getting fresh coffee is through your local shop that roasts in house (or gets beans from another shop that does) or through roasters that ship their fresh beans to your doorstep. Some of my favorite roasters are Ironsmith Coffee Roasters, Rose Park Coffee Roasters, Happy Mug, and Kean Coffee. All of them have different styles of roasting, but are unique in their own ways. I definitely recommend checking them out or doing some searching yourself for what you love best. Some other popular choices that I have yet to experience include Intelligentsia, Chromatic Coffee, and Verve.

 

Personal preferences: Light-medium roasted, single origin. I prefer a single origin out of respect for the coffee farmers and singularity of flavor. Single origin means that the beans came from only one farm, not multiple (which is what you typically find in a blend). This means that the hard work of the farmer is not thrown in with another farmer’s beans. If I were a coffee farmer, I would want to be the only coffee in someone’s cup - not paired up with some rando in another country! Secondly, coffees from different regions and countries have very distinct tastes. When you roast them together, you are bound to get quite the mash-up flavors. I am not a huge fan of that. Anyway, that is personal opinion. You need to find what YOU love and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Flavors(or “notes”) that I tend to really love include berries, stone fruit, floral/tea, and butter. It may be a shock to you, but those are all very common notes to find in coffee when it is taken care of properly. Makes you a little excited doesn’t it?


Fresh Ground

    Okay, now for the second most important thing - and I will try to keep this short because at this point you’ve probably caught my drift about the whole freshness thing. Fresh ground beans.

Remember how I said coffee beans are sensitive? Well ground coffee beans are even more sensitive. Based on the grind size of your coffee, your time window for ground coffee can be anywhere from 15 seconds to 15 minutes (even that is a little long). When you grind coffee, you have begun exposing many of the volatile flavors that are ready to be dissolved into your cup. The more time that passes between the grind and the brew, the less flavor it will have. So, to get the most of that coffee goodness onto your excited little tongue, grind right before brewing! Actually, one more important thing regarding grinding - don’t take this one as seriously until you’re ready to really step up your game.

Consistent grinds are also extremely important. Every various size of ground, from fine to medium to coarse and everything in between, has a different potential for flavor. Consistency matters because you don’t want several different grind sizes emitting several different flavors into your cup - it’s not as yummy as it sounds. The reason I say not to worry about this just yet is because entry level burr grinders (that give you great consistency versus blade grinders) start at $100. However, there is a great solution to this if you’re not ready to take out a small loan for coffee stuff. The Hario hand grinders are affordable and functional options for your strive for the best cup possible - and they use burrs!

Okay, enough rambling.

Time to teach you how to make great coffee in the comfort of your home.

V60 Pour Over

Here’s what you need:

  • Coffee beans

  • Grinder

  • Filtered/bottled water

  • Kettle (preferably gooseneck)

  • Food scale that can measure to the gram  

  • Food thermometer

  • Stopwatch (use your smartphone)

  • Hario V60 cone and filters

  • Something to brew the coffee into

  • Your favorite mug!

Preheat the Water.

    After my introductory discussion you can probably come to the conclusion that coffee has… wait for it… flavor. Whoa, revelatory isn’t it? Except you’re not going to taste any of those flavors just staring at it. Time to extract them! You do this by dissolving the coffee grounds into water. This is where your filtered/bottled water, kettle, and food thermometer come into play.

    We use filtered or bottled water for the cleanest cup possible and it’s as simple as that. Put the water in the kettle and use the food thermometer to heat it to a temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This range of temperature represents the heat at which the water best extracts those volatile flavors in your grounds. As for the kettle, a gooseneck spout is best because it gives you the best control when it comes to finally brewing your coffee. Control is crucial to how much speed, accuracy, and pressure you put on the grounds when brewing.

Weigh the Coffee.

    Get your food scale and coffee beans out! Weighing the beans is important to the subject of water-to-coffee ratio and consistency. Being able to know exactly how much coffee you’re going to use will help you stay consistent with your future brews! For the sake of this method, go ahead and weigh out 22g of coffee beans.

Grind the Coffee.

    The grinding should happen either right before or after the water is finished heating up. Remember, you want to grind right before brewing. The grind should be about a fine-medium size. This is close to the same particle size as table salt. Like I mentioned earlier, a burr grinder is best for this because it gives you great consistency in your grind, resulting in each particle being the same size. So if you can get your hands on an automatic or hand-operated burr grinder, that would be best. However, if you have a blade grinder, don’t fret, just try to get your grind as close to the fine-medium mark as possible. You can shake the grinder a bit while it’s on to even it out. Remember: freshness of grind is most important here.

Setup the Brew.

    Grab your scale, V60 cone and filters, ground coffee, and a vessel to brew the coffee into (unless your mug is big enough). Set your vessel on top of the scale, your V60 on top of that, and a filter inside the cone. Take your hot water and run it through the empty filter and into the vessel, eliminating the particles that create a paper taste that would otherwise make it into your coffee. Pour the “paper water” out. California’s in a drought, so be modest. Just kidding. Sort of. Next, pour your ground coffee into the filter, shaking the cone to level out the grounds. Now turn on your scale, making sure that it reads “0g.” You’re ready!

“Bloom” the Coffee.

    The “bloom” is another term for pre-infusing the coffee grounds. What this does is removes much of the carbon dioxide and trapped gases in the beans - a natural consequence of roasting. To do this, add about 35-40g of water to the grounds, making sure to wet all of them. Keep an eye on your scale while you do this! Once you have hit 35-40g, let this preinfusion happen for about 30-45 seconds. Use the stopwatch on your phone for this. Or an actual stopwatch. You will begin to see the coffee grounds rise and bubble. This is the physical manifestation of those gases escaping from your coffee. The reason we do this is so that when it comes time to finally brew the coffee, your brew is not interrupted and thrown off by bursting pockets of air. We want as even as an extraction as possible.

Brew the Coffee… Finally.

    Time to finish the process. Your stopwatch should still be running. After the bloom has finished, you will begin pouring water slowly and steadily in concentric circles, starting in the middle of the cone and going outwards, then bringing it back to the middle. Make sure to keep your pour steady and don’t go too fast! Remember, we want an even extraction. You should be able to pour the water at a rate that keeps the flow rate of extraction consistent. Easiest is to pick a spot near the top of the filter and pour at a rate that keeps the coffee there until you reach the final desired amount. For this method, go ahead and do this until you have reached about 350g total - this includes the amount you used for bloom, do not tare after the bloom. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the scale while you do this! It’s important that you do not add too much water.

We are using 350g of water for our 22g of coffee based on a general consensus that a ratio of 15-17:1 (grams of water to grams of coffee) is ideal for most brewing methods. Reason being, you do not want to either under-extract or over-extract the coffee grounds. Believe me, scientific observations have been done to find this ratio the most rewarding. In fact, the “golden ratio” is said to be 16.66:1. Quite specific. However, it is still very subjective and it’ll take a lot of tests for you to find what you like most! Anyway, once you have reached 350g, stop pouring water and let the water fully drain through to your vessel. The time should read about 3 minutes. If it’s longer than 3 minutes, consider coarsening up your grind a little bit as this will result in shorter brewing times.

Enjoy.

    After all your thoughtful preparation, your coffee is finally ready. Give your vessel a swirl and pour it into your mug. Wait a few minutes for it to cool down. Much of the bitterness will burn off, giving you a more a flavorful experience. Sip. Smile. Give yourself a high five because you’re awesome.

 

Quick Guide.

    Here is an extremely shortened version of what I just taught you. That way you can keep referring back to just this now that you have the deeper knowledge of each process. Also, underneath I will include some suggestions on great, affordable gear to get you started!

  1. Preheat water to 195-205F

  2. Weigh 22g of coffee

  3. Grind to fine-medium (like table salt)

  4. Setup brewing station

  5. Pre-wet filter

  6. Add coffee grounds

  7. Bloom: add 35-40g water for 30-45 seconds

  8. Brew: add water in concentric circles until 350g - stopwatch should read about 3 minutes

  9. Serve

  10. Sip

  11. Smile

  Here is my coffee notebook. In this, I record every detail of every brew to get a more scientific understanding of the craft. Documenting each variable helps me see what needs to be repeated or what can be changed in future brews. If a coffee tastes a certain way, I can almost always attribute it to some variable easily referred to somewhere in my notebook.

Here is my coffee notebook. In this, I record every detail of every brew to get a more scientific understanding of the craft. Documenting each variable helps me see what needs to be repeated or what can be changed in future brews. If a coffee tastes a certain way, I can almost always attribute it to some variable easily referred to somewhere in my notebook.

Picking the Right Wine (on the Road!)

I am thrilled to feature one of my best friends, Kate Edgecombe as a writer on my blog today. We have been friends for a long time. 9 years to be exact!  Kate was recently sharing with me (over a glass of wine of course) her 5-step process for picking out wine when traveling for business or for fun. I hope you enjoy her little tricks of the trade! 

