Thursday, May 7, 2009

Starbucks Knock-Offs!

There are so many stories right now, in the media and in the blogosphere, about people saving money and changing their habits during this recession. Much has been made about the "latte factor," the way that little daily expenditures can add up to big money over time.

I am definitely a coffee addict, and since their is (or was) a Starbucks on every corner, I'm a bit of a Starbucks addict too. I've never gone there for a daily coffee fix, we brew our own at home. But I love their lattes, mochas, frappuccinos, you name it! I'm not neccessarily particular to their brand. I love Peet's espresso, and there are several good local coffee shops around we enjoy going to (I especially like Coffee Works). But most of the time we end up at good ole Starbucks.

I realized that while we weren't spending exorbitant amounts of money there (it's a pretty cheap way to pass a weekend morning), we could stand to save some money. And so I make Starbucks knockoffs! I'm totally Hooked on this, and I'll share some easy tips with you.

First off, if you don't already have an espresso machine, don't buy one. That will not save you money! Most coffee drinks are perfectly fine made with strongly brewed coffee, especially from a French press. Target has several perfectly good presses for under $20. Just make sure your beans are coarsely ground and you press SLOWLY. Trust me on this. You can also get a milk frother like this one, for around $15. You'll have to heat the milk first, but you'll get a nice foam with one of these hand-held tools.

If you are lucky enough to have an espresso maker, USE IT! We have an incredibly awesome machine, a wedding gift from Jason's friend Roger. It is of a quality that we never would have purchased for ourselves!

Once you get comfortable making a basic espresso/coffee and milk drink, this is when you get to have fun! All the tasty flavors Starbucks puts in your lattes? They sell everything in their stores, but you can find similar products much cheaper. You can get Torani syrup for a good price at most grocery/discount stores (I got mine at Food Source, which is no gourmet market!). Target also has their own brand of syrups, including sugar-free. Cruise the bakery/spice section, looking for tasty add-ins like cocoa powder, vanilla sugar, whatever you like! I especially enjoy pumpkin pie spice sprinkled in my drinks during the winter:

It helps to have a super cute set of cups and saucers (thanks Annie & Steve!!):

Caramel ice cream topping + spiced apple cider = super yummy on a cold night! I have also found some really yummy recipes online for different drink combinations and add-ins. You can whip up this recipe for Chocolate Caramel Latte Syrup and keep it in your fridge for a super sweet morning add-in! has a great tutorial for making hot and cold coffee drinks.

Speaking of cold drinks, now that it's getting warm, haul out your blender! The trick to tasty iced coffee that's not watered down? Coffee ice cubes! Next time you make a pot and have a bunch leftover, freeze it in a couple of ice cube trays and then put the cubes in a freezer bag. Substitute for ice cubes in any iced coffee recipe. I like this one and this one, but your imagination is the only limit. And of course, you can use lowfat/nonfat versions of the essential ingredients to make a drink with waaaaaaay less calories than a Frappuccino! For those of you who like green tea, check out this awesome lowfat Green Tea Frapp recipe my sister posted on her blog. I think it's even better than the Starbucks version!
Last time she came to visit she brought me a little recipe kit with all the ingredients for making these! Isn't she sweet?

So there you have it. We rarely go out for coffee or lattes anymore. I get a lot of satisfaction out of making them at home. We're saving a little money, and it's fun to experiment with different recipes. If any of you have a great one -- feel free to send it my way! And if you have never tried it before, go for it (and let me know how it turns out!). I'm totally Hooked!

Now head on over to Julia's blog for Hooked on Fridays and see what everyone else is Hooked on!


Anonymous said...

Good that you found a way of doing it yourself. Who wants to be slave to Starbucks, or anything for that matter, right?

Misti of Studio M Designs said...

You rock! Thanks for inspiring me to get out my tiny little frother and get to frothing! We hardly ever hit a Starbucks. Every now and then my mother will send me a "hello" card with a Starbucks gift card, and that's about the only time. My Saturday just got brighter


Daly Essentials said...

I used to be a daily starbucks drinker, but I've gotten a Keurig and it's AMAZING - no fancy drinks, but it's a PERFECT coffee maker with no mess!! So I'm definitely on board for saving $ and doing things at home, but the good news is that I've heard that for those times when only a Starbucks will do, they are lowing their prices to be more competitive... which I'm really excited about!!

DesignTies said...

I'm not a coffee person, but your latte in the cute cup looks good enough to drink!! :-) Love that set of cups & saucers :-)

Kelly @ DesignTies

lacylegend said...

what an essay for coffee beans!
makes me wanna join the
java drinkers....
BTW, caught a glimpse of your
counter tops--but just a teeny one.
looks awesome....

Holly said...

Mmmm! Don't forget lots of whipped cream, and preferably chocolate sprinkles.

Carisa said...

I worked as a barista in college and after getting multiple free drinks daily, it became a huge habit costing a lot of money! Good for you for making delicious drinks at home.
Mrs. Petrie @

TRICIA @boutellefamilyzoo said...

Hi there,
I love my coffee. Probably too much. I think finding a way to make it special because you love it is fantastic.
Thank you for stopping by "The Zoo".
Come on by any time.

Janis said...

YUMMY!!! I'm also a coffee addict and although we make most of ours at home a trip to Starbucks is a weekend treat.......but maybe this weekend we'll try it at home.BTW very cute cups/saucers!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a yummy post! And I love your cute cups and saucers and that holder they're in. I agree with Holly--extra whipped cream on top for me, with chocolate sprinkles, please. :-)

Suzy said...

Thanks for all the great info---Starbucks is too expensive for this Mom, lucky you to have such a nice friend to gift you that machine....
Thanks for the visit,

Mara... said...

woohoo, thanks for the green tea shout out!! I drink them all the time!!!