Raising Big Kids and Making Lattes

Hey.

It’s been a while. When your babies turn into big kids time flies! These days you’re going to find a lot less of me online through Dirty Diaper Laundry; I’ve been quiet there for lots of reasons. It probably started after a very creepy/messed up/bizarre experience with a reader that opened my eyes to being an open book on social media. That and well, my kids got older and their stories stopped being mine to tell. It’s the cycle of blogging that many others have faced and to be honest I’m so happy that this is how things are.

the fam

A lot of the original DDL followers have big kids of their own and many of them continue to keep up over on my personal instagram account (@Kim_Rosas) where I’ve been sharing a new obsession- learning to be my own barista! I throw in some updated pictures of the boys here and there between shots of my coffee and of course, a few photos of what I’m doing around our home. DDL is always going to be here for cloth diaper families as a resource, I’ve spent nearly ten years on the website so it’s full of good content that lives on. My efforts have moved more toward building the content for my other website, putacupinit.com.

Since I’ve had some comments and DM’s on my stories about sharing more about my coffee journey from Starbucks addict to a gold star dropout DDL felt like the place to do so in full. I should add that kicking my sugary latte habit has played a role in losing 20+ pounds!

A few years back my effort to kick the expensive Starbucks habit I had was to buy an expensive latte making machine that used pods. This machine made pretty decent lattes at home BUT it used pods. The guilt caught up with me (the cloth diapering and reusable cup wearing human) but dammit regular coffee was just not good enough. I was addicted to creamy, milky, foamy lattes.

I dropped some hints to my husband that I wanted to upgrade my Nespresso to a machine that made lattes without pods. A “semi-manual” push button latte machine looked ideal… I wouldn’t have to train to be a barista and I could get lattes without the guilt. I have been down the money-pit of coffee before- when I started making pour-over coffee at home the costs escalated quickly once I researched and learned the ropes and needed a better grinder, a coffee scale, etc. My husband knew I was knowledgable about the basics of good coffee and decided he had faith in me so he researched about bought me a Rocket Apartamento for our 10 year anniversary gift.

rocket apartamento
Making espresso at home is far more manageable than I anticipated but full disclosure- it takes a lot of practice and a LOT of research.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t also disclose that home espresso making can be very expensive. Grinding your beans at home for espresso making (freshly ground coffee will always be better than buying pre-ground bags) are not cheap and the espresso machine itself is an investment. That being said, I would estimate I was spending $80-$10 per month on Starbucks and other to-go lattes. Specialty whole bean coffees are going to cost more than a bag of ground coffee from Target but again, your bag will last 1-2 weeks at $12 a bag. After testing out several beans from various roasters I have found out I prefer blends to single origin coffees. I’m pretty settled on the Big Trouble variety from Counter Culture (based in Durham, NC but sold all over the world) because it’s easy to drink and mild. If you’re into coffee then you will want to look for the freshest beans and brew them somewhere between 5 days after their roast date and before 30 days after roast date. Most grocery stores will have stale coffee on their shelves but Earth Fare is where I shop for coffee and they’re usually in stock close to their roast date.

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My first step to making good espresso at home was studying the videos from Coffeefusion on YouTube. I watched many videos and his were my favorite. I found out that much of espresso drink making relies on the cup you make the drinks in. The simple white coffee cups and saucers sold at World Market have been perfect for my lattes. Similar to learning manual photography, there is a triangle of things to balance to get the perfect espresso pull- grind size, coffee amount, and tamping/distribution. Balancing the three will result in a tasty, balanced shot of espresso. Too fine a grind and your shot will take too long to pull- you get stronger, more bitter espresso. Grind size too coarse will result in weaker, less flavorful shots. I’m by no means an expert so google away.

latte

Now the best part- the milk frothing! The reason I am obsessed with drinking a lattes is that a good one with properly frothed milk has a sweetness without sugar and a creamy mouth feel. That silky texture makes my mouth water just thinking of it. I loved visiting specialty coffee shops before becoming my own barista and one thing I always noticed was that I could drink the best ones without any additional sugar. The idea that I could make my own at home that didn’t need sugar was never even a consideration- I always assumed it was only something achievable in the coffee shops. Well dammit I have done it! I am not crafting my own cafe quality beverages at home that are AMAZING without any sugar. Whole milk gives the latte the sweetness. Once again I studied YouTube videos carefully and found Coffeefusion to be the most helpful and easy to mimic.

The latte art… when I started this journey I fully anticipated that this would not happen for me. It seemed a little silly even to try but it quickly became my main focus. The taste wasn’t hard to get right (surprisingly!) so the personal challenge became mimicking the insta-worthy designs I have taken photos of dozens of times on my trips. THIS is definitely the hard part of latte making for me and something I’m constantly frustrated by. Think of the avocado- it spends just a fraction of its life perfectly ripe- too soon and it’s crap, wait too long and it’s garbage mush. This is how I find milk frothing. The process involves introducing air to the milk (they call this stretching the milk) and then distributing those bubbles in a whirlpool motion to make it smooth and creamy. Leave your wand out too long and the milk is chunky and thick, push the wand into the milk too fast before you’re done adding air and you have thin, watery milk. Achieving those designs is partly good espresso shots, partly good latte milk, and partly the skill of your pour.
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This coffee journey has been a wonderful new hobby for me and one that’s also helped me satisfy my need for lattes in a somewhat healthier way. I don’t see myself moving to espresso shots but who knows… Having an espresso machine and actually learning how to use it also makes your house a popular one for playdates and visitors, that’s either a good thing or a word of caution depending on your outlook. It’s amazing what you can achieve when your kids go off to school and don’t require constant attention.

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