I am sure you’ve noticed that fall is here. Hurray! Cooler temperatures, calf length boots, the smell of burning firewood, the start of holiday season…and lots and lots of pumpkin anything! (Emilie and I are obsessed with pumpkin…you’ve been warned!) What’s not to love about this season?
Only a few short weeks ago, stores began hawking their fall wares, including Starbucks’ and their release of the famous Pumpkin Latte. I am more of a Caribou Coffee fan myself. Happily, they offer their own pumpkin treats. Yeah, you can still have a Pumpkin Latte, but their signature (at least at my local Caribou) is the Pumpkin White Mocha. Sooooo, sooo decadent, creamy, and delicious! You have to try it! I order mine with skim milk, extra hot, and half the [white] chocolate (Caribou offers any mocha drink in milk, dark, or white chocolate. Your choice! Cool, huh?). When I’m not busy running errands around town, I take my mocha and snuggle in to my favorite orange chair by the fire place and read my Nook. I still think they should make a plaque with my name on it and stick it to that chair.
Mochas and lattes are espresso based drinks. I happen to own an espresso machine (I do not own a drip coffee machine…unless you count the ugly, cheap, travel mug contraption Shawn left at my house that stays stashed where I cannot see it). A decent espresso machine is not cheap. Back in high school, my sister and I pooled our money together to buy our dad an espresso machine for Christmas. We spent about $150. It was a piece of pooh, but Dad did appreciate the thought and love that went behind the gift. When the time came for me to have my own place (and own coffee maker) five years ago, I dropped about $400 on a Saeco Via Venezia. The one I really, really, really wanted went for over $2,000! Not cheap at all, but for me the investment was worth it. My Via Venezia makes wonderful espresso with a pretty and yummy crema even after all these years of continuous use.
Now don’t fret. You do not have to go out and get an espresso machine to make home-made lattes and mochas. A strongly brewed drip or French press coffee substitutes very well for espresso in these cases. The biggest difference, from my perspective, is the creamier mouth feel you get from an espresso. Unless you drink espresso regularly, you probably won’t even miss it. You can even make your own frothy milk using a whisk and either your stove top or microwave, which is what I typically do despite having a steam wand on my machine.
Pumpkin White Mocha
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp White Chocolate chips (When I have room for a splurge, I buy a can of Guitard chocolate chips from Caribou. When I don’t, I use Ghirardelli)
- 2-3 oz espresso or really strong coffee
- 1-2 tbsp of your favorite Pumpkin syrup*
- Pour the milk into coffee mug that can hold at least 12 oz of liquid.
- Add the chocolate chips to the milk
- Place the coffee mug in the microwave and heat at 50% power for 90 seconds
- Remove the coffee mug from the microwave and with a mini-whisk (I found mine at World Market) or fork, whisk the chocolate milk to create a light froth. You’ll see small bubbles, but there will not be foam like in a cappuccino. The chocolate makes the milk too heavy for that.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 one more time.
- Add the Pumpkin syrup to the chocolate milk and whisk with your fork or mini-whisk
- Add the espresso or coffee.
- Give the mocha a gentle stir and it’s ready to drink. Feel free to add whipped cream!
* You can buy flavored syrups from your local Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, World Market, or sometimes even your grocery store. Monin and Torani are popular brands I see in a lot of non-chain coffee shops. Emilie tells me you can also find recipes to make your own flavored syrup all over the internet. Here is one that I came across for a pumpkin syrup:
Making your own espresso:
These are the basic steps I use. HOWEVER, for your own safety (and any possible warranty issues), always follow the instructions that come with your machine.
- Chose your favorite whole bean coffee blend. My favorites are Caribou’s Obsidian and Lacuna, but at the moment I have Guatemala El Paraíso in the pantry.
- Pour the whole coffee beans into a burr mill and turn it to the finest grind setting available. I have a Cuisinart Burr Mill
- Spoon one (1) tbsp of the grounds into the filter basket of your machine’s portal filter. (Tip: I always have the filter basket in the port filter because the handle gives better stability during tamping, which is the next step).
- Take your tamper and press down on the grounds and pack them in as nice and tight as you can.
- Add one (1) more tbsp of grounds on top of the tamped layer and repeat.
- Secure the port filter as directed by your machine’s manual and proceed with the brewing following the manufacturer’s instructions.