I miss the days of lingering in a coffee shop with not much to do. Smooth, indeterminate indie folk music (or maybe jazz? It's been so long, I can't remember) plays in the background. Freelancers and aspiring influencers are furiously typing on their keyboards. But with the winter weather (among other things) keeping us inside, you might as well be your own barista and re-create that coffee shop experience with some homemade coffee drinks.
Cappuccino: For this, you'll need 1-2 shots of espresso and 4 oz. (1/2 cup) fresh whole milk. You can use an espresso machine or a manual espresso maker, or the Aeropress method. The idea with a cappuccino is that it's equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
Cold Brew: This will give you a boost of energy, that's for sure. Grind 1 cup of whole coffee beans to a coarse cornmeal consistency. Add the coffee grounds to a 1-1/2 glass container, then add 4 cups of water and stir gently. Cover and let it steep overnight. Line a small strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the coffee through the strainer. Transfer the coffee to a small bottle or jar and store in the fridge for up to a week!
Café Au Lait: "Au lait" is French for "with milk," so café au lait is not much more complicated than that. It's coffee with hot milk. You could even use your regular old coffee maker for this one. (Listen, I love coffee, and I'm loyal to my Mr. Coffee machine.)
Flat White: This is 1 shot of espresso, 2 shots of steamed milk, and a little micro-foam. (Less foam than a latte, but consult your local barista friend for a detailed lecture on the nuances between a latte, flat white, and cappuccino. Or at least your friend who thinks they're a barista.)
Caffe Latte: 1 shot espresso, 2 parts steamed milk, 1 part milk foam. Lattes are laid back, dependable, and simple joys of life.
Macchiato: This is 1 shot of espresso and a dash of steamed or hot milk. It gets the job done without overpowering the espresso flavor.
Place the milk in a pitcher, and place the steaming wand just below the milk's surface. It should double in size and become very foamy. Lower the steaming wand slightly until the milk becomes 150 degrees F. Swirl the milk container a couple of times, then pour the milk and foam into the beverage center.
Espresso con Panna: 1 part espresso, 1 part whipped cream. This is for those days when you need a little more than just milk. You're feeling spontaneous and indulgent, and adding whipped cream to your espresso may be the solution.
Mocha: equal parts espresso, hot chocolate, and steamed milk. For those of you who have absolutely no problem or shame adding chocolate to coffee: I stand with you.
Café Cubano: Cuban coffee is robust and bitter, hence some extra sugar to sweeten the deal. Make your espresso with Cafe Bustelo for the true experience. This authentic Cuban staple uses espresso with "espumita," a sugar foam.
Many of these are arguably "coffee-inspired," but if you're looking for something a little different than your regular, plain cup of joe, this is it. Whether you're looking for a mid-day iced treat or a fun drink to spice up a cold winter's day, check out these yummy specialty coffee recipes that you can make at home:
Bicerin: This hot drink is native to Turin, Italy--made with espresso, hot chocolate, and milk served layered in a small glass.
Caffè Corretto: An Italian beverage made of a shot of espresso with a small amount of liquor, usually grappa, and sometimes sambuca or brandy. It is also called an "espresso corretto."
Hot White Russian: Hot (and strong) coffee, Kahlúa, whole milk, vodka, and whipped cream (for garnish). Two kinds of booze and hot coffee will surely warm you up on a cold winter's night.
Spanish Coffee: I'll go ahead and link to the recipe on this one because it involves lighting things on fire. I'm just not ready to wield that kind of authority. But I will say that I will be making this drink in my lifetime. It’s a warm, bittersweet coffee cocktail, a delicious after-dinner drink for staying up late on a cold night.
Irish Coffee: This is hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar--all stirred together and topped with cream. Often in restaurants, Irish coffees can be overwhelmingly rich and sweet. So making them at home, you can make them however you want!
Whipped Coffee: There was a time in 2020 when everyone was making this on social media. But if you missed out, it's certainly not too late to give it a try! Start with a milk base (Your preference of type. I also have seen some people add a bit of flavored creamer). For the whipped coffee, beat together 2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso, 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of tap water with an electric mixer on high until thick and frothy (about 5 minutes). Dollop on top of your milk and enjoy!
Affogato: Ice cream, espresso, and coffee, all garnished with chocolate and hazelnuts? What more could you want in an indulgent drink?
Chai Cold Brew: Starbucks has definitely thrown this flavor combo into the spotlight. A "dirty chai" (coffee and chai always hits the spot. Those chai spice flavors mixed with coffee and creamer are unbeatable. But the cold brew version? Even better.
Coffee Smoothie: If you want to add a little caffeine boost to your morning smoothie, this is a perfect choice. Add your favorite fruits, nut butter, and seeds to your smoothie, along with a splash of cooled coffee for an extra kick.
Coconut Horchata Iced Coffee: Horchata is a Mexican classic and a sunny-day staple. But horchata and iced coffee is a match made in heaven. I'm trying one as soon as the temperature hits above 70.
Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino: Who says pumpkin is just a fall treat? This is one of Starbucks' most popular coffee drinks. With the popularity of this flavor everywhere, we see no problem with sharing the pumpkin spice love all the way through winter.
A sweet and spiked treat, perfect for a hot day!
a few seconds
strong brewed coffee or cold brew
half-and-half or whole milk
cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, or vanilla powder (optional)
Kahlúa and Creme Iced Coffee
Mix coffee, kahlua, cream, and sugar in a tall glass. Add ice cubes.
Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with your favorite spices (cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg)
Make ice cubes with coffee instead of water to keep the flavor strong!
It won't be long before we're all gathered in a pretentious coffee shop among beanie-clad guys and gals with vague tattoos in Aramaic, an insidious vaping habit, and an eye roll that could kill when you order anything with syrup or milk. But until then, raise your mug to yourself because you're the barista now.