Copy


F E B R U A R Y   2 0 2 0

One of the things I’ve missed most about the world during the pandemic has been hanging out in coffee shops, so I’ve spent the past year turning our apartment into one.  It’s partly why I bought those nice speakers (mentioned in the last issue). I started to think about how I could bring more coffee shop vibes into our apartment, and it’s turned into a full-blown hobby.  With so little else going on, the little ritual of making a great coffee in the morning became the highlight of my day. I’ve been sampling different roasts from around Pittsburgh and beyond, measuring every detail about my espresso to get the perfect shot, and failing at latté art.

E S P R E S S O   A T   H O M E

The Brew Station
 

When I traveled to France during college, I fell in love with espresso.  Since then, I’ve always wanted to have it at home.  When I realized we’d be working from home indefinitely, I invested in a basic espresso machine.  I bought a Breville Bambino, which I liked because it was small and beginner-friendly.  
 

I didn’t expect to get so invested in the science of brewing a consistent, perfect shot.  While the Bambino does make great espresso, there isn’t a lot that can be controlled about the other little details that go into each cup (like water temperature, pressure, extraction time, etc). Even when I control for as many variables as possible, I still get different results.  This is me being really, really picky.  Overall, it still makes great espresso and I’ve found that the most important thing is starting with great beans. 
 

With the Bambino, I also got a grinder and kettle (for pour overs, French press, Americanos, or tea).  The grinder is the Baratza Encore, which is considered a great all-purpose Burr grinder.  It’s better suited for pour-over and French press than espresso, but it does the job.  I also decided on the Fellow kettle because it is so well designed, but I also like that you can set the exact temperature.

Practice makes… progress 

I’ve learned how to pull shots from my espresso machine.  Measuring progress making espresso shots is easy because everything is measured in seconds and grams.  Latté art is different and most of the time, I get blobs and swishes of milk instead of precise leafs, hearts, or flowers.  There are a lot of things that factor into latté art: the freshness, temperature, and texture of the milk, the angle which the pitcher is held as it froths, the angle the pitcher is held as it is poured, etc.  It is not as easy as it looks.  I also don’t drink lattés every day, so it I don’t get as much practice as I’d like. 


Supporting Independent Coffee Shops

Beans 

This may sound obvious, but the most important component to a great shot of espresso is freshly roasted beans.  While I love the selection from Commonplace, our favorite coffee shop in Squirrel Hill, I’m having fun sampling different roasts.  I’m keeping a little log of every type I’ve tried this year.  So far, our favorite is shop out of Wisconsin called Ruby Roasters.  Because of the shipping costs, it’s pricier than buying from a coffee shop in the neighborhood, but it’s definitely the best.  If you have any favorite roasters, please let me know! 

Merch

In addition to shopping small for all of my coffee beans, I’ve been slowly collecting merch from my favorites.  I’m currently living in this shirt from Commonplace, which is incomprehensibly soft.  Rob and I also have matching sweatshirts from Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine.  I think it’s a great way to give coffee shops a little extra support now.

Subscribe 

At the beginning of the lock down, I joined Tandem’s “The Good Thing” coffee and vinyl subscription.  There is a waitlist to join!  Each month, Tandem ships out a bag of beans and a record.  I love that they include a flyer talking about why they chose the record.  Subscriptions like this are great because they give business a guaranteed stream of revenue.  I’m also considering subscribing to coffee from Ruby Roasters

Commonplace TCommonplace Coffee, Tandem's Coffee & Vinyl Subscription, Commonplace Mug, Baratza Encore Grinder, The Boy with the Arab Strap on Vinyl, Breville Bambino Plus, Fellow Kettle, KLVN T

B O O K   C L U B 

For me, the absolute best place to read is a coffee shop.  It’s the perfect amount of background noise and the best ambiance.  Here are the two standouts that I read this month:


Long Bright River” by Liz Moore
 I loved this addictive procedural about two sisters navigating the opioid crisis from opposite sides.  I couldn’t put it down - it was unglamorous, but compelling and heart-wrenching.  


A Promised Land” by Barack Obama
I listened to the audio version of this book, which I can’t recommend enough.  I like that you can hear him wince when talking about his frustrations or hear the joy and satisfaction in his voice when he tells a corny joke.  It made me feel so nostalgic thinking about the 2008 election - which was a very exciting time in my life. 


 

I N   T H E   K I T C H E N 

Blueberry Scones

The best compliment to a nice coffee is a nice treat.  A truly delightful pairing partner to coffee is a classic blueberry scone.  I love this recipe from Martha Stewart because the ingredients are simple, it comes together really quickly, and you don’t need any special ingredients.  The recipe works great with frozen blueberries - which I often have on hand.  I like to make a double batch and freeze half for later, sometimes just baking off one or two at a time (just before baking, I like to put them on a sheet pan, let them freeze, and then stick them in a freezer bag or Tupperware - then just maybe add a few minutes to the baking time). 

Ingredients
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
2 large eggs



Method



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl (I like using the biggest bowl I have). Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until largest pieces are the size of peas. Stir in blueberries and lemon zest. 

In a small bowl, whisk together cream and eggs. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add cream mixture; mix gently using a wooden spoon until dough just starts to come together.  Don't over mix

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to bring together. If you're using frozen blueberries, be delicate -- otherwise the whole thing will turn purple. Pat into a 6-inch square, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut dough into four squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to form eight triangles. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with more sugar. 

Bake until tops are golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes, then transfer scones to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Facebook
Twitter
Link
Website
Copyright © 2021 Inge Moran, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp