Brewing Coffee at Home: 8 Secrets & Best Coffee in Chicago

November 4, 2019


It was surveyed that 64% of Americans drink a cup of coffee every single day. We all know a few people who you can’t even talk to in the mornings until they’ve had their coffee fix. Are you the type of person who can’t start their day without a cup of coffee? | Best Breakfast in Chicago

Making coffee at home can be even better than buying it from a local coffee shop but there are a few tips you should know about brewing coffee at home.

Just about anyone can make the perfect cup of coffee so keep reading for 8 secrets to make an amazing cup.

1. Stick With Fresh and Whole Beans

When it comes to brewing your coffee at home you’re going to want to buy fresh and whole beans. Coffee beans are just the start of making your coffee delicious. So if you’re buying bags of already ground coffee, then you’re doing it wrong.

Coffee is the best when the beans have just been roasted which is why most bagged coffees do not tell you the date they were roasted. When it comes to buying your coffee beans look for fresh roasters like at a local coffee shop. You should be careful about buying beans from a supermarket because they may have sat in bins for a long time before getting purchased.

2. Keep Your Beans Fresh

Once you do buy your fresh and whole coffee beans, then you need to find the best way to keep them fresh. Fresh beans will help you make the perfect cup of coffee every morning or whenever you need it. You should only buy about 5-7 days worth of coffee beans at a time.

Make sure to store your coffee beans in an airtight container for optimal freshness. Mason jars or storage containers with a rubber gasket seal are good choices for keeping your coffee fresh. You should also never refrigerate or freeze your coffee because they easily absorb moisture and other food odors.

3. Grind and Use

You only have about 30 minutes after the coffee beans are ground to use them before they start losing their flavor. This is because the more time the beans are exposed to oxygen the quicker they begin to break down. So every time you want a delicious cup of coffee you should be grinding your beans right then.

You have many different options when it comes to grinding your beans and they’re all at different price points. Some people like a fancier automatic burr grinder which will cost you a pretty penny but a manual hand mill can get you the same effect. The finer you grind your coffee, then the more flavor you will get.

4. Certain Water

When it comes to brewing your coffee you should take a lot at the type of water your using. Tap water can change the taste of your coffee because of the chlorine or other flavors. Using softened or distilled water can also make your coffee taste bad because a good cup of coffee needs minerals found in other sources of water.

Best Coffee Places in Chicago

You should opt for using bottled spring water or a filter on your tap water. Filtered and spring water help to make the best cup of coffee because they contain essential minerals. So when it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee you should be aware of the kind of water you are using.

5. The Right Temperature

When you use an automatic coffee maker you’re skipping the vital step of making your coffee at the right temperature. You should aim to make your drip brew coffee at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. High end and pricier coffeemakers usually have a way to adjust the temperature but less high tech ones do not.

You can see how hot your coffee gets by doing a test. Run only water through your machine and use a thermometer to see how hot the water gets during the brewing process. Some machines don’t make it to 195 degrees Fahrenheit so you may want to try pre-boiling the water before running it through the coffee maker.

6. Measure the Right Way

When you make coffee you will want to use the same amount of coffee per unit of water every single time you brew. Measure your coffee by weight instead of volume. You can use a digital scale for the best results on comparing coffee and water each time.

Figuring out the right way to make your coffee may take a lot of trial and error. Generally, to make a fairly strong cup of coffee you can use the ratio of 1:20 which is one part coffee to 20 units of water. It is up to you to decide how you want to make the perfect cup of coffee.

7. Avoid Using Cheap Filters

According to the experts, cheap coffee filters produce cheap tasting coffee so you want to invest a little bit when it comes to buying your coffee filters. Oxygen-bleached or dioxin-free paper filters are the ones you will want to look for and yield the best effects. Good tasting coffee comes from being specific about every step of the process.

8. Keep Your Equipment Clean

To get the best and freshest tasting coffee you need to make sure that all of your equipment is clean. At least once a month you should run a strong solution of vinegar or speciality equipment cleaner through your coffee machine. This will help to get rid of any build-up of minerals in the machine that could create a different taste.

You will also want to keep your grinder and storage bins clean as well. Make sure to empty them every so often so you can really clean them out. Oils can build up and ruin your beans making a not so tasty cup of coffee.

Brewing Coffee Can Be Fun

While there are many tips and tricks to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, brewing coffee can still be fun. There are many different ways to brew coffee and make it taste great.  You have to figure out what works for you.

If you’re in the Evanston area and are looking for a delicious cup of coffee or a bite to eat, then come check out Cupitol.


5 Truly Great Chicago Sandwiches | Best Breakfast in Chicago

October 21, 2019

chicago sandwiches | Best Breakfast in Chicago

Whether you’re new to the city or grew up here, you know Chicago is all about her food.

Sure, you get a kick out of the glittering nighttime cityscapes, especially from the top of the Sears (err…Wilson) Tower. A day on the pier—Navy Pier—brings the lake up close. Or, far away if you view it from the top of the Centennial Wheel.

But it’s the food that warms your heart in this city.

