Brewing a pot of coffee at home is certainly not rocket science and also spares you some pocket change at the local drive-thru.

Those budget-conscious people who cannot part with their morning latte seem to think there aren’t any alternatives to spending $4 a day.

Wrong.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the four primary home brewing methods and the equipment required for each. Espresso machines, however, require some elaboration.

Contrary to popular belief, espresso machines are a fairly inexpensive investment. A fully functional espresso maker with a steam wand can be as cheap as $60 – or about 20 lattes.

As always, you’ll need a coffee grinder and whole beans before attempting to make espresso. You’ll also need to spend about $10 on a tamper, which is a device that helps evenly distribute and pack your espresso in the filter basket before brewing.

Once you have your equipment in place, you’re ready to begin.

The basic components of a vanilla latte include:

1. Freshly brewed espresso (two shots for 16 oz.)

2. Freshly steamed milk with foam

3. Vanilla syrup (2 tablespoons for 16 oz.)

The steps in brewing espresso:

1. Grind the espresso finely.

2. Overfill the filter basket with ground coffee.

3. Use the tamper to pack the coffee in a puck shape. Apply about 30 pounds of pressure.

4. Tap the filter basket on the counter to shake up loose espresso. Press down once more.

5. Pull the shot for no more than 10 seconds.

Check out the composition of a good shot of espresso here.

Put your espresso skills to the test in a vanilla latte by following my instructional video.

Here’s a preview of the final product:

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