May 14

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How to host a coffee your friends will love

By Jessica Allen

May 14, 2018

coffee, connection, friendship, host, recipes

I am no celebrity hostess. I do not have any decorating skills, table scape themes, stylish serving ware, or even my own wedding china. What I do have is a messy loved-in and lived-in home, almost-unsticky countertops, charming mismatched plates, and the willingness and desire to host a coffee for people I love.

In our hectic lives where I believe we all desire to be better connected, I think an hour together over coffee is the sweetest and simplest solution. Many a world problem has been solved with dear friends over breakfast – and I always feel lighter when we’re done.

So because meeting someone for morning coffee at Starbucks usually means fighting post-10-mile-running clubs OR strange single working men for a table, paying an exorbitant amount of money for a too-strong latte, and having to censor some of the real-talk for fear of who’s listening over my shoulder, I have a lot more fun tossing together something sweet in my home.

How to host a coffee (made easy)

Step 1

Quit making a big deal out of it already and invite your neighbor or friend or mom over for coffee.  Shoot for 9 or 10 AM after the kids have gone to school. Tell her to come just as she is and that you will be exactly the same.

Step 2

Make a super simple something. You don’t have to be a master chef or baker to host a coffee.  I have a go-to menu I never have to think about, and it is always exactly the same! I set out a fresh bowl of berries, a bowl of freshly whipped cream, and a coffee cake or scones. Pick them up from your favorite Maw&Paw bakery or whip them up them yourself if you like to bake. Easy recipes down below! Put out whatever milk/creamer/sugar you have for the coffee.  No fancy presentation required.

Step 3

Pull out whatever little cups and plates you love. I found the sweetest appetizer plates from my favorite gift boutique Tumbleweeds & Notions. I unwrap the cream and sugar bowls from my grandmother’s wedding china. And my coffee cups are a quirky art deco gift from my business. I have a collection of funny napkins so those get some play too.  None of it matches and it does not matter! If it matched, it wouldn’t be “me.”

Step 4

Don’t get dressed up too fancy, and just leave your shoes off. I don’t know why this is important but it is. I think people feel at ease when we’re not so stuffy.

Step 5

Hide (some) stuff. Swipe it all off your surfaces into a box or bin, put it in the laundry room, and deal with it later. Give the guest bathroom a quick once-over to make sure the toilet is clean and there is plenty of paper and soap and a fresh towel. Toss all the food-prep dishes into the dishwasher or feel free to hide those in the laundry room too.  Light a candle you like.  If you have flowers somewhere freshen the water and set them by the food. If this takes you more than 10 minutes you are working too hard.  Tada! Your house is ready!

This is also “how to feel human again in 10 minutes or less” in our home.  I don’t mind clutter in other places but a tidy kitchen space makes me feel like I’m in control of my life.

Step 6

Put your phone away and enjoy connecting with the people you love most.

Extra sweet step

Take a picture together and send her a print in a love note later in the week.

Why do we hesitate to do this?

Connecting in this way is so easy, and so fun. But I know I didn’t do it for the longest time because I was worried that my house wasn’t nice enough, my style wasn’t fancy enough, my serving pieces didn’t match, and mostly I think I was worried I would feel embarrassed having someone new in my definitely-not-designer space. I was not raised to worry about this stuff. I don’t know when I started.

Those worries are hard to look at now. All I can see in them is a version of myself locked up by insecurity and self-focus. If what we’re all craving is connection, why shouldn’t we be the ones to initiate it? Think about the friend you most want to spend time with. Do you want to be close to her because her decorating skills are off the charts? Or do you want to grow in relationship with her because she makes your soul sing when you’re together? I promise – she feels the same way about you, and she’ll feel honored to be invited into your home.

HP,

J

Easy tasty recipes to help you host a coffee

Freshly whipped cream (for scones, berries, coffee, fingers, etc.)

10 minutes start to finish.

*This is a family favorite and fancies up anything. It beats the pants off anything you’d ever buy in a store and it’s so easy a preschooler could make it. If you have extra left over, you’re doing it wrong, but it’ll keep another day or so air-tightly stored in the fridge.

½ c. heavy whipping cream, super cold
½ c. or more, to taste, confectioners (powdered) sugar
splash of vanilla
pinch lemon zest (optional, super yummy!)

Chill a small bowl and electric beaters in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in the chilled bowl and beat 5-6 minutes until it looks like whipped cream. Add more or less powdered sugar to taste.
Stir in the lemon zest if you choose and scoop into a pretty little bowl.
Bonus points if you have a funny spreader or spoon to serve it with.
Let a little person or a furry friend lick the beaters!

Martha’s Lemon-Ginger Scones

40 minutes start to finish.

*The batter will freeze well, so make a batch or two and pull them out the morning you’re ready to bake them. Your house will smell like heaven’s pearly gates.
*If you can’t stand lemon or ginger, leave them out! These taste just as yummy without them.

For the full recipe, and all the rest of Martha’s brilliance, click here.

¾ c. plus 1 tablespoon cold heavy whipping cream
2 c. all-purpose flour plus extra for work surface
2 tsp. baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 large egg
¼ c. sugar plus extra for dusting the tops
½ tsp. fine salt
1/3 c crystallized ginger, diced small (find this in the baking aisle)
Parchment paper (next to the ziplocs)

Preheat oven to 400.
Whisk ¾ c. cream and egg.
Big bowl: whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut butter into the flour mix with a pastry blender or 2 knives until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter left.

OPTIONAL: stir in ginger and lemon zest.

With a fork, stir in the cream mixture until just combined – the dough should be crumbly so don’t over work it

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 6-inch circle.
Cut into 6 wedges and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until golden – watch their little bottoms so they don’t scorch – 16-18 minutes.

Best eaten the day of. Or, freeze the dough. Bake them from frozen for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Jessica Allen

About the author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have four children: LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and Elisha.

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