What originally started as a desire to try all of Atlanta’s best lattes has since evolved into an obsession, an Instagram account and now an Emory Life column. I want this column to be a place to share my knowledge with you, give you recipes, review Atlanta coffee shops and dive into coffee culture.

Courtesy of Cailen Chinn//The Emory Wheel

The pandemic has placed most of us between a rock and a hard place — we want to  connect with friends over a cup of coffee, support local mom and pop shops, see our favorite baristas and try as much of that dark necessity as we can. Soon we’ll be able to do that again; for now, I’ll be giving you my tips on how to make coffee an adventure with your own community. 

Support your local roasters

Whether at home or in Atlanta, buying beans from your favorite vendors instead of the supermarket directly supports your community. Some great Atlanta roasters to try are Counter Culture, Batdorf & Bronson and East Pole Coffee Co. When ordering online, ask the roaster to grind the coffee for you in the notes section. But if you’re up for the extra work, grinding your beans right before brewing will extract maximum flavor.

I like more traditional coffees, so I look for notes of caramel, chocolate and nuts when looking at coffee roasts, flavors you might expect from diner coffee. If you prefer a brighter, citrusy flavor, go for a light roast. For the recipes I’m giving you today, ask the barista for a “coarse for french press” grind. Your coffee will have the look of dry earth, and you should be able to see individual grounds. This grind is versatile, and you’ll be able to make your coffee more than one way with it. Once you have your coffee of choice, it’s time to start brewing. This week, we’ll be taking a look at two completely different kinds of coffees: french press and cold brew.

Two ways to brew

French press makes a full-bodied, strong coffee that pairs great with a splash of milk. It takes a few tries to nail, but once you do it will be a part of your daily routine. I love hot coffee in the morning, and french press should be consumed hot. If you let it get cold, the oils of the coffee separate, changing the flavor and making your cup more bitter. 

Cold brew makes a slightly sweet, smooth cup that is easy to keep in your fridge at all times and is less labor-intensive than french press. It’s great for the people who love to plan ahead and get themselves ready for the next day ahead of time. For these two recipes, you will need coarse-ground coffee, a french press and a large mason jar or water bottle. If you don’t already have a french press, no need to fear. They are an inexpensive investment and can be found on IKEA and Amazon.

For french press, measure out two tablespoons of coffee grounds into your carafe. Boil eight ounces of water, or microwave it for two minutes, and pour over the grounds. Give the grounds a stir, then cover with the press and set a timer for two minutes. When the timer goes off, slowly press the filter down into the coffee, pushing the grounds to the bottom of the carafe. Pour into your favorite mug, add whatever milk or cream you like and enjoy. I take mine with a splash of almond milk.

For cold brew, put 12 tablespoons of coffee into a 32-ounce water bottle. Fill the bottle with cold tap water, give it a shake and stick it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. I usually wait a full day to ensure a pronounced flavor. To filter, use a rubber band and a coffee filter to cover the mouth of the bottle and slowly pour the coffee into a carafe, mason jar or another water bottle. Pour yourself a glass over ice and stick the rest back in the fridge for later.

I’ve made buying and brewing coffee something of a ritual, unhindered by the noise of life, so that I can truly enjoy it instead of just consuming it. Starting my morning in a productive manner completely changes the way I go about my day. Making coffee for yourself not only serves as a meditative time but also ensures that you are taking care of your mental health with a boost of serotonin first thing in the morning.