At-Home Cold-Brew

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It’s my favorite season again; cold brew season! Iced coffee in glass cups behind tall windows, as your whole being gets warmed by a magnified sun. It used to be that I would enjoy nothing more than biking to a favorite local coffee spot, ordering a glass of cold brew, and being swallowed by a nook with one of their magazines to peruse. I wouldn’t say “gone were the days”, but I did shift some habits within the last year, and paying $4 a cold brew a few times a week stopped being something I looked forward to. Luckily, I’ve got Mike to guide my hand in creating my own at home. The truth of the matter is, it’s a very simple process that hardly takes time or work at all. It can be steeped overnight as you sleep and dream of coffee things, and then pre-prepared and stored in the fridge in batches of 10-20 cups. According to Mike, it should only last a week in the fridge, but that’s not much of a problem at our house. Plus, I consider less than $1/cup a frugal win. The best part? Accessibility of iced-coffee drinks, at all times.

Tools You Need:

There are a few gadgets that you will need in order to make cold-brew at home. These are some of our gadgets that we are not impartial to.

  • Scale – I own this one, because it weighs heavy-enough things for bread-making as well. I also like this because I can toggle between grams and ounces. Mike has this one that he uses for coffee exclusively, which is what we mostly use when measuring coffee bean and water weight. It is especially useful since it has that timer, essential to latte pulls and drip-coffee!
  • Grinder – The grinder plays a huge role in the quality of your brew (or espresso, or latte, or what-have-you). We used to just live with the results of a sub-par grinder, until last Christmas, when our gift to each other was a high quality grinder that has been spewing out delicious pours ever since.
  • French Press – Mike has owned a French press way before a Chemex or an espresso machine, and this may have been his first introduction to coffee. To be honest, prior to the habit shift of making cold-brews at home, all the French press has done the last couple of years is look pretty on a shelf. I am so glad that I can finally make use of this beauty once again.
  • Chemex – You can use any drip-coffee vessel, but we love our Chemex. We like the style with the glass handle, but there are ones with a wooden middle, if aesthetics are more of a concern. We use it for extracting hot coffee brews as well, but the summer time is going to change that.
  • Filter – We used to buy disposable paper filters for our Chemex. Over the holidays, Mike’s sister gifted us a pair of reusable hemp filter, and we have never thrown a filter out since then. Surprisingly, it is such an easy clean up process. You simply wash it like you would a towel and hang to dry.
    A similar one, here.
  • Fresh, whole coffee beans (To make about 10 cups, use 125 grams of coffee beans to 500 mL of water. For about 20 cups, use 250 grams of coffee beans to 1 L of water.
  • Water
  • Serving vessel or container – To store my cold-brew concentrate, I simply use mason jars (surprise, surprise). We DO have refillable howlers and growlers, wherein Mike likes to store already-diluted cold-brew.

The Process:

  1. Weigh the appropriate amount of coffee beans and grind them at a medium-coarse setting. If you are using the same grinder as us, we usually have the setting around 9E.
  2. Set the French press on top of the scale and add the ground coffee. Tare the scale.
  3. Fill the French press with the proper amount of cold water. Use a spoon to stir the coffee, making sure all the grounds are wet.
  4. Put the lid of the French press into place and press the filter down just enough to submerge the coffee below the water. Let the coffee steep at room temperature for about 12 hours. Usually we prepare this part in the evening around dinner time. We then leave it on the counter overnight and it is ready to be prepared the next morning. You can also make this in the morning before you head off to work, and then in the evening, you can continue the steps and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Really, this is very flexible for multiple schedules.
  5. After 12 hours, slowly plunge the filter to the bottom of the French press.
  6. Place the filter in the Chemex. Pour the cold brew concentrate from the French press through the filter, letting the coffee drip through.
  7. Before drinking, you will need to dilute the cold-brew concentrate using the following ratio: 1 part concentrate to 3 parts water, making sure to use a scale for accuracy. For the non-picky, you can always eyeball it, or decide based on your taste preference. For the especially particular, measuring is the way to go. Pour over ice. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week, before it starts to degrade. For me personally, I just store the concentrate and ration it out whenever I am ready to drink. Mikey likes everything pre-prepared for even more accessibility throughout the week. To each their own!

