I’m bad at making coffee.

You guys, I have a confession: I can’t brew a pot of coffee to save my life. Or rather, I can’t brew a DRINKABLE pot. Whenever I try to brew coffee using your basic drip machine, it either comes out way too dark/thick, flavorless and watery, burnt tasting, or full of grounds. I’ve tried using exactly the amount of grounds suggested (our machine even came with a fool-proof scoop with EXACT directions depending on the amount of coffee you’re brewing), more (which is what most people recommend doing), or less (after a pot that came out particularly tar-like). I’ve tried the ‘classic brew’ setting; I’ve tried the ‘rich brew’ setting. There’s no adjusting the water level – it’s not the type of machine where you pour the water in depending on how much you want to make; it’s pre-measured in a reservoir.

This is probably why I like the Nespresso so much: it’s literally idiot-proof. You CAN’T screw it up. I also talk a lot about how much I love our Ninja Coffee Bar, but if I’m being completely honest, I miss our Keurig…I’m just embarrassed to admit it (I mean, the coffee wasn’t great…but it was fine, and you can’t screw it up! Plus, all the waste…ugh.) But it’s not the Coffee Bar’s fault! It’s mine!! I’m completely incompetent when it comes to freaking brewing a pot of coffee!! I KNOW it’s my fault, because Jeff’s brewed coffee in the same machine with flawless results.

I’ve thought about potentially investing in a fancier, more manual coffee situation (pour-over? French press?) to see if it produces better results, but I’m skeptical…if I can’t freaking brew DRIP coffee, what’s the likelihood that I’ll be successful doing something much more complicated? I need help. Are there classes you can take on how to brew drip coffee? PLEASE share your tips for brewing a delicious pot of coffee…I’m serious, ANY tips you have, drop them in the comments! I’ll be hiding in the corner over there…

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Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

I recently received a Nespresso CitiZ with Milk machine as a gift from work (hellooooo perks!!), so of course one of the first things I did was concoct a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It IS October, after all!

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I’ve tried store-bought pumpkin spice syrups before, but none of them ever quite cut it. I think the key to a real-tasting PSL is, well, real pumpkin. I’ve made pumpkin spice syrup before, both at home and for the cafe I used to work for, but it’s been a few years and it was time to give it another go. It came out pretty darn delicious, if I do say so myself – after some experimentation, I figured out that it’s key to use two shots of espresso (this is true for most latte-type drinks using an Nespresso machine, at least for me…I had been using one shot brewed on the larger “Lungo” setting, but I found that the drinks ended up a bit milky for my taste. Two shots on the smaller “Espresso” setting seems to hit the sweet spot.), and my secret weapon is to add a dash of vanilla extract to the milk before frothing.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 TBSP pumpkin puree

5 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

generous dash black pepper

Heat water and sugar over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently – don’t allow the mixture to boil. Strain into cheese cloth set over fine mesh strainer; store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator for up to a month.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 TBSP pumpkin spice syrup (or to taste, depending on preferred level of sweetness)

2 shots espresso

8 oz milk

1 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin pie spice

Combine espresso and pumpkin spice syrup in mug. Add vanilla to milk; froth (if you don’t have a steam wand or aeroccino, you can froth milk using a small french press – just nuke the milk for 30 seconds or so and pump in the press until it reaches your desired level of frothy-ness). Top espresso with frothed milk and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. Enjoy!!

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