That Back-To-School Boost - Part 2

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yesterday, I talked about why it is important to buy freshly roasted and whole coffee beans. Today, I'm going to talk about the different drinks and two syrups you can make at home.

When you order a drink at a coffee shop, whether it's a chain like Starbucks or just a local cafe, there are many choices. An espresso is coffee produced with a pump or lever machine. If you order just an espresso, you'll get roughly 2 oz. of coffee. It is the base of almost all the coffee drinks at coffee shops. A cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 frothed milk. A caffe latte (or just simply latte) is espresso and steamed milk. Sometimes it is topped with a thin layer of frothed milk. There is one important detail many people overlook - ordering a cappuccino or caffe latte does not mean flavoring! If you want a caramal latte, you have to say caramal latte so the barista will add the syrup. If you simply order a latte, you will get coffee and milk. No caramel, no mocha, nothing. I don't even think they put sugar in it. Same goes when ordering a cappuccino.

If you find yourself constantly buying drinks at coffee shops, you may want to invest in an espresso maker and grinder. Mine went for $30 at Wal Mart, but it's a steam machine and not a pump machine. Pump machines make the best quality espresso (hence why they are expensive). Steam machines produce espresso, but it's on the low quality end because it may "burn" the coffee grinds when the hot water passes through. If you are the type that adds sugar and syrups to your drinks, then you'll be fine. I'm content with my machine (at least until I somehow find the money for a pump machine). However, if you are the type that drinks coffee black, then you may notice a taste difference.

As for the coffee syrups, they can be pretty expensive if buying from the store. Being the foodie that I am, I learned to make homemade syrups for more than half the cost. You can pretty much do any flavor if you have the correct extract, but my two favorites are caramel and mocha. One thing I noticed when making the caramel syrup is when it cools to room temperature, a thin solid layer forms at the top. After a bit of poking, I'm thinking it's the margarine. I have no clue on how to prevent this, so I let mine sit in the pan until the layer forms. Then I use a baby strainer and scoop it out. I've had no problems with the mocha syrup. I use plasic squeeze bottles for easy storage and pouring.

It's hard to see the caramel syrup in my picture, but it's there.

Caramel and Mocha Coffee Syrups

Mocha Syrup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup regular cocoa
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Boil water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, add sugar and cocoas. Beat with a whisk or fork until dissolved. Add vanilla and stir. Remove from the heat and let it cool before transfering to a container. Makes 8 ounces.

Source: Recipe Zaar

Caramel Syrup
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and mix together until it becomes moist and sticky. Add water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil mixture for a few minutes before removing from the heat. Let it cool to room temperature. If a solid layer forms, scoop out and throw away. Transfer to a container. Makes 8 ounces.

Source: Recipe Zaar


Steph 10:49 AM  

That was a great post! I'm not a huge coffee drinker so I usually stare at those huge menus for the longest time not sure of what to order and usually just end up with regular coffee. I like your tips on making your own syrup.. at least you know it's corn syrup free.

I ended up making David Levobitz's vanilla icecream and added frozen raspberries to it. I used the kitchen aid to incorporate the berries in and may have actually incorporated too much air... it tastes kind of whipped now, but still very good.

Nazarina A 11:18 AM  

I am definately linking to your page!

Reeni 11:47 AM  

I have an espresso machine that is collecting dust! You have inspired me to get it out and put it to good use.

Stephanie Bourassa 4:18 PM  

I don't know if that would solve the problem, but I've made recipes that required melting caramel or making a type of caramel before, and if I remember correctly, I had to add cream to prevent burning or solidifying. Maybe milk would do the job. You could look it up or someone could confirm, but I'm sure it would help leave it creamy and I don't think it would alter the taste in a bad way.

Megan 12:18 AM  

Great expresso lesson. I love the syrup recipes. I'll have to try them. That cup of java pictured, I want one. :)

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