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May 15, 2014

Coffee Diaries: Paulie Dibner

How do you prefer your morning pick-me-up -- cappuccino, espresso, perhaps a pour-over? Around here, we take our coffee seriously.

Studies have shown that drinking coffee may help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer, improve long-term memory, and make you happier (if you're a woman, that is). On the flip side, there's a study that shows that coffee consumption does not make you more alert after all.

While we eagerly await a study that shows coffee drinkers are, in fact, smarter, faster, and more creative than their under-caffeinated counterparts, we decided to do some unofficial research by asking a few of our favorite coffee drinkers to describe how they enjoy their morning brew.

This week, Maine native, onetime Paris resident, and now Brooklyn gal Paulie Dibner, who just happens to be our assistant managing editor, shares her caffeine ritual.

paulie-coffee-ritual-5960-d111222.jpg Photography by: Mike Krautter

Have you always made your morning coffee at home?
No, I used to have a terrible coffee-shop habit and was even racking up points at my local Starbucks. Then I got my new gadget, a Nespresso Pixie. It's such a little treasure and has changed my mornings. The pods aren’t particularly cheap, but I think there are two ways of thinking about it: One makes me feel guilty and the other, like I'm doing something great for my finances. If I think about it in a "coffee grounds per pound" kind of way, then the pods are outrageously expensive and I'm spending a crazy amount per pound on coffee. But if I think about in an "I’m not spending $4 on a latte at a coffee shop" kind of way, well my lattes at home average out to about 80 cents a cup.

How long does your morning coffee routine take?
Er, I like to work backwards from when I have to be at the office. I'm a sleeper-inner, if you will, and the good news is that, start to finish, it never takes me long to make a cup. My first move is to turn on the machine to let it warm up, and then I'll brew. I steam the milk separately in a little gadget that Nespresso sells alongside their machines. So I brew the espresso and I get the milk ready to steam, and that takes ... well the espresso is done in about 60 seconds and then the milk takes a little bit longer. I come back to the kitchen, and the milk is steamed and my espresso is pulled and I assemble them in latte form. All in all, it's about two minutes to perfection.


What coffee do you use?
I have to use Nespresso, they are brand specific, and their coffee happens to be delicious. They have several single origins, they have blends, they have many offerings. I like their darker roasts -- I don't like fruity coffee. I like the navy pod, the teal pod, the black one, the purple one. They all have very fancy Italian names and I couldn’t tell you any of them off the top of my head, but I know what I like -- and it's nice that the colors look good together in a bowl on my table. I’m not picking my coffee based on what color the pod is, I’m picking based on flavor, but it’s a bonus that they look good.

Milk or not?
I use skim milk. If I'm feeling decadent, like on a Sunday, I'll go with a two-percent, but because I drink a latte every day and because I don’t think our bodies are that great at handling that much milk, I like to stick to skim.

paulie-coffee-ritual-6075-d111222r.jpg Photography by: Mike Krautter

Do you always use the same mug for your coffee?
Pretty much. I have a preferred mug that I make the latte in. It's from this wonderful Maine pottery company called Edgecomb Potters. My mug is what they call the whale tail; it swoops up and flares out like an actual whale's tail. I like to sit and nestle with it; it’s a perfect mug.

What do you eat with your coffee?
I’m not a breakfast person. I’m a little bit French-school in that a bowl of coffee is like their breakfast, and I feel when I am drinking that much milk it's very filling. I don’t need anything until lunch if I have a latte.

How many cups do you drink a day?
One latte at home, if that hasn’t done the trick, I will have a cup of coffee when I get to the office.

How old were you when you first drank coffee?
Too young -- that’s why I'm short!  Thirteen, twelve ... I was little. My dad loves coffee. My mom loves coffee, but not in the way that my dad loves coffee. My dad is coffee-obsessed, so it was always around and always a thing that he was always very specific about -- French press, espresso-pulled -- so I grew up knowing coffee was special.

So did you get your dad a Nespresso?
Actually it was my parents who got me the Nespresso. It was a birthday present. My dad is fascinated by the machine, but he is a hand-pulled espresso kind of guy. He much prefers a stove-top moka, like (executive food director) Lucinda