By Emma Grace Fairchild:
Those who know me know how big of a role coffee plays in my daily life. It’s the first part of my routine in the morning and a frequent guest in my afternoons as well. My apartment currently holds five different ways to make coffee (and I have my eye on a sixth), while anyone who comes to visit me in Prague is likely going to get a tour of my favorite coffee shops! Some of my best work is done in coffee shops, and many of my social engagements happen there as well.
However, these frequent indulgences in my beloved beverage have a downside as well. Buying coffee once or twice a day can quickly add up in cost, calories and environmental footprint. These reasons, plus the wonderful ways to make coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen, make a compelling argument for backing away from buying coffees and pledging to make it at home.
In terms of cost, a medium cup of coffee from a major coffee chain could easily cost $3, and a latte or other specialty espresso drink could be $4 or $5 (especially for those oh-so-popular seasonal flavors or those at a high end coffee roaster). A low estimate of buying a coffee drink once a day every day of the work week would run up a bill of $15, and on the high end, $30 a week. Factor in extra long days that require a second visit to the coffee shop and coffee with friends on the weekend, and that’s easily a big chunk of change. Maybe, if you earn so much money that you don’t have to budget, that kind of investment is acceptable; but for many of us (living on a teacher’s salary, for example), $15+ a week is significant.
Buying coffee is not always a sustainable choice for the environment, either. Although coffee drinkers can always purchase a nice reusable porcelain or stainless steel coffee cup, we otherwise are using disposable cups that go right into the trash. The ingredients and the source of coffee itself may have a questionable impact on the environment as well. The milk and sugars available at coffee shops are from conventional sources. Coffee beans likely are sourced from large conventional coffee plantations that can be detrimental to the local ecosystem because of pesticide runoff, contribute to clearcutting of forests, and have poor labor conditions. Read more about choosing your coffee wisely in this article about sourcing sustainable coffee.
And if you prefer to indulge in the fancy flavored and sugary sweet coffee drinks such as pumpkin lattes or frappuccinos, they come with a whole grocery list of artificial flavors, sweeteners and other questionable additives. If you’re interested, you can find more information on some of the more controversial ingredients found in the ever popular Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks on the Foodbabe.com website. There is also a great deal of waste in coffee shops from the leftover grounds from coffee and espresso. If you prepare your own coffee at home, there are many ways to reuse those coffee grounds. So, while we may love cafe culture and incessant coffee consumption, this comes with a unique set of things to consider. However, there are lots of fun and tasty ways to make coffee at home to offset some of the negatives without abandoning that favorite hot beverage altogether.
My favorite way to make coffee is with a French Press, or what is commonly called a “Bodum”. It uses a coarsely ground bean, which is best when ground fresh before brewing, but a pre-ground bag of regular coffee also can be used in a pinch. I use a French Press in my weekday routine because I can put the water on to boil, go do something else for a few minutes, then return to prepare the coffee, and then do something more for four minutes while the coffee steeps!
On the weekends, I like to prepare Turkish coffee. While there are many different ideas about the appropriate recipes and procedures involved, Turkish coffee is essentially an extremely fine ground coffee brewed in a special pot called a cezve. There are countless recipes for Turkish coffee, variable by region and family, that range from the inclusion of cardamom to use of rose water or sugar. Some people insist the coffee must boil three times, while others say once is enough, and that the pot has to be copper. I have made Turkish coffee at several coffee houses where I worked over the years. Most recently I have incorporated it into my coffee at home since my friend from Slovenia brought me my very own stainless steel cezve. I add three spoonfuls of finely ground Slovenian coffee to boiling water in my cezve and bring it to a slow boil one time before drinking it with a bit of milk or cream. The cool thing about Turkish coffee is that the coffee is ground so fine that it is not filtered out, so at the bottom of your cup is a layer of grounds that are not intended to be consumed. For a good step by step guide to making Turkish coffee, head to YouTube or read this article with photos for each step.
Ultimately, there is a way to make coffee for everyone. Whether the common American coffee pots, individual pour overs, french presses, percolators, Turkish, or the exotic chemex, there are so many ways to make a delicious and fresh cup of coffee at home to reap the many benefits. If there is a favorite way you make coffee that you want to share with Green-Mom and our readers, leave a comment!