Picking Great Milk for Coffee Drinks

The milk you pick should compliment your coffee, not take it hostage.

Many don’t think twice about the milk that goes into the cappuccino or latte at home or in a café. We just pick a fat level that we think is right, and maybe take a moment to consider if we’d like organic or not.

Choosing milk like this is like picking Miss USA before hearing the answer to her pageant question. We all know that she’s pretty – she looks good in a bikini, and can walk in impossibly high heels (most days).

But the reality is that when she opens her mouth we’ll either be impressed by her sharp knowledge of the effects of global warming on the polar bear population, or we’ll go down in a swirl of pain while she explains in spits and spurts that getting “education better” will help the “problem” at hand. Sigh, we still love ya girl.

The milk you pick should compliment your coffee, not take it hostage

So what’s the deal with milk, and what can I tell you about picking the right jug to “getting your coffee drinks better”?

1. Love the fat! That’s right – choose whole milk. Miss USA might be on a crazy diet to squeeze into a sub-zero, but last I checked, regular humans require a health mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat in their diets. The fat in the milk is what makes it creamy and silky. Latte art is easy and slippery to create, and the taste and texture of the milk can’t compare. An 8 oz latte with whole milk at 3.5% has just 2 more grams of fat and 18 more calories that its 2% counterpart. Make a small cup and enjoy it fully.

2. Watch out for too much moo. When milk is heated up it changes in flavor dramatically. Lots of milks out there, especially in the organic category, can taste a little to “farmy”. Of course we’re drinking the feed of calves, and that might be a nice taste to them. For a coffee drink, extra farmy milk can come off pungeant and sour, and totally make your coffee stink like sweaty toes. Don’t blame the coffee – steam your milk and taste it first. You should have a sweet flavor, which will marry with your coffee discreetly instead of taking it hostage.

3. Get pasteurized and homogenized. Sounds like a new proposition on the ballet, but it’s simply describes changes that have been applied to the raw product. Pasteurizing comes in many combinations of heat and time affecting how the milk performs and tastes. Over years of steaming and pouring, I’ve found that pasteurized is my choice over ultra-pasteurized for texture and taste in the cup. Homogenization disperses the fat evenly through the liquid. Don’t have that, and you’re buying ‘cream on top’ product and you will get varying fat content in your steaming pitcher depending on how well or not-well you shook your jug. In a café environment this can lead to inconsistency as the barista gets busy or lazy.

DSC_0284The bottom line, of course, is to follow YOUR taste, diet, budget, & personal sustainability policy. At the end of the day, you’re the one sipping the cup, and since you’re not aiming for the Miss Milk Tiara, we won’t judge.

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Latte Art: How to Make a Festive Pointsettia

It’s fun to make festive latte art! This is one of the EASIEST designs that will bring big WOWs (believe it – we often teach this to our beginning barista students). Take a peek at the step by step and make your holidays sparkle! Try it yourself….Here’s how:

Learn more great stuff about coffee on our website any time: Grab more coffee tips

Pour a simple monk's head into the center of your espresso shots (you can even get away with pouring a blob).

Pour a simple monk’s head into the center of your espresso shots (you can even get away with pouring a blob).

With the last bit of foam in the pitcher, draw a circle around the circle you poured. This doesn't have to be perfect!

With the last bit of foam in the pitcher, draw a circle around the circle you poured. This doesn’t have to be perfect!

With chocolate syrup, draw a circle on the outer edge of the outer milk circle. (We make our chocolate syrup with about 3 T of hot water and about 10 T of our hot cocoa mix.)

With chocolate syrup, draw a circle on the outer edge of the outer milk circle. (We make our chocolate syrup with about 3 T of hot water and about 10 T of our hot cocoa mix.)

Make another chocolate circle around your poured circle.

Make another chocolate circle around your poured circle.

With a toothpick, start at the outer edge of the cup, dragging it trough the sauce and milk circles to the center. Stop there, and do this 8 times, spacing evenly. Wipe toothpick between each stripe.

With a toothpick, start at the outer edge of the cup, dragging it trough the sauce and milk circles to the center. Stop there, and do this 8 times, spacing evenly. Wipe toothpick between each stripe.

