Mocha Granola

There is something indulgent and romantic about a hot cup of coffee. The steam swirling out of the mug creating a thin fog that hovers delicately above the liquid, only disrupted by the wafting air of a mug lifted to the lips for a hesitant, fleeting first sip. The smell of coffee is familiar, embracing the soul while sleep is rubbed away from tired eyes. The heat from the mug is a welcome touch on cold winter mornings when it feels too early to crawl out of bed before the sun.

It's an ancient drink, creating an invisible connection between people both near and far with a single, simple message.

The day is about to begin.

It was the smell of ground coffee beans that aroused my love for coffee. Long before I became a coffee drinker, I sat at the kitchen table with my grandparents during breakfast, listening to them talk over cups of coffee as the dawn light spread pastels across the sky. The coffee maker faintly dripped in the background, a simple sound in a quiet room, with a rush of steam as the last drop of water fell into the pot. There was something exquisitely romantic about the whole affair.

I wanted to capture all of these sensory moments, to keep them inside as a comforting moment for a day when the world felt bleak. I turned these moments into vignettes, of coffee and newspapers, of yawning faces and quiet moments, wanting to hold them in my mind simply because I found them beautiful.

It was a quiet morning when I made this mocha granola. I was tired, even after a long night's sleep. The sun seemed to agree as it hid behind the clouds, keeping the sky covered in a gray blanket. The warmth of the oven and the moody, shadowed lighting through my camera lens painted another Tuesday morning.

Perhaps unremarkable to another eye, it was peaceful for me. The scent of the coffee infused granola wafting through the apartment made it difficult to imagine a more tranquil morning.

Mocha Granola is indulgently moody, with an unmistakable aroma of espresso and dark chocolate. This is an adult granola, with a rich coffee flavor, almonds, and hint of chocolate for sweetness. While I enjoyed it mixed into Greek yogurt, it's not hard to imagine this granola being equally at home covered in milk or grabbed by the handful on the way out the door.

Mocha Granola
Adapted from Rachel Cooks

Yields four 1/2-cup servings

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup miniature dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, espresso powder, olive oil, vanilla, and salt. Fold in the oats, almonds, and flax until everything is evenly coated. Spread out granola evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Granola will be done when slightly browned and fragrant. Cool the granola to room temperature before stirring in the chocolate chips.

Serve plain, over yogurt, or in a bowl covered with milk.