 

Travel: Coffee Shops in Mexico City

Mexico City has an up-and-coming coffee scene, so subtle that the locals themselves may not even realize it is happening. While a majority of cuidadanos still ask for coffee as our grandparents once knew it, (that is, black, watered down, bland, and prepared in seconds), a lot of foreigners were seeking out newer coffee shops that are not far off from the third wave cafes that one would find in California. Because these coffee shops take more than a minute to brew coffee, many locals prefer to stick with shops such as Cafe El Jarocho, serving Coyoacan since 1953. With a city as fast-paced as the cars intermingling amongst themselves within the same lane, no one who really lives in the city has time to wait for someone to time an aeropress to the correct second, let alone wait for a barista to grind coffee beans so that they are fresh for the steeping.

The great thing about the coffee being served in Mexico City is the knowledge that the coffee beans are being made not too far away. Unlike the coffee being served in California cafes, these beans did not have to travel halfway around the globe, and were not picked from cherry trees months ago. These were from local farmers in neighboring cities, and supporting the farmers that are working hard to preserve the quality coffee bean in Mexico is especially important.

With the recent escalating spread of roya, also known as coffee rust, among coffee plantations, there has been a significantly decreased output of coffee cherries in areas that used to be heavy coffee producers, such as Oaxaca. An air-borne fungus that spreads rapidly and causes an infectious orange “rust” color of the leaves of cherry plants has the ability to prevent photosynthesis of plants which leads to failure of cherries to ripen. Affected trees will have much fewer leaves, or at times are even fully defoliated, by the second season. What results is a loss of jobs for many farmers, and miles and miles of barren and abandoned trees. Due to the roya outbreak, Mexican coffee production has decreased by more than half in the last five years. Additionally, coffees being produced are not scoring as high as they used to. Coffee is considered competitive when they score above 85/100, and with the spread of roya, fewer and fewer coffee make the cut.

The fantastic thing about Mexican coffee is that, unlike most other coffee producing countries which export their best produce to other countries, Mexico keeps its coffee within its own country, due to the increasing demand in cities such as Mexico City. Many coffee shops only serve Mexican coffee exclusively, something that is not found in California cafes. Because of this interest in trying to preserve good Mexican coffee beans, specialty coffee shops in Mexico City have been helping coffee farmers maintain their livelihood. I like to think we did our part too, by supporting specialty coffee shops that are buying nothing but high quality coffee from farmers in nearby regions. Here are my top caffeine stops, starting with the favorite and working down to lesser loved stops.

Almanegra Cafe

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Cafe Avellanada

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Buna 42

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Cafe Passmar

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Amor Perfecto

The Daily Grind, Two Ways.

You’re dreaming of something unremembered, when the blaring of a device set in such a way to guarantee waking you brings you back to reality, to another work day. The sun is shining in your bedroom window, predicting another blissful day in Southern California. Without the time to soak up the natural warmth of the sunlight as it floods in to warm your bed, you exchange that leisure awakening for a warm shower instead, meant to shock you awake and get you started for a new day. You rush by the coffee pot and push a button, to stream a liquid medicine into a portable mug, one that is ready as you rush out the door to join others in their morning commute. The drug dilates you to match your already feverish pace. You drive by the same scenery every day, but you don’t notice the scenes, barring a car accident pulled over on the side of the road, or new construction on the outskirts of the freeway. Your mind is elsewhere, on an island far away or on your to-do list, to which you’re driving momentarily. Or your mind is still dreaming of the bed you wish you were laying on, while the gears of your car transport you to where you don’t want to be. You sit at the same desk as you did yesterday, and despite the long hours and the hard work, the pile of boxes on your checklist never decreases. It’s a time machine that takes you back to yesterday. The daily grind, one way.