Now draw from the CENTER to the edge of the cup 8 more times, splitting the difference between your first lines..

Now draw from the CENTER to the edge of the cup 8 more times, splitting the difference between your first lines..

Place a little chocolate dot in the middle and you've done it!

Place a little chocolate dot in the middle and you’ve done it!


Share with someone special (we won’t judge if you’re just gonna start sipping it yourself…)

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Lizzy’s Snickerdoodle Coffee Cookies

Lizzy's Coffee Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

Lizzy’s Coffee Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

What a perfect thing to do on a fall day – bake! These kicked up snickerdoodles were inspired by one of our customers, Katrina Harmon. The addition of coffee to the sugar and cinnamon coating is a perfect update to this cookie you probably loved as a kid. The recipe is quick and easy to make, and they disappear quickly!

Makes 24-30 cookies:

For Cookies:
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
For Coating:
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons fresh, finely ground coffee (we picked our “Sunriser” blend)

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in large bowl, mix to combine, then set aside. In electric mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar and eggs, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Once mixed, add mixed dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3rds, mixing each time on low speed to incorporate.

Mix coating sugar, cinnamon, and finely ground coffee (espresso grind) in medium bowl.

Using a small 1-1.5” ice cream scoop, scoop one cookie at a time, dropping into the sugar, cinnamon, coffee coating mixture. Gently roll each cookie to coat all sides, then place on ungreased, lined cookie sheet. Be sure to space in between cookies to allow room for expansion while baking, about 8 per tray. (You will need about 3 trays total for full recipe.)

Bake approximately 12 mins until light golden brown.

We hope you enjoy!

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Camping Coffee with the Aeropress

Aeropress Brewing

Ahh, the chirping birds, the clear blue skies, the mountain lake water…..and the FREEZING morning! Welcome to camping in the mountains!

My family and I went camping this weekend and I will tell you this: The only thing that could caox me out of my cozy sleeping bag at 8 a.m. was the promise of a hot and flavorful cup of coffee.

Normally we’re pretty much in love with our Hario pour over system when brewing camp-side, but this time we decided to take the Aeropress.

I wasn’t getting much excitement from the crowd on this one, since out in the woods, hours away from an alternate brew method, I was making a commitment to this coffee – whatever the outcome. It could be a deal making or breaking kind of morning that would set the mood for the rest of the day’s adventures.

Pour water...

Pour water…

I’m happy to report that the crowd gave it rave reviews. I’d definitely recommend the contraption for anyone’s camping outing, and here’s why:

1. The cool thing about this weird little pressurized coffee maker is that it brews a concentrated extraction. It’s easy to add hot milk for a wanna-be latte, or add hot water for the americano version of the same. If you just want to sip it straight up, there’s that option too. It’s nice that one device can please lots of different tastes.

Press to brew...
2. Each serving has to be brewed separately, but the cool thing is that set up and brew time is just 1 minute from start to finish. Pop out the used coffee “puck” and wipe down the press and you’re ready for the next brew.

Give it a stir...
3. Water needed is just 2 oz per serving, so there’s no waiting for 6 years for a quart of water to boil like is usual on a rinky-dink camping stove. Just be sure to keep the water HOT for each brew. Aeropress for some reason recommends really low brew temps, but I’d stick to the recommend a 195-205f standard brew temp for optimum extraction.

Helpful to know: Say you’re camping at elevation of 5000-7000 feet – your water will be hitting a boil at around 198-203. If you’re at sea level, let it boil at the usual 212 f and allow it to cool one minute before using to brew.

Bottom line: Aeropress wins the camping award for “most versatile” system and will definitely have the power to coax me out of my warm sleeping bag cocoon again on the next trip.That's a cup of coffee!

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The Matchmaker, 8 Tips for Finding Your Coffee Soul Mate

Lately I’ve been watching episodes of a newly discovered show for me called Millionaire Matchmaker. I’m not particularly proud of this, but I just can’t look away from the collection of over-tanned dudes with crazy white teeth attempting to make love connections with the wear-a-party-dress-everywhere-they-go girly girls.

