February 7, 2022

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Coffee is a staple in our household now but that wasn’t always the case. We’ve compiled a few of our tips and tricks for a perfect cup.

Growing up I always disliked coffee. I was never a big fan of hot drinks and especially ones as bitter as coffee. I honestly think the only time I ever tried it was out of one of those stainless steel holders you see at car dealerships and potlucks (99% of the time the coffee is disgusting by any standard).

Fast forward to 2010 when Hunter and I were dating and she turned me on to Starbucks iced caramel lattes. Talk about a shock going from something akin to water filtered through dirt to a heavenly dessert. I was hooked on these things and finally understood the Starbucks craze…until Hunter’s grandfather Brihoney caught me drinking one of these in Europe. He told me, “If you can’t drink it black then you might as well not drink it at all.”, and in that moment I made it a point to only drink straight-up “bean water”. 

I went to college at Belmont University in Nashville and I was surrounded by amazing coffee shops like Bongo Java, 8th & Roast, Honest Coffee Roasters and Fido to name a few. I quickly learned that beans from different regions made the coffee taste totally different and I fell in love with GOOD coffee which turned me into the snob I am today. 

After my stint on nothing but black coffee, I decided it was time to change it up and I discovered what’s called a cortado (equal parts espresso and milk). This is when I went down the proverbial coffee rabbit hole and had to have an espresso machine. I got the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine and it was game over from there. I was on a mission to learn how to make the perfect lattes for Hunter and cortados for myself. Here is what I learned about coffee and espresso making.


First and foremost BUY GOOD BEANS.

It doesn’t always matter how much money you spend on your coffee/espresso maker but usually the more you pay the more features you get. We have a run of the mill Braun Coffee Maker and the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. We also have a few other ways to make coffee which I’ll detail below.

Experiment with different flavors, creamers and milk combinations (whole milk, OatMilk).

Making Espresso with the Breville

There is definitely a learning curve with the Breville but it comes with a handy little troubleshooting guide. From my experience here’s how to find success.

Each bag of beans is different so when you put in a new bag, you will need to adjust the grind size on the left side to fine-tune how coarse or fine the grounds are. You want them to be on the finer side but not too fine and I’ve found that grind size 9 is usually perfect for most beans. 

Next, you will adjust how many beans it will grind. Too many and it will be overflowing and you will waste beans. Too few and the machine will not build pressure to properly extract the espresso. 

THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL Tamp your beans with a good amount of pressure but not too much to where the water can’t get through and twist your tamper at the same time. Press down softly and twist 2-3 more times and you should be good.

When you insert the basket into the maker and twist it to lock, you should feel a little pressure when you tighten it.

Press brew and watch the pressure gauge the whole time. You should see it start a little slow and then come to the middle of the range and hold there the whole time.

*If the gauge goes too far your espresso will burn and if it doesn’t go far enough to the middle you will under extract and not get that rich taste you are looking for.*

Use the metal cup to steam your milk and creamer or flavor. Gauge the temperature by feeling the side of the cup and when it is almost hot enough, bring the tip of the steamer to the top of your milk just below the surface it will froth the milk. You DO NOT want it to make a bunch of bubbles so if it does, put the tip a little further in the milk.


The Breville also has a hot water feature built-in which is great for making tea, pour-over coffee or French press coffee.


Gauge didn’t go far enough to the middle

  • Make your grind finer
  • Grind more beans
  • Tamp with more force

Gauge went too far past the middle

  • Make your grind more coarse
  • Grind less beans
  • Tamp with less force 

Making Regular Coffee

Here are some of the beans we love!

Bongo Java Bongo BlendBongo Java Mystic BrewBongo Java Sumatra

Quick and Easy – Regular Coffee Maker

  • Go with the tried and true coffee maker like our Braun
  • Use good beans

Rich Cup – French Press

  • Use a good French press
  • Heat water in electric kettle or use hot water feature on Breville 
  • Grind your beans with a coffee grinder
  • Pour a small amount off water over your grounds and let bloom for 30 seconds
  • Pour in the rest of the water and let it stand for 4 minutes 
  • Press and enjoy black or with flavors like vanilla, mocha or these

Overall Best Flavor – Chemex Pour-Over

  • Use a pour over carafe like this Chemex with these filters
  • Grind your beans with a coffee grinder
  • Heat water in electric kettle or use hot water feature on Breville 
  • Add grounds to filter and let bloom for 1 minute
  • Add the rest of you water and let it brew
  • Enjoy!

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Coffee Beans & Flavors

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  1. While grinding coffee, make sure that it needs to be tailored. In a single shot, 1.5 ounces of liquid is pushed as for a tablespoon of coffee ground in 25-30 seconds. Lever espresso is the only machine where you can compensate for incorrect grind with your strength.