Coffee Talk Epilogue: Nespresso

Last February I shared a three-part series detailing my experiments with at-home coffee making… without using a standard Mr. Coffee. If you missed them, make sure to check out my tips and tricks for a French Press, Mokapot, and Pour-Over!

Have you heard of Nespresso? It’s a capsule-based espresso system. Their commercials here in the US feature Penelope Cruz, but internationally George Clooney is their spokesman.

(Bonus points if you recognized “Nora” from How I Met Your Mother)

I have a quick epilogue to add to my coffee conversation! My kitchen has a new little addition to it. I sell Nespresso machines at work and well… you can see, I’ve sold myself on it!


My machine is the budget-priced Essenza, but my favorite machine is the cute and user-friendly Pixie

Espresso is a different animal than coffee is: its flavor comes from water forced through a tightly packed shot at a high temperature and high pressure. That’s why the flavor is so intense and most espresso shots are only 1 to 2 ounces. When you order a latte at Starbucks, it’s normally two small shots added to steamed milk. Think–you’re really paying $3+ for four ounces of coffee!

Nothing against grabbing a latte out with friends–I love meeting up at a coffee shop with people. It’s grabbing a quick latte every day before work that becomes a big-time money suck. Enter Nespresso: the machines heat up in no time and the flavor options they have available are really delicious… and for 60 cents a shot–it’s much faster and cheaper than going through the Starbucks drive through on the daily.


When I have a lot of time in the morning, or a lot of writing to do and want a massive carafe of coffee that will last for hours, I still default to “normal” style coffee made in my French Press (which I’m getting better and better at making!) When time is of the essence and I want a yummy caffeine fix, my routine is this: prepare my cup with a small spoonful of sugar. I run the capsule through my Nespresso and then finish the cup off with milk. This process takes roughy two minutes–120 seconds!

I’m not getting paid or perked by Nespresso to write this post–Just sharing the technology that’s out there with you all in case you hadn’t heard of these machines and were suffering from paying too much for specialty coffee drinks every day.

Coffee Talk: Pour-Over

There’s a growing trend among craft coffee lovers… the pour-over brew. This small-batch method is great for tastings (or “cuppings”), since it makes a small amount of coffee at a time. Additionally, it lets the drinker tweak and adjust variables like amount of coffee grounds, temperature of water, fineness (or coarseness) of grounds, among others. Great for somebody who is really on the quest for the perfect cup.

Pour-Over Coffee

Using a simple cone funnel and a cone filter, I scooped two tablespoons of coffee into the filter. Below, I’m just pouring water right in, but from what I’ve read now… you are supposed to get the filter wet first to prime it (Do as I say; not as I do). Then, pour hot water (I boiled mine then let it “rest” for a minute or so to cool off a bit) into the grounds. Apparently the velocity and speed of water can even affect the final taste. This is why pour-over enthusiasts prefer the control and precision offered by a goose-neck kettle. I keep things simple around here and just used my normal red kettle. :)

Pour-Over Coffee

The method I used is for a single cup. For groups, the pretty glass Chemex is a great (and visually appealing) option. Coffee made in the chemex can also be reheated!

Pour-Over Coffee

This post wraps up my Coffee Talk trilogy! I hope you learned something or it has encouraged you to try a new coffee-making method. I certainly had (highly caffeinated) fun researching, experimenting, and writing these posts.

As always, if you have any tips or tricks in relation to pour-overs, or coffee in general, feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Coffee Talk: Bialetti Moka Express

All weekend I had coffee on the brain. I was playing around with a French press (or cafetiere, as friends abroad call it, according to comments) and a pour over (post coming on Wednesday), but I would be remiss if I didn’t include this little guy in my “Coffee Talk” roundup.

Moka Express

My Bialetti is a trusty little espresso maker. Supposedly, nine out of ten homes in Italy have one of these handy little devices. Sounds like a lofty claim, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be true! Compact and easy to store, it’s a easy way to make espresso. Now, being educated on true espresso as I am (I have to know so I can sell espresso machines at work) I wouldn’t call this a true espresso maker… the water is not forced through the grounds at quite a high enough pressure to get the rich, light-brown “crema” of a real espresso shot. However, it is much richer and stronger than a regular cup of coffee. Served in small portions, it goes well with a scoop of sugar or dab of milk.

To use the aluminum Bialetti is simple–fill the bottom chamber with water, the center funnel with grounds, and screw the pieces together. Sit on a burner–electric and gas will both work… you could even take it camping and set it above a fire. The water will boil in the bottom half forcing water and vapor up through the grounds and into the upper chamber.

Moka Express

I used a little battery-powered frother to whip up some warm milk and poured my epsresso into it for a yummy latte. You could even sprinkle the foam with cinnamon and brown sugar!

Oh yes, and red is my accent color of the week, thanks to upcoming Valentine’s Day! Is anyone else’s head spinning with Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, and Valentine’s Day so close together?? 

