Flavored coffees like a lavender latte or French vanilla may seem like a coffee shop treat, but they are actually quite simple to make at home and can feel very refreshing and indulgent. It is usually syrups that are used to add flavor. You can go for fruit-based syrups (which goes perfectly with iced beverages) like strawberry or go for a more autumnal taste like vanilla or hazelnut.
To make a simple syrup base, add equal part granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and brink to a boil stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. After you remove it from the heat let it cool completely before use. You can choose a flavoring item to your liking, and simply add it to this base - it can be sliced strawberries, oranges, vanilla beans, or a cinnamon stick. The options are nearly endless. Allow the mixture to infuse, thus transferring flavor to the syrup.
This simple trick can make your summertime iced coffee a lot more potent. It is recommended to let the brewed coffee cool down to room temperature before pouring it into the ice cube tray. For those who like their coffee strong, you may brew double-strength coffee to freeze.
To make the iced coffee, all you need is fill a glass with the frozen coffee cubes, pour some milk over them, stir and enjoy! If you’d like to tweak your summer coffee to make it more special, you may mix three to four coffee ice cubes in the blender with about five ounces of milk and a teaspoon of honey.
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If you’re a latte fan, you can imitate the coffeeshop experience by getting the milk just right. Latte is a shortened version of the Italian term Cafe Latte, which literally translates into coffee with milk. Essentially a latte is a blend of espresso and steamed milk, topped up with a dollop of milk foam (if you don’t own an espresso machine or a pod coffee maker, a strong French press or double-strength brewed coffee will do the trick). The important difference between steamed and frothed is that frothed milk has a soft bubbly texture that cannot survive without heat. Think of it this way: you can have steamed milk by itself but the same does not apply for frothed milk.
Here are a couple of ways to steam or froth milk without the help of any expensive equipment.
How to Steam:
1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place it on the stovetop.
2. Place a thermometer in the milk to monitor the temperature. If this isn’t possible, just have the thermometer handy to periodically check the temperature.
3. Heat the milk on medium to medium-low. Depending on the type of milk you use, you want to hit a certain temperature to steam it:
4. Occasionally stir the milk to keep it from boiling. Once it hits the appropriate temperature, remove the milk from heat and pour it directly into your coffee, or froth it.
The easiest way to froth the milk is to pour it into a large jar with a lid. Make sure you fill no more than a third of the jar. Screw the lid on tightly, and shake the jar vigorously until the milk is frothy and has roughly doubled in volume. This should take 30 to 60 seconds.
The rule of thumb is: if you don’t use good coffee beans you won’t get a good cup of coffee. Coffee beans have different flavor profiles depending on where they are grown, how they are processed, how they are roasted, and how they are brewed.
The sheer variety can be daunting. At large, there are two types of coffee beans - Robusta and Arabica. The Arabica type of coffee grows in high altitude areas. It is commonly known for its slightly acidic, smooth taste. The first step is to know what type of flavor you want and how caffeine you want in your coffee. Contrary to popular belief, dark roasted coffee beans contain lower levels of caffeine than those whose roasting is light or medium. Light-roast beans have the highest level of caffeine of all the three.
Another important tip is to always check the roast date - you want your beans freshly roasted. If you don’t have a coffee grinder in your house, go for the whole bean bag and ask the supermarket or café to grind them for you.
As far as flavors go, that is really up to personal taste. Let’s say you love the signature brew of your local coffee shop - does it have nutty cocoa notes or maybe more of a citrusy note? It may be a bit of trial and error until you figure out your exact tastes, but it will surely broaden your coffee experience.