Cappuccino emigrated from Italy as a simple and classic drink made of espresso and foamy milk. Today, a "cappuccino" can be sweet and creamy or flavored and fancy (Frappuccino, anyone?). Either way, it has a higher price tag than a basic cup of coffee, but there are some budget-friendly ways to indulge in this tasty drink.
10 Ways to Drink Cappuccino on the Cheap
Mimic Starbucks' flavored cappuccino drinks at home for less money -- even without an espresso machine. A food blogger suggests a secret to Starbucks-like taste: Pour sugar in with instant coffee and whip together with a teaspoon of water, then add boiling milk. For folks who like their coffee drinks on the sweet side, this is a budget-friendly method.
A basic espresso maker doesn't have to cost a fortune and could save money for a cappuccino drinker with a regular habit. The De'Longhi EC155 (starting at $80) performs necessities such as frothing milk for a range of cappuccino, mocha, and latte drinks. Reviewers marvel that this pump-driven machine costs so little. Most cheap espresso makers are steam-driven, and aficionados consider a pump essential for authentic coffee-shop taste.
Owners of Keurig machines can try Grove Square single-cup cappuccino mix (starting at about $12 for 24 capsules). Consumers can brew about a dozen cups for the price of one caramel or vanilla cappuccino at a popular coffee chain. Buyers reviewing the product on Amazon compare it to the sweet, creamy flavor of a gas station cappuccino.
Although most cappuccino mixes are reasonably priced, it might be even cheaper to make a homemade mix posted by coffee importer and roaster Royal Cup: Combine instant coffee, powdered milk, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon, then mix in a bowl or food processor. Store for a ready-to-go cappuccino-inspired drink, or just add hot water to make it on the spot.
Making stovetop espresso is relatively easy and cost effective. Although true espresso is brewed under much higher pressure, this technique brews similarly strong coffee with the thin layer of caramel-colored foam on top called "crema." Simply add some frothy milk to make a traditional cappuccino (the required tool is coming up next). You can pick up a stovetop espresso maker or moka pot for about the cost of four or five store-bought coffee drinks (about $15).
Starbucks increased the cost of espresso drinks by 10 to 30 cents this month. Prices vary by location, but Dunkin' Donuts consistently beats Starbucks on price when it comes to a basic cappuccino, and the savings add up day by day.
If you can't fathom giving up Starbucks for a cheaper standby, try this hack: Order a "short" cappuccino, an 8-ounce drink, over a more expensive 12-ounce "tall." The coffee-to-milk ratio is higher, promising a stronger (many would say better) taste at a lower cost.
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