All About Your Cup of Joe

Ah, coffee: that bold, flavorful, aromatic, caffeinated cup of deliciousness crucial to every parent’s morning (and, let’s be real: afternoon). But, with so many types of roasts, coffeemakers, grinders and drinks, preparing that morning cup of Joe isn’t as simple as just pressing “on.” Here’s your guide to all things coffee, so you can customize your perfect cup!

The Beans

Coffee beans come in a rainbow of browns, from light tan to nearly black. The bean’s color depends on its degree of roastedness.

Lighter roasts are less processed, and dryer in appearance. Darker roasts have been roasted longer, which allows for some of the bean’s natural oils to emerge and give them a shiny appearance. Typically, lighter roasts are more complex and acidic, whereas darker roasts are bittersweet, more mellow, and less acidic.

Note: because dark roasts are roasted longer, they often have less caffeine than light roasts!

To figure out your preference, we recommend trying a variety of roasts as each one is different!

Grinders

Experts agree: if you really want a good cup of coffee, you have to get a coffee grinder. Freshly ground coffee is on a different level than pre-ground — so do yourself a favor, and get a grinder! Here’s why: when coffee beans are ground, they release oil, moisture and essentially, flavor. What’s more, the grinding process can release heat, essentially starting the brewing process! So, when you buy pre-ground coffee, it can often taste stale — or even burned.

Because of this, it’s advised to grind your beans just before brewing. You can get a good blade grinder for under $30, and it will make all the difference.

For more dedicated coffee connoisseurs, consider investing in a burr grinder. A burr grinder differs from a blade grinder in that it has two blades and specific settings for a more precise grind. Because of this, a burr grinder will also cost you more — and take up more counter space — than a blade grinder.

Coffee Makers

Now that you’ve ground your beans, it’s time to get brewing! There are a few different ways to do this; here are the more common:

Automatic
When you think of “coffee maker,” an automatic is probably what comes to mind. This machine has a measured tank for water, grinding chamber, filter basket and carafe. Depending on the models, there can also be clocks, programmable timers and even grinders built in to the machine.
French Press
A french press is a small, manual coffee-making device. You add coarsely ground beans to the bottom, then hot water, which brews the coffee. Then you place the lid on top of the beaker, and press down on the lid’s built-in plunger, which filters out the coffee.
Pour-Over
Similar to a french press, the pour-over method is essentially a K-cup for coffee aficionados who wish to brew their own cup. For this method, you place a filter filled with ground beans over a mug. Hot water is poured directly into the filter, and the coffee drips into the mug. You can also purchase a decanter, which contains all the parts needed for this method — and would be great for a desk at work!
Keurig
This is coffee making at it’s easiest — simply fill up the tank, add an individual k-cup of your choice, and press start! This very customizable machine offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and even specialized drink options!
Espresso Machine
Home espresso machines warrant a post all their own… but basically, a home espresso maker has two components: a milk steamer/frother and espresso brewer. Machines can run anywhere from $50 to a couple grand, so the type you purchase ultimately depends on your plans and expectations.

Tip Jar

  • Like foamy milk in your coffee? If you don’t want to invest in an espresso machine, you can get a milk frother to whip your milk to airy perfection. Add equal parts milk and coffee for a homemade cafe au lait!
  • What’s the perfect coffee:cup ratio? Well, the general rule of thumb is two tablespoons for every six ounces of coffee. Usually a coffee spoon will come with your maker, and that scoop is equal to two tablespoons.
  • Measure your coffee!! Most people add too much water/too little coffee, which is why coffee from a cafe always tastes so much better.
  • Store your coffee (whole beans, of course) in an airtight container to maintain freshhness.
  • Don’t be lazy — clean your coffee maker! Wash carafe and filter/basket in warm, soapy water after every use — and every month or so, run equal parts water and vinegar through a cycle for a deep cleaning.

So, you see — brewing a great cup of coffee isn’t as complicated, time-consuming or expensive as you’d think! And as hard-working moms, we deserve to start the day with the very best cup of coffee we can make.

However — life happens, and sometimes we don’t have time to put deodorant on in the morning, let alone make a pot of coffee! If you’re running late and need to get your caffeine fix to-go, check out Starbucks Drinks That Won’t Ruin Your Diet.

 Photo Credits: Sarah, Alex Liu, FRATI4888, Despite Straight Lines.

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Sarah

Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy's Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.

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