This drizzly weather is causing me to seek some solice in a warm, cozy cup of coffee. Well, more accurately, a creamy foamy latte (hazelnut is my flavor of choice this morning). I worked my way through college as a Barista, and have not stopped whipping up espresso drinks since. Now my family and neighbors are the ones drinking my lattes.
Did you know that you don’t need an expensive espresso machine to make a great latte or americano? Its true, there is not a big up front investment requirement to enjoy a good espresso.
Here is how you can make a latte without an automated espresso machine:
- Espresso – I buy whats on sale. I can often find Cafe Bustelo Espresso for under $4 at Walmart.
- Milk of choice or water for americano.
- Extra ingredients (syrups, flavorings of choice, whip cream).
You have a few options here on how to make the espresso:
3) Use a standard Coffee Maker (get one free with this Gevalia deal!). This is my least favorite way, I would use this last, but its a good alternative if you are a regular coffee drinker and just want an occasional latte).
For this method you will:
- Want to get an espresso blend of coffee, it needs to be ground very finely.
- Double the amount of coffee you would put into your pot, to make a really strong coffee.
- Use right after finished brewing for best results.
- When coffee is finished fill your cup with 1/4 of the espresso mixture and 3/4 milk for latte (or 3/4 water for american).
- Be sure to heat your milk in the microwave, with hand frother or over the stove first, so its hot.
Frothing Your Milk:
You can purchase a hand Milk Frother on Amazon (from Ikea) for as little as $5.98, or a glass milk frother for $10.51. I highly recommend reading through reviews on this product, because not all milk frothers are made the same.
You can find milk frothing instructions on Wikihow here.
You can also just warm your milk over the stove or in the microwave if you are not a fan of foam on top of your latte, or make your latte over ice – no frothing necessary!
Here are two more alternatives to milk:
- Make an Americano (espresso and hot water) and add a big dollup of whip cream to the top. Mix that into your coffee (like creamer) and it will add a sweet creamy taste to your americano. I love to make mine this way, with a little vanilla and cinnamon (yum).
Tips for the milk:
- 160 degrees is what you will get at most coffee shops. You can get a cheap Milk Thermometer to check your temp if you want.
- Kids drinks are usually 130-140 degrees.
- I like mine extra hot around 170-180 degrees (I believe you will start scalding at 180 so be careful).
- Want a really rich drink, use half and half to make a ‘Breve” (so delicious!)
- You can make non fat milk taste creamier by making a nice dense foam on the top (vs one with lots of air bubbles).
- I get great deals on milk prices by shopping QFC. They often mark their milk down a full week ahead of time. Check with your local stores dairy manager to find out when they mark their products down. I go through milk for lattes so quickly its usually gone before I ever hit that expiration date.
- Want a cheap flavored latte. Grab some flavored creamer and add a tablespoon to your milk before frothing.
Tips for making cheap flavored lattes:
Torani syrups can be pricey, but they are not the only way to flavor up a latte. If you are going to buy them I find the best prices at Shop and Carry or Fred Meyer (when they have the Extra Value coupons available). If you do not want to make this splurge, here are some other great tips:
- Buy your chocolate syrup at Fred Meyer or Winco. I buy 24 oz of chocolate syrup for $1.65 regular price at Fred Meyer.
- Use caramel sauce rather then caramel syrup. I actually prefer carmel sauce (I think it provides a mellower taste and less sweet). You will usually be able to find this for around $2.50 vs. close to $7 for the syrup.
- Use condensed milk with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for a Spanish flavored coffee. I love these, reminds me of drinking coffee in Puerto Rican restaurants in NY (where I stole this trick from). Add anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp depending on how sweet you like your coffee.
- Make Mexican mochas. Every couponer knows Hot Chocolate often goes on sale around this time of the year. Stock up on it, and use it as an alternative to expensive chocolate powder in a Mexican Mocha recipe. You can make up the mixture and then just scoop a couple of tsp. into your latte, and stir until dissolved. Use all of the packets of hot chocolate from one box, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg. If you want to give it a kick you can add a 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. If you have vanilla powder, thats the best to add (1 tbs), but if not I substitute 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract (add it directly to your coffee cup, not to the powder mixture if you want to store it).
- Buy flavored coffee creamers and use them in your Americano, or steam some with your milk.
- Use chocolate milk to make your mochas (then you wont need a syrup, just steam the chocolate milk like you would regular milk).
- Use eggnog cut with a little regular milk to make an eggnog latte (you can add a splash of rum extract to really make it great.
- Add a splash of peppermint extract to your chocolate syrup (be careful with this, a very little bit goes a long way – you may want to use an eyedropper (clean of course) to add.
- Make it really special with garnishes. Grate a little chocolate over the top, or break up a candy cane to sprinkle on top. My favorite is to add homemade whip cream to the top and drizzle some caramel sauce over it. You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or chocolate powder to add pizzazz!
What are your favorite bargain coffee tips?
(Amazon prices can change at any time, this one was confirmed at 10:30am on 6/5).