Food52 Life

Too Many Cooks: Our Morning Caffeine Rituals

October 11, 2013

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

Coffee on Food52

We have complex relationships with caffeine (or the lack thereof). For some it borders on obsession; others maintain a looser tie. Most in our camp are consistent coffee drinkers, but our means of getting there are diverse, ranging from French press, to Chemex, to our favorite coffee shop. And for those who aren't big into coffee, there is strong support over in the tea party. This week we're taking you through our morning beverage routines, and we want to hear yours, too!

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What's your morning caffeine ritual?

How do you start off your day? Do you brew at home or frequent your favorite barista? Tell us in the comments!

Marian: In summer: Cold brew, with soy milk and simple syrup, from the only coffee shop in my neighborhood that offers bendy straws. When it's cold, I drink it black. On road trips, I always drink crappy hazelnut coffee with cream and sugar, purchased at a gas station. And in Asia, I hoarded packets of Nescafé 3-in-1, one of mankind's cleverest inventions.

Lauren M: While I'm not too particular about my beans or brew, my morning coffee has to be large and it has to be hot. I'm that person asking for an "extra hot" latte even when it's 80 degrees out. You'll also see me regularly heating up beverages in the microwave -- once it's room temp, I'm not interested.

Lauren L: The Laurens are alike. Extra hot, all the time. Microwaved multiple times throughout the day as I nurse it. Right now I am on a 3-week-and-counting coffee hiatus as the caffeine addiction was intense. It is making life less fun. I. Love. Coffee.

Bryce: Coffee. All the coffee. Mistos, lattes, coffee cart coffee, or diner coffee. Coffee. Plus milk -- whole or almond is my preference -- and a little sugar.

Kenzi: For someone who loves (loves) coffee, I have such a dysfunctional non-routine. It's so wishy-washy it hurts: If I have good beans and am feeling slightly to moderately dead, I'll make an aeropress before I leave the house. If I can make it out of the door without it, I'll bring them into work and apply a Chemex. If I'm feeling flush, I embrace my status as a Gregular. Poor, and I scrape the pantry for caffeine and make whatever I see by whatever means necessary. And you thought you were indecisive.

Chemex on Food52 Stumptown on Food52

Hannah: A handful of chocolate covered espresso beans! I always eat them out of a sweet little dish that my mom gave me when I moved to NYC. 

Allison: Right after I wake up, the very first thing I do is sleepwalk to my kitchen and make coffee. A large mug of it with a bit of skim milk and one Splenda. 

Merrill: Depending on mood and season, these are my standards: A cappuccino made with whole milk, a little on the wet side. Black tea with milk and sugar. A large iced latte.

Maddy: I generally stay away from caffeine most mornings, but for a treat on the weekends (or if I'm really feeling sluggish), I'll make myself a cappuccino with some cinnamon. I must, must have cinnamon with my coffee. Similarly, I love a good, spicy chai latte made with whole milk.

Dirty Chai on Food52

Daniel: Exits subway, makes straight line to the coffee cart on 31st and 7th. "Large coffee, milk, no sugar....Thanks, have good one fellas."

Elana: I, in the same vein as Kenzi, am all over the place with my coffee consumption -- the only contstant is that the consumption will happen daily. When I have time, I like to make pour over coffee at home with Stumptown beans and throw it in a mason jar for the road ("very Brooklyn," according to Amanda).

Stephanie: I'm an orange pekoe gal. With just a touch of milk. Maybe an iced coffee if it's really hot or a latte if I'm in need of a larger caffeine fix. I really like Hannah's move. Chocolate is always a good move in my book. 

More: Brew your own magical coffee or sweet tea.

Lindsay: Two cups of French press coffee with unsweetened soy milk. My husband brings me the first one in bed and the second one is cold by the time I get to it, so it gets heated up on the stove.

Amelia: My mom told me that I should only marry a man if I am certain he will bring me coffee in bed.

Bea: A large large cup of ginger tea, icy cold. I actually make my own ginger juice/extract by grinding the ginger, squeezing out the juices, and cooking that in a large pot of water. I love the kick that it gives me in the morning and it's super refreshing! 

Iced Tea on Food52

Brette: I always get a large hot coffee with soy milk on my way to work, and I always use a straw (yes, I'm one of those weird people). I get iced coffee in the morning maybe once a year.

Catherine: As I'm always the last of my very-punctual-and-organized roommates to drag myself out of bed, I put whatever's left in the coffeemaker into a mug. I drink it on my 20-minute walk to the subway, then keep the empty mug in my bag the rest of the day (don't worry, I wash it at night). I should probably invest in a to-go cup.

Gabriella: French press. Black. 2 to 3 times per day. Though sometimes if I wake up too late I'll grab a $1 cup from a cart near my subway stop, mostly because I'm a sucker for these cups

Kristen: I walk into Gregory's on 31st and 6th with my travel mug that has a pop-up straw, resembling something a baby or a long-distance cyclist would sip from. I am neither. Gregory's team members know that a triple shot iced latte goes in the mug, unless I inform them it's a quad day.

Tell us: How do you get your morning caffeine fix?

Photos by James Ransom, except for mug by Nicole Franzen

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Greenstuff
  • Soozll
  • mrslarkin
  • Iris
  • Pam
Lactose intolerant cheese lover, who will walk blocks for a good cup of coffee. Recently escaped the corporate world, after discovering her favorite part of the job was ordering catering.


