The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday September 27th

Students become their own baristas in quarantine

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CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Stuti Parekh's class year. The article has been updated to reflect the appropriate class of Parekh. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

Before the pandemic hit, UNC junior Stuti Parekh loved to study and talk with friends in the quaint atmospheres of coffee shops. But when COVID-19 disrupted the charm that coffee shops typically have, Parekh started making drinks at home — becoming her own barista.

Parekh discovered her interest in coffee just a month before quarantine. She found herself so immersed in the creative outlet that she created an Instagram account providing recipes in April.

Parekh said she first found inspiration while watching home café videos on YouTube, a popular video genre with South Korean influence. While watching a video of a strawberry matcha drink, she realized she had all the ingredients in her home, so she might as well try it herself.

Parekh followed a four-step recipe: 

  1. Whip matcha with heavy cream. 
  2. Make fresh strawberry milk by cutting fresh strawberries into small cubes.
  3. Add sugar to the mix and boil until it comes to a simmer.
  4. After cooling, combine it with milk for a sweet taste.

“It takes time,” Parekh said. “Even the first few times I made it when I started getting into coffee, it didn’t consistently taste good. But, you get better.”

Much like Parekh, other UNC students have started investing their time and money into perfecting their at-home brewing.

Senior Claire Amon said she has loved making her own coffee ever since working at a café. At the beginning of quarantine, she invested in a Nespresso to make the process even smoother.

“Making myself coffee every morning has certainly become a necessary part of my quarantine routine,” Amon said.

Amon’s go-to recipe is simple:

  1. Combine single or double espresso shots with either iced or steamed milk.
  2. To spice it up, add 2/3 milk and 1/3 chai concentrate, making a dirty chai. Or, make a mocha by simply mixing in cocoa powder.

First-year Riley Watkins has also come to love making matcha at home in the past few months. Even though she has never been a huge coffee drinker, she said she loves making frothy cappuccinos for her mom and sweet drinks for her brother.

Despite working at a restaurant that sold coffee, Watkins never felt the need to learn how to make coffee herself because she could ask the baristas during her shifts. Once COVID-19 precautions began, Watkins found herself experimenting at home with a coffee machine similar to the one at her workplace.

She eventually began working with matcha, which quickly became her favorite drink to consistently make. This the recipe she uses:

  1. Begin with two scoops of matcha, using a bamboo spoon created specifically for matcha-serving portions.
  2. Add warm water to the powder and whisk to minimize the amount of bitter lumps and create a cohesive liquid.
  3. Froth oat milk in an aerator with a small amount of sugar to keep it from developing a harsh taste.
  4. Once finished, pour the matcha into a cup and top it with the milk, followed by a brief stir.

Although some of Watkin’s drinks are inspired by drinks from cafes, she tries to experiment with whatever ingredients are already in the house.

“You kind of improvise,” Watkins said. “I feel like that’s what this whole quarantine has been about in a way. Just improvising.”


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