Daily Grind // Homemade Latte


The Cafe Latte, a classic Italian coffee drink that is 1 part espresso, 1 part milk and 1 part foam (latte actually meaning “milk” in Italian). I briefly brushed upon making a latte with one of my earlier posts on coffee (with a moka pot). I’d like to start documenting, or rather, sharing my endeavors with coffee-making… as it is pretty much my obsession as of late.

The wonderful thing about coffee, is that you can make it as simple or extravagant as you like (or have time for). I really started to get into advanced coffee-making when I couldn’t afford to go to my favorite coffee shops (or felt guilty for spending as much as I had been, when I DID have the money… oops!). However, even with as much as I’ve learned about coffee, I still have far to go… but that’s really fun to me. You can make it cheap or expensive and you can even make it a hobby, a challenge of sorts. It’s a hobby that you can share with others, and a pleasure that can turn your day around from bad to good through an enjoyable experience of both aroma and taste.

To make a latte yourself at home, doesn’t take a fancy machine (although, good for you if you can afford one!). Here I am using an Aeropress (my new favorite toy… simple, easy to clean and creates the cleanest cup of espresso-style coffee BAR-NONE), which I’ll make a more detailed tutorial on soon. This particular how-to is more about the ratios of a latte – So you can use your own preferred method of espresso maker… and although some people do not consider these types of home devices to produce an authentic espresso, it is as close as you can get for a fraction of the cost. You can also use a Moka pot/Brikka, a French press or a vacum pot. I haven’t tried too many other home brewer types, but these that I’ve mentioned make some of the best espresso-style coffee. And I don’t recommend cheap espresso machines. Period.

{ 1) Whole coffee beans. 2) Make a fine -medium grind 3) Add almost boiling water 4) Filter 5) Plunge }

Choosing Coffee Beans. The KEY is to use freshly ground coffee beans …and I mean, buy whole beans and grind them yourself. No Folgers, people. I even recommend roasting your own beans (yet another upcoming how-to on the way!), but simple store-bought whole beans will taste great as well. Light roast, medium or dark roast is completely up to you… but a dark roast will taste more like an espresso.

What Exactly Is An Espresso, you ask? The method in which coffee is extracted. The water is forced through the beans with such strong pressure in a an extremely quick manner, giving the beans little time to react but still creating a huge punch! That’s why coffee connoisseurs disagree that any other stove-top or similar brewer can create a “true” espresso, since (automatic and manual) machines use steam or pressure which is much stronger and cannot create the desired CREMA (a sweet, foam-like reddish brown liquid-cap formed at the surface).  In my OWN opinion, I still think an Aeropress or a Moka Pot produces a delicious espresso… because obviously, they did not have machines back in the day and even still don’t commonly use them throughout Europe – but that doesn’t keep European baristas from creating a mean espresso! If you are interested in a good machine though, I recommend the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva, a manual machine. Yes, it’s pricy… but you get what you pay for. Cheap machines have little or inconsistent pressure and therefore create inconsistent extractions.

Your Grinder makes a significant impact on the flavor… A bad grinder will grind the beans unevenly, leaving some beans too large enough to properly extract and leaving the rest overly-ground. Which usually turns to bitter sludge at the bottom of your cup. A good grinder is a Burr Grinder (which I am hoping to add to my Christmas list). In most cases, you will want to grind to a medium-to-coarse texture. I like to make a coarse grind for my French Press, fine grind for my Aeropress and a fine-medium for my Moka Pot. For a machine, you will use a very fine grind. (Check out a grind chart HERE)

>>Read a more extensive tutorial for making a latte with an Aeropress HERE. Or an Iced Latte HERE.

>>Watch an extensive video-tutorial for making a latte with a Moka pot HERE.

>>Watch a full video tutorial for making a latte with a French Press HERE.

WATER. Use ALMOST boiling (filtered or spring) water for an Aeropress or French Press, and pull a Moka Pot/Brikka off the burner just before the last gurgle. This is to prevent bitterness. About 175 degrees.

After Brewing The Espresso, you will only use one ounce for your latte (unless you want a double shot for a stronger taste). If you like sweeteners, now is the time to mix them in. I like to add about a tablespoon Hershey’s caramel and a cap-full of Torani vanilla syrup (I have a serious sweet-tooth, ok?). Mix it all in before you add the milk. You can also try cinnamon, mint or raspberry flavors… it’s fun to experiment!

MILK. Yes, I suggest Whole milk! It creates more of a depth in taste, and a natural sweetness. But of course there are sadder alternatives… such as 2%, skim etc etc…

 

Creating (micro) Foam. There are several ways to preparing the milk and creating the foam that a latte should have. A latte should be 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam. More foam than milk actually makes it a cappuccino! You can warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove-top, both is fine, to about 180 degrees or 70 degrees C (just before boiling). To froth the milk without a steamer or frother, you can simply shake it up in a mason jar, or use a whisk. I like to use an Aerolatte which can even create a micro foam that makes for latte art! To create a “microfoam” the trick is to hold the foaming device towards the bottom of the pitcher (if you have one), holding it near the top will create the thicker foam cap akin to a cappuccino. After you’ve frothed the milk, pour that milky goodness into your latte, quickly! (Learn how to make latte art HERE)

That leaves us with the most important step of all… the consumption of the coffee. ENJOY!