I keep coming back to watch it again, though, because in between the ridiculous, and past the outward appearances, a fair percent of these love-hungry people really are very intelligent, diverse, and downright good people. I find myself cheering for the good guy, telling the smart got-it-all-together chick to move on, and wondering how this clearly lovable man hasn’t found a partner in life yet.

Sit tight, because I’m not about to talk endlessly about the Bravo network, but I totally relate to the challenge the matchmaker faces with each match she attempts to make for her love-hunting clients. When she begins her matchmaking, she always asks the client what they’re searching for in a mate, and they usually answer with a super broad reply like “I like brunettes”.

She grimaces, and then starts surgically extracting more information about their likes, dislikes, and past failures to reach some basic direction to the kind of mate she might find for them.

I totally get the job she has to do. I know I’m not a bedazzled L.A. matchmaker, but not unlike her job, I have to make sense out of the vague, and guide people to their love matches.

My reality TV show? The Coffee Bean Matchmaker – Going on nothing but “I like Colombian”, or “I like a dark roast”, then taking clients from an unsatisfied past with coffee into their newly evolved relationship with the bean.

Are you trying to find your coffee soul mate? Here are a few tips for you to help your matchmaker get you what you’re searching for the next time you visit your favorite coffee roaster.

1. Quality counts. Yep, if you’re searching for an intelligent, loving, athletic, and complex mate, you’re not likely going to find that person at your local Booze-n-Pole at 2 a.m. It’s certainly possible, but let’s agree – not likely. If you’re looking for quality coffee, start with a roaster that roasts quality product.

2. Coffees have endless profiles. Like people, no two coffees are identical. Saying “I like Colombian” is the equivalent of saying “I like Colombian women”. What’s more helpful? Talk about what you liked or disliked about the last Colombian you tried (coffee that is). Describe some of what you tasted, or how it tasted brewed in your French press. A little more information will help the roaster read between the lines.

3. Ask for help. Know that your roaster can send you home with a great coffee in hand, but you can still mess up the relationship big time by using a bad quality grinder, brewer, or random bad habit that will send you to divorce court before the second date. Ask your roaster for grinding, brewing and storing tips to help you score a home run.

4. Don’t assume. If you got dumped by your lady friend, and decided to date her sister in hopes that she’d be exactly the same person, you’re on the wrong track. Just like siblings, a coffee from the same growing region might offer similar qualities, but might not meet your expectations. Even the exact same coffee, from the exact same farmer, the next harvest season can taste different. Weather conditions, harvest timing, and coffee processing can all affect the final result.

5. You have the right to expect consistency. Yep, if you fall in love with her fun jokes, bright personality, and loving attention, you don’t want to wake up to bridezilla six months from now. Just the same, a coffee roaster’s blends, although constantly evolving with changing harvests or availability, should always land where expected in terms of what is delivered in your cup. A roaster producing signature blends will tweak them with careful tasting and testing to keep the similar experience on track over the seasons. A single origin from the same lot should stay consistent with each fresh batch during the limited months it’s available, but likely expect changes when the new harvest arrives the next year.

6. Get to know her background. I don’t believe that a person should be judged by her family, but the reality is that what goes on behind the scenes of a roasterie are things you can ask about. What is the roaster’s experience level? What kind of ongoing training do they do? What kind of roasting system is used? Is the roaster’s process certified organic? If you like what you’re sipping, then maybe none of this matters, but when wooing a new mate these things help paint a more complete picture about what can be expected as your relationship grows.

7. How old is she? Yes, it might be rude to ask a woman’s age, but if you wanna have some little ones running around your house in the coming years, you’ll probably want to know how that biological clock is doing. Coffee is no exception. Ask its age every time, and only go for the fresh stuff. It should be right there in front of you on the bag or roasterie bin. If it’s not, don’t date.

8. Finally, don’t be afraid to play the field. Those willing to try new things will often be rewarded most. Coffee origins, blends, and roast degrees will all contribute to the flavor in your cup, so try to find the coffee personality that makes you giggle most. This includes brew methods. Be open to drip, pour over, press or espresso if you have the chance to explore. Some will find their true love and form a committed relationship, while others may prefer switching it up all the time. Whatever your style, coffee is totally cool either way.

