Saturday, July 28, 2012

Coffee to DYE for!

Coffee doesn't have to be just your morning savior, it can be your hair's hero too! As a brunette I have noticed my gray hairs are much more noticeable than my lighter haired friends'. I'm only 5 short months away from turning 30, but my hair tells a different story! To me, 30 seems a bit young to be this gray!!

Sure, I could go to the drugstore and pick up a box of hair color. I could go to the salon and spend a small fortune for a professional to color it. Trust me, with my hair's thickness and length it would be very expensive to do the latter. So why not the drugstore box? Well, my hair has been there and done it. 

I used to dye it on a regular basis. It's literally had every color of the rainbow in it at some point in time. Oh, and by the way, green is NOT a good color choice for hair! lol With dark hair, you have to bleach it to get those vibrant colors to show up!! That means a lot of damage, money, and time on touch ups. 

Last year, I made the choice to stop torturing my hair. I wanted to see what my hair would look like if it was "Au Natural". Since doing so my hair is healthier than ever!! No heat, no harsh styling products and NO damaging chemicals. My hair is shinier, bouncier and...more grey!


Ok, so it feels better and looks better, but now I have a ton of grey!! Not a result of my new routine, just my new age! So what's a girl to do? Find a natural way to blend those greys away. So after much recearch I have come up with a method that I think works great. Coffee hair "dye". It's natural, smells better than boxed dye, cheaper and it actually conditions while it dyes.

So here's what I did! You will need the following:

-Freshly ground coffee, grind it as fine as you can!! You will need about 4Tbsp.
-1 cup of water
-1 cup of Thick conditioner. I used Garnier Triple nutrition. The thicker the conditioner, the better!
-1Tbsp Apple cider vinegar. This conditions the hair AND acts as a fixative for the coffee dye. Remember using vinegar to dye Easter eggs? Well, it's the same idea!

other things that help:
-shower cap

Here's what I did:

-In a small sauce pan I combined my coffee and water then brought it to a boil. Once it boiled for about 2 minutes I took it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

-Once it cooled I strained the strong brew and combined it with the conditioner and vinegar. I have long (top of my waist band when wet), thick hair so I used a whole cup of conditioner and coffee. If your hair is thinner or shorter just use half of that.

-I coated all of my hair with dark brown conditioner starting with the areas having the most grey. Once it was all applied and my hair was fully saturated I placed a plastic cap on my head, wrapped my shoulders with an old towel and waited.

-After 30-40 minutes I rinsed with cool water.

That's it!!

Here's a before and after. it's subtle, but noticeable. That means the gray is less noticeable and that's awesome! i know the lighting isn't great in either picture, but trust me, you can see a difference!!! I suppose that repeated applications would build the intensity so I intend to do this again in a few days!

The vinegar smell rinses out, and the conditioner/coffee combination has my hair feeling super soft!! If you try this, let me know what you think!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Café con Leche

As I mentioned in a previous post, my cousin Brenda is staying with us for a few weeks while she's on her Summer break. Late last night I discovered that she had never had a "real" cappuccino. I was, of course, shocked! She revealed that her experiences with the bean were limited to vending machine coffees.
 As any good, family oriented cousin would do, I promptly took her to the kitchen!! Now keep in mind she had never had "real" coffee. I got out my grinder, my french press, scale, whole beans, whole milk, glass kettle, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and dutch cocoa. We were about to make coffee history, well at least as far as she was concerned.

She watched on as I combined in my kettle the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. I placed it carefully on the stove over a low heat. She observed me weigh my beans, carefully grinding them to a press pot perfect consistency. I wanted it strong. 45 grams later I added the grounds to my press. She had never seen a french press, so I explained to her how it worked while the milk heated up to a cozy 195 degrees F. 

Now this being my version of a café con leche, using NO water... I gingerly pored the hot milk over the grounds. I gently stirred it and placed on the lid. While I set the timer for 4 minutes we made the foam while we waited for our creamy brew.  A little warm milk left from the kettle was briskly whipped by hand (my frother is broken) into a rich foam. 

Once the timer went off i gently plunged the coffee to reveal a creamy, rich, café con leche! I added a teaspoon of sugar to each of our cups, pured in our fresh brew, topped with foamed milk and a sprinkle of cocoa. The cinnamon and vanilla in the milk added a little depth and complexity that blended well with the rich cocoa on top. 

