Drink it hot, hot, hot

Seasonal drinks: Warm up this winter with homemade barista-style hot drinks

December 25, 2013 

Mmmm — cozy fireplace, hanging out with friends, salted caramel lattes or white chocolate peppermint mochas … Sounds like the holidays, but it also sounds like a trip to the local coffee shop that will set you back money you’d probably rather save for paying off all those holiday expenses. The solution? Make your own seasonal hot drinks. Thanks to syrups, home coffee gear and some tips from local experts, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

“Right now our pumpkin spice latte and eggnog latte are the popular drinks,” says Duane Abad, general manager of Treos Café in Old Town, Tacoma. “We also have a chai eggnog latte … the spice mix is a concentrate made specially for us, with lots of ginger and mace to bring out the eggnog.”

If your mouth’s already watering, you’re not alone. One look at the menu of any cafe in town will show you that seasonal hot drinks sell well — this is the time of year for pumpkins, apples, eggnog, peppermint, spices and marshmallows, and if we can combine them with a hot drink to counter the fog and chill outside, all the better. You don’t even have to have a shot of espresso, though it helps.

But shelling out around $4 every time you crave a shot of spicy warmth gets old quickly. Luckily for you, we asked Seattle Coffee Gear, a new espresso machine retail store in Bellevue, to share its most popular recipes, with tips on how to create your own perfect hot drink. Most recipes are a simple mix of steamed milk, espresso and syrup, such as the salted-caramel or pumpkin-spice lattes. You’ll need equipment for making espresso (like a countertop or stovetop machine), plus a way of steaming milk (such as a countertop machine or hand-held frother).

“I generally add the sauce and syrup together to the serving cups first, and stir well to combine,” advises Kat Oak, who creates SCG’s recipes. “Then add espresso on top of that, and stir to make sure all are well-incorporated. Then, if you pour your milk so that the milk, not the foam, goes in first (try holding the foam back with the back of a spoon), it should mix with the espresso concoction. Then spoon the foam on top.”

Top with whipped cream for more sweetness, then a drizzle of sauce for extra taste and decoration. Looking for less sugar? Many syrups come in sugar-free varieties, though you might not have the complete range of flavor. Oak uses Monin sauces and syrups, while Abad says Treos uses either Torani or flavors made specifically for them.

Other recipes use actual ingredients to contribute the seasonal flavors. Treos makes their eggnog latte simply by adding espresso to steamed eggnog — you could top with a shake of nutmeg and cinnamon. One way to create a salted caramel latte is to make the drink with espresso and caramel sauce, top with steamed milk then stir in a pinch of sea salt.

For SCG’s apple spice latte, though, you juice your own apples before frothing with milk, adding espresso and garnishing with spice. You could try a similar technique with pumpkin puree, adding sweetener as necessary.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@ thenewstribune.com

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