Latte Recipe for "Not a Latte" Money

Story by Nina Hua
Illustrations by Nathan Burgess

When walking into the nearest Starbucks on campus, it’s typical to see half of the university standing around for a cup of coffee. You wait, your eyes saggy and dark from the all-nighter you pulled to finish a mid-term paper just 20 minutes before deadline. You check your phone every two seconds to calculate how much time you have left before your next class starts. You ask yourself: “How much has the line shifted? Nada.”  When you finally reach the cashier and order a grande-sized café latte, it’ll cost you $3.65. The next day, the cycle repeats itself.

A 2012 Workonomix survey conducted by Accounting Principles says American employees who regularly purchase coffee during the work week spend about $1,092 annually. This grand amount comes out to five dollars a day, a “small” amount that most people won’t pay much attention to. (If you can’t believe this number, you can calculate your own expenses using this calculator provided by USA Today.)

But there is an alternative way to get that latte without spending a grande.

Instead of waiting in line, I prefer steaming my own frothy milk to pour into my coffee as an easy way to spice up the usual cup of joe.

I originally found this minute-trick on The Kitchn, but I tweak it depending on my preferences and available ingredients. It may not be a “true” latte because it replaces espresso with coffee, but if you use a stronger brew (I use cold brew), then you’ll be just as caffeinated for a long day.

For one cup of coffee:

  • ¼ cup of 2% or non-fat milk (I use Nestle’s Coffee Mate cream)

  • Mason jar with lid

  • microwave

  • spoon

  • Café Du Monde’s Coffee and Chicory (or any preferred coffee brand)


1. Prepare coffee and set aside

2. Pour milk in the jar without surpassing more than half of the jar’s size (in order to give room for the foam to rise)

3. Secure the lid. Shake the jar vigorously until you see the froth forming, which takes about 30 seconds to a minute

4. Remove the lid (unless you’re asking for a disaster) and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds.


5. Use a kitchen towel or mittens to remove the jar. Pour the milk from the jar into your coffee, and using your spoon, transfer the leftover foam from the jar to the top of your mug.

Voila! Now you’ve saved yourself from saggy eyes, the impending doom of debt and hopefully mustered up enough energy to start your next paper on time. You’re welcome.