Assembling The Perfect Coffee Station

Coffee has been everything from a treat to a job to a hobby for me.  So tomorrow being National Coffee Day is a joyous celebration for me, and the perfect time to share my newest coffee related journey – my coffee station!

I truly believe coffee cart should be the new bar cart.  However, I don’t love the functionality of ‘carts’, so Bryan built me a gorgeous side table to house everything in (follow him on Instagram for more furniture and wood projects @thinkwoodthoughts).

Step One: The Coffee.  If you already have bags of coffee haphazardly stored all over your apartment, you can skip this section.  If you’re looking to get into making coffee at home, but aren’t quite sure where to start, then keep reading.

Craft coffee can be quite the expensive hobby to get into, but there are plenty of ways to get decent coffee without totally bleeding your bank account to try.  While it’s great to brew coffee within two weeks of its roast date, the average person isn’t going to notice a difference, meaning your options for coffee beans are seemingly endless.  Starbucks is always a safe bet for quite a few reasons.  The accessibility is unmatched, you can walk into the cafe or grocery store of your choosing and out with a bag of coffee without probably straying too much from your daily routine.  The downside of Starbucks is, while they are all perfectly fine, none of the coffees are truly great.

For coffee beans on a budget, there is no better place to go than Trader Joe’s.

Your local coffee shop is the best place to start.  You can test out some of the roasts by the cup before committing to a full bag of it.  Plus, you’re more likely to get beans within that sweet two week roasting period for maximum flavor.

For the Very Serious coffee drinker, a subscription service may be the best way to go.  I’ve been dying to try one from Blue Bottle, but there are many others available such as Stumptown and Counter Culture.

Step Two: The Equipment.  I could probably go on FOR.EVER. about the nuances of different coffee brewing equipment, but I will save you all the headache (for now).  I don’t have a Keurig, since they are both terrible for the environment and not very good at making tasty coffee.  An espresso machine is on my ultimate wish list.  While this one is sort of the creme de la creme for attentive espresso making, everyone I know with a DeLonghi is very happy with whichever model they have.  I’d also love to get my hands on a Chemex Ottomatic… Perhaps someday.  *sighs wistfully*

Of the methods available for brewing classic coffee, these are my rankings.

#1: Chemex.  Scientists tend to recognize Chemex coffee makers as a glorified erlenmeyer flask, which is fitting since Chemex was actually designed by a chemist looking to leverage his experience into creating a superior cup of coffee (he succeeded).  If you’re looking to make multiple cups at the same time, the Chemex is pure gold.  It makes the same amount as your average Mr. Coffee, which means about two mugs for two people.  The cone method of brewing by far delivers the best flavor, but the Chemex takes it one step further.  Besides being aesthetically pleasing, their benefit is two-fold.  The glass doesn’t absorb oils the way plastic does, and their filters are thicker than all others, doing a substantially better job at keeping the grounds out of your coffee.  This tech pairing really enhances the flavor and produces a clean tasting cup.  It’s also relatively easy to clean, and if your second cups get a little cold, they’re pretty easy to re-heat directly on the stovetop (on a low setting!) later on.  The con list is pretty short: they are a bit pricey and the filters can be a bit difficult to find (they aren’t sold in most of the grocery stores I go to, I have only seen them in Williams Sonoma, local coffee shops, and on Amazon).

#2: Pour Over Cone.  The cheap plastic may not look as cool as the Chemex, but your standard pour over cone is much cheaper and (almost) as tasty.  You also will have a super easy time finding affordable filters in the grocery store, and an even easier time cleaning it.  To top, a cone is also the easiest way to make iced coffee.  Just make your coffee at double the strength, and put your iced cup directly under.  Pour-overs give you maximum control over your coffee than any other brewing method, but a conventional cone just lacks the thicker filters and the glass of a Chemex, at a lesser price point.  There are also some ceramic ones available, if you’re looking for a more aesthetically pleasing option.

#3: The Aeropress.  This is the newest method of coffee brewing to me.  If you’re tight on time, the Aeropress is the way to go, since it makes coffee almost instantly.  It’s also super easy to clean, and makes pretty decent Americanos.

#4: Drip Machine.  Drip machine coffee makers aren’t too exciting, but they get the job done.  A lot of the art is taken away by this method, but if you’re looking for something you can set a timer for in the morning and set up with relative ease, this is for you.  This one is on sale now for a great price!

#5: The French Press.  For some reason, everyone decided that the french press was *The Coffee Method* you needed to prove your adulthood.  Honestly I’m just not that into it.  It’s hard to clean, makes extremely thick coffee, and doesn’t make much of it.

