The Off-Grid Latte : Foamy Perfection With No Electricity or Espresso Machine




Introduction: The Off-Grid Latte : Foamy Perfection With No Electricity or Espresso Machine

About: Hubby and I have given up the ordinary in order to live and travel full-time in our vintage motor home. Our St. Bernard dog and 2 kitties travel with us, as we slowly amble along the back roads of America l...

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.

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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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    11 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 3

    I'm using the same technique and it really works great!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    A french press is known as a "coffee plunger" in Australia. I was reading this thinking "Oh man, this coffee looks so good, if only I had a french press?" but then I saw the image and was pleased to see that it was just your run of the mill $5 plunger.

    I like the idea of cold brewing coffee, I'm not a fan of the sharp acidic taste some coffee has.

    I don't have anything to brew coffee in though, so I might use the press for that too.

    I am so with you on the quality of what home machines put out. I think I have filled an entire shelf in my garage with ones that are now sitting collecting dust and will never be anything more than a cutesy countertop item that takes up space.
    I am going to try this, it looks great!

    Nice! I like that Toddy cold brew system. I use a similar technique for making ice coffee. Here's the instructable. I use a 12-cup (48 oz.) french press that I rarely use for regular coffee.

    It's also cool to see the french press foaming technique. I'd have to recommend the dirt cheap foamer from Ikea, too. Only $2!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for posting, this method works VERY well. It is especially useful when we have a house-full of impatient coffee hounds stumbling into the morning kitchen! (helps get them excited to pitch in with breakfast prep) Thanks for the cold brew link


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, this is a great idea! I've wanted to make lattes at home but I do not want a big 'ol espresso machine in my kitchen. I'll definitely try this out - thanks!


    8 years ago on Step 3

    Yes! I have been trying to figure this out for so long. I use an Aeropress which also produces what is basically espresso and I didn't want to buy an espresso maker just to steam the milk.