Since the very first moment I had a sip of espresso when I was nine years old, I have been a coffee addict. It started out with a perfectly reasonable 1 -2 cups per day, and only in the morning. As the years progressed, though, that amount increased exponentially. Now, at 25, I drink copious amounts of coffee, throughout the entirety of the day.
Now, I most certainly do not consider myself to be a snob when it comes to coffee, though I am the go-to person for several people when it comes to drink orders and ways to make a perfect cup of java. I thought I would share some of those reasons with you, and help you turn your scalding cup of self-hatred into a luxury you savor every sip of. I’m hardly a “pro”, but it sure does make for a good title, eh? So, read on for how to drink coffee like a pro.
There is NO ‘x’ in ‘espresso.
Pronunciation of certain words can be a bit difficult, especially if you have only read the word, but never heard it. However, there is very clearly no ‘x’ in the word ‘espresso.’ Understanding this will save you some embarrassing (even if you are unaware) moments in coffee shops and other coffee-serving establishments.
Keurigs are great, but pointless.
One of the best parts about making your coffee in the morning is the ritual of actually making it. Keurigs are damn convenient, but they also cut corners and take away from the joy of making your coffee. If you’re going to go for a high-tech coffee gadget, go for an Aeropress.
Waft this way, waft this way. . .
If you were able to spend the money on specialty coffee, then a big chunk of what you are paying for is the smell. When you are taking part in your morning coffee-making ritual, waft those delectable fumes into your eager olfactory senses, and close your eyes. Immerse yourself in the savory clouds of coffee scents, and temporarily escape from your sink of dirty dishes, and counter that needs a good wipe down.
Yes, this may make you look like a douche. Then again, I also sniff books in public, so. . .
When at all possible, grind your own beans.
Using pre-ground coffee is the equivalent of cooking steak in a microwave. Okay, maybe not quite the same, but you get the drift. Now, I completely understand that there are times when purchasing beans is just not the most practical option, nor the most affordable. However, when you can, invest in a $10 grinder – it will really enhance the sacred coffee-making ritual.
Know how to order, what to order, and what to look for.
I have never worked in a coffee shop and, thus, have never been a barista. I have, however, read enough about coffee – and done enough ‘lab experiments’ – to know when someone is messing up my drink. Now, I’m a pretty shy person and I hate confrontation. However, if I pay $5-something for a drink, I really would like it to be what I expect and paid for. You don’t have to be rude (Do NOT be rude to baristas, or anyone in customer service), but you do have to make sure you are getting what you paid for.
As a brief overview:
- Cappuccino:Espresso topped up with hot, foamed milk. It’s named after the Cappuccini, or Capuchin monks, because of the color of their hoods. When properly made, it should be in three equal parts: espresso, milk, and froth. If the texture is correct, then it will not be distinctly separated, but have a smooth and silky texture from the blending of the tree parts. For those who do not like, or cannot have, milk – order your cappuccino ‘dry’. This means it’s made with very little warm milk, and more foam or froth.
- Inquire as to what kind of beans your shop serves. When at all possible, go with the Gourmet Arabica coffee beans. They are the fine wine and artisanal cheese of the coffee world, having several subtle flavor variants that are different from region to region. In fact, they can differ within a single country, and even from season to season.
- A macchiato is espresso, but stained with a little bit of foam. A lot of people get caramel added to it, either layered or mixed.
- If you find the espresso and/or macchiato to be a bit too strong or bitter for your taste, try the Cortado. It’s an espresso ‘cut’ with approximately the same amount of steamed milk. It cuts down on the bitterness that turns people away from espresso-based drinks.
- Need a quick boost? Ask for a Red Eye – a drip coffee with a shot of espresso.
- Need something less intense, but still want one of the staples? Go for a Latte. It’s the opposite of a cappuccino, being espresso with a lot of warm milk and a teensy bit of froth. Order it iced for even less bitterness, and for a great summer pick-me-up. If your barista pours espresso into milk and tries to call it a Latte, they’re doing it backwards.
So, while there are some things that can certainly add to your morning coffee ritual, there is still nothing inherently wrong with going for a regular, old-fashioned cup of Folgers (or some other brand) from your coffee pot.
How do YOU take YOUR coffee? What is your favorite coffee order? Let me know in the comments below!