Danya Degen is best known as a sommelier and Director of Operations and Wine at the Duck and the Peach in Washington, D.C, but she also knows a thing or two about making a good cup of coffee!
Danya likes to arrive early for her shift at The Duck and Peach so she can make a pour-over, sit in the sunlight, and get organized for the day. We got to share a cup of coffee with her and learn more about how making time for small, daily rituals can bring peace and focus to your day.
Kinfood: How do you make your coffee?
Danya: I like to use the pour-over method for coffee because it brings out the nuanced flavors of a lighter roast. We use Ceremony Coffee at the Restaurant because of their consistency, quality, and single-origin sourcing and seasonal roasts. In addition to the flavor aspect, I just like the whole process of making a pour-over. It’s very sensory and I love smelling things. Scents tell a story of a place and time, and when you let that story unfold while grinding, brewing, pouring, tasting and enjoying, it truly becomes a ritual, like a meditation, and not just a passive caffeine fix. As you get older, you can easily have 5 or 6 coffees a day, if it’s available. Having a ritual forces you to slow down, take one step at a time. The depth of the process means you're more satisfied and don’t need as much. One cup is enough.
Kinfood: What’s your routine once you’ve made your pour over and coffee’s in the cup?
Danya: At work, I like to have a snack with my coffee and do the NYT crossword on my phone or get organized for the day. At home, we have a cozy coffee corner. I just love it. There’s only room for one person to sit, so either my partner or I will make coffee while the other relaxes. It’s almost like a love language, making coffee for the other person. We have these incredible ceramic cups by our friend and ceramicist Davey Coleman which make the moment even more special.
Kinfood: I’ve never seen olives served with coffee! How did this pairing happen?
Danya: I went to school at NYU and worked at a Lebanese restaurant. They served these little lemony olives that I just loved! After my shift, I would stay and study, drinking strong Lebanese coffee and eating my favorite olives for a snack. I’ve always had a sensitive palate and these two things just really jived together for me! Later, I studied abroad in Muscat, Oman where the coffee is also very strong, and guess what? They would serve olives with coffee! The saltiness of the olives brings down the bitterness of the coffee, allowing the caramelized sweetness of the roasted coffee beans to shine through. I suggest eating an olive first and then taking a sip of coffee.
Of course sweets and chocolate pair wonderfully with coffee, but a little bit of cheese can also be a fabulous match. We make some incredible fresh cheese here at the restaurant like ricotta and mozzarella. The creaminess and saltiness is such a match with a robust cup of coffee.
Danya is sharing a pour-over tutorial with Kinfood this Holiday in our Perfect Pour Over Gift Set which also includes a bag of @ceremonycoffee beans, a ceramic pour over, and two bars of single origin chocolate from Simpli.
Photos by Amber Breitenberg taken at The Duck and the Peach in Washington, D.C.