Keeping It Classy With the Sugar-free Iced Latte

It’s time to give coffee some more due diligence because I’m not certain I’d be alive (and possibly neither would some of my coworkers) without it. I love the taste, but there’s more to it than that – making a coffee drink has become an art and a comforting ritual for me.

In my first post about coffee, I mentioned that I was never a big fan of sugary, non-coffee-tasting coffee drinks (like those everyone likes to purchase at a place that starts with “S” and ends with “-ucks”), so I haven’t had to make any real sacrifices or dietary shifts with my diabetes diagnosis. But, every now and then I enjoy a nice caramel or vanilla latte and sometimes even rarely crave a big ass frappucino with whipped cream, so I can understand that the struggle is real.

And, as I mentioned previously, the struggle is not totally necessary because those drinks are all still within reach. In this post, I’m going to focus on how to make a flavored iced latte yourself, the correct way – then you can save your $6 and the half a vial of insulin you’d have used for a crappy, poorly made drink at Starbucks to pay for more insulin so you can eat cake (or something) instead. You’re welcome.

How to make a sugar-free flavored latte the correct way

Iced latte.

A homemade iced latte. Note the nice espresso crema on top.

An iced latte is comprised of espresso, milk, a flavor (if you want to flavor it), and ice. There are a few tricks to making a good latte:

  • Use good espresso. Don’t use the cheap crap they sell in Safeway; shell out some $$ for a higher quality brand (that you’ve tried first and know you like), make sure it’s ground finely so you get the most flavor out of the beans, and is reasonably fresh (hasn’t been sitting in your cupboard for 2 years). You will spend more on espresso up front getting a better bean, but you’ll save like $300 and your palate not going to Starbucks. Again, you’re welcome.
  • If you have the money, I’d recommend getting a decent espresso machine. You don’t need to spend $2000 so don’t go to Crate & Barrel and get talked into that ridiculousness. There are many good machines starting at around $75 to about $300  available just about anywhere that make a really nice pour (and you just saved $300 not going to Starbucks, so you can afford it).  There are also a lot of coffee/espresso machine combinations that also work just fine. I currently have a $300 DeLonghi that I’m really happy with. But, honestly, you can also make espresso without a machine at all, and it’s really up to you how you get something you’re happy with.
  • There is a proper order to adding the ingredients so you don’t end up with a watery, tasteless mess.  If you’ve ever seen a “barista” (quotation marks intentional) at Starbucks just throwing everything into a cup all at once, they’re doing it wrong, and you’re going to get a crappy, watered down drink. More on the order in a moment.
  • Use a good flavoring option for your drink. I’ve previously extolled the virtues of sugar-free Torani syrups in several posts already; they’re my preferred go to brand for all coffee drinks. They have literally about every flavor you could possibly want, so you can also mix and match and experiment with which flavors you prefer together. I’ve found that the amount of flavoring I put in to a drink depends on the flavor; some flavors are more subtle than others so you need a little more. It’s best to experiment to see what fits your preferences.
  • Oh, and milk type is kind of a personal preference. I really only ever drink milk (skim) when I’m drinking a latte, so I can’t speak to how different types of milk might affect blood sugar. I would note that a higher fat milk makes a smoother drink overall because it holds flavor better than skim, but I can’t stand drinking high fat milk so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Obviously, any amount of milk contains carbs so there might be a small amount of insulin required to treat but in my case, the BG raise has been negligible for me.

My recommended order of ingredients to get the best-tasting, smoothest drink:

  1. Make your espresso pour. Most standard espresso machines will make two shots at a time, and most espresso drinks are made with two shots. I like my drinks strong and I’ve been drinking coffee a long time, so I use four for my drinks.
  2. Measure out your sugar-free flavor and pour into steaming hot espresso. Mix well to evenly distribute flavor. I’ve found, depending on the flavor, that 1/2 to 3/4 oz. sugar-free Torani syrup is a perfect amount for a standard drink-size latte. My favorite flavors are vanilla and salted caramel (sometimes together).
  3. Set espresso and flavoring mixture aside.
  4. Fill a standard cup, glass or travel beverage container completely with ice. The larger the ice cubes, the better. Using enough ice (and large cubes, if possible) is important because if you don’t use enough, when you mix in the hot espresso your ice will melt and you’ll end up with diluted espresso and a lukewarm drink. More ice = more cold surface area to cool the espresso more quickly, so the ice doesn’t all melt at once, and then it will stick around to keep your drink cold while you consume it.
  5. Pour milk into your ice-filled glass until it’s about 1/2 full. Pouring the milk in first is another way to keep things colder overall and prevent melting and dilution of your flavors.
  6. Pour espresso & flavoring mixture into the glass.
  7. Add ice if more is needed and mix well. Enjoy your high quality sugar-free latte and flip Starbucks the bird.
  8. Optional: You may find your drink isn’t quite sweet enough to your liking once you try it. You can either add more flavoring until the sweetness is to your satisfaction, or you can add a little bit of liquid Stevia, which I’ve found both sweetens the drink and brings out the flavoring a little more.

 

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