With lots of vanilla and a hint of cardamom and cinnamon, it’s a simple, sophisticated coffeehouse style drink you can make at home using your French press!
You know how much I love making fancy coffees at home, and now I’ve got the perfect excuse to make lots of them: a cute and comfy new morning coffee spot on our front porch.
My coworker has these awesome porch chairs with cushions on the seat and the back that I’ve been coveting for about a year, and they finally went on sale this month, so I jumped on the chance and bought a pair! They are perfect and sooo comfy.
We’ve been in this house about three years with no furniture on the front porch and nowhere to sit but the stairs, but now?
Now, I never want to go back inside.
I added a cute little mosaic end table between them and now it’s the perfect little coffee spot for Mike and me to enjoy a nice latte on one of the absolutely beautiful weekend mornings we’ve been having.
Most days I’m a tea drinker, but on weekends I like to indulge in fancy coffee drinks, whether they’re at a coffee shop or made at home.
For this recipe, I used a medium-dark roast coffee with a bold, smooth flavor that seemed just right for making my own coffeehouse-style drink at home.
Over the years my sweet tooth has diminished, and I always have to order my drinks at a coffee shop with half the usual amount of syrup. I like the more European-style subtlety of a nice mocha or latte where it’s just sweet enough to cut any bitterness without leaving your throat feeling sticky.
A homemade, barely-sweetened spiced vanilla latte with a thick layer of foam seemed like just the thing I wanted to drink while relaxing in our new chairs.
I wanted to make a simple and sophisticated drink with a strong vanilla flavor and just a touch of spice — enough to add interest, but not so much that it tasted like a fall beverage.
I will admit – it took me three attempts to strike what I thought was the right balance for the perfect spiced vanilla latte.
The first time through, I pretty much put everything but the kitchen sink in my milk – cardamom, allspice, cloves, orange peel, fresh ginger root, nutmeg, brown sugar, a whole vanilla bean, and a cinnamon stick.
Wow. Too much.
Namely, too much cardamom. But also, too much everything.
I couldn’t taste the coffee. I could barely taste the vanilla. All I could taste was cardamom. And while I love cardamom, boy, does a little go a long way!
And you know what else? Vanilla beans are expensive, and those are a lot of ingredients.
Spending a hundred years (and dollars) adding peels and spices to my milk might be okay now and then, but I wanted something simple to put together that I could make with no fuss for an easy and relaxing morning treat.
My second attempt at making the spiced vanilla latte was much better. But it was the third attempt that really hit the nail on the head.
I brewed the coffee extra-strong in my French press, which makes a great substitute for espresso for drinks like these.
I added just a little sugar, a lot of vanilla extract, and only a couple dashes each of cardamom and cinnamon.
Simplicity. Subtlety. Sophistication. I could taste the vanilla. Just a hint of spice.
And that bold, rich coffeehouse blend coffee flavor came through just like I wanted it to.
I even made this spiced vanilla latte again this weekend for my mom and stepdad when they came by and they really enjoyed it.
And I’ll definitely be enjoying this simple, sophisticated latte on our porch chairs many times this spring!
French Press Spiced Vanilla Latte
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 dashes cardamom
- 2 dashes cinnamon
- 6 tbsp ground coffee
- 2 cups water near-boiling
- In a small saucepan, combine milk, vanilla, sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved and milk is hot, but do not boil.
- Meanwhile, add ground coffee to a French press and pour over about 2 cups of near-boiling water. I heat water in my tea kettle for this. Stir, and steep for 6 minutes before pushing down the plunger.
- Pour about 3/4 cup coffee each into two mugs.
- Using a handheld milk frother, froth the milk mixture until there is a thick layer of foam on top. Give your saucepan a couple of firm whacks on a hard surface like your counter to break any of the larger bubbles and make a denser foam.
- Using a wooden spoon to hold back the foam, divide the milk between the two mugs. Spoon the foam on top. Add a small dash of cardamom on top for garnish, if desired.