I vaguely recall a time when I didn’t drink coffee. What was I thinking? It was back in those ‘pre-children’ days and you would assume I had more leisure time to sit around with friends and chat over coffee. For some reason though, I just didn’t like coffee then. But those days are gone, goneso, bye bye. These days, I long for my latté. I get antsy in anticipation of that first morning sip. And yes, I know, I’m not the only coffee lover out there. There are those that swear by their “double doubles” while others cringe at that thought and will not be swayed from their Starbucks addictions. In the last few years, there has been an explosion in the marketplace of coffee brewing stations that can bring the coffeehouse experience right into your own home at the touch of a button. I’ve tried them. They work well. But any way you slice it, whether you buy your coffees on the go or you brew them at home, it will cost you. So I offer up this low cost alternative, which produces excellent espressos, americanos, cappuccinos, or lattés, in the comfort of your own home.
Last summer we went on a family vacation and I was wondering how I was going to satisfy my twice daily latté fix in a small village in central Greece. I knew we were going to have access to a stove and a microwave but no coffee machine. What was I going to do? Well, I went old school. I bought a small stove-top espresso brewer, a battery-operated milk frother, and a pack of espresso ground coffee. Total investment was under $20. Now mind you, there are more expensive espresso brewers, like the renowned Bialetti brand of Italian made brewers, and electric milk frothers from Keurig and Nespresso but here’s the secret, if you don’t already own one of these, you don’t need to spend the name brand bucks. Head over to Home Sense or Stokes and you can find a brewer for $7.99 and a frother for $4.99. My coffee of choice is Lavazza Qualità Rossa or Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato for a late day latté, which you can find, depending on the grocery store, anywhere from $3.99 to $6.99 for a 250g vacuum-sealed package. There are obviously other options and I’ve experimented with others but I stick to these ones because I prefer a medium-roast coffee.
While making a coffee this way is not as easy as a touch of a button or placing an order at the drive-through, it is simple and takes no more than a few minutes. Fill the bottom reservoir of the espresso brewer with water, put coffee in the small filter basket, screw the top on and place on the stove. As the water boils, it will percolate through filling the top compartment with coffee.
- For espresso, pour this coffee into a small espresso cup. Done.
- For americano, pour coffee into a larger cup, top up with hot water. Done.
- For cappuccino or latté, heat milk in microwave then use the frother to make foamy milk. Pour coffee into a larger cup, top up with steamed milk adding more or less milk and/or foam depending on your preference.
Now sit down, take a sip, and enjoy or grab it and go. Either way, it’s a great start to the day!