I am so not a barista. I can make a decent cup of coffee without a pod or a jar of instant but it’s just a cup of coffee. In fact, while I love the aroma, flavor and taste of coffee in a drink, I do not really like drinking it neat, plain, unadulterated or as my friend Julie calls it, naked. I need “extra”. I need sweet (but not too sweet). I need the coffee house flavor and flourish experience but, because of the shelter in place parameters and no desire to spend $8.00 for 8 oz. of break the budget albeit, delicious beverage I needed to find a way to make my morning (and sometimes evening too) java jolt at home.

After a bit of research on what it takes to make a good cup of plain coffee great, I came up with the following “nibs” of wisdom are geared toward the “I got to get my own ground beans” rather than the pods or instant brew. Of course, any kind of coffee any way you make it will work for the following recipes, including instant. HOWEVER, if you are going for the “experience” I suggest you use a drip, pour over or French press when creating the basis of your liquid masterpiece.

  1. Use the freshest roasted and ground coffee you can afford/get. Beans are fresh after they are roasted for a few months but coffee begins to lose its intense bean specific flavor within an hour or 2 of being ground. You can store your coffee in the freezer if you are not going to use it right away. Grinding just before making you brew is really the best.
  2. Splurge on the BEST add in ingredients you can get. Really great chocolate, spices or syrups can enhance the flavor, the cheaper, imitation stuff, not so much. This is especially true when it comes to vanilla. Try not to use the fake stuff if you can help it.
  3. Try variations on a theme. Dark roast and dark chocolate, French roast with milk chocolate or cocoa powder with whatever your heart desires. Flavors like peppermint, cinnamon, and nutmeg can all be included in the culinary experience. I typically add the spices to the milk/cream/nondairy substitute when I’m scalding them and whisking them in after they have steeped a few minutes. Personally, I never use the commercial “creamers” they have way to many chemicals and artificial flavors for me.
  4. You do not need special equipment to create masterpieces. If you want foam, no problem, you can make milk or cream foam on your stovetop or with your microwave. All you have to do is heat milk in a pot, to a simmer, not a boil. Add your seasoning or flavoring. Let set for a minute then whisk briskly, over the low heat, until it foams. It may take a minute or 3 but it is worth the effort. If you heat the liquid in the microwave just remove it when it is hot and then whisk away until it’s foamy.

FYI: If you want more of an espresso flavor just double up on the grounds and use the same amount of water you would use for 1 cup (or just buy some expresso powder) and whipped cream is always a great way to end with a flourish.


1 cup of brewed coffee

3 to 4 oz milk or dark chocolate candy bar, broken into very small pieces

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup of cream or milk or nondairy substitute milk

A can of whipped Cream (optional)

In a saucepan combine your milk, vanilla, and chocolate. Heat to a simmer and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the milk is foamy. (for a microwave, heat the milk and chocolate for 30 seconds, remove and whisk. If not hot enough microwave and additional 15 to 30 seconds and then whisk. Whisk the coffee into the milk mixture and then serve with a spritz of the whipped cream on top. Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.


1/2 cup ground coffee

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

4 1/2 to 5 cups water

1 1/4 cup milk or cream

1/2 cup chocolate syrup (you can substitute butterscotch syrup if you prefer)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped cream, optional

Extra chocolate syrup

In a bowl, combine the coffee, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix to combine and then place the mixture into the filter of a drip coffee maker. Add the water and brew as usual.

In a saucepan, combine the milk or cream, chocolate syrup and brown sugar. Cook at a simmer, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Make sure not to cook at too high a heat, it will burn. Whisk in the vanilla and coffee. Pour into 6 glasses and top with whipped cream if using and then drizzle a little more chocolate syrup over the top.


1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 cup milk chocolate toffee bits plus 5 to 6 teaspoons (or more)

5 to 6 cups hot coffee

2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping

In a small bowl, beat cream until you get soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and beat until you have got stiff peaks. Gently fold in the 1/2 cup of toffee pieces. Place a teaspoon (or more if you like) of the toffee pieces at the bottom of each cup and pour the coffee equally between the cups. Stir once or twice. Top the coffee with the toffee whipped cream and drizzle the caramel topping over the whipped cream. You can garnish with additional toffee pieces if you like. Makes 5.

© Eileen Goltz café 2021