Those iconic Chicago sandwiches. Some you’ll only discover if you venture into certain neighborhoods. You’ll find others at some of the most popular Breakfast & Lunch in town.

Here are 5 of the greatest Chicago sandwiches. We’ve even included the ingredients, and for some, a little history.

1. Now That’s Italian

If you’re looking for a Chicago icon in the form of a sandwich, look no further than the Italian Beef. Don’t look too far because once you’re out of the Chicago area, it’s hard to find a proper beef.

You can thank Chicago’s Italian immigrant community for this sandwich. It’s a simple working man’s sandwich likely enjoyed by stockyard workers back in the 1920s and 30s.

You need 3 basic ingredients for an Italian Beef sandwich.

A soft roll with a nice crunch to the crust. Tender, thin-sliced beef. Juice, or jus, full of classic Italian spices like oregano and garlic, with a dash of red pepper.

Order yours dry, easy dipped, or dipped, depending on how much gravy you like. Top it off with sweet peppers, or another Chicago classic—spicy giardiniera. Request your peppers on the side (in a container), or on the sandwich.

If you’ve saved your appetite for something big, make your sandwich a combo, which means you get an Italian sausage nestled in the beef.

This is a filling meal even if you don’t pair it with a serving of hand-cut fries. Take a walk and then look for a sweet little café where you can relax with an espresso or cup of coffee | Best Coffee.

2. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The hot dog. A simple little sausage sitting in a bun. The hot dog is simply classic Chicago food.

That said, this Chicago street sandwich is far from simple. You can order a hot dog naked—dog and bun, no condiments, or you can enjoy it as one of the following:

Depression Dog

Start with a hot dog on a steamed bun. Add yellow mustard, a little onion, and a few sport peppers lined up along each side of the dog. A smattering of sweet relish, a serving of fresh-cut fries.

All this is rolled up in paper. The fries soak up a bit of the mustard and onion. So much yum your senses can hardly bear it.

Hot dogs and Chicago go back a long way. During the Great Depression, vendors sold them from street carts on Maxwell Street. They cost a nickel each.

Dragged Through the Garden

This is the quintessential Chicago-style hot dog and it’s monikered as such by hot dog vendors and sandwich shops alike.

Begin with an all-beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun. Add the following toppings in order:

  • Yellow Mustard
  • Neon Green Pickle Relish
  • Chopped Onion
  • Tomato Wedges
  • Dill Pickle Spear
  • Sport Peppers
  • Sprinkle of Celery Salt

Prepare for your taste buds to sing. Of course, you can find all kinds of other hot dog variations in Chicago, but this is the authentic Chicago Dog! Also, notice the absence of ketchup.

3. La Jibarito

Now, we switch gears, and cultures, and taste another Midwestern delicacy, the jibarito (HEE-bar-EET-oh) sandwich. While it’s found primarily in the Chicago-area, this sandwich has island roots.

Created back in the 1980s, by Juan Figueroa, owner of Borinquen, the jibarito employs fried plantains instead of bread. Sitting between the fried plantains, you’ll find your choice of thinly sliced steak, chicken, ham, pork or vegetarian fillings. Garnish is lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayo.

Hint: For the original, and more authentic jibarito experience, stick with the thinly sliced steak.

We can’t imagine anything better than a robust coffee drink as an après-sandwich treat.

4. Pork Chops and Applesauce

Or is it pork chopsh and apple shauce? You know, there’s an ongoing debate over whether it’s a Humphrey Bogart or Peter Brady line. Either way, if you visit or live in Chicago and haven’t tasted a pork chop sandwich (sans apple sauce), you haven’t lived.

The bone-on-a-bun sandwich goes back to the early 1940s. It doesn’t come with apple sauce, but it does come with the chop bone and a few tasty condiments.

Chicago’s pork chop sandwich features a juicy and tender bone-in pork chop. It’s put in a bun and loaded up with mustard, grilled onions, and hot peppers. One popular Southside sandwich shop has been serving these tasty sandwiches for over 40 years—and the fries are free.

Isn’t that schwell?

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5. It’s All Greek to Me

While not unique to Chicago, the Gyro sandwich (pronounced YEER-os) is nevertheless a Chicago favorite. And, at least one company that makes gyro cones, has its headquarters in Chicago.

Gyros are a Greek specialty sandwich, traditionally made from lamb, beef, or pork. Yes, pork! Most restaurants in the Chicago area make them from lamb or beef, but pork is more Grecian.

Shaved from a cone that cooks on a rotating spit, the meat for this sandwich is wrapped in a pita. Then, it’s dressed with sliced onions and tomato. The crowning glory of the gyro is a dollop of tzatziki sauce on top.

When searching for your gyro, make sure you also find a place where you can sip a hot or iced coffee afterward. It’s like having an after-dinner mint in a mug.

How Many Chicago Sandwiches Have You Tried?

We’ve only shared 5 sandwiches loved by Chicagoans and visitors to the city. You probably have a few of your own favorites too.

Make it a point to try out a few new Chicago sandwiches before the end of the year. It’s always fun to taste test some of the fantastic food offered all over the Chicago area.

