Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fancy coffee drinks on the cheap!


I have come to find lattes and other fancy pants café drinks to be a quick form of "me time."  Whereas I tend to suck down my morning cup of coffee as a means to an end (and, on days when I'm going for a run after breakfast, I'm not just talking about quick energy ifyouknowwhatImean...), the frothy milk of a latte seems to demand that I actually notice it and enjoy it.  I have taken a quick, inexpensive, healthy-as-I-desire frothy drink to the grocery store and shopped at a leisurely pace (hey, sometimes that's the only time away from kids I can get all week!).

I can't afford to purchase these drinks on even a remotely regular basis, and I can't afford (in money or in counter space) an espresso maker or milk steamer. 

Here's the hardware I do own:
  • coffee maker
  • moka - this produces a flavor more like espresso than coffee, but I don't use it often even for my "fancy" drinks, because I prefer the ease and often the flavor of the coffee maker.
  • milk frother - it's not steamed, but it's still nice and frothy
  • French press - The Beast loves coffee from a French press.  I never use it.

It's difficult to make anything akin to a cappuccino with these tools, since the frother doesn't get milk as velvety as a steam wand would.  But everything else at your neighborhood coffee shop is really quite do-able!

I usually make a cheap and quick latte - coffee with frothed milk.

You can also add syrups (Torani and Monin are popular brands) for flavor - I've long had some syrups on my wish list, as I for some reason don't have the fortitude buy them for myself!

I have also made myself chai tea with frothed milk and lots of honey.  And I recently discovered Firefly Chai from Mountain Rose Herbs for a decaf option later in the day.  I have plans to make more traditional chai sometime soon - which means actually simmering milk with the tea and spice mixture, instead of steeping it in hot water and then adding milk.  Less water more flavor?  I expect yum.

I'll end with a quick recipe for a Frappucino-ish drink.  It's all liquid and no ice, like the Frappucino drinks you'd get in a bottle at the grocery store.  I have been contemplating freezing this mixture in ice cube trays and then blending it up to make a real frappe (if you try this, let me know how it turns out).  This could be made with syrup instead of sugar and cocoa powder, or to make different flavors - I just used what I have on hand.  It disappears pretty quickly!

- Make 3 cups of strong coffee (I use 1/2 cup beans and 3 cups water)
- Pour into a lidded vessel (I use an empty screw-top orange juice jug - even though, yeah, it's probably laced with BPA)
-add 3 cups of milk
- 3TBSP sugar and 2TBSP cocoa powder

Shake shake shake.
Refrigerate.
Shake shake shake.
Drink.

Image Credit:  thepinkpeppercorn on flicker

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