Making My First Latté with Breville!

I will demonstrate how to use the Breville Café Roma Espresso Machine for the first time and how to make a simple latté with the official Starbucks method!!! After having worked at Starbucks in my teen years, I can say with certainty that it was the best job I’ve ever had. I learned so much, drank a lot, and had so much fun with my peers. We were named the best Starbucks shop in the regional area!!! The major difference with this Breville machine and that at Starbucks is that this one is completely manual while Starbucks had fully automatic machines that would produce the crema with the touch of a button and you can even define for decaf espresso! I definitely need to try to get used to the manual version and play around!

1. Get Your Supplies. What You Will Need:
– Espresso machine
– Freshly ground espresso coffee beans
– Fresh milk
– Filtered water
– Syrup, sugar, or sweetener to taste

I would probably say that the most important ingredient is your coffee beans. Espresso is usually a dark roast to get that bold, caramel flavor from the beans. It has a strong aroma, bitter taste, but with a sweet after-taste. Personally, I love dark roast and at Starbucks, this would be any of the “bold” or “corsé” brewed coffees of the day (eg. Samurai). During the same day, there’s always a lighter version, which is called “smooth/mild” or “velouté” (eg. Breakfast Blend), and another decaf version (usually of the mild type flavor). Personally, I always go for the stronger coffee because the lighter the roast, the more acidic after-taste which really bothers me.

Anyhow, there is only one type of bean for espresso at Starbucks and is actually the cheapest of their entire 20+ flavor selection. For 1 lb of espresso beans, it costs 16.95$CAD compared to any of their other beans which is about ~24$CAD (sorry, can’t remember exactly). You can either ask them to grind the beans for you or you may choose to do so at home if you have your own machine. Starbucks policy states that anything ground for more than 7 days is trashed in the store and opened bags of unground beans is trashed if not used within one month – this is a major reason why your drink is so expensive! Of course that would be very wasteful at home, but try to remember that if you don’t drink espresso regularly, it’s important to keep your coffee in an airtight canister. The best ones are made of aluminum tin cans or glass. I plan to transfer my coffee into something like this after:

The next most important ingredient is your milk! You must have fresh milk, preferably something that is NOT skim or completely non-fat. By default, all espresso drinks at Starbucks are made with homogenous 3.25% fat milk. The reason is that not only do you have a creamier and more satisfying taste, the foam is so much more smooth in consistency. Remember that good foam is creamy, whereas bad foam is bubbly!  It’s easy to make bubbly foam, you just sloth in your milk pitcher into the frothing nozzle and go up and down which brings more air into the milk. I cannot stress how bad it is to go up and down!!! This is VERY bad technique and I always see this in home videos or even in some professional ones as well!!! Your pitcher should basically be level, again not bobbing up and down, then you gently slide the nozzle deeper down into the pitch so that the milk at the bottom gets warmed.

Personally, I like 1% milk which gives you a good balance between taste and creamy foam, while avoiding all the fat in whole milk. At Starbucks, the other type of milk that they have is non-fat (we did not like the word “skim” since a competitor used this word for their drinks) and soy-milk from Silk. Now you know you have a good barista if she can make creamy foam with soy-milk!!! I’ve always been impressed by my colleague back then cuz I was never able to get soy-milk to the right consistency. Starbucks actually does not have 1% or 2% milk (well they did, but discontinued them), so they mix with the non-fat and 3.25%. 1% is made 50:50 and 2% is made 30:70. I should also mention that milk is only reheated twice at Starbucks. Often, we just threw out the milk if it’s been lying there for more than 10 minutes. Not only do you harbor bacteria, re-heated milk tastes different (to me at least) and you always risk having burnt milk!

On a side note, I SWEAR BY NATREL‘s Lactose Free Milk!!! I’m actually lactose tolerant, but sometimes I do get a little bloated, so why risk the occasional discomfort when I can eliminate it completely? However, the reason for why I specifically choose Natrel is for their special filtering mechanism which gets rid of the slightly sweet flavor like in other lactose free milk. eg. Beatrice, nasty! What happens when you add lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, to milk is a break in the chain of the disaccharide resulting in galactose and glucose. The simpler sugars are more “sensible” to our taste buds, resulting in a perceived sweeter taste in lactose-free milk, which I HATE! I feel like I’m going to throw up on these sweeter milks… Thankfully, Natrel‘s filtering system gets rid of the monosaccharides? I actually don’t know what they’re filtering out lol.

