Look, I get it — you want to save money, and you know those $5+ lattes aren’t doing you any favors. Still, that morning coffee can be such a small, simple source of joy, it’s often a hard habit to break.
What if we told you that you could make a latte at home that would rival anything you’d pick up at Starbucks or your local coffeehouse (and for a fraction of the price)? It’s so simple that you’ll kick yourself for forking so many of your dollars over to the Coffee Industrial Complex in the past.
Yes, I know I’m enabling your caffeine habit — but you might as well save money while you fuel your addiction, am I right?
So what is a traditional latte?
Before we discuss how to make a latte at home, let’s talk about what a latte actually is.
One of the most popular coffee drinks in the United States, a latte is an espresso drink topped with at least six ounces of steamed milk, then topped with a small amount of foam. If you skip the foam, you have a Flat White, and if you include more foam, you have a cappuccino.
In America, bigger sizes (12 to 20 ounces being standard) mean we often make our lattes with double or triple shots of espresso and sometimes add flavors like vanilla, caramel, or seasonal-themed flavorings.
How to make your latte at home
Find, store, and grind the right beans
Good coffee starts with good beans. For the best tasting latte possible, head over to your favorite local coffee shop (Ideally one that roasts their own! Yum!) and have a conversation with the barista about their espresso roasts. If that’s not possible, there are nationwide options like Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I also sometimes pick up organic espresso from Sprouts or Whole Foods and like it, so it’s just a matter of taste!
Ideally, you’d store your whole beans in an airtight container like a coffee vault and then grind them in a burr grinder right before brewing. However, I promise I won’t call the coffee police if you use the grocery store grinder (or have a barista grind your beans for you at the shop). Just make sure to grind them to the very-fine espresso consistency and store them in an airtight container.
Brew your espresso (or coffee)
First thing’s first, you’re going to need to brew your espresso. If you don’t have a fancy espresso machine, fear not — there are several affordable ways to make it at home: You can use a Mokapot, an Aeropress, or select the “espresso” setting on your regular coffee maker. Alternatively, you can just make an extra-strong pot of coffee with a dark roast. It’s not the same, but it will do the job.
Pick your flavored syrups, if any
A traditional latte is unsweetened — but we are not here to judge your predilections. If you swoon for seasonal Starbucks drinks, all you need to do to bring that flavor to life at home is pick up a bottle of flavored syrup at the grocery store or online. Hooray!
Choose your milk and steam it
Plain old 2 percent dairy milk is the cheapest and easiest to steam — just shake it in a mason jar, microwave, and voila. (You can also use a handheld milk frother or this handy electronic version). Almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk can all be used as dairy substitutes: They won’t froth in the microwave as well as 2 percent, but do fine with hand-held and automatic milk steamers.
Assemble your masterpiece
If you want to make a hot latte
Step one: Pour two tablespoons of the flavoring of your choice into the bottom of a large mug. For “half sweet” drinks, use just one tablespoon. Multiple flavorings can also be mixed, but experiment at your own risk
Step two: Add espresso to the mug. This can be a single, double, or triple shot, but the general rule is 1/3 part espresso to 2/3 part milk.
Step three: Using a spoon to hold back the foam, fill the rest of the mug with your steamed milk. Top with a dollop of milk foam if desired. Enjoy.
If you want to make an iced latte
Step one: Pour flavoring, espresso, milk, and a large handful of ice into a cocktail shaker or container with a lid. Shake vigorously.
Step two: Fill a glass or tumbler with ice, then pour your creation over the top. Enjoy!
Take it with you!
Enjoying your espresso at home while perusing the newspaper sounds idyllic, but isn’t the reality for most of us. If you’re headed to work, pour your delicious creation into the travel mug or tumbler of your choice and bring it with you. You’re cutting back on the insane paper waste that coffee to-go cups create, so pat yourself on the back.
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