Eff the Coffee Shop.

Get one of these… a Mr. Coffee counter-top espresso machine. I got mine at Target for $30 on sale. It’s small, but makes a decent cup of espresso. I’m not going to pretend this is a substitute for a barista using a multi-thousand dollar espresso machine. But, if you’re not a complete coffee snob, then it shouldn’t be a big deal. Hell, I’m so much of a coffee snob that I home-roast my own coffee beans… but I love this little machine.

…this might have been the best $30 I’ve ever spent

Once a week, I usually make a blender pitcher of caramel “frappuccino” for the wife to have every morning. It’s perfect. She loves it. I make myself a caramel latte on a Friday or an espresso machiatto on the weekend and sit back and relive my trip to Italy. I use Cafe Bustelo from the grocery store… it works great and it’s like $3 for a can. Perfect. And, it sure beats $3 or $4 PER TRIP to Starbuck’s.

My favorite recipes:

Wife’s Caramel Frap:

  • Fill espresso filter to the 4 cup mark, then tamp down the grounds and compress (yes, the directions say not to do this, but I’ve had good luck when I tamp the grounds). Insert the filter into the machine, and lock it into place.
  • Fill the espresso decanter to the bottom of the silver band with warm water, then pour that water into the reservoir and close the cap tightly and brew four cups of espresso.
  • Pour the espresso into a blender pitcher, and add about 2 cups of milk.
  • Squirt in Hershey’s Caramel Syrup to taste… maybe a spoon of sugar, or some vanilla extract, too.
  • Add two large handfuls of ice.
  • Turn the blender on low to crush the ice, then crank it up to grind everything up and aerate the liquid.
  • Enjoy over ice, or add a fresh handful of ice to the blender and blend it all up again. The blender full of frap will keep for the week in the fridge, so my wife fills up a cup to go every morning.
My Caramel Latte:
  • Fill espresso filter to the 2 cup mark, then tamp down the grounds and compress (yes, the directions say not to do this, but I’ve had good luck when I tamp the grounds). Insert the filter into the machine, and lock it into place.
  • Fill the espresso decanter to 3 “cups” with warm water, then pour that water into the reservoir and close the cap tightly and brew two cups of espresso.
  • Turn the machine to “off”, and pour the espresso in your coffee mug. Add Hershey’s Caramel Syrup to taste… maybe a spoon of sugar, too. Mix it all up so the syrup dissolves in the espresso.
  • Get a cup or so of milk in a heat-proof cup… a Pyrex measuring cups works well. Steam the milk until it’s nice and hot, then froth the surface of the milk to build up a nice foam.
  •  Using a spoon to hold back the foam, pour the hot milk into your coffee mug. Scoop a few tablespoons of foam on top and enjoy.

You’ll figure out a favorite recipe. If you know how you like your drinks, figure out how to use the machine to do it at home… guarantee you’ll figure out how to do it and  it’ll work amazingly well.  But, the best part is the price. $30 for the machine (I’ve had mine for three years, and it’s still going strong), $3 for a can of Cafe Bustelo, plus the milk and syrups you’ll use. So, seriously… eff the coffee shop and their $4.50 for a drink. You can make a whole lot of drinks at home for that price.

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