Coffee. Coffee. C.O.F.F.E.E. One of the things I miss the most about living in a city/working in an office is going out for coffee. Sitting down over coffee is not part of the Italian culture. They order an espresso, knock it back and move on. When I worked in the city, we’d go out and grab a coffee at least 4 or 5 times a day. We’d take it back to the desk or drink it there, either way it was a great way to take a break and recharge.
These days, I don’t get to socialise or enjoy a barista-made latte ☹️. I can hear the Italian espresso purists tittering, but I love lattes. I could never justify spending $5 on an espresso back home and I associate cappuccinos with my mother, so latte was a perfect compromise. After years of working at home, I’ve perfected making my own latte partly because I can’t live without coffee and partly because I want to maintain as much of the office atmosphere as I can.
You don’t need fancy tools to make a good latte at home, which is why I’m sharing two ways to make the espresso part.
1. with your basic pod machine
Grab your latte glass and fill with boiling water to warm. This is important because otherwise you shock your coffee with the temperature change and it tastes gross.
Tilt your cup, so the coffee runs down the side and brew about two tablespoons of espresso. That’s the Italian standard. If you want to a weaker coffee, you can always brew it longer.
2. with a mocha pot
I’m including a mocha because it’s the cheapest coffee machine out there. You can pick up a Bialetti mocha for €9 on Amazon. It’s the most traditional way to make Italian espresso and for many, the best. It reminds me of my childhood. We use to pull out our mocha pot every morning and it would fill the house with the smell of roasting beans. A mocha coffee is stronger and more intensely flavoured than the same made in an espresso machine.
Fill the base with water and the little domed insert with ground coffee. Use a fine grind coffee and make sure you fill the insert completely. Tamp it down with the back of a spoon, but don’t press too hard. If the coffee is too compact, the water can’t filter through it.
Put it on the hob and stay close. If you’re not around when the coffee starts to pour out, you’ll have it all over your stovetop in a matter of seconds.
To froth the milk, heat it in a small saucepan until it’s almost boiling. Grab an immersion blender, again you can pick one up on Amazon for €10, and froth to your heart’s content. You’re not looking for a cappuccino foam here just frothy milk. You can also get the same result with a mini hand whisk, if you don’t feel like pulling out the blender.
Pour the heated milk over your espresso and enjoy. I being of the Starbucks generation love to spike my latte. You can pick up different essences from the supermarket and they work just as well, if not better than syrups.
My favourites? Vanilla, almond and, for when I’m feeling naughty, rum!