Easy Homemade Vanilla Latte
Updated: Oct 25, 2019
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It’s been kind of a long journey for me in the world of “make your coffee at home.” I never seem to be happy with plain drip coffee, and DIY cold brew is often just okay for me. I’ve tried French press coffee, but it’s so finicky. (Speaking of finicky, maybe I should get this out of the way now: Kyle’s a plain drip coffee kind of guy and is happy with literally anything as long as it’s got enough cream and sugar in it. Needless to say, the search for the perfect coffee beverage was a solo one.)
Finally, one Christmas I got Kyle a stovetop espresso pot, some ground espresso specifically for stovetop percolating, and we got down to it.
Stovetop espresso pots are so easy to use and can be even quicker than drip coffee depending on the quantity you're brewing – I even think the process is more fragrant than drip brew. Not only that, but the resulting coffee is robust. It’s hot, strong, and never watery (which, I’m afraid, is how my taste buds always seem to interpret drip brew coffee). All you have to do is fill the bottom of the pot with water to the steam vent, then scoop espresso grounds into the filter to fill – I do not pack the grounds down. Screw the top on, set the pot over a medium-low flame, and you’ll have a beautiful brew in about ten minutes.
Aside from rich, flavorful espresso, the only other element to the latte is the milk. I do prefer my lattes to be lightly sweetened and flavored, so this recipe calls for frothing milk with sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract (I say “a few drops” to be cutesy, but what we’re really after is a glug of vanilla).
I don’t have a fancy machine or even a frothing wand, so I froth my milk the old-fashioned way, by shaking it in a glass jar. I put about a half cup of 2% milk into a glass jar and add the sugar – about a teaspoon. Then it goes into the microwave for about a minute to a minute and a half, depending on your microwave. (You could absolutely heat the milk on the stovetop if you don’t like using the microwave – just put it on medium low till the milk is scalded but not boiling, then pour it into a jar and continue with the recipe from there.) You want the microwaved milk to be quite hot, so the sugar dissolves and so it doesn’t contribute to a lukewarm latte. Nobody wants a lukewarm latte.
Once the milk is heated through, I add a splash of vanilla – I’d guess about half a teaspoon – and then you can screw the top back on the jar, and shake vigorously to get some really good foam going!
Conveniently, I have a teacup that holds almost exactly ¾ of a cup of liquid, so what I do is fill the cup 1/3 of the way with hot espresso (or ¼ cup), then top it off with ½ cup of the foamed milk. If you have a hard time getting the foam out of the jar, scoop it out with a spoon once you've poured your desired amount of milk.
You could sprinkle a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg on top for a bit of spice but I think it looks beautiful just how it is! This is totally delicious and only 88 calories for a lovely little creamy cup of coffee. This would be a tasty afternoon pick-me-up with a cookie, a few squares of dark chocolate, or a banana on the side, or it would make a pretty breakfast beverage with your usual breakfast fare or a croissant. Yum!
Easy Creamy Latte
Serves 1, ¾ c serving size, 88 calories per serving
¼ c strong espresso
½ c 2% milk (I like the 2% because it’s just creamy enough without blowing your health goals)
1 tsp sugar (I use plain granulated white sugar)
½ tsp vanilla
1. Brew espresso according to your stovetop pot or espresso machine’s instructions. (For my Bialetti Moka Pot espresso maker, I fill its base - it has about a 3-cup capacity - to the steam vent. Then I lightly scoop in Illy's ground espresso to fill the filter cup. Screw the lid on.
2. Set the Moka pot over medium low heat and let the coffee percolate for about ten minutes. Once the espresso pot starts making a lot of noise on the stove, you know it’s working its magic! Check on it by lifting the lid once or twice during brewing so you know when to take it off the heat.
3. Meanwhile, pour the milk into a glass jar with a screw-top lid. Add sugar to milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until milk is steaming hot.
4. Carefully take milk out of microwave and add vanilla. Screw the lid back on the jar and shake vigorously to foam. Set aside.
5. In a ¾ cup capacity teacup or coffee cup, pour in ¼ cup of the brewed espresso. Top with sweetened vanilla milk and its foam. Enjoy!
My espresso pot's capacity is about 3 cups, so I usually have about 2¾ cups of espresso leftover. I've never found this to be a problem! I just store it in a jar or small jug in the fridge and reheat what I need when I want another latte.
If you don’t have an espresso pot or machine at home, you don’t have to miss out! Pick up a cup of plain espresso from your local coffee shop – it’s a great thing to keep in the fridge, and I think it might even be a bit cheaper than buying yourself a fresh espresso-based beverage every day.
You could totally substitute any type of plant-based milk for the milk in this recipe, I’m sure. I’ve never tried it with plant milk, and I’m not sure how well it foams compared to cow’s milk. If you’ve tried a plant milk latte, I'd love to hear about the technical differences between the different milks in the comments! (Never thought I'd type something like that. But I'm genuinely excited to hear about milk differences. Don't hold back, people.)
You could use maple syrup, sugar in the raw, coconut sugar, etc. instead of plain granulated sugar in this recipe. It might change the flavor profile a little bit depending on what type of sugar it is. Maple syrup would add a delightful, lightly smoky flavor in this latte for fall. Oh, and you could also leave the sugar out altogether!
Any changes to the recipe will, of course, change the calorie count compared to the original recipe.
Have you tried a version of a homemade latte? Any favorite flavorings to stir in or treats to eat on the side? Let’s talk about coffee & food!