Most of all, have fun, and happy dating…uhh….errr….sipping.

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How to Brew Strong Drip Coffee – 5 Tips

Every day I talk to customers who need a little help picking one of our coffees to brew at home.

To get an idea of what they might like, I ask them if there’s a coffee they’ve tried in the past that they really enjoyed. More than half the time, they reply that they don’t really know….they just know they like “strong” coffee.

Instead of easily pointing them to their coffee soul mate from there, I have to explain that we’re going to be chatting for a minute or two….

Why is that?
Well, “strong” is not a “flavor” – It’s a degree of the brewed intensity of what ends up in the cup. If you think about it…absolutely any flavor can be “strong”, right?

So then flavor preference is the question we’re trying to answer, right? Yes! Here are some examples:
Do you like the flavor of smoke, as in a dark roast, perhaps from Brazil?
Do you like the flavor of fruit, as in the blueberry taste of an Ethiopian Harrar?
Do you like the flavor of well balanced coffee deliciousness….as in a killer coffee blend?

Oooohh, now it makes sense! Flavor is what we’re trying to hone in on when selecting a roasted coffee, and to what intensity we choose to brew the coffee is a decision we can make at home.

Here’s the little fantasy bubble: Think of yourself at the gym (ok, yeah, I said fantasy): When you do squats, you can use the 1lb weights or you could use the 100 lb weights. You’re still doing squats either way, it’s just that with the 1 lb weights you’re doing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid version, and with the 100 lb weights, well, you’re doing the bad-ass version. Coffee brewing is exactly the same!

Flavor you like= type of exercise you pick
Strength you like = how much weight you decide to use in that chosen exercise

Here’s a quick science-dork moment when it comes to brewing drip coffee:
Generally enjoyable brewed drip coffee is around 98.75% water, and about 1.25% coffee. Yeah, I know, shocker! The optimal flavor zone is reached when we dissolve about 18-22% of the particles in coffee (only 30% can even BE dissolved).

OK, ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for…
“Just Tell Me How to Brew Strong Coffee” explanation for drip brewing:

Step 1: Always make sure you’re using fresh coffee. Hint: Starting with old coffee is the equivalent of starting a ski race without your skis on! You have no hope, dude. If you want a chance at a medal, start with freshly roasted coffee less than 2 weeks from its roasting date.

Step 2: Use the right amount of coffee-to-water ratio, based on your taste. Generally, that’s 1-2 Tablespoons per 6 oz “cup” of coffee. Yes, you’ve got it – those are the little lines and numbers on the side of your brewer’s water tank. By weight, 1T coffee = 7 grams. So 1T per cup would be mild brew-strength, and 2 T per cup would be more intense brew-strength.

Step 3: Grind before brewing using a burr grinder. Coffee loses flavor sooo quickly once ground. I know – for some, the convenience of pre-grinding just can’t be outweighed. You get to decide how much flavor ends up in your cup, after all, so know the facts: Grinding right before brewing =more flavor & aroma in your cup. Blade grinders make “boulders and dust” coffee grounds, while a burr grinder makes a nice uniform grind, and therefore yummier tasting coffee. For drip, you want a medium grind.

Step 4: Brew using fresh, clean filtered water. Water tastes bad? So will your coffee. Last I checked, the strong taste of chlorine wasn’t on the top 10 list. Your machine should brew between 195-205 degrees F. Water colder than that will result in weak tasting coffee, and over that temp will result in a burnt, bitter taste. Brewing should take about 6 minutes for the optimal extraction (remember, you’re trying to dissolve 18-22% of the ground coffee). Be sure you’ve found a brewer that can actually deliver the right temp from start to finish. Hint: Drip brewers are really made to brew for a crowd. If you’re brewing one cup at a time, you’re better off using a pour-over or press pot.

Step 5: Sip and enjoy the best flavor your coffee has to offer with your perfect balance of strength and extraction. Yummy!

Squats anyone?

