Introduction: The Off-Grid Latte : Foamy Perfection With No Electricity or Espresso Machine
Having owned (and been spoiled by owning) a pair of espresso businesses about 7 years ago, hubby and I have become increasingly curmudgeonly about the quality of our home brewed lattés.
Home-style espresso machines were unsatisfactory for us, lacking the steam pressure to pull a perfect shot. Not willing to spend thousands on a quality machine, we gave up and learned to enjoy the espresso drinks we could find on the street.
A year or two ago, we happened across the Cold Brew system of coffee making. In this system, coarsely ground coffee is soaked in cold water for 12-24 hours, creating a triple strength coffee extract. Since no heat is used, only the aromatic compounds in the coffee beans soak into the extract with little to no acid created. When diluted with hot water, the cold-brew extract makes a uniquely smooth and flavorful cup of coffee. ( We use the Toddy Cold Brew system, but there are many others; Check this Instructables site for DIY versions or Google for more information on cold brewing).
It took me awhile (I'm not the brightest bulb in the 4-pack) but when my husband started using the undiluted extract for a quasi-Cuban coffee, it occurred to me that the cold-brew extract was a lovely substitute for espresso. Now, what to use for foaming the milk for lattés?
After digging around in the cupboards, I unearthed an old French press pot, and we entered a new era of home-made lattés and brevés, made with dense, velvety foam and smooth, rich coffee extract.
Enjoy this simple 'Ible and the great lattés you can make at home or when camping off the grid.
Step 1: Get Your Stuff Together
Here's enough for two 16 oz lattés
You need, of course, some version of Cold Brew coffee extract, 2 to 4 oz per cup or to taste.
16 oz of milk; whole, skim, 2%, half&half, soy, goat- it matters not.
Any flavoring syrup you may normally use.
A French press pot which has at LEAST a 32 oz capacity
A small saucepan to heat the milk
A thermometer, if you have one, but its not really necessary.
A towel or potholder to hold the press pot with. This IS necessary
Step 2: Ask Mom If You Can Use the Stove
Measure out 16 oz (2 cups) of milk into a saucepan and start heating.
Ideally you want the milk somewhere between 180° F and 200°F, (83°C to 93°C) but don't worry if the milk boils- it might taste a bit scorched is all. Without a thermometer, take your milk off the heat when bubbles form around the edges and start to cover the surface but before the surface starts to expand upward.
You can, of course nuke your milk in the microwave, but you will need to experiment to know just how long it takes to get the milk to 200°F or so in your own micro.
Step 3: Now- Back and Forth and Back and Forth.
Once your milk is hot, pour it carefully into your French press pot and insert the screen and lid.
Put your towel or potholder on the top to protect your hand from the heat. Hold firmly at the top and start slowly pumping the knob up and down.
Hold on tightly- HOT HOT HOT!
Normally, a minute or two of pumping is sufficient to create a super-dense and velvety foam. The milk will approximately double in volume during foaming.
Step 4: Ah, Now You Pour
Once your milk is sufficiently foamed, add any flavoring into your cups and slowly pour the milk on top. You can add the coffee extract either before or after the milk.
(In order not to cool your latté too much, you may want to heat the extract for a few seconds in the microwave before pouring it into your milk.)
Grab a spoon and revel in the foamy fabulousness of your Cold Brew home-brewed drink!
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