Love Starbucks navigate to this site for some amazing coffee deals there? Sure, it tastes great. It’s an awesome pick me up after a tough day. But before you hit the drive-through, think of the calories. That grande Caramel Machiatto is 270 calories with 31 grams of sugar. The eggnog latte you’ve been craving is 480 calories and 48 grams of sugar. Iced peppermint mocha? 400 calories. Peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream? Another 470 calories and a whopping 60 grams of sugar. When you remember that men burn an average of 120 calories per mile by running on a treadmill, and women burn an average of 105 calories per mile, it is easy to see what that drink “costs” you. How to beat that? Make the coffee at home, of course. Not only is it cheaper, but you can make a great cup of coffee that still comes in under 100 calories. Essentially, the most important factors for a great cup of coffee are the equipment, the beans themselves, and how you sweeten it.
In order to make coffee that will rival Starbucks, you need to start with good equipment. First, the grinder. My preference is a burr grinder. I actually had the opportunity to review (and keep!) a Capresso 560 burr grinder and would recommend it to anyone in the market. New, they will cost between $70 and $90 (about 3-4 times more than a blade grinder) but if you’re spending $3-$5 each day at Starbucks it doesn’t take long at all for the grinder to pay for itself. The Capresso 560 changes grind sizes easily, is a snap to clean, and doesn’t take up much counter space.
The next important piece of equipment for a great cup of coffee is a good coffee maker. As someone that used a $20 drip coffee maker let me be the first to say that not all coffee makers are created equally. Most drip coffee makers do not get the water hot enough to brew properly. Besides that, the reusable filters often either do not give the water enough time to steep or too much time to steep. Many drip coffee makers are hard to clean since the parts either do not come out or are hard to put back together. If your fix typically requires espresso, you can invest in a high-end espresso maker. There are good ones on the market for $100-200. Again, not too much when you consider what you’re spending each day at Starbucks. If you’re looking for something simpler (and cheaper) the perfect compromise is a French Press. They are inexpensive (and often available used), and easy to work and clean. To use, simply boil some water (I use a teapot). As the water is reaching a boil, grind your beans. Put the beans (including the grounds stuck to the burr) at the bottom of the press. Add the hot water and give it a quick stir. Set a timer for 4 minutes and wait patiently. After 4 minutes, push down the filter part and pour your coffee.
After you’ve decided on your equipment, you need a bean. Not pre-ground coffee, an actual coffee bean. If you have been drinking Folger’s all your life and wondered why Starbucks tastes better you are about to find out. The most important thing about coffee beans is freshness. Once they are roasted they are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer and used within 1-3 months. It also helps to know how dark you prefer your roast. The darker the roast, the more coffee flavor you will get. Darker roasts tend to have less caffeine, but they will also taste a little more bitter to those sensitive to bitter flavors. If you dislike the bitterness of coffee, try a very light roast and you may be surprised. As far as the kind of bean, your best bet is an Arabica bean. They aren’t as expensive as some (Kona) and still taste great. You can also decide about certifications like organic or shade-grown. Be very careful when buying coffees in stores unless they give a brewed on a date. Remember that coffee is best fresh and gets stale quickly. If the store does not have a fast turnover you may be buying stale coffee. Even if it is an expensive bean, it may not be any better than a cheaper fresher one purchased somewhere else. There are specialty stores online where they don’t roast the coffee until it is actually ordered, and it is more affordable than most people think.
Once you have your equipment and your coffee bean, you can look at where the calories come from. Coffee itself is only about 5 calories per 8 oz cup (or 12.5 calories for a 20oz cup). However, every dollop of cream and spoonful of sugar packs in the calories. Coffeemate is even worse, since its mostly corn syrup anyways (read the ingredients). If you have fresh coffee, used a reliable grinder, brewed it properly, and picked the right bean for you, then you may be surprised to find out that you can drink coffee with much less cream and sugar than before. If you still want a little creamy and sweet flavor in your coffee there is a lower-calorie answer. Start by downgrading the dairy. If you normally use cream, switch to half and half. If you normally use half and half, try whole milk. Chances are, you won’t notice the difference in taste. I use half and half after having switched down from heavy whipping cream. Use as little as you need- try adding it one tablespoon at a time until you get the taste right. I use 3 tablespoons of half and a half in 20 oz of coffee. This works out to about 60 calories which brings your total to bringing total to 72.5 calories. For sweetener, I do not use sugar. I use stevia, which is a natural zero-calorie sweetener. Stevia comes in either a liquid or powdered form. The liquid is the easiest to mix, so your best bet for coffee. In a 20 oz cup I use 4-5 drops of chocolate flavored stevia, 4-5 drops of vanilla flavored, and 7-10 drops of plain stevia. This adds just a little bit of flavor to your cup, but you can use any flavor or even plain stevia and be just fine. Does it taste as sweet as a blended coffee from the coffee houses? No. But it will taste just as good. And since stevia has 0 net calories, your 20 oz cup of homemade coffee is only 72.5 calories, instead of the 200-500 calorie Starbucks behemoths.