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Brewing with the Hario Pour Over

Life has gotta be simple, and the coffee has gotta be yummy. If you follow that way of thinking, then the pour over method of brewing is for you. With an investment as little as about 25 bucks, you’ll be on your way to brewing a smooth and velvety morning cup that beats most electric drip machines by a mile.

Here’s how to get it done:

Tools for the job (*required)
Hario V60 Glass Dripper *
Measuring scoop or scale *
Hot water kettle
#2 Hario paper filters (with pointed tip, not flat tip) *
Coffee grinder (not pictured)
8, 12, or 16 oz Mug (or server)

Heat water on stovetop or electric kettle to boil

At sea level, water boils at 212 F – Let cool to about 203 degrees if you live at low elevation
At high elevation (about 5000 ft) boiling point is about 203
Optimal brewing temp is about 198-203

Place paper filter in dripper, and set dripper atop mug (8 or 12 oz)

Measure coffee (adjust as needed to your taste)

By weight
16 g for 8 oz mug or
24 g for 12 oz mug
32 g for 16 oz mug
By volume
2 T for 8 oz mug
3 T for 12 oz mug
4 T for 16 oz mug

Grind Coffee

Use fine drip setting (about texture of refined sugar)
Place ground coffee into paper filter in dripper

Brew (about 3 minutes)

Pour about 1/3 of the necessary water on all grinds to wet
Coffee will “bloom” or poof up
Let sit and drip into mug about 60 seconds
Pour another 1/3 of water, and let brew through
Pour final 1/3 of water and let brew through
(remember you only need the volume of water your cup can hold)

Sip & Enjoy!

Visit www.lizzysfreshcoffee.com to purchase any of the pour over brewing tools.

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How to Store Coffee – 3 Tips

Ok, so you’ve purchased some amazing freshly roasted coffee. How do you take care of it from here? What? Rules, you’re thinking? Yep…but if you know these 3 secrets, your coffee will be tasty for up to 2 weeks.

Coffee’s Life is Very Short: Unfortunately, coffee will only stay fresh and flavorful for up to 2 weeks from its roasting day. So ideally you purchase only what you can consume in that time. During the staling process, the oils oxidize, becoming rancid, and the aromas disappear…yep….poof. Sorry, there’s no botox on the planet that can delay it. The good news is that you can be sure that it’s as slow as possible so you can enjoy every sip during the short time you have together.

Know the Enemies: Coffee is kind of anti social. Air, moisture, and light are coffee’s enemies. Plain and simple…letting these be all up in your coffee’s business will make your coffee stale faster than you can say yuck. Store your coffee in an airtight, opaque container to keep it happy.

Coffee Hates to be Cold or Hot: Finicky little thing, it is. Never store your 2 week fresh coffee supply in the freezer or refrigerator. And never store in a hot place like on top of a fridge or in a cabinet over the oven. In and out of the freezer or fridge introduces moisture, and exposure to heat gives the coffee sweaty armpits. Both situations break down the amazing intense aromas and flavors. Coffee likes to be at room temperature, right on your countertop. Read our blog about freezing coffee.

Options for Storage:

The bag it came in. Here at Lizzy’s we package our coffee immediately after roasting in foil bags with one-way degassing valves (that’s the little thing that looks like a belly button on your coffee bag). This allows the CO2 to escape, but doesn’t allow any oxygen in. It also keeps away moisture and light. It’s a great way to store your coffee if you simply roll down the bag, squeezing out the excess air, and flip back the tin tie or tape to create a nice tight seal.

A Decorative Tin or Container: Need a little more style than the bag? You can store in a decorative container, IN the foil bag. Follow directions above, then place entire coffee-in-bag in your container.

In a Container Designed to Hold Coffee, like the AirScape Storage Container: A sweet stainless steel design has a double lid system. The first lid presses excess air out of the chamber and blocks light. The second see-through lid creates an additional barrier, plus lets you see the contents level inside. Super clever, clean, and easy to use. Ideal for use with whole bean storage.

Sorry, the bad news is that if your coffee is already old, there’s no storage method in the world to make it come back to life. You might have to “repurpose” your coffee, or simply suffer through drinking it until it’s gone if that’s your style.

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