Coffee Talk: French Press

A few years ago, I heard about French press coffee, and some friends made some for me–it was strong, but I didn’t really notice anything that set it apart from normal drip coffee. Last week when I visited Dark Horse coffee, I had my second experience with French Press and it was amazing. I mentioned in last Friday’s post that it was the best cup of coffee I ever had. It made me determined to try French press at home! The stars aligned when a neighbor in our complex who works for Starbucks hooked us up with a partial bag of limited-edition coffee (Casi Cielo). It was ground specifically for French press (which means the grounds are coarser) so he also lent us his press so we could make it properly.

French Press

Learning to do French press is hard! We should have looked up instructions online–it would have saved us a lot of time (and coffee grounds!) if I had proceed with some sort of guidance. Let me explain: when I make coffee in my Mr. Coffee, I use more than one tablespoon scoop for each cup of coffee I make. For example, if I fill it up to the “4” line, I use 4.5 or 5 tablespoons of coffee. With a French press you do NOT need to do this! My first go-around I used 8 scoops and the end result was like MUD! It was undrinkable. Since the grounds steep in the boiling water, more like tea would do, the coffee is much stronger and you don’t need to use as much. We dumped the first batch and made the second batch with 4 scoops. Much better. Which brings me to my next point–I think this is much more economical! Where I would use 6-8 scoops in my Mr Coffee, I only used 4 in the Bodum and it was much stronger, more robust, and complex.

French Press

So, as far as I’ve figured it out… here is how to make French press coffee.

  • Boil water in a kettle.
  • Scoop your grounds into the glass.
  • (edited to update–let water sit for a moment so it is not actively boiling. too hot will distort the flavor!)
  • Add water to the grounds, give a little stir.
  • Let them sit for about 4 minutes
  • Then press the plunger down–the screen will separate the grounds from the coffee.
  • Enjoy!

Fellow coffee fiends, feel free to weigh in with any recommendations or funny stories in the comments! As a French press newbie, I’m sure I have a lot to learn from you.

I have a fun non-coffee-related post planned for tomorrow, but come back on Monday for a continuation of my coffee adventures… my experience with a pour-over! 

Take a Tour: Dark Horse

Last Monday, Angela and I decided to explore my old stomping grounds of Adams Avenue. My first apartment in San Diego was on Adams and it would be a nice neighborhood to move back to someday. Since I left, there have been a lot of great changes on Adams including restaurants and shops, the newest of which we stumbled upon–Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. They’ve only been open for two weeks!

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

The owner, Daniel, is congenial and very easy to talk to. Any feelings of intimidation that I normally have when visiting a hip new establishment vanished–I could tell he is dedicated to his quality coffee and the success of his store.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

The most fabulous thing, to me, is that he DIYed the whole interior of the store himself. Being a design geek, I ate it all up. The wood-paneled wall, the coffee bar facing the window–the counter, everything was DIY. He was eager to share his secrets as well–he explained how he made the wood-paneled wall in a way that even a novice DIYer could feel confident replicating. The chalkboard paint trend was represented in a tasteful, limited, and totally functional way. And how awesome is his accent color of mint green on the counter? It totally keeps the place looking fresh, balancing out the earthy wood tones!

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

The narrow bar facing the window was a great way to maximize the limited square footage. In the space that would have accommodated just another 2-person round table, he managed to fit room for 4 seats–or a casual place to lean while waiting to order.

The branding was not only consistent but cost-effective. He has a few different rubber stamp designs, which he used to decorate the bar, the trim, bags, and even cups. By buying plain wares and customizing them himself, not only is a handcrafted feel created, but money is also saved. Think of the other businesses who can take a cue from this method!

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

You won’t find espresso offerings here–just craft coffee–but Daniel was friendly enough to explain the difference between a pour-over and a French press. I had a French press and Doug had a pour over–the flavor of both options was out of this world. Monday, I literally had the flavor in my mouth all day–the best cup of coffee I have ever had! I couldn’t wait to pop back in Wednesday to take these photos and get another cup!

If you’d like to go, the address is 3260 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA. For more info, follow Dark Horse on facebook!

Check out some of my other tours by clicking here

Mexican Coffee

At least, that’s what I call it…

For a twist on your morning cup of mud, add a dash of cinnamon and the tiniest dash of chili powder to your grounds before brewing!

I do this in a regular drip Mr Coffee (this guy gets reserved for special occasions–that is, moments when we can actually sit around and monitor the stove), so you should be able to achieve it in whatever coffee maker you use. I always add milk to my coffee, so I hadn’t thought of it but… Doug said this isn’t his favorite flavor black. He prefers Mexican coffee with milk in it! Make yourself a latte and enjoy your summer morning!

No photos because it’s still brewing. Just got caught up in the moment and had to blog about it ;)