Americans consume a lot of coffee and tea: Per person, we drink about three cups of coffee a day (that’s almost 70 gallons a year!) and about 155 cups of tea a year. But let’s face it—we weren’t all born to be baristas, and it can be tricky to brew the perfect cuppa Joe at home. We talked with two local coffee and tea experts to get their pro advice on choosing, blending and brewing.
Ben Havn, Owner
Daily Dose Cafe and Espresso
What’s the best way to figure out my favorite roast?
It’s trial and error. What I taste on my palate might be slightly different than what you taste. Not only do you have [a choice of coffee origin or type], like Sumatra vs. Ethiopian, but the way you roast your beans can also drastically affect the taste. At Daily Dose, we have a Sumatra, and our roaster roasts it a little bit lighter for us. When we try new coffee we do cuppings, which are kind of like wine tastings. We’re going to try to do some [public] cuppings at Daily Dose. There are so many different tastes you can get out of one cup of coffee.
How can I make the perfect cup of coffee at home?
If you have a coffee grinder, whole-bean is definitely the way to go—it keeps the beans fresher. Oxygen is an enemy of the taste of your coffee, so I would suggest buying only how much you’ll use in a week or two. After you brew your coffee, don’t let it sit too long. For example, if you’re drinking plain espresso, it’s at its peak flavor in that first 30 seconds after brewing, and after that it starts to change. Timing is very important!
What’s your all-time favorite coffee drink?
My favorite drink is the café miel. It’s a latte with honey and cinnamon. When the espresso hits the honey and cinnamon, the aroma that’s released is just…mmm! It’s my favorite drink to make for customers. It’s not too sweet, with a little bit of everything. The whole process, from pulling the espresso shot and smelling the aroma, all the way to the latte art. I’d recommend the cafe miel [to new espresso drinkers], where you’re going to taste a little espresso…but some people need that kind of gateway, a little bit of sweetener before they make the leap.
Daily Dose Cafe & Espresso, 15517 Grove Circle N. dailydosemn.com
Michelle Kroells, Manager
How can I make the perfect cup of tea at home?
We always say, “All you need is tea, a strainer and hot water!” Many people think that tea comes in bags, and that you can take boiling water and just leave [the teabag] in the cup. But tea is like a recipe, just like when you’re baking. The best way to brew tea is in a cast-iron tea pot, which allows even heat distribution and allows the leaves to open up. Put your [loose-leaf] tea leaves in a little infuser, and let it steep. Follow the directions on the tea package for temperature and time.
What are some tea trends you’re seeing?
Something that’s really been popping up is matcha. It’s a ceremonial Japanese green tea…You’re basically digesting the entire tea leaf, which is very healthy and has a lot of caffeine. And lots of celebrities have been coming out with [their own lines] of tea. We also see a lot of younger people in their 20s and 30s getting into tea.
What’s your favorite tea?
I love Teavana’s Silver Yin Zhen Pearls—it’s a straight white tea, and it’s mellow with a silky, sweet undertone. It’s smooth and has a really natural sweet flavor.
What should I add to sweeten my tea?
We like to use our rock sugar. It’s made out of beets, and it doesn’t change the flavor of the tea. Plus, it’s only 25 calories per teaspoon, which is plenty for a cup. Of course, people like to put milk in their tea, and you can use honey, Splenda—just about anything.
Teavana, 12113 Elm Creek Blvd. N., teavana.com