November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Latte

A day before the election, I've decided to come out as a latte-sipping liberal.

It's somewhat amusing that this has become a slur. In my America, we take the best way of doing something and embrace it, or try to improve upon it. Boiling the hell out of your coffee or dripping your coffee through a filter will get you some coffee-flavored liquid and plenty of caffeine. But better ways have been invented, so why not make espresso? You don't need a fancy machine, as a friend showed me.

This is how we make coffee at home; it's basically Italian coffee. And we really like it.

And since I like milk in my coffee, I also simulate "lattes" at home. Since I am no baristi, I have no idea what I'm technically making. It's a mix of milk and coffee, the percentages vary, and I drink them hot and cold.

But at the local coffee shops, I often enjoy what they're calling a "pumpkin spice latte." In the fall, this shows up on the menu all over the place. What is it? Just as Mock Apple Pie contains no apples, this contains no pumpkin. It's just the spices. Thus the name, "Pumpkin Spice."

Since I like this flavor even out of the fall season, I want to figure out how to make it at home. The flavor itself is easy. It's dominated by cinnamon, with clove, ginger and nutmeg in the background. I found a decent recipe on-line here. Essentially:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Simmer to make simple syrup. Add:

  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

You simmer for 5 minutes and then strain out the grit using cheesecloth. Finish it up with:

  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Store the mixture, and use it at a ratio of about 1 Tbsp per shot of espresso in your beverage.

I tried this recipe, substituting Splenda for the sugar (I used the kind that measures correctly for baking). The aroma and flavor were perfect. But I didn't have cheesecloth, and nothing else I tried really filtered the stuff at all. A coffee filter was useless, as was a wire strainer.

I made a latte this morning with the gritty mixture, and it tasted right, but the gunk at the bottom was gross. The Splenda also had a tendency to form a thick syrup that held the grit. This was fine, until I got to the bottom of my mug, and then it was gross. So I'm still working on this one.

But not so fast on the "mock pumpkin spice" -- here's a recipe that uses pumpkin pie filling. And what's more, it's a crock-pot recipe that can be scaled up for parties. I can imagine a more "festive" version of this in which you add a shot of Canadian whiskey to each cup of coffee. That would be a Pumpkin Spiked Latte.

There are definite possibilities here.

Posted by James at November 3, 2008 9:06 AM
Create Social Bookmark Links

So glad you discovered the Moka Express! I didn't know you didn't know about it or I would have recommended it myself. I have been using that for years now and I love it! In Portugal we call that kind of coffee "Cafe Puro" because Espresso is what comes out of those steam machines - cause it's fast.

I get my beans at local coffee shops, I'll usually ask them for custom blends, then I grind them as I use them. Try to get a small handful of the beans, get a good whiff of them, and eat one of the beans! It's the only way to know if it will be to your taste. You'll also be able to make your own blends that way!


You can also use that pot when you are camping! Probably best to keep it on a low fire, though.

How do you froth your milk? I'll be trying this recipe out, and the pizza one, thanks.

Posted by: Rui at November 3, 2008 2:20 PM

I heat the milk first, then froth it with a sort of high speed whisk.

Works quite well, and the froth lasts a good long time if the milk is heated well enough. Room temperature milk doesn't froth well.

Posted by: James at November 3, 2008 3:07 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved