As coffee-based beverages become more and more popular, more Americans are looking for new ways to enjoy high-end coffee shop style cappuccino and espresso drinks at home by learning to do-it-yourself. In the consumer's quest for the ultimate coffee concoction, there are many affordable products on the market to help assist the home brewing enthusiast in this quest. Regardless of which product you choose, endless recipes and combinations of ingredients exist to literally spice up your daily infusion.
First you need to choose the foundation of your beverage: coffee or espresso. Coffee can be drip-brewed, percolated, instant, or cold-pressed. An espresso-based beverage is more likely to satisfy the sophisticated palette of the coffee connoisseur. Espresso at home requires more of an investment in brewing equipment. Real espresso machines cost upwards of $1,000. An affordable and popular alternative are the single-serving coffee machines where you invest in the machine and purchase pre-portioned packages of espresso varieties to brew a serving at a time.
The Difference Between Coffee and Espresso
Still confused about the difference between coffee and espresso? Espresso is a method, originating in Italy, of extracting flavor from the heart of the coffee bean. The technique employs a pump-driven machine to force hot water through the ground coffee beans at high pressure in a short time frame, usually between 20 and 35 seconds. The amount of water used is only about ¾ of an ounce, and the resulting taste is described as smooth, thick, rich, or sweet. So the obvious differences between coffee and espresso are the amount of water used and the brewing or pressing time. Coffee is generally brewed for 4 to 6 minutes depending on the method and individual preferences.
Cappuccino is espresso mixed with equal parts steamed and frothed milk. If you cannot purchase an espresso machine with milk-steaming capabilities, you will have to steam and froth your milk the old-fashioned way: on a stove. The frothing process involves skimming and stirring the hot milk. To layer the milk and espresso, allow the freshly frothed milk a moment to rest and separate (foam on top and milk on the bottom). Pour the steamed milk into your cup first, then pour in the espresso, and top it with the frothed milk using a spoon.
The creative possibilities go on from there. One of the most popular twists on the cappuccino is adding a sprinkle of powdered cocoa or cinnamon. Other combinations take their inspiration from favorite foods such as traditional desserts or candy bars. Try these super-easy recipes or experiment with making your own!
Milky Way Cappuccino: 2 shots espresso, 1 shot chocolate syrup, 1 shot caramel
Java Chai Espresso: 1 shot espresso, prepared chai concentrate, steamed milk, ½ ounce almond syrup
Cafe Corretto: 2 shots espresso, 1 shot brandy, cognac or flavored liqueur
Cafe Romano: 1 shot espresso, served with a twist of lemon or lemon peel
Rocky Road Cappuccino: 1 serving of your prepared cappuccino, 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, 1 tablespoon chocolate sauce, 1 teaspoon of marshmallow crème and ¼ teaspoon finely chopped nuts
Butterscotch Creme Cafe: 1 serving coffee, 3 tablespoons butterscotch syrup, 2 tablespoons of half-and-half cream
Ginger Spiced Coffee: 1 serving coffee, 1 small piece finely chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cinnamon stick
Cafe Borgia: 1 cup coffee, 1 cup hot chocolate, 1 shot cream, sprinkle of grated orange peels
Chocolate Mint Truffle (for the non-coffee drinker) – 1 cup hot chocolate, 2 chocolate coated mint candies topped with 1 tablespoon whipped topping and 1 fresh mint sprig
Espresso Martini: 1 shot espresso cooled to room temperature, 1 shot premium vodka, 1 splash liqueur in flavor of your choice (try amaretto, Irish creme, Godiva chocolate or any favorite), garnish with 3 whole espresso beans
Mexican Coffee: your favorite brewed coffee, 2 cups whipped topping gently mixed with ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
French Vanilla Coffee: your favorite brewed coffee, equal portion of milk heated to scalding temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cinnamon stick, sweetener to taste