A little background on me is I travel for a living. What I do is I am a Traveling Event Planner who works for a Real Estate Education company. I put on 3-day seminars all over the country almost every weekend, so I fly out on Thursdays and fly home on Mondays. If you want to learn how to flip a house, hit me up! But really, I travel 5 days a week and so picking the right wine on the road is an essential! I almost always get a rental car because I pick up snacks for my team and goods for local charities so I am always going to a Grocery Store or Whole Foods (if I am lucky). To spend a few extra minutes going down the wine aisle when I am already at the grocery store is not only convenient, but a benefit to me as well. 

I prefer to buy a bottle for the weekend as opposed to just going to the hotel bar and getting glasses because, one I will get a better deal and to be honest my wallet really appreciates the consideration. Two because I will get better quality and better tasting wines. The hotel bar usually only has a few different types and only a couple overpriced brands that are usually not very good. Three because I can regulate how much wine I have. We all know what can happen when we go to a bar and one glass very easily turns into 2-4 when the bar tender keeps topping off your glass! And then you wake up with a hangover because it was cheap wine to begin with, which I try to avoid at all costs. Lastly, four because I think it is more fun to have a glass of wine in my room and get caught up on my Netflix, dive into the book that I am reading or Skype my friends and family than it is to sit alone or with coworkers at a hotel bar. Not that I like to be a loner but the ones I really like are more than likely watching Netflix with me anyway!

So lets dive right into how I pick out my wine. 


The first step is I go to the section of wine that I like. For these hot summer months for reds I like Pinot Noir (because it’s nice and light for being a red) or Merlot (because it almost always is made with cherries and for anyone that knows me they know I am obsessed with cherry anything including my wines).  For whites I like Sauvignon Blanc (because of its light crisp taste and I feel like it has less tannins than Pinot Grigio so it doesn’t leave your mouth as dry) or any type of French Rosé (which always is going to throw my second step out the window but I still put it in there since it is my absolute favorite, in case anyone was wondering.) But whatever type is your preferred choice my traveling strategies will work for you as well. 


 

The second step is I go to my price range. Which is different for everyone of course. But my philosophy on this is I'm okay spending up to a couple dollars more for a bottle than I would for a glass of wine at a bar. After all, you're getting a whole bottle instead of a single glass! A glass of wine at a bar is usually anywhere from $6-$12. For example the bottom shelf of the grocery store are usually wines that cost anywhere from $5-$9. Since I worked so hard to graduate college and have a job now I feel like I can afford a little bit better than that! During college it was bottom shelf all the way! My palate prefers the third shelf from the bottom which is the $20-$40 bottles but my budget still wants the bottom shelf, so I typically settle for the second shelf which is generally $9-$18. I like to stay in the $10-$14 range. 


The third step. I like to keep my wino habits on the “DL” meaning I don't like to feel the judging eye of the front desk agent when I ask them for a wine opener as I have a whole bottle of wine in my hand by myself...oops! Plus, its not really practical, or legal, to fly with a corkscrew! So, at the store I look at all the wines that have a twist top. Which is actually increasingly more and more. Side note: I was also recently watching these YouTube videos of how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew and some of the ways were super creative. My favorite was using a man’s dress shoe as a wedge and banging it against the wall, however I would not recommend any of these alternative methods since I haven't tried any myself. Just make it easy and stick to the twist off top when you are traveling. 


The fourth step. Out of the twist tops, I take a look at the regions of where the wine is being made. I'm a California girl born and raised so I prefer California wines from Santa Barbara County all the way up to the Napa/ Sonoma Valley, since I have had the most experience with trying these wines. I have been to a lot of the vineyards up the coastline of California and something about actually seeing and feeling where the grapes come from makes me appreciate the wine a little more. As well as the climate from central to northern California makes for some great grape growing weather. (Try to say that 5 times fast.) If there are no California wines, which is typical if you are in a smaller town (and a lot of the times this is where I end up on my travels), then I either do one of two things: one, see if there are any recognizable brands that I have tried before (I like Yellowtail or Barefoot) , or two I will always try a chance on a local brand which is fun. If there are two that I want I'll do an analysis based on cost or ingredients I prefer. (Or just buy both if I want to share with some friends ☺) Side note: If you are sensitive to headaches, stay away from nitrates and try to find organic wine! 


The fifth step: Go back to your hotel and ask the bar tender for a wine glass. My favorite kind are bigger ones compared to those dinky room service sized ones. They won’t usually give you the big ones but a couple of times I have gotten lucky because I asked super nicely. I have a bad pet peeve of not liking to drink wine but in a wine glass something about it just doesn't taste the same to me. (I’m letting my wino show again.) And then the best part…ENJOY! Take time to enjoy and wind down at the end of your day whether you are on business or traveling for pleasure. If you are in a hotel, maybe take a nice bubble bath, go up to the roof or on the balcony, or just snuggle up in bed with a good movie or Netflix! We all deserve a little vino at the end of the day. I hope my tips help you on wherever your travels take you next. ~CHEERS 

Chocolate peanut butter milkshake...healthy?!

