Tag Archives: coffee

Festive vegan latte

We Tried 3 Seasonal Vegan Lattes at Your Favourite Coffee Shops. Here’s the Winner

Holiday latte season is one of my favourite seasons. You can indulge in the best coffee beans, but with a shot of sugary flavour and warm, frothy milk. And now thanks to an increased popularity of veganism and food allergies, plant-based milk (soy, almond, oat) is also typically on the menu.

This year I wanted to sample all of the best seasonal vegan lattes to see which one held up best. However because of the pandemic it felt like the options for such bevvies has been limited as many smaller joints have had to shut down. The good news is that some of the coffee franchises we all know and love did step up to pump out the special syrup and spices this season. And while I’m always a fan of supporting local, for the purpose of Canadian readers everywhere, here’s my hot take on the best vegan lattes from three of the more widely available cafes in the country.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly

Chestnut Praline Latte With Almond Milk, Starbucks

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, perhaps? Just ordering this drink, which promises “caramelized chestnuts and spices” is enough to make me want to bust out the Nat King Cole.

Sweetness: A grande comes with four pumps of syrup, which was a touch on the sweet side. Next time I might stick with two or three.

Real talk: To make this version vegan, I omitted the whipped cream. Because of that, they also left off the “specialty spiced praline crumbs.” It doesn’t matter — I fell in love with chestnut lattes years ago. To be honest, it’s one of the first drinks my husband and I order every holiday season when they make their way to Canada.

Related: Famous Recipes We’re Making at Home, From McDs Hash Browns to IKEA Meatballs

Verdict: This year did not disappoint. While my drink was overly sweet (it took me a while to finish the whole cup) I did love how smooth and velvety it was. It also came piping hot, which was a bonus because I’m also that girl who microwaves her coffee if it’s not steaming. And as for the almond milk substitution? The syrup actually overpowered that chalky taste you can sometimes get with almond milk — and I think the drink would have been even sweeter with the regular stuff. So I’m calling this one a glorious, vegan win. Now if only they made chestnut lattes available year-round…

Gingerbread Latte With Almond Milk, Coffee Culture

Available in Ontario and Manitoba

Festive flavour: Gingerbread is kind of the ultimate holiday flavour, don’t you think? So drinking it in latte form (rather than biting into a tooth-chipping piece from the stale house my kids always insist on decorating) makes sense.

Sweetness: This one wasn’t nearly as sweet as the chestnut latte, but it definitely left me with a bit of a sugar rush.

Real talk: Full disclosure: I’m pretty picky about how I like my gingerbread. I love fresh ginger, so if we’re talking cookies, I prefer the warm and chewy kind.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

Verdict: As a drink, this gingerbread latte had a pretty great balance of coffee to ginger — and just smelling it was enough to bring a warm and fuzzy feel to my hectic afternoon. But one cup was definitely enough to last me for the entire season. I’m of the camp that gingerbread is special because it’s a once-in-a-while treat. But if they made this drink in candle form? Well that’s something I’d light up all season long.

Cinnamon Toast Latte With Almond Milk, Second Cup

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: I feel like cinnamon is a year-round flavour, so I wasn’t necessarily getting a festive vibe from this drink. But it did feel special and new, especially since I got to sip it in a fully decorated cafe while my toddler nibbled on a croissant.

Sweetness: Once again this latte was slightly too sweet for my personal preference, so next time I would ask for one less pump of syrup.

Real talk: Growing up my dad used to make me cinnamon toast and it was one of my favourite breakfasts. So I was immediately excited to try this grown-up version. I sipped it while watching my kid take in the experience of having a snack at a cafe (something he hasn’t really gotten to do yet in his life, especially with this pandemic) and it just reminded me of traditions, holiday shopping and taking a timeout to savour the season. Yes, I got all that from a drink.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Arrived in Canada — Is It Worth the Hype?