 

You wake from this nightmare one morning, in time with your natural bodily workings, and only after a full night’s rest. The first sound you hear is of birds chirping outside your window. Slowly turning to your nightstand, you pick up the book you were reading before you fell asleep, and thumb the pages, noticing the way they feel under your fingertips. You read a few pages as you wake, even if you have to re-read a line or two a few times before registering the words. Meanwhile, the sunlight warms you under the heavy comforters, until the heat prompts you to stand. You slip on your warm slippers to protect your feet from the cold floods, and walk downstairs. You savor the smell of pine from the Christmas tree, as the sun light filters onto your dining table, creating glittery fractured fragments as it passes through stained glass windows. You think about coffee. You weigh the appropriate amount of coffee beans on a scale, as you heat up the espresso machine. A bean too many. You return the devilish seed back into its home, saving it for another day. The beans are freshly ground, the smell, enticing and bold. You extract the right amount of espresso, then foam the milk. You pour the milk, and regardless of the outcome, you already know that you’ve created something for yourself. The routine is immersive, the experience entirely sensory. You sip, sit, and stay awhile, with your daily grind, another way.

Spotlight: Daydream Surf Shop

I wanted to start a new series called Spotlight, to share with you guys companies, shops, and individuals who I think are doing great things. I believe it is important to acknowledge others who have similar values and who are doing something good in order to make this world a better place.

I wanted to start this series by sharing with you Daydream Surf Shop’s mission statement and story. I like their coffee, sure, but I like their welcoming, positive attitudes, their curated style, and their overall philosophy even more. Visit them to experience the good vibes for yourself!

Opened in the Winter of 2016, Daydream is the creative, experimental love child developed by Becca Mantei and Kyle Kennelly, who have spent years building their own and combined contributions to a space that serves to promote the overall intention of good vibes.  As our fellow beach children mature into adulthood, Daydream is there to guide them to a refined and higher vibrational lifestyle with a focus on design, quality, and functionality. Becca draws from her background in fine art and interior design to bring the community unique goods that bring a higher appreciation to the objects in our lives. Kyle, draws his main inspirations from his connection to nature and his community. He has been a long time advocate of getting folks together and into the ocean. Whether it’s rounding up his pals for coffee before a morning dawn patrol or planning weekend surf safaris, Kyle believes that a group’s stoke is greater than the sum of its parts. In the same spirit, Daydream will act as the aquarian surfer’s club house to enjoy a morning coffee or tea and ponder the ideal board/wave pairing to maximize stoke, creativity, and good vibes.

 

We want everyone that comes into our shop to walk out with a treasure that makes them feel special every time they look at it. Whether its a present to a friend or yourself, you deserve to come into contact with things that brighten your day. Beyond the goods we carry, Daydream’s coffee shop offers unique coffees that aren’t found anywhere nearby in a effort to give people the jump start they need to a productive, feel-good day that hopefully leads them to the ocean at some point. Our Surf Club program is one of the most important aspects to our shop, in an effort to break down the price tag barrier that comes along with surfboard experimentation, we seek to provide wave sliders looking to experiment with all types of high quality boards from hulls and logs to bonzers and keel fishes so that they can tap into a style of surfing that suits them best.

 

Daydream seeks to move us towards objects with soul that are built with love and ethical business philosophies. Inside you’ll find a diverse mix of hand shaped surfboards, beautiful crafts, both new and vintage clothing, rad records, and cosmic coffees. The majority of these items are currently not available in the county.

 

The world as we know it is experiencing a cultural shift and it’s becoming apparent slowly in many different ways. One place that we’ve noticed this shift most is the way people look at their possessions, rather than wanting a larger quantity of things, people are seeing that quantity is not necessarily important and that what really matters is having belongings that hold meaning in your eyes. In addition, the transparency of information regarding how goods are produced has led to a great deal of attention being placed on the ethics of labor that is employed in the production process. When we buy something today we want to make sure that it is sending a signal that we agree with the creators production ethics and that it isn’t just another basic object that we are eventually going to throw away one day. This philosophy of consumerism can be transferable to everything from surfboards and wetsuits to ceramics and coffee. We want to give people good options to participate in this shift. We go through all the hard work of making sure that the items we carry in our store are of the highest quality and created in an ethical manner.