The Starbucks syrup is completely optional, but my favorite is Toffee Nut. It’s like this wonderful blend of caramel, hazelnut, and vanilla! My old favorite was Dulce de Leche which was unfortunately discontinued. Usually people don’t know of this syrup and for those who do, the Starbucks staff usually know that either you’ve been a forever fan or that you’ve worked as an employee there in the past (and often after the way I call out my drink, they give me weird googly eye looks that say “I know you’ve worked here!!!”). Anyhow, you can buy these bottles of syrup for 9.95$CAD each, but they don’t come with a pump. What’s great with these syrups is that you can buy several and mix them together, which is how their Caramel Macchiato is made (drink is actually made wrong according to the name and there’s no caramel syrup in there either…)
Of course if you don’t want flavored syrup, there’s always sugar or sweetener that you can add.
Unless you’re hardcore with your drink and prefer black…


2. Prepare Your Machine:

For the first time, I’ve already hand-washed all the equipment and I’m going to use more filtered water than I need just to run the machine once. You only need about 2 cups really for a single. The 1L water basket has a nice handle so that you can just drop it into the slot without getting water everywhere. As you can see, I also have my filter holder, measuring spoon/tamper, and choice of 2 filters (if you’re using a pod, you need the pod filter which is not pictured). Normally, I always go for 2 espresso shots which means that I need the double filter. If you’re having a smaller cup of coffee, then use the single filter.

Turn the machine on and let it rumble until the yellow “Heating” sign turns off. This means that your water tank is heated up and you’re ready to roll!!! For the first time and for cleaning, you can turn the knob toward the right “Espresso” to have water flow through the system for a minute.


3. How to Make Your Espresso:

Now that your machine is ready, you have to get the espresso prepared. Like I said, single filter for 1 shot, double filter for 2 shots, or pod filter for pods. Shown below is the double filter which is then pressed firmly down into the filter holder.

Similarly, 1 spoonful (leveled) per shot as appropriate for your filter. Once you spoon in the coffee grind, gently tamp on it once or twice.

Picture underneath of the brew head. When you’re ready to make your shots, you insert the holder from the left. Once it clicks into place, swivel to your right to lock it in place. When you’re actually making an espresso, do NOT unlock the holder by turning to the left and do NOT open up the water filter in the back! Both places have high pressure build-up which can give you a major burn!

Now, I know that other people will make the espresso first before making the milk. However, Starbucks policy was that espresso is not to sit on the sill for more than 30 seconds. What this implies is that espresso is NOT good after this short time and will sink down and you lose your crema while taking a lot of time frothing the milk. Lineups at Starbucks are often not because of the espresso taking time to get pressurized, but rather the milk that needs to be heated. So if you know that your espresso might sit there for a while cuz you don’t have your milk prepared to be poured in right away, then you should make the milk first and then make the espresso.


4. Making Your Milk:

Either before or while your espresso crema is being extract, you should warm your milk now. Like I said before, it’s best not to have your espresso sitting there, waiting for the milk for more than 30 seconds. The Breville machine has a nice little rubber handle for you if you want to move the frothing nozzle which has this innovative feature, where there’s a “cap” on top, apparently it enhances the foam? I will need to try this frothing enhancer later, but I just didn’t want to do it tonight cuz it’s extra cleaning!!! lol

When you’re ready, turn your setting knob toward the left “Steamer” position for frothing milk. I like to keep my hand on the bottom of the pitcher to provide support and feel the temperature of the milk. After a while, you’ll be able to tell what’s your preferred temperature and you won’t need a thermometer. Starbucks usually has a standard of 120-130 Fahrenheit. The foam in here actually is pretty bad. There are a LOT of nasty bubbles. I actually can’t blame the machine though because I know what happened with those bubbles when I was just running the machine through to warm up the nozzle. The prepping made all the bubbles when I thought that we had already started frothing. Remember to never let the nozzle head touch any part of the metal pitcher. Metals conduct heat fast! So when your hand is at the bottom feeling the temperature, you might be just feeling the pitcher getting hot rather than the actual milk! Plus you might end up getting a burn.

Don’t forget to clean your nozzle IMMEDIATELY after use! Milk is nasty and crusty when dry, which can clog up your nozzle. Use a damp cloth to wipe, but becareful the nozzle is very hot!

