“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” – T.S. Eliot
“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.” – Ernest Hemingway
Rich-brewed coffee stole my heart long before I developed an actual taste for it. When I was growing up my mother and I would linger in the coffee aisle at the grocery store so we could inhale deeply of the intoxicating fresh-ground aroma. Nearly every memorable college rendezvous took place at the campus coffee shop, and my heart skips a beat when I spot a Starbucks sign while traveling.
Another part of its appeal is that in my mind, coffee and good writing simply go hand in hand. My introduction to many of the literary greats was finding their name on the wall of a Barnes and Noble Cafe while my father sipped his coffee and I nursed a gourmet hot chocolate. I don’t think I’m alone on this, either. For whatever reason, great writers have always had a deep appreciation – perhaps even an obsession – with a truly magnificent cup of coffee.
What is the connection here? Perhaps writers appreciate coffee for its stimulating effects and the way it gets their mental engine off to a running start. More than that, however, I believe that coffee appeals to our artistic side. Once upon a time all cups of coffee were created equal, but not so today. My generation has taken the routine chore of putting on a pot of coffee in the morning and has transformed it into a form of art. We love coffee because it’s warm and soothing. We love coffee because it clears our head and helps us think. And above all, we adore coffee because it’s beautiful.
So how can you create that perfect cup without busting your wallet? Here are a few quick tips I’ve managed to pick up along the way:
Quick Tips for Creating the “Perfect” Cup of Coffee
1.) Microwave your mug or run it under hot water before pouring your coffee. A room temperature mug can actually cause your steaming hot brew to cool too quickly.
2.) Take a second to froth your milk. You can purchase a milk frother at your local Starbucks or Bed Bath and Beyond. If you don’t have one, simply heat your milk for one minute in the microwave, then put it into a jar with an airtight seal and shake for another sixty seconds. Remember – the harder you shake the finer the microfilm – so put your back into it!
3.) Invest in quality coffee beans and syrups. While your grandparents may be content with the cheapest stuff at the grocery store, modern day coffee shops have given us a more refined palate. Don’t skimp on the beans! Also, a teaspoon of Coffee Mate creamer is all fine and good, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the same amount of genuine Ghirardelli chocolate or caramel sauce. One bag of good coffee beans and one bottle of rich syrup cost about the same amount as one trip to your local Starbucks… you can afford it!
4.) Follow the brewing directions. If your coffee maker asks for a certain amount of coffee beans, don’t cut this amount in half and risk a diluted mess! Also, for hot tea lovers, allow your tea to steep for the exact number of minutes printed on the label for the most delicious result.
Now that you have the basics covered, I thought I’d share a couple of coffee recipes that I’ve discovered while experimenting in my own kitchen laboratory. I’ve included one hot cup and one iced cup that are sure to cure your writer’s block and get the words flowing onto that page!
Hot Smores Cappuccino
1/2 cup espresso or dark roasted coffee
2 tablespoons Smores gourmet flavored syrup (or 1 tablespoon Marshmallow syrup & 1 tablespoon Chocolate syrup)
1/2 cup milk
Sugar to taste
-Combine the milk and syrup and microwave for one minute. Keep on eye on it, and stop the microwave oven if it seems it is about to overflow!
-Froth the milk (30 pumps with a milk frother, or shake the milk in a sealed container for about a minute). Pour into a warmed coffee mug.
– Add 1/2 cup of rich, freshly brewed espresso
-Add sugar to taste, and enjoy! (Don’t forget the foam art if you’ve got chocolate syrup handy).
Iced Cinnamon Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiatto
If you’re thinking this sounds like something you’ve seen on a Starbucks menu lately, you’re right! It looked so good in the picture that I got to experimenting until I was able to concoct an enticing version of this delight at home.
3/4 cup espresso or dark roasted coffee
2 cups ice
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sugar to taste
A pinch of cinnamon
– Brew your coffee and set aside to cool (leaving it in the refrigerator overnight works even better, but it’s not necessary).
– Fill a tall, clear glass with 2 cups ice
-Add the milk, chocolate, and vanilla. Stir well.
-In a separate container, add sugar to the coffee while your brew is still warm enough to dissolve the sugar completely. Then add your coffee to the milk and ice.
-Stir well, and top with a small pinch of cinnamon.
Okay fellow writers – you’ve got yourself a cup of coffee that is worth writing home about. Now get out there and inspire the world!
Also, if you have a killer coffee recipe of your own, let me know! Feel free to comment with your recipe instructions, or to leave a link to your own blog page. I’m always on the lookout for that next perfect cup, so I can be ready to write that next perfect page.
Today’s post is part of the A-to-Z Challenge, where participants commit to posting one article for each day during the month of April – one for every letter of the alphabet.
Check back here at “The Artistic Christian” for a daily slice of art (art reviews, practical tips, and motivation for artists), all steeped in a rich Christian worldview.