I didn't like the retail side of things, but I genuinely enjoyed making people their drinks. Even during the holiday times, I liked it.
Anyway, I know how to make just about any "coffee house"-type drink, so I thought I might share. We writers love our java (et al), right?
You may wonder what my drink of choice is, after being exposed to every concoction under the sun?
It's today's feature:
The Chai Latte
Chai is black tea brewed with a variety of spices. As its main ingredient is black tea, most chai lattes that you order are going to have a degree of caffeination--about the same as an English Breakfast, I guess.
Most coffee houses offer either spiced chai or vanilla chai. I prefer the spiced variety, but vanilla will do in a pinch.
The biggest difference among coffee houses is the type of chai concentrate used, being either powder or liquid. Again, my preference is liquid, but some powdered chais can be very good.
For example, the chai concentrate we used at Seattle's Best was Tazo.
At Java City, we used a thicker concentrate that came with a pump, but I forget what the brand was.
I think that chai lattes made with the powder have a creamier texture, but the liquid gives it a bit more of a kick, and I love a spicy chai.
Making your own chai lattes is simple--pretty much the easiest thing to recreate at home.
You can use whatever kind of milk you prefer, but in my "professional" opinion, soy milk makes the best chai lattes. If you're a fan of foam, order soy at the coffee house--soy milk is the easiest to get a good foam out of, followed by skim, and then whole milk. I love foam on my chai, so I always get soy (I also have a theory that the soy milk complements the slight bitterness in a chai, but that's just me.)
The sad fact is that home espresso machines just can't compare the industrial kind. The steam wand is a poor facsimile of the raging beast coffee houses have, so just accept that now.
If you can live without the foam (sadness), I'd recommend simply microwaving your milk in 30-second increments to ensure no scorching. Once it's reached the proper temperature (140 degrees is coffee house standard), simply mix with your chai concentrate and you're good to go.
What's the best mix ratio of milk/chai? When I used to make my own drinks at Seattle's Best, using a 12-oz cup, I would pour approximately 8 oz of chai to 4 oz of milk. However, that's because I like mine spicy. You'd definitely be safe going with a simple 50:50.
For the cold variety, you can either forgo ice and used refrigerated concentrate and milk, or fill your glass with ice cubes and go to town.
Note: if you use the Tazo concentrate, be sure to refrigerate after opening
Okay. So I realize this was pretty long and rambly, but I hope it was informative.
Now, here's the question: any requests? If it appears on a coffee house menu, 99% chance that I know how to make it, and can give you a good idea of how to recreate at home.
Vanilla latte? Caramel macchiato? Extra-dry cappuccino? Americano?