Verdict: I appreciated that while the other cafes were happy to offer up vegan milk in any of their lattes, Second Cup specifically put a plant-based version of its Cinnamon Toast Latte on the menu. They usually make theirs with oat milk (because oats and cinnamon are another memorable combo), but in order to be completely fair to the other shops, I had mine with almond milk. That suited me just fine and it was delicious, but next time I’m there I’m definitely trying to recommended version.

Winner

While the chestnut latte was delicious and the gingerbread latte was memorable, I have to go with the cinnamon toast latte. Are you surprised? I believe the season is all about the memories we make — and to me, the drink was a mood. Add in the fact that Second Cup put effort into branding the latte as a vegan drink and it had to win — hands down.

That said, this year has been strange and weird for so many reasons. Restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat, let alone sink money into new products. So I’m calling this a tentative win for now and here’s hoping that by this time next year, we can all over-imbibe on caffeine and more holiday-themed, sugary goodness.

Photos courtesy of Amber Dowling

We also tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits. Are they worth the hype?

This Chocolate Tahini Coffee Granola Will Make You a Morning Person

It just might be the case that three of the very best ingredients in the world are tahini, chocolate and coffee. So naturally, we were committed to finding a way to stir them all together into one delectable healthy breakfast that can’t be beat. Enter this creamy, flavour-forward granola with a kick of coffee and cacao powder. These three ingredients marry well together because they heighten each other’s bitterness, sweetness and richness, making this granola such a treat. Sprinkle it onto yogurt (or a non-dairy equivalent) for added texture and creaminess… and while you’re at it, double the batch.

Related: Bright and Beautiful Breakfasts That’ll Get You Excited for Spring

Healthy Chocolate Tahini Coffee Granola Recipe

Servings: 6 ½ cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
⅓ cup ground decaf coffee (or caffeinated if you want an extra kick!)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
½ cup tahini
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup coconut oil, butter or avocado oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. If you like, you can roughly chop the nuts and seeds by hand or in a food processor.

3. Place a saucepan on medium heat and whisk together the tahini, maple syrup and coconut oil until velvety.

Related: How to Make Oat Milk 5 Ways (And Why It’s the Best Non-Dairy Option)

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and mix until well combined.

5. Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet. Use two baking sheets if needed, as you don’t want to overcrowd the granola.

Related: Healthy High-Protein Oatmeal, Dressed Up 3 Delicious Ways

6. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring at the 15-20 minute mark (we stirred at 20 minutes) then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes so the granola has the opportunity to harden.

7. Enjoy with dairy or non-dairy yogurt or milk, or by the handful.

Keep morning meals a priority and whip up a batch of these healthy loaded breakfast cookies or nourishing pancakes made with “green banana” flour.

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How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

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Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

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Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

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5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

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Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

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How to Make The Best Cold Brew Coffee

On sweltering summer days, cold brew is a refreshing alternative to your hot morning coffee. The cool, satisfying summer drink is easier to make than you think.

In simplest terms, cold brew is made by soaking coffee grounds in water at room temperature or cooler for a long period of time. The resulting beverage is less acidic on the palate than your typical cup, but it also packs a punch. Because it requires more grounds than hot coffee, cold brew has the added benefit of more caffeine.

cold-brew-coffee

There are lots of cold brewing gadgets out there, but this recipe will show you an easy way to improvise at home with equipment you likely already have. After 18 hours, you’ll end up with a potent cold brew concentrate that can be diluted and enjoyed with ice, sparkling water or your milk of choice.

So, grab your favourite freshly roasted coffee beans, and give this simple cold brew method a try.

Cold-brew-dilute

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 18 hours, 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
100 g or roughly 1 cup coarsely ground coffee
800 mL or 3 1/2 cups filtered water
1L Mason jar
Fine mesh bag  or nut milk bag
Paper coffee filter
Strainer or funnel

Directions:

Cold brew

1. Place nut milk bag inside a mason jar and fill with ground coffee. Add filtered water. Give your soaked grounds a stir. Cover the mason jar with a cloth and place it in the fridge to brew for 18 hours.

Cold brew step 2
2. After 18 hours, take your brew out of the fridge and carefully remove the mesh bag filled with coffee grounds. Tip: Used coffee grounds make great compost.