Grinder.  If you’ve decided to purchase a grinder, I would definitely recommend a burr grinder (over a blade model).  Blades will chop up the beans into uneven sizes, so the smaller pieces can be problematic, especially in french press brewing.  Burr grinders, on the other hand, dispense perfectly even sized pieces, leading to an even extraction of flavor.  The size of your coffee grounds is HUGE for extraction flavor: uneven grounds can lead to a bitter or bland tasting coffee.  The one I have pictured above is a blade model, and it works okay, but is definitely not as good as the burr one Bryan has.  This one gets pretty good reviews for the price, and will probably be the one I try next.

Electric Kettle.  A standard kettle would heat up water just fine, or even a saucepan for that matter.  But I happen to love the ease of electric kettles.

Frother.  While not necessary, a milk frother can be a pretty cool thing to have.  There are manual, electric, and hand held models that are great if you prefer lattes or cafe au laits.

Storage Jar.  If you want to keep you beans in an aesthetically pleasing jar, I’m partial to this one from Bodum that matches my frother and french press.

Mugs.  I don’t know what you guys want me to say.  Mugs are mugs.  Everyone seems to have 40 mugs, but we only use what, one or two a day, max?!

Thanks so much for stopping by – hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating tomorrow!

xo, C


At Home Cold Brew

Hello everyone, welcome back!  Today I’m sharing something I have a lot of experience with: making coffee.  I was a shift manager at Starbucks for four years through college, and finding new coffee shops and coffee beans to try is one of my favorite ways to explore new cities.  I always get asked to make coffee at holidays and parties, which has gotten somewhat comical at this point, but it’s true that I can whip out a latte (or 75) in my sleep.  Today, I’m putting that experience to good use and sharing how you can make Cold Brewed Coffee at home, which is great whether you want to elevate your coffee game or save some money on your daily coffee!

The main difference between a cold brew and a traditional iced coffee is the way that it’s made.  A traditional iced coffee is brewed hot and then refrigerated or poured over ice.  Cold brew, however, is brewed in cold water and steeped for several hours, resulting in a sweeter and smoother taste.  You have to make it the day before, which makes the morning much easier since the heavy lifting has already been done by past you (well done).

Today I’m going to share two ways to make cold brew, using these pitcher packs and using a french press!

For the first batch, I used my copper french press and Starbucks’ Kenya roast, which tastes amazing over ice!

  1. Make sure the coffee is ground for a french press.  If you don’t have a grinder at home, Starbucks will always grind it for you at the store!
  2. My preferred ratio of grounds to water is 1:5, so for my 34oz French Press, I made about 32oz of cold brew, and used six 1 ounce scoops of coffee (which came with the french press, but equates to just less than one cup of grounds).
  3. Add coffee grounds to the french press, and pour in the water making sure all of the grounds are wet, stirring them with a wooden spoon.
  4. Cover the french press without plunging and store in the fridge.  Ideally it should steep for 16-20 hours, but 12 will do just fine in a pinch.
  5. When it’s ready, plunge, pour, and enjoy!  If you make extra, I recommend keeping it in a separate refrigerated container.  I use a mason jar, but Starbucks also has a Cold Brew Growler

Starbucks KenyaBodum French Press (also available at Starbucks in silver!)

This next method is actually (somehow) even easier!  I picked up two of these boxes of prepared Cold Brew at the Starbucks store, but they’re also available online.  My pitcher is an old Tazo tea pitcher (which really shows how long ago I was working with Starbucks), but they have a really similar one here!

  1. Take one bag out of the box (two pitcher packs) and put it in four cups of water.
  2. Let sit in the fridge for 16-20 hours.
  3. Remove pitcher packs.
  4. Add four more cups of water.
  5. Serve over ice and enjoy!  Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Narino 70 Cold Brew Coffee | Acrylic Pitcher | Cold Brew Glass | Cold Brew Growler

I happen to love super cold iced coffee during the summer, so a frequent problem I face is the watering down that inevitably happens if I don’t drink my iced coffee quickly enough.  My next investment for my coffee corner will be these soft silicone ice trays, so I can make coffee iced cubes that don’t dilute the flavor at all!


I hope you all enjoyed today’s post!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Have a great week!

xo, C

Food Truck Festival Review

Hello my loves, welcome back.  Today’s little bonus post is a short review of the Food Truck Festival that B and I went to over the weekend.  The good news is that there are nine more over the next few months!  They had a great variety of food trucks present and we were able to try pizza, grilled cheese, and more!

