The fall and the holidays tend to be the best time to go out for coffee. The weather starts to get cooler, and there is an exciting spirit in the air. The seasonal coffee flavors are comforting because they remind us of friends, family, and good times: pumpkin, cinnamon and spice, gingerbread, peppermint, and eggnog. It is enjoyable to get all cozy with a warm cup of coffee…until we realize we just paid $4 for something we could have made at home. If you are like me, you probably go out for coffee at least once a week. If you go out once a week for the next 3 months, that is about $50. Personally, I need to save that money and put it towards gifts instead of drinking coffee while I am out shopping for gifts!
I usually justify my coffee-buying habits by telling myself that it is just too hard to make fun, holiday drinks at home, and that I like the atmosphere in coffeehouses. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be difficult, and I don’t need any fancy machines to be able to make something that tastes good. And if it is a nice, spirited atmosphere that I want, then I can sit by the fireplace or Christmas tree.
Here are some tips and recipes to make some fun holiday coffeehouse drinks from home:
4 Great Tips
1. Use flavored extracts or spices – I love to add a little bit of peppermint extract to my coffee. Just make your coffee as you normally do, and then add just a drop of whatever extract you like. Don’t put in too much. A little extract goes a long way. You can also add spices to your coffee, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, to give your coffee more of a holiday feel. Also, instead of buying those holiday creamers at the store, use milk or don’t use creamer at all. After all, it’s extremely unhealthy!
2. Make foam on your stove top - Foam is an essential part of some coffee drinks, like cappuccinos, and it makes your drinks like fancy. To make homemade foam, heat milk in a pot on your stove but do not let it boil. As the milk heats up, start to whisk it. Whisk faster as the milk gets hotter. The foam will end up on the top. Also, use the milk as a substitute for the steamed milk that they use in coffeehouses.
3. Substitute coffee for espresso – Although it may not be as strong as espresso, you can substitute coffee for espresso. I recommend using twice as much grounds as you normally use, but use the same amount of cold water. Play around with it a little bit until you get it to your liking. Or invite some friends over and do some taste testing! You can also buy instant espresso powder.
4. Make it frozen – Although you probably want a warm drink for the winter, frozen drinks are simple to make at home because the milk does not need to be steamed. If you want iced or blended coffee, freeze coffee ice cubes and then put them in a blender the next day.
4 Awesome Recipes
1. Frozen Mocha – Use the ice cube method to freeze 1 1/2 cups of coffee. After the coffee is frozen, blend cubes with 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup chocolate syrup, and 1/4 sugar. You can also add a drop of peppermint extract to make it a frozen peppermint mocha.
2. Pumpkin Spice Latte - In a pot on the stove top, whisk together 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice until it starts to foam. Pour over one shot of espresso or double-strength coffee (about 1.5 ounces).
3. Frozen Chai – This is my personal favorite. Chai is tea mixed with spices. I like to take 3 ounces of dry chai tea and blend it with 3 ounces of vanilla smoothie mix, a cup of ice, and a cup of milk. Blend until smooth. I really like the brand Big Train.
4. Vanilla Latte – You can use this recipe to make any flavor of latte. Whisk 1 1/4 cups milk until it foams. Add in flavoring. Pour over one shot of espresso or double-strength coffee (about 1.5 ounces).
By making your favorite coffee drinks at home, not only do you save money, but you can also make them exactly how you like them. Get creative by using different flavors and combinations. Once you know the basics, the possibilities are endless. Also, by having control over your coffee, you can make sure you are using a healthy recipe.
For more tips on not blowing all of your money on coffee, check out this article on how to save money with cheap coffee.
What are your favorite coffeehouse drink recipes?
(Photo Credit: Lachlan Hardy)