Hello wonderful friends!

I am still pretty new to this whole blogging thing and I want to keep it fun and true to myself :) One thing I absolutely love doing in the mornings is making a smoothie. I usually like to make a fruity green smoothie, but with these pretty simple ingredients around the house, I have been making this one pretty often too. It is packed with protein, which is important if you like to work out, and it really fills me up until lunch without getting that mid morning hunger! My chocolate peanut butter milkshake seriously tastes like dessert for breakfast :P If you are obsessed with chocolate and peanut butter as much as I am, your'e gonna love it. 

Also, I think it is interesting to learn as much about the food that we eat as we can! I decided to do more research into what these ingredients had to offer and I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of them have digestive/ immune system benefits! 

I use a NutriBullet, which is easy for clean up, gives you a good portion sized container to drink out of, and its really powerful to blend your milkshake or smoothie really smooth!

 

The best thing about smoothies is that you grab a bunch of stuff, throw it in the blender in any order you want, then mix it up! I'm horrible at cooking and measuring and following recipes so woooooo! This is my kind of "cooking" :P 

So throw this stuff in:

1. 2 scoops of Orgain, Organic vegan protein powder creamy chocolate fudge flavor. 

I think we got this from Costco. It has a really rich chocolate-y flavor and easily dissolves and doesn't taste powder-y and gross. Also, it is all plant based organic protein! 21 grams of protein and 3 grams of net carbs. AND its vegan. Score. Check out www.orgain.com for more nutrition facts. 

2. One banana 

I love bananas!! Bonus if your banana is getting a little brown and old- it makes it sweeter! If your bananas are getting old, peel them and stick them in the freezer. When you toss your banana in your smoothie it will make it cold without ice! Bananas are a base for all my smoothies because it makes it creamy and it has a neutral flavor that goes good with anything. Also, among the countless benefits of bananas, did you know bananas act as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. They also produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients. 

 

 

 

3. 2 Tbsps of PB2, Peanut Butter powder 

I like this stuff because it is healthier than normal peanut butter because the freshly roasted peanuts are pressed to remove 85% of the fat and calories. Also, I don't know about you but trying to scoop peanut butter into a smoothie is usually a huge mess and it thickens the smoothie a ton, which I don't like. 

 

4. 3 or 4 Tbsps of Old Fashioned Oats or Rolled Oats, or whatever oats you want.  

Adding the oats gives the smoothie thickens it up just enough, will blend smooth, and guess what... more protein!! 

Also... Did you know, that oatmeal helps immune response to infection? In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system's response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.
According to study leader Jonathan Reichner of the Department of Surgery at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, priming neutrophils with beta-glucan helps these immune defenders quickly locate the bacterial mother lode within infected tissue. And this more rapid response to infection results in faster microbial clearance and healing. Since our non-specific immune defenses are the body's first strike forces against invading pathogens, starting your day with oatmeal may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels. -whfoods.com 

5. Almond Milk or Fat Free milk 

Fill up your blender with your choice of milk until all the ingredients are submerged and them some. If you are lactose intolerant then almond milk is the way to go in my opinion. Do your digestive system a favor and go for the almond milk! I  used almond milk because it is sweeter and it is what I had around so I used it.  I filled mine up to the max line on the NutriBullet cup. I like my smoothies a little thinner and more drinkable but you can play with the consistency by adding less milk! 

6. Next, just blend it all up until smooth! You might have to stop it and shake it up a little bit to get all the powder to mix in. Really, you can't go wrong blending this smoothie for too long. I like mine really creamy and smooth! 

7. Add 1 big Tbsp of chia seeds as YES another protein source! Stir them in and you won't hardly notice they are there, but you will notice the energy these little guys pack! It's the perfect addition, because it has no flavor of its own. Chia seeds are one of natures’ true super-foods. They have more calcium by weight than milk, more magnesium than broccoli and are packed with the same protein found in meat. They also are a good source of Omega 3 healthy oil and fiber to help your digestive health. 

 

So, there you have it! I added a little fresh cherry on top because that is what they do in a restaurant right? Cherry and whip cream! Just pretend your Chia seeds are whip cream :P I hope that this yummy smoothie is easy for you to whip up and you like it as much as I do! 

Light and Love,

Meagan