Our first stop was the Mediterranean truck.  B took a bite out of our spinach wrapped chicken kebab nearly instantly, but it gave us a peek inside for the picture!  It was a perfect amount of subtle spice for the warm spring day.

One place we wanted to make sure we stopped was the waffle truck. They smelled so amazing even from afar that our mouths were watering as soon as we walking in.  We chose to keep things traditional with some Nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream.

If you’re a fan of food, food trucks, or fun in general; I would definitely recommend checking out one of these events!  They had Polar Seltzer (my favorite!), a beer tent, and more trucks we were just too full to try!  Plus, dogs were welcome, so bring your furry friends along too!

Thanks for stopping by.  How do you guys feel about food trucks??

xo, C

Berry Exciting

In case you didn’t know, I love berries.  I love the month of June, I love picking berries, I love cooking with berries, anything you could possibly think of involving berries I am 100% down with.  To kick off berry season (which, by me, starts next week!) I’m sharing not only this adorable berry print from J.Crew, but also some of my favorite recipes for berry season!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

This berry print is just to die for.  You all know I have an undying love for midi skirts, but if that’s not your jam (we’ll get to jam recipes later), it also comes in heels and a shirt.  I chose to keep it simple with classic navy accents, but it would look great paired with red or bold with stripes!

Outfit Details – Tee: Banana Republic | Skirt: J.Crew | Heels: Steve Madden (similar here)

My parents have been going to Tougas Family Farm since they moved to Massachusetts from New York City nearly 30 years ago.  In my mind there is simply no comparable place for fruit picking.  From strawberries in June to pumpkins in October, they have you covered.  Strawberry season kicks off the second week of June, so you can bet I’ll be there at least once per week until October!

My dad and I have a strong bond over fruit based desserts.  Most desserts, actually, but fruit based desserts are my favorite.  My two favorite recipes are from old Bon Appétit Magazines from 20 years ago that he still holds on to!  There are some real gems in there I found while leafing through to find these recipes so I’d definitely recommend a subscription to the magazine or digging through the archives from past years!

Strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert of all time.  If I had to narrow it down more, I would say this chocolate one takes the cake (I know guys, I’m sorry.  The puns just keep getting sweeter.  Okay okay last one.)

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake-3Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake-2

B and I went ahead and picked up some store bought strawberries so we could make it a little early – but I can’t even imagine how great it will taste with farm fresh berries!

My second favorite dessert is the Blueberry grunt. The recipe calls for frozen berries, but we have always used the fresh ones!

Blueberry Grunt

Central Massachusetts’ finest winery, Nashoba Valley Winery, has a blueberry merlot and a strawberry rhubarb to keep the berry party going!  It’s worth a drive out to Bolton for lunch (picnic or restaurant style), wine tasting, and the beautiful scenery!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Make sure to leave your thoughts about Berry Season in the comment section below!  Have a great day!

xo, C

Cooking With Blue Apron

Hey everyone, welcome back!  At this point, we have all heard of Blue Apron.  Their advertising game is impressive and everyone seems to know someone who knows someone who is absolutely obsessed, but they are still unsure and looking for more convincing.  Today, I’m hoping to shed some light on my experience and answer all of your questions about Blue Apron!

You all know I really love food.  One of my favorite activities is trying new restaurants and new food.  My biggest problem with this is that I am not huge into cooking for myself.

It isn’t because of unwillingness; it’s just that cooking for two can be such an unrewarding process.  I always struggle with buying food that can be used for different dishes in the same week, and as a result I seem to never go through all my groceries before they spoil.  As an added setback, B and I are incredibly indecisive.  We’ll walk around the grocery store or downtown for twenty minutes before just giving in to hanger and deciding on a standby (make tacos, order a pizza, etc).  We’ve also been trying to eat at home more, but I’m underwhelmed more often than not at the lack of flavors I’ve been able to pull together for myself.

Exasperated with wastefulness and palette boredom, I decided to give Blue Apron a try.  One of the things that instantly caught my attention was the perfectly portioned meals, so nothing goes to waste.  That was a huge selling point.  The other was the menu.  Instead of merely offering a slew of traditional American items, Blue Apron has a wide variety of original recipes that have all sorts of flavors including coconut curry, piccata, and chipotle; creating dishes I probably would never be able to concoct on my own.  When we went online to put together our first week’s menu, I was really impressed with the gourmet meals Blue Apron trusted us to create!

