DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

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There is something very comforting about the classic New England pumpkin latte. To me, it is a nostalgic flavor of fall. On the weekends, Im usually too tired or cozy to get out and get one. I also love love love making my own! Making lattes are a very personal experience for me, since I am in the coffee industry.

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It is actually somewhat affordable to have your own coffee set up these days. Affordable espresso machines that actually produce a quality product are really few and far between, but I am really happy with my ROK. It is a completely manual machine which the barista in me loves. The challenge of producing a quality espresso from a machine like this is not a challenge most are up for so I recommend the Nespresso machine for the average joe maker. Shot after shot, the Nespresso is absolutely consistent in flavor, texture, timing and the crema is always perfect.

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For this DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte you will need:

Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso (now available at Target!)

Almond Milk

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Pumpkin Syrup (recipe below)

The latte recipe is all about the gear you have. If you don’t have an espresso machine with a steam wand (like me) then you can buy an inexpensive milk frother. They sell them everywhere, check out amazon or any store that sells coffee equipment. Heat your almond milk in the microwave until it reaches 150 F which is about a minute and a half. No not over heat! If you do your milk will taste funny. While the milk is heating, pull your espresso shot. Put 1.5 T of the Pumpkin Pie Syrup in the bottom of your preheated cup. Pour the espresso over it and stir together. After a quick froth of the almond milk, pour over the espresso top with a dash of spice and drink immediately.

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Pumpkin Syrup:

1/4 c Organic Canned Pumpkin

2 t Maple Syrup

1 t Pumpkin Pie Spice

dash of hot water

Whisk ingredients together until combined.

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Caffeine is the fix.

Life has moved so fast for me this winter, it’s hard to believe it is the 2nd anniversary of my blog! I’m so happy with life these days and looking back at all my experiences that I’ve gone through in the culinary world, I am appreciative of these past few years.

To give you a rapid update I went from Arete pop-up restaurant, to Napa, then private cooking, to learning the art of lattes. In one fell swoop, all those things happened.

Fast forward to these past few months, I have been helping open a new cafe in Connecticut as the Manager & Event Coordinator. I have been reeling on the positive energy of the last six months that I got a little too caught up in real life! Though I still cook for personal reasons and I still privately cook from time to time, I have put all of my energy into this new progressive project.

ImageIf you know me, you know how passionate I have been about coffee ever since I went to cuppings at Counter Culture in the District (WDC). I loved getting to know the wonderful guys there and learning about the chemical complexities of coffee. At the restaurant I helped open in the District, we used siphons and amazing single-origin coffees that Counter Culture roasted in small batches every week. Soon, coffee crawls became a daily excuse for me to get out and about. I started spending more time in the local coffee houses, then anywhere else. I became so enamored with how interesting the business was and started to research more.

ImageAfter my time there, I traveled back north to get my BA at the Culinary Institute of America. In that year and a half, I took any and every opportunity to read & write about coffee; it became my new favourite passion. The history behind it, how it brought people together, and the way it enlightened the masses. There are so many factors to it that I knew nothing about as a child. In my mind it was only something that smelled amazing when you pressed the brew button on the coffee pot. As a teen, it was what got me awake at 5:30 every morning. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I truly realized how complex it was. Now, I live for it. Even as I write, I am drinking our Ashlawn Nicaraguan Dark Roast (currently my favourite coffee that we offer).

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As the summer and fall came, I was given the amazing opportunity to learn coffee from a success in the industry, Carol Adams Dahlke. She is a powerful force in the world of coffee. Her small roastery in Lyme produces coffee for more then 45 accounts, including the shop that she appointed me the Manager of this November. As I have been working under her, I have learned an abundance of what goes behind every bag and cup of coffee and it all is absolutely amazing. The amount of detail that goes behind creating the perfect latte and proper roast is incredible and I am still learning more and more everyday.

ImageI can honestly say that I have never been more excited or engaged in any line of work of mine. I hope that my contributions to this project make it a success; that is my priority & goal of 2014. Stay tuned for more updates! I will be posting more about coffee & food. Especially about marrying the two. I will also be progressing my wordpress forward as the year goes on to a different reflection of my life. I hope you all have a wonderful beginning to the year & live bright.

With love & fire,

                   Jocelynn Neri

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*Final photo by Jules Lesinski Photography 2013.

Portland Coffee: The places to go.

Portland, the land of amazing baristas and roasters. The kings and queens of the syphon method. The royalty of the kingdom of caffeine….okay, I’m sure you get it now.

Earlier this year there was a Barista competition to pick the top Northwesterner and Devin Champman of Coava Coffee won both the Brewers Cup and the best Barista of NW, followed closely by his kin of Portland from Stumptown and Sterling Coffee Roasters; amongst other North Westerners of the Pacific region.

A shot of the Baristas awaiting their scores for the top barista in the North East. Katie Carguilo of Counter Culture Coffee (third barista in) was the United States winner this spring in Portland.

Portland is a beautiful, relaxing city. Much closer knit than Seattle and it is big on charm. Lots of romance and passion can be seen on the streets. As well as some dizzying characters. You can feel the beat of the city through every unique pull of espresso and every ripple of frothed milk.

If your staying in the heart of the city, near the realm of food trucks lies an experience known as Public Domain.

