I'm not much for talking until there's caffeine pumping through my veins. I may be an early riser, and I may really get a kick out of getting up before dawn, but that certainly doesn't mean I want to chat any more than the next person. No--I like the morning because it's quiet. Because no one else is awake and the world is mine. I can savor the little things, like cradling a warm mug between my hands. And because I'm not much for talking before mug number two, I thought starting with a coffee post was more that appropriate.
My warm-mug appreciation started with Hot Chocolate. Not even the fancy kind. A cup of milk, with a dripping spoonful of chocolate syrup mixed in, and thrown in the microwave for exactly 60 seconds.
Then I learned to like Chai.
Then I learned to be a Chai snob.
I'm still a Chai snob. Chai-flavored anything catches my eye about as fast as a wiggling string catches a cat's eye.
On the groggiest mornings, half asleep and doing my best to fill my mug, this Chai Spiced Café Au Lait the comfort-in-a-cup wake-up-call I turn to.
Sleepy? Grab a mug! We'll talk later...
Chai Spiced Café au Lait
1 ounce coffee beans
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
2 anise seeds
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Milk of choice - to taste (I recommend homemade almond milk or organic Kalona Whole Milk)
Sweetener of choice - to taste (I recommend honey)
32 ounces water
Bring water to a boil.
While you wait, put the spices and coffee beans into a spice grinder and grind to medium-fine. Dump into bottom of french press.
Once water boils, keep your eye on the clock. At about 1 inch of hot water to the grounds, pouring in a swirling circle pattern. Stir gently, then allow it to sit. This allows the coffee flavors to "bloom". After 30 second to 1 minute passes, add the remaining water. Allow coffee to brew for an additional 4 to 5 minutes (you want the coffee to brew for a total of 5 minutes, so if you added the first bit of water and waited for 30 seconds, you will now wait 4 minutes and 30 seconds). After 5 minutes has passed, press the filter of the french press down slowly and gently*.
Pour into mug, and enjoy with milk and sweetener of choice!
*A local coffee roaster once told me that adding pressure to coffee is one factor in adding bitterness (this is why espresso is so bitter). He noted that even the pressure of pushing the fresh press down too aggressively will introduce bitterness into your cup-o-joe… and we wouldn't want that!