Nothing beats drip coffee on busy mornings. You only have so much time before you have to rush out the door, so what’s not to love about having a coffee machine that does the hard work for you while you go about fixing your hair and brushing your teeth? But while drip coffee is a godsend during the work week, it’s nice to treat yourself to a little something special on the weekends. A latte with extra foam on top? Happy Saturday to me.
This weekend, instead of spending $5 on an overpriced coffee, try your hand at making your favorite coffee shop beverage at home. You won’t have to deal with the insanely long lines at Starbucks, which means you’ll have more time to do the things you love this weekend — like binge-watching Netflix and snuggling your cat.
To learn how to make the most popular coffee drinks at home, I spoke with Allie Caran, the director of education for Williamsburg-based coffee chain Toby’s Estate. A passionate home coffee brewer herself, Caran shared the various ways coffee lovers can easily recreate their favorite drinks at home.
How to Make a Latte
The key components of any good latte are a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. When making espresso-based drinks, Caran advises serious coffee connoisseurs to invest in an actual espresso machine (she recommends Breville). Even if you purchase high-quality espresso beans at the store, you won’t achieve the classic latte flavor by brewing them like regular drip coffee.
What makes espresso distinctive isn’t the actual beans themselves, but rather the process used to brew them. Espresso relies on pressure, typically from steam, to brew a concentrated, strong cup of coffee. To achieve this effect, you have to use an espresso machine or something similar, like an Aeropress, which brews with this specific process.
At Toby’s Estate, baristas use a double shot of espresso and roughly two ounces of water in their lattes. Once they’ve pulled the espresso, steamed milk is added, then a thin layer of milk foam. Caran says whole milk works best for lattes, as it becomes ultra silky when steamed. However, if you don’t have an espresso machine, a hand whisk is a good substitute for making frothy milk (just heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds before whisking to make it taste more like steamed milk).
If you need a specific espresso to steamed milk ratio, the Huffington Post recommends using 60 ml espresso, 300 ml steamed milk, and 2 ml milk foam for lattes.
How to Make an Americano
According to The Spruce Eats, the Americano was popularized by US soldiers stationed in Italy during WWII. The story goes that the soldiers found Italian espresso much too strong so they diluted it with some hot water to mimic the drip coffee they drank back home.
The Americano is arguably the easiest espresso drink you can make at home, as it’s simply a 1:1 ratio of hot water and espresso. To make an Americano, first, pour the hot water into a cup, then pull the espresso over the water. Caran says adding the espresso after you’ve poured in the water prevents your first sip of coffee from being too diluted. At Toby’s Estate, they use a double shot of espresso in their Americanos, which is an option for home brewers as well. To make a double shot of espresso, simply use twice the amount of espresso beans and water that you’d use to make a single shot of espresso.
How to Make a Mocha
Believed to be named after the city of Mocha, Yemen, mochas are essentially “chocolate-forward lattes”—i.e. some genius realized that chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk are a winning combo. You can make your homemade mocha as fancy or simple as you want; it really all comes down to the kind of chocolate you add to your coffee.
Toby’s Estate adds 30 grams (roughly 2 tablespoons) of house-made chocolate syrup into their mochas, but home brewers can achieve a similar flavor by stirring store-bought hot chocolate mix or two to three squares of Hershey’s chocolate into their morning coffee.
To make a mocha, first, add the chocolate syrup or powder to a cup. Then, pull a shot of espresso over the chocolate and add the steamed milk (the precise amount of milk you use is up to you; more milk will dilute the chocolate and coffee flavor, less milk will make for a more intense drink). If you’ve steamed the milk correctly, the ingredients should blend together on their own as the milk is slowly poured in. And if you don’t have the ability to steam milk yourself, don’t fret. Just warm the milk in the microwave and mix everything together with a spoon — it’ll still taste good!
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee
If you always seem to be short on time in the mornings and want something easy for both the work week and the weekends, cold brew coffee is the drink for you. Unlike iced coffee, which is simply hot drip coffee that’s been poured over ice, cold brew involves brewing coarsely ground coffee beans at room temperature for a long period of time. No special equipment is needed to make homemade cold brew, as you simply need a container or jug that can hold the coffee grounds and water needed for the cold brew.
However, if you’re willing to invest in a cold brew system Caran recommends either the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker or the Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pot. The one major benefit of investing in a cold brew system is that it makes it easier to separate the coffee grounds from the water. Without a cold brew system, you’ll need to pour the cold brew through a coffee filter before drinking it.
To make cold brew coffee, combine coarsely ground coffee beans with water and let the mixture rest on your countertop for 18-24 hours. You’ll need to use 1 cup of water for every ounce of coffee used, which is about twice as much coffee as you use for regular drip coffee.
Caran advises coffee drinkers to dilute their cold brew with either milk or water, as it’s a highly concentrated beverage. Toby’s Estate dilutes its cold brew in a 1:1 ratio (one part coffee to one part water), but feel free to play around with it to figure out what flavor you like best. Cold brew keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks, making it the perfect coffee drink to prep before a busy week.
Changing up your weekend cup of coffee is easier than you’d think, and the extra few minutes it’ll take you to whip up one of these popular coffee drinks is totally worth it. If you can’t be bothered with making a complicated drink first thing in the morning, consider cold brew and Americanos your new BFFs. And if you’re willing to invest a little more time into your weekend morning routine, go for a latte or mocha after you roll out of bed. Your morning routine sets the mood for the rest of your day, so get into a good mood by treating yourself to a coffee shop-quality drink for a fraction of the cost.