Trader Joe’s is usually a good place to get good coffee at a very good price, with lots of single-origin and premium coffees to choose from. On my last shopping trip, I spotted a new addition to their coffee lineup: Trader Joe’s Single Serve Coffee Cups that are made to work with a Keurig coffee maker. Keurig fans will be happy to see these and will be even happier about their price, which is only $2.99 per box.
These single serve coffee cups are not made with the signature K-cup packaging that you’re probably used to and that is because Green Mountain Coffee Roaster’s K-cup patent recently expired, so the door is open for other manufacturers of similar coffee pods. Trader Joe’s version has soft coffee-filter walls instead of firm plastic ones, and a plastic, not foil, lid. The plastic and foil combination keeps the coffee in the K-cups tightly sealed in an airtight environment. The coffee filter body pod doesn’t, so Trader Joe’s pods are individually packaged in little bags to keep their coffee fresh. This extra packaging means that you only get 7 pods in a standard box, where you would probably find 10 or 16 of the traditional K-cup pods. But they’re still a good deal at their low price point ($.42 per cup).
I used steamed milk in most of my recipes because it gives the drink a great texture and because I have an espresso machine that makes steaming milk easy. Steamed milk has a slightly velvety texture to it because it is aerated, which milk that has simply been heated up doesn’t have. If you don’t have an espresso machine to work with at home, you can’t easily steam milk to make your own lattes or cappuccinos – but, fortunately, there are some easy ways to mimic the look and feel of machine-steamed milk and make your homemade coffee drinks that much better.
The easiest way to “steam” milk is to whisk it vigorously with a small whisk that will fit inside your mug. I whisk the milk first – which will make it frothy – then add in my coffee, or whisk the milk in another glass and pour it into my coffee mug. Low fat and whole milks will froth up, though whole milk will sustain the bubbles a bit better. Both will become more foamy when cold, so your iced drinks may get a better “head” of foam on them than the hot drinks. Continue reading »
Twitter is the way to let the world know exactly what you are doing in real time and exchange ideas (or comments on #trending topics) with whoever else is on Twitter with you at that moment. Starbucks wanted to make the Twitter experience a little more useful and has launched their new Tweet-a-Coffee program. This program allows you to instantly tweet a $5 Starbucks gift card to any of your Twitter friends/followers. Once your accounts are linked (since you need a credit card and a Starbucks account) you can simply “@tweetacoffee to @yourfriend” via a tweet! Obviously, this would be a GREAT way for bloggers to do some little giveaways on Twitter – but it’s also a nice way to send a little gift to friends and it doesn’t require you to run out to the store to pick up a physical card.
Obviously, however, this is limited to people who use Twitter and it is only available in the US right now. Will it turn out to be more fun than a “regular” egift card? Only time will tell…. but I might be able to squeeze in a giveaway soon to test it out in the mean time!
Update: I tried the Tweet a Coffee and it worked exactly as advertised. It was especially fun since Starbucks gave out a $5 gift card to the first 100K people to try it (and that mark probably hasn’t been hit yet), so I got a bonus gift for giving to a friend.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a fall favorite that people wait all year for. It’s a warm, spicy serving of autumn in a mug. A lot of people mistakenly think that there is pumpkin in the drink, but the drink is actually named after a very common spice mix – pumpkin pie spice – which is used to flavor all kinds of pumpkin desserts, from pumpkin bread to pumpkin pie. The Starbucks drink is made with a flavorful syrup that features cinnamon, cloves and other spices that are found in this spice mix.
I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup to use as flavoring for my homemade version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. My syrup is made with water, sugar and spices – that’s it. It has a warm, spicy flavor and definitely captures the essence of “pumpkin pie spice” in a sweet, concentrated form. It both sweetens your drink and adds that signature pumpkin spice flavor. Once you make the syrup, it will keep in your fridge for at least a week, which should save you several trips to the coffee shop - or simply entice you to drink twice as many PSLs, since they’re so much more accessible when you can make them in your own kitchen.
You can make your homemade version of the drink with espresso or with coffee, depending on what kind of coffee maker you have at home, and I’ve given directions for both options below.