Secrets of Becoming An At-Home Barista

The name of this blog encompasses my two favorite things, Lollie (my pup) and lattes (my vice).  During grad school, I worked as a Barista at the Café in the Barnes & Noble on my college campus.  I spent my days balancing sleep, group projects, and my super awesome job. I typically worked the morning shift which was comprised of our regular professors and a zombie parade of sleepy students.  My favorite thing to do was make the drinks.

I want to share some facts about Starbucks drinks that people may not know:

  • A hot Grande drink has the same number of espresso shots as a Venti.  No, bigger does not mean more caffeine.
  • You can ask for a specific number of pumps if you would like to customize your drink.  Flavored drinks have the following syrup amounts:
    • Tall = 3 pumps
    • Grande = 4 pumps
    • Venti = 5 pumps
  • Ways to lighten up your drink if you are looking to save calories:
    • Get fat free milk
    • Ask for fewer pumps of syrup/sauce
    • Get a smaller size drink and add an extra shot or two (for the coffee taste-loving, adventurous types)
    • Nix the whipped cream
      • If you lift the lid on a hot drink about 2 minutes after you get it, that perfectly fluffy, delicious mountain of delightful whipped cream that once resided on top of your drink will be gone.  It just melts and disappears right into your drink.
    • For Frappuccinos, ask them to use 2% or fat free milk.  This is the only type of drink that uses whole milk unless you specify otherwise.

If you’re not looking to save the cals, then don’t worry about it.  The full fat, full sugar Pumpkin Spice Lattes are delicious, you know.

As we all know, a Starbucks addiction is EXPENSIVE.  I faced this difficult reality once I was not working at the Café anymore.  I was used to either getting a discount or just drinking the mistake drinks where the orders had been lost in translation. My bank account decided it could no longer take the madness and I had to take matters into my own hands.  I now make mine at home.  With the exception of some Friday mornings.  And Saturdays.  And sometimes Sunday too.

My friends are probably completely weirded out that they can come over and casually say, “a Pumpkin Spice Latte sounds so good right now!” and I whip one right up.  You TOO can be this weird!  I received a CBTL (made by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) machine for my birthday about 2 1/2 years ago and have never looked back.


$149 on the Coffee Bean Website

I also received this milk frother because the other key ingredient to lattes is milk, of course!


$59 on the Coffee Bean Website

You can also purchase the machine and milk frother at Bed Bath & Beyond. I believe they are the same prices as the Coffee Bean website, but you can use your 20% off coupons on them!

Once you have your tools, you will need the essence of your latte experience: espresso pods.  CBTL machines can only use their own pods.  One might say, “why would I ever do that when I can purchase Keurig pods everywhere?!”  The answer: Keurigs cannot make espresso.  And no, combining a K-cup of coffee with a K-cup of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa in your office Keurig machine does not count as a Mocha.

If you have a local Coffee Bean store, then purchase the pods there (they’re $6/box).  You can also purchase them online and of course, Bed Bath & Beyond (quick, take inventory of your coupons).

If you like a little bit of flavor and flair in your lattes, you can make them taste just like Starbucks or Coffee Bean!  You may not know that you can walk right into a Starbucks and ask for a bottle of syrup.  Unfortunately, they will not sell you any of their sauces (White Mocha, Pumpkin Spice, etc.).  Sometimes a nice Starbucks will give you pumps.  If not, you can buy them online.  Coffee Bean uses mostly powders and they sell those as well.  If you MUST have White Mocha or Pumpkin Spice, Torani makes sauces you can purchase online.

So.  Now you’ve spent all of your paycheck on all of these things and now you’re ready to make a latte!

  1. Froth that milk
  2. Pump some syrup into your mug of choice
  3. Drop that pod into the machine
  4. Press that button
  5. Watch that beautiful espresso fill up your cup like it came out of a $90k Starbucks machine
  6. Pour that foamy milk on top

And Voila!  You’re now an official Barista!  I promise that an investment in these things will save you a ton of money in the long run.  Happy latte making!