Greenstuff October 13, 2013
Interesting how many of us are using hand burr grinders. I don't like any of the affordable electric ones I've tried, as they make a lot of noise and don't handle oily beans very well. If anyone knows of a good one, I might be willing to give up the early morning exercise.
Bob Y. October 13, 2013
I use the Capresso and I'm very pleased with it. Noisy? I've never heard a quiet burr grinder. Very easy to use and to clean and most importantly, the plastic bin doesn't create the static electricity that scatters grounds everywhere.
Soozll October 13, 2013
We're talking ritual, right? I'm not so fancy; I probably represent a scene out of a coffee commercial from the 1950's. I start my process the night before by filling the coffeemaker with water (bottled), set the filter into the holder, get out my measuring cup. In the morning I measure out my coffee (Yuban, dark roast which I keep in the freezer) fill the holder then hit "start". Until it's ready, I futz around getting other things started for the day. The instant the coffee maker stops dripping, I fill my cup and add my Coffeemate (eek!) then decant the rest of the coffee into a thermos and a thermal carafe. I then sit at the computer and read the news while I sip my 1 1/2 cup daily requirement! I guess it's not really a ritual, it's more a routine that I started when my kids were little. It was the only time of the day that I could secure some alone time to plan the day and catch up with the world!
mrslarkin October 13, 2013
My favorite beans come from (better than Gorilla imho). I get the decaf espresso beans, grind them myself and use a stovetop moka pot to make the best cappuccino in the world.

But when I'm not drinking coffee, I start the day with either Yorkshire Gold tea, or a mixture of hot water, juice of half a lemon, honey and a squirt of turmeric extract. Sounds gross but it's so so good.
Iris October 12, 2013
For making coffee at home on a weekday I prefer french press (while also simultaneously making a smoothie in the blender), which I put into a mason jar with half and half if I'm running out the door or sip in a small mug if I have 8+ minutes. My boyfriend is a barista, so sometimes I'll skip the bean grinding and waiting and have a cappuccino where he works first thing. On weekends, I like to linger over breakfast with coffee from the Chemex.
Pam October 12, 2013
Espresso long shots thankyouverymuch. Shorties, as I am not a fan of nuking. It brings back childhood memories of discovering my mom's overly reheated dribble stained cup in the microwave. Ewwwww.
E. B. October 12, 2013
I used to be solidly in the "tea camp". Halfway through residency I took up hosptial machine dispensed coffee out of desperation. (ugh!) My coffee-loving little brother realized the sludge I was drinking, led me to pour-over, and I'm never going back! The pour over worked so beautifully with my "tea gear"-no extra machines (kitchen space at a premium here). I now do either tea or coffee, depending on the whim of the day. I heat the water in an electric heater, do either loose-leaf tea (metal strainer) or pour-over coffee (Hario V60) in a travel mug, and drink it on the commute. I take the tea black and the coffee with whole milk or half&half and turbinado sugar.
AntoniaJames October 12, 2013
I don't always drink coffee, but when I do, I prefer Sightglass decaf. (Pour over, with thick homemade almond milk.) I kicked the caffeine addiction a while ago and have found life a lot more pleasant without the craving/obsession, highs and lows. That late morning and afternoon fatigue is, thankfully, a thing of the past. (Eating sweets of any kind only on special holidays has helped considerably in that regard, too.) My "usual" is actually chai rooibos and toasted brown rice tea, brewed together, served very hot with homemade almond milk, after I get back from the gym. ;o)
Brian October 12, 2013
Freshly ground beans, using a hand burr grinder. Brewed strong, and must be ready by the time my wife is done with her shower. My first cup is enjoyed while I walk the dog, second while reading the news. If I need to reheat my coffee, I splash some boiled water into it. I never use the microwave because it gives it an unpleasant, burnt taste.
Count M. October 11, 2013
Local beans, aeropress, black. At work I sometimes make a second cup in the French press I hide in my classroom. On the weekends that second cup is sometimes a flat white from the amazing coffee shop down the street. I live in Sacramento, and I could hardly be luckier in terms of having great local roasters close by.
Bob Y. October 11, 2013
Funny. I was just thinking this morning about how much a routine/ritual this has begun. Bring dogs in from walk, grind Millstone medium roast beans in a Capresso burr grinder and brewed in a Bona Vita. Stop dogs from fighting. Feed dogs. Large white mug of truly wonderful coffee. Sip while reading the news on the computer. Delicious.
Ellen F. October 11, 2013
I gradually became quite the coffee addict over the course of many years. A couple of weeks ago, it was National Coffee Day and I started to think about all that coffee I was consuming....
Kelly D. October 11, 2013
I buy beans roasted twenty minutes away at Boston Stoker in Vandalia, Ohio and grind them by hand in this little Hario thing my husband won at a barista competition a couple of years ago. It isn't electric; I really mean I am grinding by hand. It has a hand crank and everything. I boil some filtered water in an electric tea kettle and use a v60 to make a pour-over. It takes a little time, but I get up early enough to do this every day, before work. When you put this much effort into a cup of coffee, it is going to taste good and you should drink it black. On days when I really want to do it right, I weigh out the beans (like when I make coffee for my husband or guests) but most mornings I use a little scoop with measures along the side and still end up with roughly 20 grams. I make about 10 oz of coffee and try to stop at that so I don't get that sweaty, heart racing feeling that I used to get after drinking an entire press pot by myself. On the weekends, sometimes my husband makes coffee for me, using a v60 or Chemex, and it is always, always better when he makes it. If I need a boost later in the day, I settle for those abominations that come out of the Keureg at the warehouse where I work. Sometimes, on Saturdays, we drive to Columbus for One Line Coffee and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. One Line roast in-house and actually know what they are doing. Incredible coffee. And Jeni's makes incredible ice cream too.
Sarah S. October 11, 2013
I started drinking coffee in Vietnam so it has to be from a press and with a couple healthy dollops of sweetened condensed milk.