Enjoy Your Latte Without the Bucks

Have I ever told you that I have a really great husband? My Hero Hubby is an all-around goodfella. Without the swearing. Among the many things that make him delightful is the fact that every morning, and I do mean every morning, he makes lattes. Proper lattes. Sit still for a few minutes to sip and enjoy lattes. In these days of tight finances, this is a simple pleasure we enjoy every morning. And it occurred to me that you might be blessed by me sharing this information, because you could do the same thing, and save a whole load of cash if you happen to be a Fourbucks coffee addict.

The first thing you need to know is that it is biblically very important that, if you have one, your husband should make the coffee. If you open your Bible, you’ll see that the book immediately following Philemon, just preceding James, says He brews. And that’s proof enough for me. 🙂

The second thing you need to know (and now I’m being serious) is that there are a couple of tools that will make your coffee moment an absolute pleasure. And good news, neither of them is a $500 espresso maker! The first is a stove top cafetiere. Like him:

I make de coffeeee

I got him for Mark for his birthday. He is made by Bialetti. They are not paying me to write this post. If they were, it would be much, much better. (Dear Bialetti, if you want to sponsor this post, holla at your girl.) Other people make these cafetieres too. I just read lots of reviews and heard good things about this one. And I trust the Italians about a lot of things, including ice cream and coffee. They aren’t very expensive. We’ll discuss how they work in a moment.

The second tool that you might like to strap to your belt is a frother. This is not a necessity but it sure does make a difference. For Christmas I bought Mark a frother. It arrived after we had already left for South Africa. (Christmas 2008) It went back to wherever it was shipped from. I was very sad. Eventually in February 2009 it re-arrived and the frothing began.  Since the Bialetti Cafetiere had worked nicely, I went with Bialetti again. I think the character on the front is funny. So this is her, the frother:

I made de milk niiiice

Sorry I forgot to take a picture without Hero Hubby’s hands in it. But you’ll see more of Frother later.

From here, you have a few basic steps to follow. HH did a bit of barista work as a jack of many trades opening Adventure Centres in the UK. So consider these instructions very professional. (giggle)

You’ll start off putting water into the bottom section of the cafetiere , not above the little steam hole you see on the side there. Next you’ll put coffee into the espresso holder in the middle of the cafetiere. How much you put depends on the strength you like it and the size cafetiere you choose. (HH puts about two heaped tablespoons.) Ours was supposed to be a six-cup model, but it seems tiny — perhaps it makes six wee espressos. Anyway, coffee and water, step one. Exhibit A:

fill me upNext you’ll screw the top on the cafetiere and sit him on a reasonably hot stove. Gas really makes this process a little smoother and faster (we discovered in Edinburgh) but our normal old stovetop plates are getting it done just fine these days.

some assembly required

He should percolate until you peek and see a nice dark pot of coffee happily steaming away on top. (About five minutes total.)

It's Time for the Percolator

While you’re waiting for the percolation to take place, you can work on generating some nice milk. We have found that Long Life Fresh Milk, like the stuff that comes from Spar, is really thick and good for frothing, even when you’re not getting the full-fat stuff. I don’t actually know if they make something like that in the States. The consistency is more like soy milk I suppose. It froths better than other milk we’ve tried, but really I think you can work with whatever you’ve got.

Make it Frothy

We started out warming the milk up in the frother on the stove, which is what is supposed to happen. It worked nicely when we had a gas stove. However, now that we are working with electricity again, HH has decided his preference is to warm the milk in a pyrex measuring jug in the microwave (full power, 3 1/2 min per 500ml), and then pour it into the frother and work the magic. I suppose you can decide for yourself which method you prefer. (Note:  HH says the frothing mechanism looked like it was going to warp when the frothing jug got so hot using an electric stove…so perhaps microwaving is the way to go unless you’re cooking with gas. 🙂 )

Microwave it

Once your milk has safely found its way to your frother and has arrived at a hot temperature, the little plunger that looks like the centre of a French Press Cafetiere will froth your milk to a delightful consistency, if you only commit yourself to pumping it up and down for 30 seconds or so. It’s obviously worth the work since HH is willing to do it every day.

And finally, with frothy milk and steamy espresso, you have found the moment you’ve been waiting for. Getcha a big mug so you can enjoy the magic. But first, if you are a sweet tooth like me, add your required dose of the good stuff (2 tsp of golden brown is how I roll). Then pour about a half a cup of frothy milk into each coffee mug. Next, using your best judgement, split the espresso blend between the two cups. Stir. Then add the rest of the frothy milk to the top, and spoon out some fluff so that your cup almost overfloweth. A dash of cinnamon is not a necessity at this point, but in my opinion it sure doesn’t hurt.

Here are the illustrated steps of assembly: Sugar, milk, coffee, stir, top off, and enjoy!


Milk Coffee Stir

Top it off

EnjoyIn case you’re wondering, HH’s mug is the “C” mug (it’s bigger) and mine is the Blackbeard’s. It’s a restaurant in my hometown and it feels a little bit like home to enjoy it every day. 🙂 If you decide to try out this delightful coffee making method and save yourself fourbucks or so, let me know!

Here are the product details in case you’re interested in trying this at home!

I don’t think Bialetti is making our particular frother anymore (at least not on Amazon.com — I bought ours in the UK at amazon.co.uk), but here are some similar ones: