I love caramel lattes….but since leaving my house to get one would mean taking six toddlers with me, I needed to figure out a way to make them at home. And I certainly did not want to spend $100+ on an espresso machine, or have to deal with another appliance on my counter.
My first substitute was to buy the flavored Coffee-Mate creamers and add them to plain old drip coffee. I especially enjoyed the Peppermint Mocha and Pumpkin Spice flavors in the Fall. It didn’t taste the same as a coffee shop drink, but it was good enough for me. Until I realized that these drinks were also adding to my waistline- because I was adding a lot more than the recommended serving size! Each coffee would have at least 100 calories, 5 grams of fat and 15 grams of sugar….and sometimes I’d drink two or three a day!
My “research and development” started about seven months ago. I Googled “make latte without espresso machine” and came across several websites where the recommendation was to use a French Press.
I had never used a French Press, nor tasted French Press coffee. But now that I have, I will never go back to drip coffee! We have been spoiled.
Before I get into the “How To”, let me preface this by saying that I have never been taught how to properly mix a flavored coffee drink. I just know through trial and error, what works for me and what gives me the most authentic flavor of a coffee shop latte or mocha. And the French Press is not making espresso, it just makes a very rich, flavorful coffee.
First off, you need GOOD coffee. Our current favorite is the Costa Rica or Sumatra blend from Costco- whole fresh roasted beans that you can grind before bringing home. If you grind your own beans, be sure to use a Coarse or French Press grind setting.
The next thing you need is a French Press. I started out with the 8 oz size- it’s perfect to make a single serving. Jim really enjoys the rich and smooth flavor of straight French Press coffee, so I had to buy a bigger one so I can make 3-4 cups at a time for the weekends.
HERE’S THE LATTE HOW-TO
(makes a 12 ounce serving…but you’ll need a 16 ounce cup!):
1) Water. Heat 8 oz of water to near boiling- specifically 195-200 degrees. This is not “my” rule, it’s the French Press rule! Use a thermometer to make sure it’s EXACTLY in that range.
2) Coffee Grounds. Add 2 level scoops of fresh coarse-ground coffee to the French Press (I use the scoop that came with my French Press).
3) Steeping. Pour the water into the French Press and stir for 10 seconds (careful not to break the glass!), then put the lid on (leave the plunger up) and set a timer for 4 minutes.
(You can adjust the strength of your coffee by using less or more grounds, or letting it steep longer or shorter, etc. But start out with this guideline and adjust one variable at a time until you get the flavor you desire.)
4) Milk. I’ve learned that steamed milk is the key flavor that I enjoy in my lattes and mochas. I do not have a steamer, nor do I want to heat milk in a saucepan, so I simply microwave 4 ounces of milk for about 1 minute 20 seconds. The milk should be bubbling when you open the door and have that ‘steamed milk’ aroma. Use a frother to create a nice thick foam. (I usually pour the hot milk into my mug and froth it there, instead of frothing it first then adding it to the mug.)
5) Flavorings. I usually add 1/2 ounce of Torani Syrup flavoring to my mug before I add the milk.
6) Plunge the coffee s-l-o-w-l-y after 4 minutes of steeping.
7) Pour the coffee into your mug and enjoy!
I don’t like my coffee too hot, so I only microwave 3 oz of milk and pour 1 oz of cold milk into the coffee at the end so it’s at a temperature I can drink!