I cannot start my day without coffee. I dream about the coffee I am going to drink the next morning as I fall asleep at night. While I’m okay with drip coffee (with cream, of course), my preference is for a latte or a cappuccino. It all started with my very first job when I was sixteen. I worked at a little café that served specialty coffee and very quickly became addicted to espresso and milk. (I guess it’s a good thing my first job wasn’t at a drug store?) I’ve wanted an espresso maker ever since I moved out on my own. For a while, my husband and I had one in our tiny apartment. My father-in-law had received a fancy machine for his birthday and didn’t have the heart to return it, so he let us have it. It was a behemoth. We had no counter space and no cupboard space, so it was stored in our bedroom. I only dragged it out for special occasions, and it was a PAIN to clean. I decided my dreams of having a daily dose of milk and espresso would have to be put on hold until we moved into a home with a more spacious kitchen. Alas, move into a larger home we did, but now part of the counter is my home office. My latte cravings were getting expensive. You can’t get a latte for less than $5, and without a fancy, space-hogging machine at home, I thought I would just have to make do with my French press. But then, last Christmas, my sister-in-law (check her out at Breaking Bland Eats) gave me the proverbial fishing pole of coffee independence. She gave me an electric milk frother and warmer. Pour in the milk and press the button to get straight, warmed milk, or use the frother attachment to get enough foam for the perfect cappu. You can get one at Amazon for less than $50!
At Ikea I bought a stovetop espresso maker for $16.99, and without sacrificing prime counter-space, I have been making one . . . make that two lattes every day for a whole year! And yeah, they ARE just as good as the ones I used to buy at Starbucks! (You can find stove-top espresso makers on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com too, but they’re pricier than Ikea.)
Using a stovetop espresso maker is super easy. Fill the base with water, put finely ground coffee into the basket, screw on the body and put it on the stove. As the water boils, it rises up and pushes through the coffee to form a delicious espresso that’s ready in about ten minutes.
I drink a lot of coffee (obviously), so I buy my beans at Costco and stock up when they’re on sale. If you plan on using fresh beans, you’ll also need a grinder, which will run you about $30.
I also use my milk frother to heat up milk and Chai-tea concentrate for yummy chai tea lattes when I need a break from lattes.
The foam is way frothier and thicker with my little machine than it ever was using the frother spout on my jumbo espresso machine. I typically have lattes because there’s more to drink so they last longer. But if I feel like some foam, I can make a wicked cappuccino!
One-time equipment cost: $60-$100
Cost per latte: 1 cup of milk (30 cents) + 25 g of coffee (50 cents) = 80 cents*
*Based on a 4 L jug of milk at $4.50 and a 900 g bag of coffee beans at $17 (both purchased at Costco)
Both my espresso maker and frother make the same amount of beverage as a Grande Starbucks. (And it looks the same, too, when I use my Starbucks reusable cup!) With my home-brew set up—which is convenient to use and takes up almost no counter space—I can drink a latte every day of the year for less than the price of two lattes a week at Starbucks!