Historically speaking, my morning cuppa has been of the Camellia sinensis variety. From Earl Grey to lapsang souchong to genmaicha and all points in between, I’ve long been a tea drinker. Since becoming a mom four months ago, however, the tide has been turning. Each morning, I find myself moving further and further toward the dark side — the dark, strong, French-press-pot-of-coffee side, that is.
I still love tea, without question. Ours is a union that will stand the test of time. I’m just finding that coffee gives me the robust good-morning salute I need to tackle my new role, while continuing to fulfill all of my others. Most mornings, your basic, hearty, super-dark-roast brew is all I need in terms of flavor. Occasionally, though, I find myself yearning for just a little bit more. That’s when I turn to my spice jars.
Today’s Small Measures suggests using whole, natural spices to imbue your coffee with flavor. While it’s certainly possible to purchase cinnamon or pumpkin-pie flavored coffees, many such blends are created via the use of artificial-flavor compounds coupled with propylene glycol. If you’d prefer to go a more natural route, consider tossing whole spices into your coffee grinder when adding the beans. — Ashley
CLICK HERE for the rest of the post and Ashley’s flavor ideas after the jump!
The following whole-spice measurements will work with an eight-cup pot of coffee brewed via either a French press, Moka pot or electric drip:
- cardamom seeds (taken from 4 pods)
- cloves, whole (2)
- cinnamon (1/2 of a 2″ stick or 1 tsp. ground)
- star anise, whole (1/2 of a star)
- vanilla bean seeds (1/4 of the bean)
- grated nutmeg (1 tsp.)
Naturally flavored coffees also make wonderful gifts. Simply grind enough beans for an eight-cup pot of coffee and add the spice measurements listed above. Store the ground blend in a metal canister, glass jar or brown coffee bag (if you can find one; a number of baking and food-craft suppliers carry them, including Bake It Pretty, based right here in Asheville). While best if used right away, let the recipient know that the blend will stay fresh for up to one week at room temperature or three to four weeks in the freezer.
Much like when I’m purchasing chocolate, I seek out fair-trade coffee roasters for my cup ‘a joe. My area has a wealth of such companies; I’m particularly fond of Dynamite Roasting Company. Their “Mountain Morning Blend” roast is a loud-and-proud sort of coffee — dark and chocolaty with hints of cherry. Oh, and all those coffee grinds I’m now accumulating? GREAT for deterring slugs in the garden once dried. I get a flavorful morning jolt while opportunistic slugs get the kibosh. This new morning routine of mine is offering perks all around.
What about you? Got any tried-and-true ways of jazzing up your morning mug? I’d love to hear!