When I got the notification that my first Blue Apron box had been delivered (via Slice app!) I was a little nervous.  It was mid afternoon and I wouldn’t be home for a few more hours.  I was relieved when I started the unboxing and the meat was still nearly frozen thanks to the super strength ice packs and insulation.

The waste is a big selling point for me, and I imagine for most other people as well.  Almost all of the Blue Apron packaging can be recycled, and the meals are perfectly portioned out for you.  That means if B and I want to have burgers, we only get two buns, not eight like at the grocery store!

There is so much flavor in each dish I would highly recommend not using as much (or any) of the salt they recommend.  Our big takeaway: Blue Apron offers restaurant level flavor from your own kitchen.  Take a look at the pictures from my first box below (I used the handy Blue Apron app for filters and the recipe captions!)

My favorite dish of this box was the falafel pitas.  Luckily I was able to save the recipe on my Blue Apron app so that even when they’re not on the menu, I can make this easy and delicious recipe another night of the week, and try even more Blue Apron meals in my delivery box!

And now for my favorite part…. Click here to receive $30 off your first Blue Apron meal!  The program has great value and this deal just makes it that much sweeter!

If you have any questions about the Blue Apron program I would be more than happy to answer them!  Leave me a comment or send an email to – I love talking about it!

A special thank you to the Blue Apron Affiliate Program for working with me, and all of you for supporting the brands that make The Sol Compass possible!

Happy Cooking!

xo, C

Fourth of July Party Inspiration

On Friday I shared some of my favorite red, white, and blue outfits; but today I’m sharing some of my favorite Fourth of July party ideas!  Whether its bringing the perfect snack as a guest, or finding the perfect tablescape as a hostess, there’s an idea here for every occasion!





Fruit & Brownie Kebabs


Red, White, and Blue Sangria


Berry Pies


Fresh Cherry Limeade


Sparkler Straws


Chocolate Covered Strawberries


S’mores Baskets


For more seasonal inspiration, make sure to follow along on Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!

xo, C


DC Food

Quick recap: my dad and I went to DC about a month ago for the Cherry Blossom festival and a quick whirlwind history lesson.  Our unofficial family motto is “food over fellowship” so needless to say we weren’t popping into a chain restaurant whenever we could find one.  Sometimes this results in a lot of hanger as we try to find the right place, but it is almost always worth it to experience something we don’t have at home.


One thing I have heard my dad say on vacations time and time again is “there is nothing near *insert tourist destination here* that resembles a restaurant!”  While we were in D.C. this statement was proving to be true.  It was mid-afternoon at the National Mall and we were both well past hungry, fearing we would be reduced to eating at the Boston Market inside the Air & Space Museum, when I noticed a sign outside the National Museum of the American Indian advertising native cuisine.  We had prioritized other museums, so we may not have even gone inside to uncover this little gem had the sign not been there!  The cafe, Mitsitam, was totally worth it, and may have been the best museum food I have ever eaten.  If you’re spending a day popping in and out of museums, there really is no other logical food option in the National Mall without venturing out towards Penn Quarter.  We went late afternoon, so there were hardly any other patrons there, and the staff was unbelievably friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about the cuisine and the flavors of each region.  The owners actually went to reservations to do research for the authenticity of the menu!  It’s definitely more expensive than some other cafeteria options may be, but when you aren’t paying for museums it’s hard to complain too much, especially when the flavors are so worth it.  I had buffalo chili cheese fries (because I am a child) and fry bread with prickly pear agua fresca, while my dad had the five region sampler (sold by the salmon) and said the octopus salad and tres leches were his favorites.  A lot of the food are options you just can’t find up near us, so if that’s the case for you (even if it isn’t) I’d say this is a can’t miss based on location alone.


If you go to DC, there is no reason to not go to Farmers Fishers Bakers.  None at all.  It has everything Papa Hum loves (fresh seasonal ingredients farm to table style, house-made bread) combined with everything I love (environmentally friendly and sustainable, rustic chic interior design with intimate table settings).  Every employee we encountered was knowledgeable, friendly, and genuinely passionate about the restaurant.  The location was prime-right on the Washington Harbour in Georgetown, just a quick walk away from the shops of M Street.  We ordered the pretzels and kettle corn for appetizers.  The pretzels were pretty good, but the kettle corn was absolutely out of this world.  I’ve thought about driving down to DC just for that kettle corn about 19 times since I got back.  It’s homemade, and you can actually walk over to the kitchen to watch it being made in the whirley pot, and it’s delivered to your table hot and fresh.  So good.  Seriously my mouth is watering as I write this.  For my meal I ordered the roasted vegetable, avocado, and brie sandwich on homemade apple walnut raisin bread, and it was way more delicious than any sandwich has a right to be.  By the time the two of us crushed that pot of kettle corn we were way too full for dessert, but the table next to us certainly seemed to be enjoying theirs!  The only thing is the secret is definitely out, and you can definitely anticipate quite a long wait without reservations, so definitely plan ahead!