Milk gunk can be de-clogged using the pin provided. If you still have problems, your can unscrew the nozzle and give it a deep clean under warm water.


5. The Fun Part: Mixing Your Drink!

We talked about the syrup, but how much do you put in? Usually here are the Starbucks specifics:
Mezzo/tall – 3 pumps of syrup (exception 2 for Caramel Macchiato)
Grandé – 4 pumps of syrup (exception 3 for Caramel Macchiato)
Venti – 5 pumps of syrup (exception 4 for Caramel Macchiato)

However we don’t have a pump, so Starbucks says 1 tsp for every 8 oz of fluid.
Personally, any average sized mug is like a Grandé, so about 4 tsp and each tsp is about 1 pump equivalent.
Once you have your syrup which ALWAYS goes on the bottom of the drink first (1), pour in the espresso that you’ve made (2-3), and then add your milk in last (4).

The espresso here is actually running a bit thin and I can double check by looking at the extracted left-over grind. I guess I’ll have to play with the machine some more.


Usually, if your foam is bubbly, you can let it sit there on the side for a couple of minutes. This will often deflate a lot of air bubbles so that your foam becomes thicker. Now, enjoy your cup of freshly made at home Starbucks grandé, toffee nut, 1% latté!!!


Next Day Breakfast Update:

I am SOOOOO impressed with this machine now that I tried it again! I should say that first cup of espresso last night was truly like a “crêpe de chien” (you know when you make a bunch of crêpes but the first one is usually inconsistent in heat, oil, texture…etc so you give it to your dog to eat? lol). The crema was really thin yesterday, but today it was like full blown soft, warm caramel-like espresso! I also tried heating the milk with the froth enhancer which adds a LOT of air bubbles if you only let the head dip into the milk. If you want more soft foam, you need to complete bury the head down into the pitcher. As expected, I still like my milk without this enhancer.


Speaking of crêpes, I will now show you how to make a French crêpe – apparently the traditional Bretagne (Brittany) method.

This may look like a typical breakfast omelette to us in America, but it’s officially a crêpe for the French. So usually I suck at this cuz my non-stick pan has turned into a sticky pan over the years and I can never manage to go buy a new one cuz I’m always in shock at how expensive they are these days (50-100$?!??!). Plus I don’t really need to have good kitchenware cuz I can’t cook – well at least not main course meals. I can do some simple stuff and I love to make cakes and desserts. So I can do breakfast and dessert no problem but that’s only because breakfast = dessert for me lol.

What you want is to make your batter first. For this, I use 2 eggs, 1/4 cup skim milk, 2 slices of ham, 2 large mushrooms, and couple of spinach leaves. Then I added a pinch of salt, pepper, and MSG (yes, I eat MSG and I’m still alive). Usually I like the bigger more exotic mushrooms (eg. Maitake, Shitake; I don’t like portobellos in here…), but I didn’t have time to go do groceries for 2 weeks lol. If the night before I have some left over boiled potatoes, I like to use them here as well.

Anyhow, pour your batter into your pre-heated pan with some oil (I use olive oil even though I know you’re not supposed, but I don’t have vegetable oil). Make sure the heat is set to low-medium or else you’ll end up burning your crêpe. Let it simmer there for about five minutes. What’s particular about the French way is that you do NOT flip over your crêpe!!! If the center is too wet and liquidy, roll your pan over so that the batter runs down and seeps toward the edges.

Flipping the crêpe over is apparently a North-American thing to do and the French do NOT admire omelettes or similarly pancakes for this reason lol. I was told that the latter is some deviated form of the well-known paper-thin Bretagne crêpes. I do understand their thinking. Clearly flipping them over and having a thicker batter requires less skill to cook and is not as time consuming as the French method where you really need to wait for the center to cook thoroughly without flipping it over. The breakfast crêpe that I have in the pix here are not the super thin ones which are good for dessert or snacks. I like these with some powdered sugar, chocolate, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries 😀

So when you’re satisfied with the texture in the middle such that it is no longer liquidy, you’re now ready to serve the crêpe! What you want to do is flip it over onto a plate with the bottom side up. If you have a good pan, it should be easy. My frying pan is a bit wonky, but at least today it behaved well for me to show you guys this, TADAAA!!!


Final pic, of my morning with my Starbucks Toffee Nut latté, French crêpe, peanut butter jam toast (to counter all the European hubris lol), and a small slice of carrot cake that I made a couple of days ago. YUM!!!

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