It was slightly sweet and super creamy! Brenda proclaimed that it was the best coffee drink she had EVER had! I must admit that it was one of my better "batches"! I you have never made coffee with milk instead of water, you must try it! it's a creamy delicious treat! It's even better iced!!

Here's a picture of Brenda taking her first sip of heaven!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm a bad influence!

So my cousin Brenda is staying us for two weeks for her summer break. She's only 15 but I feel the need to introduce her to "real" coffee! Starbucks is good, but I know I can make her a better Frapp! She will never want a store bought coffee drink again!! Essentially, I will spoil her rotten with delicious coffee!! I guess it's not a bad thing until she goes home and demands her father to buy good coffee! lol

I'll post pictures and recipes when we have our "Frapp-Fest"!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Coffee on A Stick?

One of the best things about this unseasonably warm spring has been enjoying icy treats! It started with iced coffee. Then I decided to put it in the blender and make a "frappuccino".

Today I decided to take it one step further... a coffee popsicle! It's easy, fun, and delicious!

I took about a tablespoon of whipped cream and put it in the bottom of a popsicle mold and let that freeze for about 30 minutes. While that was freezing I brewed some strong coffee. With the coffee still hot I added sugar to taste and let the coffee cool to room temp. It's a good idea to make it a bit sweeter than you normally would because we will add milk later.

Once the whipped cream is frozen in your molds it's time to continue. Pour half of your sweetened coffee into a separate container and add milk. Just add enough to lighten it up. You want the color to be between the white cream and the black coffee. Pour you lightened coffee into the molds filling it a little more than half way. Place it in the freezer without the stick until the surface is frozen enough to support your last layer.

Once it's frozen enough to support your final layer pour your sweetened black coffee in the molds to fill them the rest of the way. Add your stick and pop them back in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, pop them out and enjoy your layered delight!!

I'll post pics later when they come out of their last freeze! Everyone loves them, even my daughter. Don't worry about letting kids have them, the caffeine content is less than a cup of coffee. If you're worried though, use decaf.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Super Cold Brew

Today I enjoyed a delicious iced coffee using cold brewed coffee. If you have never tried cold brew coffee I suggest you give it a try. Brewing coffee cold prevents bitterness and enhances the sweetness. A lot of people turn to cold brew coffee because it is not only smoother tasting but it also is much gentler on the stomach.

Cold brewing is super simple. If you Google the topic of cold brew you will soon discover that there as many ways to do it as there are varieties of coffee beans! Some people get very technical about it; weigh the coffee to the gram and carefully measure their water. Some people have sophisticated equipment designed specifically for cold brewing. Me, I wing it and it comes out great every time!
Here’s my method. Again, there are many ways to do it but this is just mine. It yields a sort of “coffee concentrate” that you can use in coffee drinks or drink as a modified “Americano”… but more on that later.

What you need:
· A 1qt Mason jar with lid or any vessel with a lid that can hold your water and coffee.
· Cold water.
· Coffee beans.
· Coffee grinder.
· Metal mesh coffee filter or a French press.

My method:
· Set the coffee grinder for a medium grind. A grind you would use for drip coffee.
· Grind up 8 heaping Tbsp. of fresh coffee beans (I like the “Symphony” blend from TeenyTinyCoffeeCo.)
· Dump your fresh ground coffee into your jar (or container of choice).
· Add about 3-5 cups of water. 
· Stir and place the lid on.
· Park it in the ‘fridge overnight (8-12 hours).
· In the morning, shake up your mix and then strain it. I like to dump it in my French press and press it but pouring it through a metal coffee filter also works well.
· Store the resulting coffee “concentrate” in an airtight container in the ‘fridge for up to 2 weeks.

It’s that easy! You can make larger batches if you want, so don’t worry too much about measurements. My rule of thumb is to double the amount of coffee you would normally use for the given amount of water. So if you usually use 1 Tbsp of coffee per cup of water in your hot prep, use 2 Tbsp. per cup for cold brew. 
If you want to enjoy it hot just add equal parts coffee concentrate and hot water. I would call this a modified “Americano”. A traditional “Americano” uses espresso and hot water. 

I like to make Iced Coffee by using equal parts cold brewed coffee and milk. Then add some sugar or flavored syrups and pour it over a glass of ice.

I hope you try your hand at cold brew. It’s easy and delicious!