Feeling a little adventurous, I purchased a bag of Starbucks Espresso Roast beans. I do not own an espresso machine. I figured I could “trick” the beans and my coffee maker into behaving like an espresso machine so that I could make myself a latte. If you know how to make real espresso, then you know I attempted the impossible. Using an “espresso roast” is unnecessary since espresso can be made from any bean or roast level.
I learned that in a cooking class I took in college (roll tide). Our professor believed that the ability to properly brew coffee or tea equaled future cooking success; therefore, the first week of classes, he had us in the kitchen lab brewing beverages. I kid you not, we passed the lab IF we served him a satisfactory cup of coffee or tea.
According to my lab manual, which I have kept all these years, my lab partner ground and brewed a dark roast using the drip method. The only other note I have is that it smelled good after about 5 minutes. Shame on me for not tasting it! I was a tea drinker at the time, so I chose to brew tea. I drew the loose orange pekoe straw. I wish I could remember more about this lab without reading my notes because it looks like we went around the kitchen sampling drinks. I bet that was fun.
Dr. Lane writes, “The origin of the word espresso is either from the French expres, meaning “especially for you,’ which explains the misspelling of the word with an “x” (expresso), or the Italian espresso, meaning rapid or fast.” I had forgotten that about the French meaning. It’s interesting to me now that I’ve graduated from tea to coffee because I always feel special when someone turns on the coffee pot just because I am visiting. My guests do, too. It says, “I hope you’ll stay a while.”
Anyway, here’s how I made my latte this morning: I thought I would have to finely grind the beans and adjust the water-to-bean ratio to make it strong enough, but I was wrong. The special Starbucks Espresso Roast is what gives it the espresso flavor. So, I brewed it like a regular pot of coffee.
While the coffee brewed, I heated the milk until it was almost boiling. I should add that I do not know if this is right or wrong — it seemed like the right thing to do. Then I poured the hot milk into a blender (probably could use a hand mixer). The blender did a fine job of creating that frothy foamy goodness that makes a good latte or cappuccino, but I bet pouring the hot milk into the glass cooled it a bit. I poured the coffee into my cup, followed by the milk. Finally, I topped it off with the foam.
I am not exaggerating when I say that my home brew tasted just like the espresso drinks I have purchased in various coffee houses. Which leads to only a few conclusions: 1) I did something right, 2) the coffee houses around here use an espresso roast to make their drinks rather than making real espresso, and/or 3) I have been paying a premium price for phony espresso.
It irks me a little because all these years I’ve believed that I like espresso when I’ve probably never had real espresso. I don’t know; I’m probably wrong. On the positive side, my girlfriends and I can save money by rigging our own drinks from now on.
Take no offense, Baristas; I mean no disrespect. I just want a latte without having to drive across town and drop $5 for it.