If you’re in our part of the city, come on over and enjoy a coffee drink with us. Stay for dinner and we’ll share a few of our favorite sandwiches. We can’t wait to meet you! We welcome guests at our Evanston and Streeterville locations.

10 Surprisingly Nutty Facts About Coffee That You Probably Didn’t Know

October 9, 2019

On an average day, billions of cups of coffee are consumed all across the world. And odds are, you’re responsible for at least one of those.

It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, the subject of far too many memes and the long-standing antidote to a very sleepy state of affairs.

So let’s explore a few fun, strange, but ultimately interesting facts about coffee!

1. Brazil: The Land of Coffee, Finland: The Land of Coffee Lovers

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, followed by a distant second – Vietnam. However, it is by no means the largest consumer of coffee. That distinction goes to Finland, with over 12 kilograms or 27 pounds per capita.

In fact, the entire list of top consumers is dominated by Scandinavian countries. Norway ranks second, Iceland ranks third, followed by Denmark and Sweden in sixth place.

2. The Most Expensive Coffee is Sourced from Civet Poop

The Indonesian specialty, kopi luwak or “cat poop coffee”, is the most expensive coffee in the world. The civet consumes the cherries from the coffee plant, leaving only the seeds undigested with all its flavors intact. The seeds (or beans) are then fermented for human consumption.

However, like any commercial success, this process has been the subject of exploitation and unethical practices with regard to the civets.

Searching for the best coffee places in Chicago? Click here! Best Breakfast & Coffee

3. 2 States for Coffee

While Americans consume a ton of coffee, just two of the 50 states are able to grow these plants commercially. One being Hawaii and the other California. Most of our coffee is actually sourced through imports from South American countries like Brazil or Colombia.

4. The 16th Century Church Hated It?

So, at one point coffee was actually banned by 16th-century Catholic leaders in Italy.

Why, you ask?

They believed that the effects of coffee were nothing short of satanic. However, Pope Clement VII, couldn’t stand this and unbanned it after a quick baptism. Maybe that’s where all those health benefits come from.

The controversy wasn’t limited to 16th century Italy. The Swedish government also attempted to ban the drink, claiming it aroused a rebellious sentiment among the public. Their ban even went a step further, outlawing cups and other associated accessories.

Given the current Scandinavian prevalence of coffee, this is now quite ironic.

5. Your Low-Calorie Pick-Me-Up

Black coffee? That’s a one-to-six calorie drink, right there. So if you’re watching your weight an espresso or two are ridiculously easy to burn off. A venti frappuccino? Not so much.

When you add creamers, milk, ice-cream, and flavonoids it ups your calorie intake.

6. Brainstorming Over Coffee

London considered coffee the drink of conversations. Well, not so much the drink itself, but the coffee shops that sold them. Men would converse over a cuppa, exchange thoughts and ideas and share events of the day. However, it was common practice to ban women from these shops.

7. The Dancing Goats of Ethiopia

The hunt for the “real” origin story is shrouded in controversy, but legend has it that the first traces of coffee date back to 9th-century goat-herders in Ethiopia. According to this story, the goat herders observed that their goats would begin “dancing” energetically, after grazing.

Upon investigation, they discovered that the goats were consuming the fruit from the coffee plants. He confided in a local monk, who then made a drink from the fruit (or cherries) and noticed that it helped keep him up at night.

8. The Story of Espresso

In Italian, espresso means “pressing out”. The name comes from pressing or forcing boiling water on coffee grounds to give it a stronger taste. While espresso does have more caffeine per volume, a conventional cup of cappuccino collectively has more caffeine.

9. Seeds, not Beans

Yeah, we call them beans, but technically they’re seeds. Coffee is actually sourced from the cherry seeds on coffee shrubs. While there are actually hundreds of sub-species of coffee, only arabica, and robusta (also known as canephora) varieties are commercially grown and consumed.

The cherries themselves were consumed by combining the pulp of the fruit with fat, in certain parts of the world. Most cherries contain two beans, but a small percentage hold just one.

10. Three Waves to the Coffee Movement

What defines the evolution of coffee?

Well, so far there have been three observable trends in humanity’s love for the drink.

The first wave saw coffee as an inexpensive, unsophisticated drink, that was available to everyone. There was no emphasis on varieties, no coffee connoisseurs or major discernible differences in the taste across the world.

The second wave saw the growth of coffee shops and cafes. Each of these added their own spin on the beverage by adding various other flavors and sweeteners to give it some distinction. At this point, the coffee itself was similar, but the added flavorings allowed some customization.

Now the third wave is where coffee has truly moved beyond a drink. It is now an art. Roasting, cultivating, and brewing are concepts to be studied and perfected. And on a more literal note – there’s the practice of latte art.

Some Bonus Facts About Coffee

The list says ten, but we’ve got a couple of bonus facts about coffee that we think you should know.

For one, the Boston Tea Party helped contribute to the rise of its popularity, and for another, our menu has a bunch of amazing coffees that you have to try!

Come visit us at any of our locations in Downtown Chicago or Evanston for a fantastic cuppa joe!