How to make the perfect cafe latte at home
Observing a barista whip together a specially crafted espresso drink can feel a little like watching a magician. A little bit of steam, some fancy arm movements and suddenly a perfect creamy latte with just a hint of foam appears ready for you to enjoy.
Unfortunately those lattes from your favourite java spots can start to add up, budget-wise. The disposable cups, lids and sleeves used to hold the drinks also contribute to unnecessary waste.
So, can you pull off the same coffee magic at home? Absolutely. Making a latte at home takes just a few simple steps. No elaborate machines needed. Just:
- Coffee or espresso
1. Brew up a batch of double strong coffee. If you have an espresso maker, make 1 to 2 shots of espresso.
2. While the coffee is brewing, heat 1 to 1 ½ cups organic milk in a saucepan. Two percent milk will make a creamier, rich latte, but skim or one percent will also work. You can also give soy, almond, hemp or rice milk a try!
3. Use a whisk and a little muscle to whip the milk into froth. If you’re not into the arm workout (or your arm gets tired before the milk has heated), you could use a blender or food processor instead.
4. Pour the coffee or espresso into your favourite mug. Leave a little room for the milk and foam. Then drizzle the milk over the coffee. Make sure to hold back the froth with a spoon. Finish by layering the froth over the top of the beverage.
How to make the perfect espresso at home
1. Beans: Buy your coffee beans from a specialist supplier Antico coffee that knows how old the beans are and when and where they were processed and roasted. Fresher beans produce a better espresso, which should be viscous and full of flavour with a good crema. A bad coffee will be thin and flat-tasting.
Always buy whole beans. Fresh beans should be stored away from light and heat at a constant temperature. There's no need to store beans in the freezer; a cupboard away from a heat source will suffice, but use them within three weeks. Make sure the beans are kept in an airtight container.
2. The roast: Your bag of coffee beans should have a roast date on the back. We believe beans should be used between four days and three weeks after roasting for optimal flavour.
3. The grind: It's vital you get the grind right as this controls the rate of extraction, which in turn affects flavour. If the beans are ground too fine, a burnt or "ashy" flavour may result. If ground too coarse, the espresso will taste watery and thin, as the water will pass through too quickly without extracting all the flavours and oils in the coffee.
4. Clean and dry: Make sure there is no moisture (or old coffee grinds) in your porter filter and basket. If the coffee comes into contact with moisture, it could begin extracting too early. Use a tea towel to wipe the parts clean.
5. Tamping: Serious home baristas should invest in a tamper to compact their coffee evenly into the basket. Fill the basket about three-quarters full with ground coffee. Tap the basket on your bench to "collapse" the coffee and ensure the basket is filling evenly. Add more coffee and collapse again until full, but not overly. After tamping, the basket should be about four-fifths full. If coffee sits too hard-up against the machine's shower screen, you may get an uneven extraction; too far away and the espresso may taste muddy.
6. Purge your machine by running some water through it before making your espresso.
7. Make the espresso.
Signs of good coffee: In the first instance the machine will deliver drips before a steady stream of espresso. Fresh coffee will be slightly viscous and will almost look like it's springing back up because of the oils in the beans.
Your 30ml espresso shot should have a nice crema on top. This is the lighter, fluffier substance that sits on the surface. Crema looks like tiny bubbles and is reddish-brown or hazelnut in colour and dissipates after a minute or two. Lack of crema is a sign your coffee beans are past their best.