Barista Breaks Down The 3 Coffee Recipes You Should Learn Yourself

Regular visits to local coffee shops for lattes, Frappuccinos, and other elaborate caffeinated creations can make a sizable dent in your wallet. These coffee drinks are delicious and comforting, but are they worth the high prices? 

Mashed spoke to Sean Yew, specialty coffee barista and founder of The Hearty Brew, a website where coffee enthusiasts can get professional advice on beans, brewing, and equipment. We asked Yew if the prices of coffee and coffee drinks at cafes are fair. "I do not think cafés are overcharging for coffees in general. Quality coffee is incredibly difficult to source, import, roast, and brew," he said. Yew went on to note that the best coffee beans are imported from around the world, and baristas are trained to transform them into exceptional coffee. At an average of around $3.00 per cup, Yew said the price is more than fair for a great cup of joe. 

However, he says where cafés do tend to overcharge is for coffee drinks with "extra additives," like syrups and chocolate. Drinks like these as well as some specialty coffee brews can be easily and inexpensively created at home. For example, Yew suggests making your own cold brew, something that requires no "fancy machine or brewer."  Coarsely grind 66 grams (about a half cup) of good coffee beans. Combine the coffee with 1000 milliliters (about 4 ¼ cups) of chilled water, and let the mixture steep in the fridge for 15 hours. Then, simply strain and serve.  

This trendy brew is a cinch to do at home

Specialty coffee barista Sean Yew told Mashed that pourover coffee is another drink coffee lovers can make at home to save money. Yew says that because pourover coffee is made by hand, the process yields a smoother and more flavorful brew. It does, however, require an upfront investment. On his website The Hearty Brew, Yew shares that you'll need a coffee cone or glass coffee pot. Some of the brands he recommends are Hario V60 or Kalita Wave coffee cones that sit over a pot or mug, or a Chemex glass pour over coffee maker. Both types also require paper filters. 

The process of making pourover is entirely in your control and can be even Zen-like. Yew says that freshly ground coffee is added to the filter-lined top part of the cone or Chemex, and hot water is literally poured over! The water gently seeps through the coffee and drips into the vessel below, and you keep adding hot water to the top until all your coffee is brewed. Though you have to pay a little more at the beginning to get the right equipment, it's an investment that you'll quickly recoup. According to Yew, home pourover makers can create "a smooth, complex cup of black coffee" that tastes just as delicious as something a barista made.  

You should be making your own mocha, too

The other gourmet coffee shop drink you can easily make at home is a mocha. Sean Yew told Mashed that if you have an espresso machine, there's no reason to pay for a mocha. Yew suggests pulling a double shot of espresso over 20 grams (about 1 ½ tablespoons) of chocolate powder or chocolate syrup in your cup. Stir, taste, and add more chocolate if you like, though Yew cautions against using too much, "or else you won't even be able to taste the coffee." Finally, add some frothed milk to complete your mocha. Look for sweetened chocolate powder (or cocoa powder) or use unsweetened cocoa powder with sugar blended in, like in this homemade mocha recipe from Baking Mischief

If you don't have a machine at home, Yew tells us that there are other ways to create your espresso. Flair espresso makers, which force hot water through ground coffee with the same amount of pressure as traditional machines, pull individual shots of espresso and are considerably less expensive. Another option is a Moka pot, which Yew calls a "stovetop espresso maker." Though Yew notes that Moka pots don't create true espresso, they do create a bold brew that works in Americanos and other espresso drinks. They're also simple to use, easy to find, and typically cost less than $50.