Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Coffee Treats

We've been trying and sharing a variety of great summer coffee treats on Pinterest and Facebook. As the summer starts drawing to a close, I thought I would collect the best ones we've tried (and have yet to try) in one place.

  • Cold brew your coffee. This is becoming my favorite way to make iced coffee. It's really simple to do and you don't need any brewing equipment. I've been using these instructions. (And did you know it's actually better when the beans have had two weeks to degas? A great way to use up almost-stale beans!) 
  • Sweeten while you brew. We just tried out this brown sugar cold brew recipe from The Velvet Bird and it was delish!
  • Try freezing your own coffee cubes so your coffee doesn't get diluted as the ice melts. You could make milk or cream cubes too, and even add sweetener if you want!
  • Add some spice with cinnamon or nutmeg. 
  • Flavor your coffee without all that sugar syrup: add a splash of vanilla or almond extract. 
  • Top it off with some whipped cream. (Great on hot coffee too!)
  • Mix up the milks: try some dairy alternatives: coconut, almond, soy, or hazelnut. Vietnamese coffee is made with sweetened condensed milk. 
  • Blend your iced coffee and end up with a refreshing frappe! (My favorite add-in is Nutella!)
  • Mix in some tea. Why not an iced "dirty chai"?
  • Freeze some of your leftover coffee as ice pops. 
  • Pour your coffee over ice cream to make Affogato. 
  • Make coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt.

For even more ideas, see our Iced Coffee Recipe board on Pinterest. (Coffee Ice Creams and Popsicles here.)

Questions? Have any great iced coffee ideas to share? Leave a comment below!

Stay cool!
-Jessamyn at Voyage Coffee Roasters

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Daily Grind

I'm not sure what the Men in Black interns were doing wrong to make the coffee taste like dirt, but grinding it the same morning probably wasn't the mistake!

Some of the most common questions we get are about grind. A lot of people don't realize how much difference it can make. 

No one wants their coffee to taste stale, weak or bitter, so it's important to make sure of three things:

1. Fresh Grind.
2. Correct Grind.
3. Consistent Grind.

Fresh Grind: 
The first step is to make sure to use your coffee within two weeks of its roast date. Once it passes that two week mark, it's going to start tasting stale. If you're buying pre-ground, shelf life is going to be a lot shorter. For ideal results, coffee should be ground immediately before it's brewed. Another tip for freshness is to make sure you're keeping your grinder clean. Old grounds stuck in the machine can make your whole cup taste stale.

Correct Grind:
It's important to make sure that you're using the right grind for your brewing method. Those so called "universal grinds" that some companies offer are not truly going to work for every brewing method. Examples of the right grinds for some popular methods: French press should be coarse, drip should be medium, and espresso should be quite fine. Start by checking the manual for your grinder to see recommended settings, then continue to fine tune if necessary. Most high-quality grinders have precision settings you can adjust. The bottom line is, if you try to make espresso with a coarse grind, you'll get weak espresso, if you make drip with a super-fine grind, it will be bitter, and so on.

I was going to snap some pictures of different grinds to include, but I found this article from that has great photos.

Consistent Grind:
Consistency is especially important for methods that include pushing water through the grounds with pressure, such as espresso. There's no way to get a completely consistent grind if you're using a blade grinder, we always recommend using a burr grinder instead. Using a blade grinder is kind of like a food processor: you have to keep grinding until the beans are as fine as you want. You end up with grinds that aren't uniform. Burr grinders, on the other hand, can be set to the grind you want from the start, and will grind evenly and precisely.

If you're in the market for an excellent conical burr grinder, we love our Baratza grinders and sell their Preciso and Encore models on our online store.

Questions about grinding or grinders? Leave a comment below!

-Jessamyn at Voyage Coffee Roasters