Does it seem like most articles on saving money say things like this?
“Cut out your daily Starbucks latte to effortlessly save $40 a week.”
While that advice is effective and accurate, it forgets one major thing. What about those of us who can’t make it through the week without our favorite caffeinated beverage? Yes, cutting Starbucks from your budget cold-turkey will save you a noticeable amount of money, but these easy, DIY Starbucks drinks will keep your budget in check.
Iced Tea and Iced Tea Lemonade
Let’s start with the easiest of the Starbucks drinks to duplicate at home — the teas and tea lemonades. Starbucks used to use the Tazo brand tea for its teas, but switched to Teavana. As an avid Starbucks tea drinker, I don’t notice a huge difference, which means you can stick with Tazo’s Zen, Passion, or Awake tea bags for your DIY brew.
To get the right tea brew, pour 3-4 cups of boiling water over four tea bags. Green and black teas will steep about 3-5 minutes, and Passion tea and other fruity teas will steep a minute or two longer. Add three cups of cold water on top and store your pitcher of tea in the refrigerator.
To make your tea or tea lemonade Starbucks-style, a shaker cup is key. The shaking method that baristas use isn’t just to mix everything together, it actually aerates the tea and makes the drink taste better. I have been drinking Starbucks teas for almost a decade, and I can tell you that there is a noticeable difference in taste between a shaken and a non-shaken tea.
A shaker cup like the Blender Bottle works perfectly for shaking your teas. For sweetened teas, use six pumps of sweetener or save even more money an make your own with sugar and water. Then fill the shaker with one-third tea, one-third water or lemonade, and add ice to the top. Shake and enjoy.
The secret to Starbucks iced coffee is that it’s brewed very strong. It’s important to start with a strong ground coffee, using your favorite brand. In my experience, the more affordable brands, like Folgers, don’t brew strong or deep enough, but go with your preference.
Once your coffee is brewed, allow to cool and store in the refrigerator. You can sweeten it with a homemade classic syrup or another DIY flavored syrup, such as white mocha or vanilla syrup. Add half-and-half or milk, and then top off with ice. Yum!
It’s no secret that Starbucks uses an espresso machine to pour their shots. If you have an espresso machine, then you will have an easy time being your own barista. However, for those of us working with just a coffee maker or coffee press, it is still possible to get close to the espresso taste. I recommend brewing Starbucks espresso ground coffee, which are the same beans Starbucks baristas use in their machines. Brew your coffee stronger than usual.
For a caramel macchiato, start by squirting 5-6 pumps of vanilla syrup in your cup. You can buy a bottle of vanilla syrup or make your own by boiling two cups of sugar with two cups of water, and adding a 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. For hot drinks, fill your cup with ¾ cup of warmed milk.
If you have a milk frother, froth a little bit of milk to make a foam to go on top. Pour strong coffee on top of your foam and milk, then drizzle a caramel syrup in a hashtag pattern. You can use an inexpensive caramel sauce, like Smucker’s caramel sundae sauce, or make your own with heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar. (See also: Don’t Tell Anyone: 11 Secret Starbucks Saving Tips)
Starbucks Frappuccinos are more like milkshakes than coffee, but man, are they tasty! To make the popular caramel frappuccino at home, brew strong coffee. Try brewing your coffee with two tablespoons of ground coffee per cup of water for stronger results.
Then you will blend one cup of low-fat milk, one cup of coffee, and two cups of ice, just like this copycat recipe suggests. Instead of blending in caramel sauce or sugar, I recommend making simple syrup and add caramel extract to it. Then blend 5-6 tablespoons of that syrup into your frappuccino with a teaspoon o xantham gum or glucomannan powder for a frothier, thicker frappuccino. Finally, top your drink with whipped cream and caramel sauce.
As long as you have strong coffee and the right flavored syrup, you can technically make any latte or frappuccino. Even though Starbucks has a large menu, as a former barista, I can tell you that majority of the drinks are the same, just with different syrups. For example, the only difference between a white mocha and a vanilla latte is the syrup used.