When I’m traveling, I find myself most often snacking on small meals and grab and go style items during the day, and just fueling up on hotel breakfasts and big dinners, because there is always just so much I want to do I wind up constantly moving from one sight to the next.  Luckily I found two local places that were perfect for this: Wicked Waffle and GCDC!  As someone who has multiple celiac family members, it’s important to note that both of them have gluten free options!


Wicked Waffle is a tiny little place you cannot expect to snag a seat at (although luckily we did grab one of the few outdoor tables thanks to good timing).  The waffles are not at all like the waffles you have at the hotel buffet (oof).  They are light and crispy, made without butter or syrup, and the perfect sweet tooth craving.  I got the strawberry and nutella, my dad got the roasted fuji apples and cinnamon waffle; both were extraordinary.  The best part was definitely eating a waffle without that feeling of having a brick in your stomach afterwards!


Shameless snapchat picture from the trip.  Follow along @chummer17!


GCDC, or Grilled Cheese DC, is an upscale grilled cheese bar in the shadow of the White House.  All the ingredients are fresh and local, and who doesn’t love grilled cheese?!  I made my own creation (jalapeños, avocados, pepper jack, and the gcdc sauce on sourdough) and my dad got the mediterranean (feta, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts on olive bread).  They also have cocktails, wine, and beer available after 4pm, and an evening menu which looks absolutely out of this world-I wish we had the chance to try it!


There were a few other places we ate at while we were there, but they weren’t anything special or noteworthy.  Other places I had wanted to try but never got to included District Taco and Olivia Macaron.

What are your strategies for dining on vacation?  Sound off in the comment section!  Thanks for reading!

xo, C

An Apple Agenda


With so many apples left over from my apple picking session earlier this week, I could think of no better way to spend my Friday than whipping up every apple concoction I could think of.  I started off with some apple sauce, then moved on to an apple cobbler, and finally an apple smoothie to finish off the evening.

Apple Cobbler

Traditionally, apple desserts are limited to pies and crisps, but I found this recipe for a peach cobbler over the summer, and it was so delicious I couldn’t resist trying it for apples as well.  I substituted a cup of cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over the apples to add a bit of bonus fall flair, and lined the baking dish with olive oil instead of butter to make it (at least a little more) guilt free!  Finally I topped off the finished product with whipped cream and caramel sauce to make a delightful fall dessert!

IMG_2082 IMG_2089

Apple Smoothie

1 frozen banana

2 frozen apples, sliced and cored

1 cup Chobani Apple Cinnamon Yogurt

1/2 cup Suja Vanilla Cloud

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

IMG_2097 IMG_2104

Summer Terminus


One of the endless things I love about summer is the food options it brings.  As this week brought chilly mornings and evenings with only a few warm hours a day, I decided today was the perfect opportunity to say ‘farewell’ to summer with some peach treats, and cooking with the windows open for perhaps the last time.  My resilient inner New Englander will drink smoothies year round, but these delicious peach muffins won’t settle for anything but freshly picked peaches delivered straight from the farm.  Together, the two helped me savor one last warm weather day before the boots and scarves come out again indefinitely.


Peach Raspberry Smoothie

1 cup frozen peaches

1/4 cup frozen raspberries

1 banana

1 cup apple juice

1 cup raspberry yogurt

1 serving vanilla protein powder

Blend in your favorite blender/food processor of choice (I chose my reliable Vitamix) and enjoy!


Peach Muffins

1 cup of sliced peaches

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

1 lemon

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

3 tablespoons egg whites

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit

1.  In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, yogurt, egg whites, maple syrup, and almond extract.  After the mixture is smooth, whisk in the butter and olive oil.

2.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornmeal, and salt.

3.  Using a wooden spoon, add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture until combined.  Slowly fold in the peaches until they are spread evenly throughout the batter.

4.  Pour batter into muffin tins (preferably in muffin liners) and bake approximately 25 minutes.  Let the muffins cool for five minutes in tin before transferring to a wire rack.   I hope you enjoy this last savor of summer as much as I did!