Holiday 2020

Becoming an at-home barista

Going from picking up specialty lattes on her way into work to creating at-home coffee concoctions, Associate Creative Director Beth Coakley has figured out a peaceful way to start her work-from-home mornings.

Prior to lockdown, how often would you incorporate getting coffee into your regular schedule?

I started by just ordering coffee on Fridays. It was my treat to myself. And then, it started to be like two to three times a week. I was like, “I need this more often!” I really love Fabcakes, the place right by the closerlook office. I liked that it was local, and they had unique flavors of lattes.

What were some of your favorite drinks from Fabcakes? Did you ever mix up what you were ordering, or did you always order lattes?

So, my wintertime favorite was the Aztec latte, which has mocha, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in it. And then the summertime was always an iced dolce de leche, which is essentially sweetened condensed milk and coffee. So, I’m not playing around. I go straight for the good stuff. They have a vanilla rose latte that I would do either iced or hot when I was trying to get a little bit more sophisticated.

Would you break for coffee in the middle of the day?

Actually, I would come on my way in. So, it was my way of saying to myself, “I’m going to start the day with a treat.” They had quiches that I really liked, and they had an amazing chocolate chip espresso scone that multiple people in my desk pod really enjoyed. And so I would buy one to split among us.

When did you get the idea to start making coffee and getting a little bit more creative?

At the beginning of quarantine, I was very freaked out and trying to add some normalcy to my day.

Somebody had given me a cold brew coffee maker for Christmas because up until then I had no coffee accoutrement in in my house. I always thought, “I’m going to pay somebody to make this for me.” But I had started to really like cold brew when I would order it out. And it’s a pretty simple to make. It’s just a little canister, like a little pitcher with a filter. It’s pretty discrete. It doesn’t take up any counter space.

So, I had gotten that for Christmas but had not used it. And I think week two of quarantine, I thought, “All right, it’s time. I need something that’s just a special part of the morning.” So, I made some cold brew and then looked up how to make my own vanilla simple syrup because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store a lot. I love to bake, so I already had vanilla and sugar in my house.

I actually made enough that I’m still using it 8 months later. Like, I made too much.

And then in the summer, I was going through my pantry and I figured out I had a ton of dried lavender. I had bought a one-pound bag on Amazon–who needs a one-pound bag of lavender? So, I was like, “What else can I do with this?”

I had seen that lavender oat milk lattes are super popular and oat milk is pretty much all I use. So, I found a recipe to make vanilla lavender simple syrup and was like, “Whoa, this is great! Am I good at making lattes now?” And since then, I feel that it has given me the confidence to be like, “I’m going to try something else.” So, I had a jar of cookie butter that I used for a different dessert recipe. I thought, “I can eat this straight out of the jar. No questions asked. But what if I started melting this in the coffee when I’m heating it on the stove?” It’s good.

So how often now are you making, like, these kind of specialty drinks throughout the week?

Pretty much every day.

So now it’s a part of your morning routine?

There’s something that I read earlier this year, just when people were starting to feel really stuck at home. And it was this idea of change your mind set about your routines so that they’re more like rituals. So, for example, brushing your teeth is not part of your routine. I’m taking a shower because I deserve to and it feels good. Not just one more thing that I have to do. It’s a ritual of taking care of yourself and reframing how you do your daily activities.

I have started trying to think about that with making the coffee because I heat it up on the stovetop because it is cold brew and stored in my fridge. I measure everything out, heat it on the stove, stand there and allow the aroma to start my day. I’ve definitely burnt my coffee a few times but I try to do it by scent just to see if it’s done. And it’s just really relaxing and kind of fun to feel a little like a splurge of taking care of myself. It’s my little treat every morning.

It’s a ritual of taking care of yourself and reframing how you do your daily activities.

Do you have a current favorite that you’re doing for the holidays or something new that you want to try out?

My cookie butter one is too decadent for everyday drinking but is a great treat once a week or so.

Do you have any tips for someone looking to get started with making their own fancy coffee at home?

Cold brew is super easy. Put it in the fridge and let it steep essentially for 24 hours and then you remove the coffee grinds and voila, you have coffee for the next week, week and a half depending on how much you drink. So, I would highly recommend that. And it’s easy to heat up if you don’t want to drink it cold.

Any other tips about how to start your day on the right foot?

Having a routine has been so helpful for me. I have never just rolled out of bed and started working. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez had this whole thing, like, last year about even if you work in leisurewear, it should not be the leisurewear that you’re sleeping in. There should be a mental break of “Now I’m in my work clothes.”

OK, one last question for you: what coffee brand do you use?

Well, I have been using Bizzy coffee, but I just got a subscription. Somebody gave me a coffee subscription to Trade Coffee for my birthday. I have my next coffee from a place called Sparrow Coffee. But the subscriptions are from local coffee shops around the US. So that’s awesome that it helps the local places.

Beth’s recipes

“It’s Always Honey in Quarantine” Latte

  • ½ c coffee
  • ¾ c milk or dairy substitute
  • ½ Tbsp honey
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • Cinnamon for dusting

“I Stole the Cookie Butter from the Jar” Latte

  • ½ c coffee
  • ¾ milk or dairy substitute
  • 1 Tbsp cookie butter (Biscoff or Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

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