I’m currently holed up in a small seaside village in Mallorca – no Starbucks or any other type of coffee chain round here – and my live-in barista Peter is about to abandon me to return to the real world (aka London).
So What I Learned Today is of immediate benefit: how to make my own latte. After a practice run-through overseen by Peter, I flew solo this morning – and managed not to burn anything. (Note: You’ll have gleaned that I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen so this post is firmly aimed at the lowest common culinary denominator! It’s the equivalent of Delia’s “How to boil an egg”, if you will.)
We have a fairly old, bog standard Nespresso machine in the flat here, so there’s no inbuilt milking component. But if you have to pay an extra £100-150 for that convenience when, even for me, warming milk on a hob is so easy, I say why bother with that expense.
Step 1: Check there’s enough water in the Nespresso machine and turn the machine on.
You only need enough water to filter through the capsule, but I keep it at least half full just in case. To turn the machine on, it’s the red button on the left at the front of the machine. The machine is ready to operate when the green button on the front-right stops flashing.
Step 2: Measure out the milk.
When I say measure, I mean pour the amount you need to create the milkiness you want into your mug. I can’t be bothered with an actual measuring cup. Peter likes his less milky so he gets about two-thirds full, I like mine more milky so about three-quarters. Do I need to say, this will vary depending on the size of your cup?! Too late, I said it. (Also for the record, Peter insists on whole milk and I on skimmed so we compromise and go for semi-skimmed.)
Step 3: Start heating the milk.
Heat the milk on a hob in a saucepan on a low heat. You could, of course, do this in a microwave but properly heated milk is much nicer, and while it’s heating, it gives you time to…
Step 4: Put your coffee capsules into the machine – one at a time!
Lift the lever and insert the capsule (mine were bought in Spain, but you can get yours in any good supermarket or online direct from Nespresso if you sign up to their club), being sure not to push it too hard or it will slip straight through the capsule chute.
Step 5: Nespresso-fy your coffee – while counting to 26.
Close the machine’s lever. Put your mug under the spigot. Press the green button and watch and listen as the hot water is filtered through the capsule and your espresso streams into your mug. On our manual model, you need to count the flashes of the green button: count about 26 and no more than 30 flashes. From 30 flashes on, you’ll just be filtering slightly brown water into your cup. When you’ve reached your count, press the green button again to stop it. With automatic Nespressos, the machine turns itself at the right time so you can simply daydream rather than count for 30 seconds!
Step 6: Finish heating the milk and pour into mug with coffee.
By the time you’ve filtered two capsules of espresso, your milk should be nearly ready. The telltale signs are when it’s steaming and bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Be sure not to leave it on the hob much beyond that or skin will film over the top of the milk and the bottom may burn. If you’re unsure, just dip your pinky finger in to check the temperature.
To froth or not to froth? Personally, I prefer minimum foam on my latte as I want more liquid goodness in my cup. If you do want to whip things up, invest in a hand-held milk frother, many available for under a fiver on Amazon.
Step 7: Drink and enjoy!
So, in addition to making a latte, what I’ve also learned today is how to compose my first how-to photo blog. Would that be a phblog? Anyway, summary is: lots of pics but try to keep them in focus. (Not so easy when trying to take a picture one-handed over steaming milk. Apologies.) Then lots fiddling around in Iphoto and Pixlr to tweak the photos and lots more fiddling around in WordPress for resizing and placement.