I used to drink coffee daily. Every morning, I’d start my day with a nice hot cup and read up on the latest happenings on social media before starting my morning. But then, one clever business owner decided to upset that routine by opening up a café right next to my work. Of course, being the java addict I am, I had to check it out. One of the baristas recommended I try their drink of the day, a daily drink that was sold at a discount and changed every day. That first drink of the day was a cappuccino with cinnamon sprinkled on top. It was much different than my normal coffee, but it was fine.
Then, I had another drink of the day, and another, and the habit continued on and on for a few weeks. My morning drink hadn’t been my standard coffee for almost a month at that point. Going back to regular coffee, it felt dull and uninspired. My mornings were forever changed at that point. Since then, I’ve settled on “my drink”, my regular latte. But I shiver thinking about the amount of money that the café has accumulated from me alone since they opened.
Buying a café drink daily is just not a sustainable habit for most people, myself included. I did the next best thing. I took my father’s old single-serve capsule machine when he upgraded and I started making my own in the mornings. They were decent, better than my old coffee, but they were nowhere near the quality of the café. Plus, capsules aren’t cheap either, and I realized I was creating a lot of unnecessary waste from throwing the capsules out. My salary was decent at the time, but I didn’t have the disposable cash to spend on a crazy expensive espresso machine. I was not giving up just yet. I knew there had to be a decent espresso alternative that didn’t break the bank.
The Café Experience on a Coffee Budget
I started wondering to myself how these drinks were made pre-machine era. I mean, surely the cappuccino and latte were around long before the espresso machine, right? I even did some reading around the espresso history, here is an interesting article, if you are interested.
But it turns out I was absolutely right!
The fancy espresso machine is simply a means-to-an-end of an age-old beverage. Coffee-Brewing-Methods.com has their opinion on this, and it helped me understand the difference. With some research and trial-and-error, I figured out just how to replicate those delicious café drinks at a serious fraction of the price.
First, you’re going to need the following:
- An Aeropress or a French Press – The French Press brews slightly stronger/more espresso-like coffee, but either will work just fine.
- A Frothing Tool – You can use a whisk or get an Aerolatte.
- Finely Ground Coffee
- Coffee Mug
- Small Cup
Then, follow this method:
- Set up your press, whichever you’re using, as is instructed for your particular model. This will differ depending on if you’re using a French Press or an Aeropress, so you should know how to use this beforehand. Neither are difficult to learn and require only a few steps.
- Add the coffee as normal.
- Heat 100ml (4oz) of water and add it to your press.
- Let it steep for about 2 minutes, if you use an AeroPress, or 3 minutes for a French Press.
- Press the coffee.
- Place about 300ml (10 oz) of milk into your small cup. Microwave for ~60 seconds.
- Use your whisk or your aerolatte to froth your milk. If you’re using a whisk, use a side to side twisting motion to froth, don’t whisk as you normally would. When the milk becomes foamy, it’s done.
- Pour your coffee over the espresso.
- Add in any flavoring/spices/syrups if you want to.
The most important thing here is the amount of ground coffee per water used. You need to make it more concentrated than your regular French press, because you are diluting it with milk.
Voila! Your very own café latte or cappuccino (the difference is in the ratios of coffee to milk, so adjust according to your preferences) for dirt cheap. You’ll save a ton of money every year by making your lattes and cappuccinos at home instead of buying them every day, and you don’t have to sacrifice your coffee standards at all!