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3. Pour your cloudy brew through a pre-soaked paper filter (pre-soaking removes paper-y taste). If you don’t have pour-over coffee equipment, a strainer or funnel lined with a paper filter will do.

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4. You now have a crystal clear cold brew concentrate. Dilute with ice and water or add milk and sweetener to taste. Store your cold brew coffee in the refrigerator to enjoy for up to a week.

Irish Coffee

The Boozy History of Irish Coffee

What do flying boats and Irish coffee have in common? Everything, and more.

I should know: my family tree has a direct bloodline to Joe Sheridan, the legendary chef who invented this classic Irish cocktail. Nutty and caramely, it’s a rich, hot blend of dark coffee, fiery whiskey, brown sugar and a swirl of thick whipped cream. An Emerald Isle favourite for over 70 years, this quintessential Irish beverage has unorthodox beginnings.

Tracing the roots of Irish coffee requires venturing to Foynes, a tiny town on Ireland’s west coast that was once the epicentre for the aviation world. During World War II, Pan Am’s famed flying boats (a.k.a. clippers) transported a range of people, from celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy, to refugees (children fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe). It’s here that commercial air travel was born — as well as Irish coffee.

Irish Coffee

One wintery night in 1943, a clipper departed from Foynes to North America, but the flight didn’t get far. After battling bad weather conditions for several hours, the captain decided to return to Ireland. As the weary passengers offloaded into the airport’s restaurant, Chef Joe Sheridan decided to prepare a special treat to spread some cheer. He brewed dark, bitter coffee, and to each cup added a shot of Irish whiskey, a little brown sugar and whipped cream on top. As the perked-up passengers slurped up the steamy drink, one asked, “Is it Brazilian coffee?”

“No,” Sheridan said. “That was Irish coffee!”

With those four words, a classic Irish drink was born. However, it took almost a decade before the toasty tipple traveled worldwide. In 1951, Stanton Delaplane, a travel journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, took his first sip and was instantly hooked. Back home, Delaplane raved about the newfangled Irish coffee drink to Jack Koeppler, owner of the Buena Vista Café. The duo tried to re-create Sheridan’s recipe, stirring and sipping all night, but the taste was off and the cream collapsed on the surface.

Enjoy Sheridan's original recipe for Irish coffee at the Foynes Maritime Museum

Enjoy Sheridan’s original recipe for Irish coffee at the Foynes Maritime Museum.

After a slew of taste tests and a “research” trip to Ireland, the two men finally cracked the code: the tricky cream only floated when aged and frothed to a precise thickness. Regardless, they decided to poach another key ingredient: Chef Sheridan himself. In 1953, Joe Sheridan immigrated to the United States and started working at the Buena Vista Café.

Chef Sheridan’s original recipe is still served at the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco and the Foynes Maritime Museum, where there’s a small exhibit dedicated to the drink. Of course, virtually all bars and restaurants in Ireland have this boozy beverage on their menu, though flavours may vary.

However, there’s no need to travel across the pond for a mouthful of this hot cocktail. Just gather all the ingredients in your kitchen and follow these instructions. If you’re really looking to impress guests, pair the drink with a plate of Irish Coffee Pie or Anna Olson’s Irish Creamy Fudge.

valerie's irish coffee

Once you’ve mastered the recipe, get playful and try this decadent recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Irish Coffee, made with espresso and topped with Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream. Or, delight guests with Irish coffee with a Canadian twist, spiked with Canadian whisky, a drizzle of maple syrup, and maple-laced whipped cream.

For a fancy after-dinner nightcap, make a batch of Nancy Fuller’s Dressed Up Irish Coffee, sprinkled with shaved dark chocolate, it’s almost a dessert in a glass. The options are endless.

This St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be celebrating my bloodline to booze legend, Chef Joe Sheridan, by raising a glass of Irish coffee. From my family, to coffee and whiskey lovers everywhere, I say: you’re welcome and Sláinte!

