Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DIY Lattes

Isn't it funny how someone will complain about the price of gas while holding a cup of coffee that cost them $4?  I figure an average Starbucks beverage costs about 25 cents an ounce (or $32 a gallon!)

That doesn't mean I don't love it though.  Coffee at home doesn't ever seem to be quite as good.  We had a good thing going though and my cup of coffee was sacred to me.  It was as perfect as it could be without being a latte.  Someone even asked me how we manage to make our coffee taste like "Christmas Morning" once.  However, as I methodically removed all of the processed food from my life, I had a frightening realization... my coffee creamer... had... to... GO :(

Oh my...

What would I do?  We tried milk, half and half and heavy cream but nothing seemed to create that magical perfection like the chemical laden non-dairy creamer.  The very first ingredient in this delicious powder is corn syrup solids.  I couldn't be any farther away from acceptable.  I was dancing with the devil every morning and it had to end.

I tried giving up coffee altogether and I almost died.  I'm serious; just ask my husband.  I think he had a bag packed!

So I thought for a bit and figured if I could make a decent espresso, I could figure the rest out.  After all, I'm Italian and quite savvy in the kitchen.  Certainly I could make a latte at home without spending an arm and a leg on some fancy machine.

After all, my goal is not only to eliminate processed foods and chemicals, I want to do this frugally, without gathering a bunch of equipment.  It's possible in every case.  It just takes work and, as a result, I appreciate everything that much more.

So I purchased an old school Moka pot.  My parents used to break this out during the holidays after big dinners.  A shot of liquor might have been added and there were the men, drinking espresso and making "the face" (as illustrated by Silvio of The Sopranos) after every sip.  I think "the face" meant that it was good, but this is a mystery we'll have to solve in another post.

So I was off to google to find this coffee pot.  I didn't know the name at the time, but that is the magic of google.  I found one at Amazon for under $30 and ordered it.  I read review after review and decided to forgo the frother.  One reviewer simply microwaved the milk, another used a pot and a whisk.

The pot arrived and sat in the box for several weeks, then on the counter for several days.  My excuse was that I needed to find ground espresso Finally, in a desperate attempt to cut my ties with powdered creamer, I broke the pot open and started reading instructions one afternoon.  After two exhausting hours of "breaking in" the pot, I finally experienced my homemade latte.

And, if I do say so myself, I captured my Skinny Venti Vanilla Latte right at home for less than $1!

The at home espresso aficionado will have you believing that you need fancy machines, steamers, milk frothers, tampers and so much more to experience a latte at home.  I'm sure they have an affinity for all the nuances of flavor, texture, aroma and temperature that a sommelier has for fine wines.  However, if you are just looking to replace your average coffeehouse drink, you can for a very small investment.

Here's what you need!

  • A "moka" pot - I ordered a 6-cup Bialetti from Amazon for less than $30.
  • Milk - I recommend skim.  You can heat your milk in a microwave or a pot on the stove.  We use the stove and wisk the milk to create the froth.  (The froth, we discovered, is completely aesthetic.  It makes us feel good but it has no affect on the taste of the latte.)  You can pick up a decent frother for less than $20, but I swear it is totally unnecessary!
  • Espresso grind coffee - we use Cafe Bustelo, it might very well be the cheapest option and we love it, so do all of our guests.  You can get crazy here with special roasts, fancy brands and different flavors.  I will say that Amazon is a great place to buy coffee and the price actually fluctuates often.  Watch for a low price and buy a bunch of it.  I just saved more than 20% by just waiting a day before ordering.
Then the rest is really all about personal taste!  You can play with your milk to coffee ratio to create lattes, cappucinos, macchiatos and more.  You can add flavors with extracts, syrups and spices and sweeten to your taste.

On a side note...
The minimalist in me, that secretly thinks maybe I will have to survive in the woods one day, was thrilled with the fact that I could actually use the Moka pot on a fire.  I spent weeks beaming with the satisfaction that I could sit in the woods, sipping delicious lattes even if the dollar does crash.  

Jarret asked where I was planning to get my café Bustelo and milk.  Whatever… a girl can dream!

1 comment:

  1. I have one of those in my pantry that I had forgotten about! I'm gonna go bust it out! Wish you were her to have coffee with me :(