How to CookCoffee

The 5-Minute Coffee Miracle That Turned Me Into a Morning Person

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.


My alarm clock and I have been feuding for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was little, when my mom’s gentle-turned-unrelenting nudges forced me to rise and shine, I've always preferred sleeping in an extra five—okay, 40—minutes to getting a jumpstart on the day.

As an adult, not much has changed.

Few things can lure me from bed before my wake-up call, which typically leaves just enough time to look presentable for work (shower not necessarily included) and rush to the subway. That means making a full breakfast, leisurely perusing the morning paper, or—heaven, help me—fitting in a workout will simply never be a part of my a.m. routine.

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Turkish Coffee

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One thing I do, however, always manage to find time for is coffee. Why? It feeds my sluggish, cranky soul in those first minutes of the day when I would much rather still be asleep.

My typical coffee routine is a simple one: Boil a pot of water, toss a tablespoon or two of ground coffee into my French press, drown it in hot water, give it a shake to incorporate, and let it brew until the point where I’ve almost forgotten I was making coffee in the first place. And if I’m feeling especially rushed, I will shamefully resort to my Keurig.

That was my routine. Until I met the milk frother.

We happened upon each other one Saturday afternoon on the Upper East Side at one of my favorite shops, Flying Tiger: an eclectic Danish retail chain where you can find everything from colorful plastic champagne glasses to office supplies wrapped in tropical prints. I was casually browsing the store’s latest influx of seasonal goods when this tiny, unassuming gadget caught my eye. It wasn’t something that I necessarily needed, but with a price tag of just a few bucks (and no more than $5), I was intrigued. I picked it up and took it home, unaware of its transformative powers.

Dip These in your coffee

The next morning I indulged in my Sunday ritual—watching CBS News’ Sunday Morning while whipping together a French omelet—and decided to give my milk frother a whirl.

It was, in a word, a revelation.

I filled about one-third of my coffee mug with whole milk, then heated it up in the microwave for 30 seconds, added a pinch of sugar, and finally whizzed the frother to work while a French press brewed in the background. After a minute or so, the milk had doubled in size to form a soft cloud. I gingerly poured the hot coffee into one corner of the mug so as not to disrupt the foam (it's more fragile than professionally steamed milk), and in just five minutes total, I had something vaguely resembling a latte in both taste and texture.

Glass French Press

Glass French Press

$85
Milk Frother

Milk Frother

$70
Matte Ceramic Mug

Matte Ceramic Mug

$42
Black Walnut Wooden Coffee Scoop

Black Walnut Wooden Coffee Scoop

$30

I was hooked. And like magic, I rose from my bed Monday morning five whole minutes before my alarm started screeching, excited to start the day with my fancy, faux–coffeehouse drink. I followed the same routine: Prep the French press, heat the milk, toss in a pinch of sugar, and whiz away until the milk froths to perfection. I settled into the couch and used those extra few minutes I had given myself that morning to watch Good Morning America, blissfully sipping on my coffee miracle.

Depending on the season, I’ll make tiny additions here and there: a dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or cocoa powder (or a bit of everything) in the fall and winter; in the summer I’ll occasionally swap in coconut milk, or add a teaspoon of lavender syrup.

It's a weekday habit I've tried to keep up with, although there are—more often than I'd care to admit—days when my lethargic impulse is simply too powerful to overcome. But even though the spark has fizzled somewhat, I'll always look back fondly on those first few months we shared together, when everything was exciting and new.

Tags: Food52 in 5