Alternative Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home

Making your favourite coffee shop drinks at home is a great way to satisfy those in-between cafe trips. And if you’re searching for dairy milk alternatives in coffee shops due to allergies, intolerances or just to explore a range of new flavours, you may have a hard time finding exactly what you want. Here, we break down the best lactose-free milks and the popular café beverages they pair best with.

almond-milk

Lactose-Free Milks

Nut Milk: Popularly made with almonds, but trendy new varieties such as hazelnut and macadamia are equally available. Homemade nut milk is simple, but won’t be as stable when heating for beverage recipes. Look for nut milk fresh or in shelf-stable tetra packs in your local grocery store. Many cafés and even some larger chain coffee shops are now beginning to carry nut milks as a second dairy-free option along with soy milk.

Soy Milk: One of the first lactose-free, dairy-free milks to sweep the café seen, soy milk is thick, creamy and sweet. Choose unsweetened, plain varieties (or you’re getting a ton of added sugar) when purchasing for homemade coffee shop drinks. Soy milk has the most protein of all non-dairy milks, but many people avoid it due to its high amounts of phytoestrogens, which can disrupt hormone balance in both women and men.

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is popular with larger coffee shop chains as a soy alternative because it’s not actually a nut, but a fruit. Creamy, sweet and floral, coconut milk (usually the thin beverage is used as opposed to thick canned types) compliments everything from espresso to chocolate, and heats well without curdling.

Rice Milk: Offering little in the way of nutrition, rice milk is usually purchased by those who are seeking something slightly creamy, but are allergic to nut, soy, dairy and coconut milks. Very thin, it’s not the best non-dairy milk to use for coffee shop beverages, but will still give a “milky” appearance. Other grain milks appearing on the market include oat milk and quinoa milk, which have more nutrients and a touch more creaminess (though they are more expensive).

Lactose-Free Milk: This milk is an animal product (dairy) that has had the lactose taken out of it. If you have lactose intolerance but still love the taste of dairy milk, choose this for your coffee when out and at home. Some baristas say that this milk tastes a touch sweeter than regular dairy variety. If you’re concerned about sugar, go for whole milk varieties because when it comes to dairy, the higher the milk fat percentage, the lower the sugar/carbohydrate content.

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Coffee Shop Drinks and Lactose-Free Milk Pairings

The flavours of alternative milks go wonderfully with coffee, lending sweet, nutty notes to your drinks. Here are some ideas to get your started in the flavour department.

Drink: Latte
Best With: almond milk, coconut milk beverage, soy milk or lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Allison Day’s Classic Pumpkin Spice Latte

Drink: Americano (Hot or Iced)
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.

Drink: Frappuccino
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.
Try this recipe for a Light Frappuccino

Drink: Macchiato
Best With: thick canned coconut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Chai Latte
Best With: coconut milk beverage, almond milk, rice milk, lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Bal Arneson’s Chai Latte

Drink: Cortado
Best With: soy milk, macadamia nut milk, lactose-free milk.

Drink: Cold Brew Coffee
Best With: thick canned coconut milk, soy milk.
Try this recipe for Ashley Tomlinson’s Cold Brew Coffee

Drink: Flat White
Best with: almond milk, hazelnut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Hot Chocolate
Best With: hazelnut milk (for a “nutella” flavour), almond milk, macadamia nut milk, soy milk, or thick canned coconut milk (for extra-rich hot chocolate).
Try this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate

Drink: Cappuccino
Best With: almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, macadamia nut milk.

Healthy Vanilla Latte Smoothie

This delicious and nutritious smoothie really does taste like an ice-cold vanilla latte! Plus, it’s got one shot of espresso for that occasional caffeine boost you might need mid-day or mid-week.

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Ingredients:
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 pitted medjool dates
1 Tbsp black chia seeds
1 Tbsp raw cacao nibs
1 Tbsp raw almond butter
1 tsp raw vanilla powder (or pure vanilla extract)
1 espresso shot, cooled
1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
2 cups ice cubes

Directions:
– In a Vitamix or high-powered blender combine and blend all ingredients until smooth.

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