Your Morning Cup Two Ways

You’ve heard it before: if it weren’t for your morning latte from the coffee shop, you’d save approximately a million dollars a week. We could buy that submarine. We could take those hot air balloon piloting classes. We could put our dog through college. Which is all well and good, but for the coffee fiends among us, this advice sounds pretty extreme. However, like reasonable (and well-caffeinated) folks, it wouldn’t hurt to take some well-intentioned, cash-saving advice. In moderation, of course.

So, if you love a decadent drink here and there, but wouldn’t mind having a cafe-grade beverage without stepping foot outside of your kitchen, try taking one of these two mini-recipes for a spin.

HERBAL TEA

For those of us who are wary of artificial sweeteners and flavorings, but still want our coffee to pack a more flavorful punch, herbal tea can be the perfect solution. You’ll want to find a tea made from natural ingredients – like mint leaves, dried berries, and spices. For a first foray, we love mint for iced coffees and cinnamon or cardamom for a hot brew. That said, doesn’t blueberry iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk sound pretty phenomenal?

If you tend to buy loose-leaf tea, you’re already one step ahead. However, if you either already have an herbal tea in teabags you’d like to take for a spin, or if you know you’d only use tea the old-fashioned way if it’s bagged, go ahead and take that route.  When it’s time to make your coffee, via French press, pour over, or a pot from the tried and true drip machine, open the tea bag and mix the loose ingredients into the ground coffee in the filter. That’s it! You may choose to use more than one tea bag – it’ll all come down to personal taste. Luckily, thanks to coffee’s bolder flavor, your herbal accent would be hard to overdo.

Dried goods keep for a long time by nature, so if you find a blend that’s perfect for you, toss it into a mason jar and keep it with your coffee kit.

SIMPLE SYRUP

If you’re a coffee lover with a sweet tooth, then you know from your favorite coffee shop that there’s nothing better than this multitasker: the simple syrup. Is there anything better than reading all of the flavors on a counter well-stocked with those massive bottles? (Aside from your extra pump, of course.) If you roll your eyes at black-coffee-only snobs, this is the at-home secret menu solution for you.

Making your own simple syrup is, of course, simple enough. One part sugar. One part water. Boil until syrupy. The flavor, however, is where the magic happens. Have you ever read the ingredients of commercial flavored syrups? If you love them, don’t. But if you have a sneaking suspicion that there isn’t much raspberry in your raspberry sweetener, you’re onto something. Luckily, at home, you know exactly what’s going into the pot – try mashed berries, mint leaves, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans and extracts. Dried lavender found in the spice section is divine. (And, between us, perfect for adding to lemonade… Or big kid drinks.) If you’re daring, formulate your own combination. Luckily, the ingredients are cheap and easy to come by if you don’t love your first shot at a signature creation.

When your concoction has thickened and your kitchen smells heavenly, strain into a mason jar or another container and keep in the fridge. They’ll keep for a week or two. They mix beautifully into iced coffee as well as hot – just like the pros use. Your syrups can wear many hats, too: drizzle onto pancakes, shaved ice, sliced banana, or into oatmeal.