Next Level Brew: Pour Over Coffee vs. Drip Coffee

February 5, 2019

Chicagoans love their food. After all, what’s not love about Chicago-style deep dish pizza and hot dogs?

Chicagoans also love their coffee shops. According to Chicago Food Planet, in 2017 Chicago beat out Seattle to become “America’s Most Caffeinated City.” The reason? Residents spend 2.94% more on their coffee in Chicago than the average city.

And not just any coffee. A big chunk of those dollars is going toward pour coffee drinks.

What is Pour Over Coffee?

Pour over coffee describes the way a cup of coffee is prepared. The process sounds deceptively simple. Instead of popping a pod into a brewer, you pour hot water over roasted beans in a filter above a carafe or cup.

Proponents of the method are quick to point out that the reality behind the process is not at all simple. Brewing coffee this way allows you to precisely control all the variables that go into a great cup of coffee. It also takes more time than other methods.

There are three variables that will determine how great your next cup of coffee can be. Let’s take a closer look at each to understand what makes a pour over coffee different from your favorite drip or French-press cuppa.

1. Choosing Your Beans

Not surprisingly, the quality of the beans you use is going to have an effect on how good your final cup of coffee is. High-quality coffee cafes will feature single-origin beans in their blends.

The term “single-origin” can refer to all coffee beans grown in a particular country (Kenyan, for example). More often, though, it refers to coffee beans grown and picked on the same day at the same farm.

2. Grinding Your Beans

Grinding your beans correctly is vital. A consistent grind that is neither too large or too fine will result in the best balance and brew.

Beans that are ground too coarsely will not absorb the water poured over them. Your cup will most likely be weak, acidic or sour tasting.

When your beans are ground too finely, you’ll have the opposite problem. The water will not flow freely through the grounds and may even drive some grounds into the cup. This will give you a bitter or chemical taste not to mention a silky texture.

3. Getting the Water Temperature Right

Just like the ground, you want to ensure that the water you use is the right temperature. The ideal temperature for coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees.

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to achieve this range. You’ll be somewhere in the area if you bring your water to a boil, then let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute before pouring. You can use a thermometer to ensure you are hitting this sweet spot.

Finding a Pour Over Coffee in Chicago

As you can see, a great cup of pour over coffee takes time to master. The equipment to make pour over can also be expensive. So, before you go out and invest in it, you may want to try Pour Over brews at a coffee shop first.

You won’t get it in the mega-sized brew pots at most coffee shops. Luckily, you can find a wide variety of coffee on the menu at the Cupitol Café in Evanston and in Streeterville. They’ll brew you a cup any time of day and pair it with the perfect breakfast too.

Coffee Roasts 101: The Difference Between Light, Medium, and Dark Roasts

January 22, 2019

coffee roasts

It may seem like Americans drink a ton of coffee, but we’ve got nothing on Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. Those Nordic countries consume the most coffee per capita, while the U.S. doesn’t even crack the top 20. 

The U.S. has a lot of ground to make up. We also have a lot of gaps to fill in our knowledge of coffee. For instance, coffee roast levels can be hard to figure out unless you’re a barista. 

If you don’t know enough about the difference in coffee roasts, keep reading. 

Light Roast 

Light roast coffee is sometimes called New England Roast. If you know that, then you can guess that light roast is more popular on the East Coast than in other parts of the country. 

The acidity is usually more noticeable when drinking a light roast. All coffee beans start out as green.

But if you’re aiming for a light roast, you’ll want to remove the beans after the first time they pop. That initial pop is often known as the first crack.

The first crack happens at a temperature of about 401 degrees Fahrenheit.  You may have heard that light roast coffees have more caffeine, but that’s a myth.

Medium Roast

Medium roast coffees are ideal for people who can’t quite make up their mind. Balance is the name of the game for a medium roast, which is one reason why this roast pairs well with brunch or breakfast.

With light roast coffees, you know to stop roasting after the first crack. But making medium roast coffees is trickier. You have to wait until after the first crack is over but before the second crack commences.

If you’re curious, that means a temperature range of at least 410 degrees. 

Dark Roast

Dark roast coffee beans look a bit like chocolate. But a dark roast doesn’t taste like a candy bar, or at least not any candy bar made by Hershey’s. 

No, if you drink dark roast, you’re drinking something bitter, smoky, and full-bodied. That’s because the beans get roasted to a temperature of about 464 degrees, if not higher.

Roasting dark coffee beans is a delicate game. You need to go beyond the second crack of the beans. But if you go too much farther, you’re going to get something that tastes like ash rather than coffee. 

Not surprisingly, the flavor of the roasting process is most noticeable with dark roast coffees. The flavor of the actual coffee beans is more pronounced with lighter and medium roast coffees.

Dark roast coffees are especially popular in the Pacific Northwest. The coffee house culture is big in cities like Portland and Seattle. That means you’ll find a lot of local roast houses who specialize in making coffee that’s bittersweet without being burnt. 

Coffee Roasts at Cupitol 

The world of coffee roasts is wide and varied. Something that seems like a medium roast on the East Coast might seem like a light roast in Seattle. 

But our coffee roasting business isn’t focused on the coasts. At Cupitol, we’re focused on brewing the best cup of coffee in the Chicago area.

Check out our coffee shop philosophy to learn more about what we do. 

Check Out Brunch at Cupitol, Top 5 Menu Items

January 14, 2019

breakfast & brunch at cupitol chicago


Attention all you Cupitol fans! If you love that epic mish-mash meal you normally have in between breakfast and lunch, have we got an article for you! We’re going over Cupitol’s top five brunch menu items.

Now, before we get started—we wanted to add that we really enjoy brunch. We love eating stacks of buttery pancakes and bonding with our family over a cup of fresh pressed orange juice.

However, a lot of restaurants we’ve visited over the years make you wait for an obnoxious amount of time to get a table. And once you do sit down with your family, there aren’t many options.

But, as we like to say at Cupitol—we go the extra cup. Whether you love endless tasty brunch items—or hate having to wait to get your food (unlike other places that serve brunch)—we’ve got you covered.

After all, it’s a day or night delight to eat brunch at Cupitol. So, without further ado…

Our Top 5 Breakfast Items

Shroomed Omelette
This incredible dish is made with wild mushrooms, gruyere, spinach, and comes paired with a side of multigrain toast and hash browns. The eggs have a fluffy texture and the fresh wild mushrooms blends well with the Gruyere and spinach.

Sweet Potato Bowl

Our fantastic potato bowl is typically made with brown rice, kale, vegan coconut curry—but you can also add poached eggs. It is full of flavor and the sweet potato gives it a nice balance. What makes it so special is the mix between the curry and sweet potatoes.

Avocado Wrap

For our excellent avocado wrap, we use a wheat tortilla to sandwich together scrambled eggs, Hass guacamole, queso fresco, and pico de galo. Combined with our house made guacamole and pico de galo, our avocado wrap tastes light, well balanced, and refreshing.

Breakfast Sandwich

You can’t go wrong with a classic breakfast sandwich. It is made with fried eggs, Jones Bacon, and American cheese—all sandwiched together with a special house made croissant.

European Breakfast

We absolutely adore our European Breakfast. It’s made with Greek yogurt, homemade almond granola, seasonal berries, and locally produced 100% raw honey. It tastes fresh, filling and sweet.