Here, the baristas are very captivating. Lauren and Jon were sweet and knowledgeable. Gave great recommendations for other local shops too. Each has a different organizational process of pulling espresso. Every adjust to the machine was like watching ballet. Each having their own march; own speed and timing. The hand-pour of Burundi was delightful as well. Black, no sugar was its best form. Serious notes of cacao and very ripe berries.

At Coava, I received nothing less than the best hospitality, as well their Rwandan espresso was my favorite amongst all that I had on my Northwest trip. Serious spice notes emerged, as if cinnamon and cardamom were roasted with the beans. The baristas were particularly warm here, even though it was seven and they had just opened their doors.

On that note, I digress to say that there is a large market of early birds in Portland that are being missed. I had been traveling that area and had to skip a few watering holes for the sheer fact that baristas seem to not be early risers. A factor that I believe should be re-considered. If your main business is coming from charismatic coffee,  it’d be smart to be open when people are craving it the most.

Heart Roasters have a really beautiful space. The charming baristas look as though they emerged from the 1940’s. I kept my eyes peeled for Tennessee or perhaps Hemingway would pop in for a cappuccino. Mine, made with their house espresso blend and almond milk, was grand. I personally highly recommend trying the almond milk. I think its very unique and is compatible and complex with the espresso, contrary to what many think in the industry. It has a pronounced creaminess when frothed that is unexpected.

Barista in the Pearl District is a fun shop. To forewarn you, cell service there is minimal so be aware of where your going before you head that way.

Service is great and very quick. The cappuccino was delightful.

There are many shops that I did not get the chance to experience, as well an espresso truck that vested interest. Below is a few shops that I had on my radar, but didn’t visit.

Sisters Coffee Company

Albina Press

Water Avenue Coffee

Clive Coffee (a really interesting retail store!)

Cheers!

Seattle Coffee: Best & Worst

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If you know me, you know I have an intense interest in coffee. Always researching, reading, learning and exploring the world of coffee.

I am presently on a school Food, Wine, and Agriculture trip. We spent some time with roasters and sellers, but there were many places outside of the itinerary that I had vested interest in; and I was not about to let the opportunity of being in seattle for a week pass me by. I was determined to make sure I got the most of it so here is the best, bad and ugly of my coffee tour!

Above is an espresso from Roy Street Coffee & Tea. It is a well kept secret of Seattle. It is lemony, sweet and mine came with a complimentary biscotti. Worth dropping in.

Note: you can use Starbuck’s Gold cards here.

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Victrola: Coffee Roasters on Pike

The baristas are relaxed and know their craft. A fun atmosphere, the cafe is light and open. You can peer in the back at the roaster; where they make those beans liquid magic. Ask for a tour! I was short on time, but they might offer them during production.

The Streamline espresso blend is as harmonious as their name.

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Caffé Vita: Coffee Roaster on Pike

I had a lot of fun at Caffé Vita with the buyer, Daniel Shewmaker and their roaster, Wade, showing me around. They are both extremely knowledgeable in their craft. The compaines coffee is in so many local shops, including the ports nearby. I had at least one cup of their coffee everyday when I was in Washington state.

The espresso has serious appeal to; came highly recommended by Daniel.

Note: They also sell really tasty gluten free treats which is always a plus.

WORST!

The original Starbucks. Yes, I was shocked too. I like Starbis! It’s good for a quick pick me up on the go, sometimes it can’t be all about quality, you know?

I was particuraly shocked at how terrible the espresso shot was that I had. Very watered down, no crema. I was told by the lady upfront that this is the only Starbucks that hand pulls all their espresso. They have a beautiful La Marzocco machine too, but did not use it wisley.

Not worth the wait, no matter how particularly Seattle it is.

A few other places that I hear are really wonderful, but didnt get the chance to pop in:

http://www.espressovivace.com/

http://lighthouseroasters.com/

http://b-oespresso.com/

I’ll be writing more food/coffee/cocktail reviews so be on the lookout!

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Foodie Watch!

Edible Portland is a must check out website and publication. I have been recently reading articles from their past issues (they are all online; score!) and they have an abyss of information. Every subject from sustainable fishing practice to what the farmers are growing this season is in there. This is a great publication for foodies! Check out the article by Hanna Neuschwander titled, The Coffee in Your Cup, in the winter 2012 edition. 

happy reading!

The Most Important

Breakfast; oh, how I love it. It truly is a great part of the day.

Sunday breakfast has always been a big deal in my family. Every Sunday we all gather into the kitchen, the kids pile ontop of my mom on the couch to watch cartoons and news while me and my dad whip something up. We always have french toast, chocolate chip and dried cranberry pancakes, waffles, locally made sausages and uncured bacon and, my favorite, eggs.

He makes the best eggs! Poached, over-easy, omelets with veggies from our garden. He knows his way around a fry pan. I definitely gained an appreciation of how delicious they can be from him. I just anticipate our breakfasts so much sometimes. Always think of great new recipes to try, new ingredients to use. We have a lot of fun with it.

Sometimes even my mom gets involved; though it’s usually just my dad who makes breakfast. Once in awhile she’ll wake up really early and make morning glory muffins or her famed pudding rolls. They are very similar to monkey bread, but bigger and with pudding baked into them!

I always whip out the espresso machine too and practice my latte art. As italians, we all love our espresso drinks. I have yet to get the technique down, but it’s a lot of fun and my mom appreciates a great latte drink regardless.

If you don’t do so now then give it a try! Next Sunday invite some friends over or make a breakfast for your family. I promise it will be a memorable meal.

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