How to Make Starbucks Drinks at Home in Under Five Minutes

Bonus: Lots of cocktails call for simple syrup. Now you are prepped and ready for 24 hours of beverages.

Caramel: These are tough times. May I suggest that you make a vat of caramel sauce in under five minutes on your stove? I did this because it was fun and made me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but you can also just buy a bottle of caramel. I used this Food Network recipe, but I undercooked it a little to mimic the golden Starbucks topping color. I also added extra salt, to bring out the flavor, and to feel like my caramel is gently slapping me in the face.

Whipped cream: The Starbucks drinks that are the most like cake and the least like coffee are crowned with whipped cream. I whipped cream at home (using an electric mixer on a half cup of heavy whipping cream until it looked cute, about two minutes), but I only did this because quarantine has caused the concept of time to collapse for me. You can absolutely just pick up a can of your favorite whipped cream on your next grocery run.

Coffee: Most Starbucks drinks are espresso based. If you have an espresso maker—wow, good for you! We are all so impressed with your wealth and preparedness for this crisis. (Or go ahead and make this the time you finally buy one.) For the rest of us, the best thing to do is use instant coffee. Most guides estimate that 2.5 tablespoons of instant coffee is equal to about one tablespoon of espresso. Or, you can make about a third of a cup of very strong coffee and use that in place of a shot of espresso.

To make iced drinks, do not just make coffee and then pour it over ice. This will become watery coffee. According to an anonymous “Buyer’s Guide” written by a Starbucks barista for Consumer Reports, Starbucks brews iced coffee at double strength so that it still tastes good when ice melts into it. You can brew stronger coffee, or use espresso. Or, you can make coffee ice cubes (by freezing coffee in an ice-cube tray) and feel like a genius.

Homemade Starbucks caramel macchiato in a tall glass
Courtesy of writer 

To Make a Caramel Macchiato

I thought a macchiato would be hard to make because it is hard to spell. Incorrect. This Reddit cheat sheet explains that caramel macchiatos call for vanilla simple syrup, not caramel syrup. I followed this recipe from Eugenie Kitchen, but I stirred extra caramel into the drink to make it taste extra Starbucks-y. Per a former Starbucks barista, the proper way to top a macchiato is with seven cross-hatchings of caramel in each direction, followed by two circles around the rim. To make the caramel flow onto the drink, I reheated it in the microwave and dripped it off the end of a spoon.

To Make a Latte or Mocha

According to multiple sources on Reddit (thanks, Reddit), Starbucks hot drinks follow a set ratio. For espresso shots, the ratio is 1:2:2—that is, tall drinks get one shot, grandes get two, and ventis get two as well. For pumps of syrup, the ratio is 3:4:5, so three pumps for tall drinks, four for grandes, and five for ventis. Americano shot ratios are 2:3:4. (A Starbucks shot is one ounce, and a pump is about two teaspoons.) To get the exact espresso-to-milk ratio that Starbucks uses, keep in mind that tall drinks are 12 ounces, grande drinks are 16, venti hot drinks are 20, and venti cold drinks are 24. You can foam milk at home in seconds—heating it at a low temperature on the stove and using an electric mixer or vigorously whisking it.

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