How-to: Brew Cafe-Quality Coffee at Home with Ian Williams


From no rush hour commutes to a relaxed dress code, working from home has certainly had its fair share of benefits. But despite its flexibility, many of us have been craving the comforting structure of routine. And with NBA season tipping off today, we are suddenly reminded of the importance of ritual. From LeBron James' iconic chalk toss to Damian Lillard's pre-game PBJ, the simple act of sticking to an everyday habit can help set the day off right.


For the rest of us – namely the average not-as-athletically-inclined individual, there’s coffee. The mere action of brewing coffee as part of your weekday routine can bring some much-needed normalcy. A simple way to ease into the day, crafting a cafe-quality coffee is a great way to jumpstart your morning. To kick things off, we thought we'd ask Ian Williams, founder of Deadstock Coffee and former Nike designer (there's an incredible, unconventional story behind this that's well worth the read), for a solid assist.

 

 

Self-described as "snob-free coffee," Deadstock is the perfect culmination of the two things Portland is known for – sneakers and coffee. Home to the headquarters of Nike, Adidas, and Pensole Academy, to name a few, Portland is the sneaker capital of the world. Drawing from his experience at Nike, Ian was inspired to create a sneaker-themed shop where the community could connect. True to form, everything from the intentional absence of an official menu to the interior itself provides a casual backdrop for organic conversation.

 

 

With a firm belief that “coffee should be dope,” the Deadstock team does not shy away from adding fun flavors to their brews. Take the “LeBronald Palmer,” for example, a mix of coffee, sweet tea, and lemonade or, "Charged Up," a blend of Kool-aid and coffee extract. Ian and his crew bring unpretentious coffee expertise and a laid-back energy that is both warm and welcoming. Recently, we spent some (socially distanced) time at his shop to gather some ground-rules on brewing a barista-style beverage at home.

 

 

What is your earliest coffee memory?

I'll start by saying my mom's a Folger's drinker, she still is. I was probably seven and my mom had some coffee creamers like Amaretto or French Vanilla Creamer and I really wanted to try some. So, she said go ahead. I tried some and hated it, but she made me finish it! So, the first time I tried coffee I hated it and now I own my coffee shop.

 

In your opinion, how should coffee be consumed?

I actually enjoy cream in my coffee. When people say coffee is supposed to be made however it’s supposed to be made, I tell them to shut up. Coffee should be made however you want it to be made. It’s yours! It’s one of the most customizable things that you can consume. If you want something, then just get it.

 

Coffee should be made however you want it to be made. It’s yours!

 

For those of us who have little to no coffee equipment at home, what are some tried and true essentials to invest in?

Unless you like the ritual of making your coffee in the morning via pour-over, Aeropress, or whatever else, there’s really nothing wrong with using your Mr. Coffee maker! If you dial in your Mr. Coffee, that is $30 well spent! Just make sure your grind is right, your water amount is correct, and you're good to go!

 

You mentioned getting the grind right. As a general rule of thumb, what kind of grind is right for your average coffee maker?

Just lightly pulverized. Not too big. Not too small. Like coarse sand. You know when you’re at the beach, and the soft sand is down below? It’s the sand that is just above that soft sand. Or here’s another one – it’s like the sand at the river that you don’t like so much because it always hurts your feet when you walk on it. That one!

 

 

Let's talk coffee rituals. How do you see coffee playing into people's day-to-day?

Typically, the coffee that you get, you get at the beginning of the day. Drinking coffee as a ritual can reset a day that’s going bad or it can help your day continue. I think caffeine is real, but I have a theory that most people don’t actually need the caffeine, they just need the ritual of drinking coffee. And if you ruin someone’s daily ritual, they’re going to talk about you all day.

I will say, I won't take someone's order if they don't say hello. I tell the team; they have to respect you as a person first. No matter what your daily ritual is, start by saying hello.

 

 

Taking Ian’s tips to heart, we customized our coffee to craft a quality beverage of our own. Below, we share a recipe that is perfect for elevating your WFH coffee game or as a takeaway treat for an impromptu outdoor excursion.

 

Rosemary + Blackberry Cold Brew with Cashew Milk

A non-concentrated cold brew. Just add ice, syrup, and a milk of choice. We used Deadstock’s “Fresh Prince” roast with notes of fruity pebbles to complement the blackberry syrup.

  

 

NOTES:  

  • We used a 1:10 coffee to water ratio for our non-concentrated cold brew. To make cold brew concentrate aim for a 1:5 ratio.
  • Concentrated cold brew will come out a lot stronger and can be used like a shot of espresso. Add it to baking recipes or blended drinks.
  • Use filtered water when possible as it provides for a better cup.
  • Adjust the coffee to water ratio to suit your taste. If this is your first batch, err on the stronger side and dilute with water to taste.
  • You can easily make this as an iced pour over in a Chemex. Simply use a 1:13 coffee to water ratio.

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cold Brew:

  • A 10 oz. bag of beans (280g)
  • 2700 mL jar (91 oz.)
  • Fine Cheesecloth
  • Twine or Rubber Band (to secure cheesecloth while straining)
  • Ice
  • Milk of choice (optional)

For the Syrup:

  • 8-10 Blackberries (or other berry of choice)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • Rosemary Sprigs

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the Cold Brew:

    1. Grind the coffee coarsely. 

    2. Put your freshly ground coffee in the cheesecloth using the twine or a rubber band to make a satchel.

       

    3. Place the satchel in a glass jar and add water. Conversely, you could also place the ground coffee in the jar and strain it the next day through the cheesecloth. However, we prefer the satchel method because it makes for an easy clean-up.

       

    4. Let mixture sit for 12-24 hours depending on how strong of a brew you prefer. Add any extras to spruce it up and enjoy!

 

For the Rosemary + Blackberry Simple Syrup:

  1. Muddle berries and sugar until fragrant. 
  2. Add water and simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Add Rosemary sprigs and reduce the liquid until it becomes thick in consistency (about 5 minutes).
  4. Strain and cool before using.

 

 

 

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