I no longer work as a barista but I do volunteer once a month in my church coffee shop so I still get to make fun coffee with fancy machines every once in a while. But I still love figuring out how to make coffeehouse quality drinks at home.
The best part about making your own drinks at home is the amount of money you can save if you have a habit of going out for coffee. I am sure you know that coffeehouse drinks can get extremely pricey. If you have ever heard of the latte factor it is the principle that “small” purchases will add up over a period of time.
Another thing I loved about working in the coffee shop was that I learned some pretty cool coffee lingo! If you think you know what a cappuccino is because of the machines you see in the gas station or what a macchiatto is because you order that caramel drink at Starbucks…think again. Speaking of lingo, here’s a few terms you can throw around to make yourself sound like a barista:
Basic coffee lingo:
- Espresso – Very strong brewed coffee. Typically brewed under pressure with an espresso machine into a one ounce shot glasses.
- Single, Double, Triple or Quad – This refers to the amount of espresso shots; 1, 2, 3 or 4. Yes I have had someone actually order a quad tall, which is 4 shots of espresso in a 12 oz drink. Talk about caffeine buzz!!
- Skinny – This refers to either non-fat milk or sugar free syrup. Want both? You would order a skinny-skinny.
- Latte – Typically a latte is 1/3 espresso with 2/3 steamed milk and a small amount of foam on top.
- Cappuccino – Typically a cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam. This means that a cappuccino is much stronger than its latte counterpart because it has less milk.
- Macchiatto – This is not to be confused with the popular caramel macchiatto you order at Starbucks. A macchiatto is actually espresso topped with only the foam from steamed milk. It is the strongest drink of the previous two.
- Americano – Espresso with enough hot water to fill the cup.
- Red Eye – Espresso with enough regular brewed coffee to fill the cup.
- Breve – A drink made with steamed half and half instead of regular milk.
- Au Lait – Brewed coffee with steamed milk and possibly a little foam on top.
- Mocha – This is basically a latte with chocolate sauce. Often whipped cream is added to the top.
How to Make a Latte at Home
Since the latte is the most common and easiest to make I’ll give you a few quick steps about how you can make your own.
What you’ll need:
- Inexpensive espresso machine or coffee maker (I have an older model of this Mr. Coffee espresso maker)
- Milk frother (if you don’t have an espresso machine or want an easier way to make frothed milk). I have an aerolatte that I use every morning. There is a way to somewhat mimic it without either but you won’t get the same effect.
- Flavoring such as extracts or flavored syrups.
- Sweetener of choice.
- Milk – about 1/4 cup (non-fat, 2%, whole, half and half, soy…whatever works for you).
How to make your latte:
- Brew your coffee either in the espresso machine or use about 2-4 ounces of strong coffee.
- Make your steamed/frothed milk:
- To steam the milk with an espresso maker you simply turn the steam wand on once the coffee reaches a certain point during brewing ( be sure the pitcher of milk is in the wand first). Tip it a little and move it around. Allow small spurts of air into it a couple of times. Steam until desired consistency or temperature is reached.
- If using a milk frother, warm the milk for about 30 seconds in the microwave then stick the wand into the cup. Move it in circles until desired consistency is reached.
- The other alternative method is to warm milk in the microwave or on the stove then use a whisk to quickly aerate it. This gives it a somewhat foamy consistency. Don’t expect it to be the same as with a steamer or frother though.
- Pour coffee into your mug. Add flavoring and sweetener if necessary. Mix well.
- Use a spoon to hold back the foam and pour warmed milk into your mug.
- Top with foam.
There you have it! Easy homemade latte! I’ll share some more recipes in the future but this is a good base to start with.
What is your favorite coffee drink?
Have you ever made your own coffee-house style drinks?