My dad always jokes that he makes the best coffee in our family. He’s the kind of guy who goes to HEB and spends a good amount of time wandering the coffee isle looking, not for the best quality coffee, but the cheapest he can find. Whenever he tells me he’s out when I’m going to the store, I know to look for grounds that most closely resemble dirt–because that’s what it tastes like.
I promise I love my father, but after living for a year in Chicago, I got spoiled with some amazing coffee that was nothing like what my dad offers to make. My best friend and her family were literally connoisseurs of espresso and she dragged me along to all the best cafes throughout the city. Coming back to my hometown we have one local shop and Starbucks–both of which I like, but its still nothing like the stuff I had back in Chicago (Morgan I blame you, and if you’re reading this–I miss you girl).
At the beginning of the summer I finally forced my mom to go on a coffee adventure with me to find Caffe Medici–which supposedly has some of the best coffee in Austin. Let me tell you, we were definitely not disappointed and happily sat in the car sipping on some of the best coffee I had had in weeks.
At the moment, living almost an hour away from downtown, I realize it’s just not practical for me to go and get coffee every time I feel like it. So instead, on the fourth of July morning, I decided to try my best to recreate a big city style cappuccino with a twist–homemade almond milk (taken from this book here). Today, I have decided to share that with you 🙂
To begin, you need to prep just a little bit the night before–soaking a cup of whole almonds in enough water to cover them overnight. This helps the almonds break down easier when we blend the crap out of them later and unlocks all that healthy goodness.
(I did want to mention before I got into the recipe that you are welcome to use whatever milk you have on hand if you’re not up for making it homemade or want to try this recipe right now. But I also wanted to say it is delicious and you should definitely still try it someday anyway.)
Bright and early the next day, put your almonds in your blender with four cups of water and enjoy making way too much noise–waking up everyone in the house and your surrounding neighbors. It kind of sounds like you’re blending rocks to be completely honest.
If you like your almond milk a little bit sweeter like we do, plop in about 2-3 medjool dates (sans the pits of course) and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Blend some more.
Now that you’ve massacred them to your heart’s content, transfer the mixture to a cheesecloth or dishtowel draped over a bowl. Make sure to really go after it and squeeze all the moisture out so you don’t waste any.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! You need to use a cheesecloth of some sort and not a plain old pasta strainer because you will end up with a gritty, nasty mess.
No one likes sandy-crap in their coffee.
Once that’s all finished, the best storage solution for your fresh, delicious almond milk is going to be a glass jar (hopefully one large enough so you don’t spill it everywhere like I did).
Now it’s time to prep for your espresso shots. While at Thunderbird Coffee–another more laid back and chill coffee shop in Austin–we picked up some Cuvee espresso beans. I was ecstatic to find out that they use this certain brand at Caffee Medici too. It has a very nutty, robust flavor and is made locally here in town–which is another plus!
It’s best to only grind enough coffee for one use, that way it stays fresh–the gorgeous aromas you smell once it’s blended are actually your coffee grinds going stale. I’m terrible at measuring things, so I ended up with enough for another day too that I dumped in a baggie in the freezer.
I grind my beans in a Ninja Blender because we don’t have a coffee grinder that works considering we keep breaking them. Make do with what you have and aim for a fine, almost powdery grind.
This step all depends on how you like to make your espresso. We opted to use our french press (a cheaper version of this)–piling in about 4 level tablespoons for a little over a cup of coffee. Make sure your water is boiling before you use it, and leave it to brew for around 4 minutes.
To curb the acid, add a pinch of salt too with your grounds (a helpful tip from Alton Brown).
We’re kind of spoiled here because even though we don’t have an espresso maker, we do have an Aeroccino that was given to us by a family friend. Store-bought almond milk does not foam worth a flip because it is lacking the protein it takes to make a gorgeous fluffy whip.
Homemade almond milk, on the other hand, does not disappoint and makes coffee taste that much better. You can just heat up your milk or give it a good froth if you like too–it’s all up to you.
We like it strong here at the Dubcak house and made our cappuccinos with a cup of almond milk to two shots of espresso–a usual cappuccino is one shot (1 oz) to four ounces hot milk and foam.
For some reason we thought we were being super inventive and used an actual shot glass to measure it all out. I’m not sure if it was us or the shot glass but Mom and I were bouncing off the walls later because we obviously poured in way too much.
Proceed with caution when adding your espresso and adjust it to your liking.
The tough part is over. Finish by adding a dash of cinnamon or even some chocolate shavings on top of your cup of absolute perfection. Feel free to try and make patterns in your coffee–my mom’s cappuccino is pictured above and she did a much better job at mastering coffee art than I did.
You should feel super fancy right now because you have now successfully made a coffee drink worthy of any big city coffee snob.
I hope you’ll either make yourself a fancy cappuccino or even go on your own coffee adventure and experience something outside of your local Starbucks. Stay tuned for a Gluten-Free Scone recipe and book review soon (as hinted by the photograph above).
I hope you all have a lovely week, and I’ll talk to you soon 🙂