How to make your own latte + espresso

My homemade latte in a Mason tumbler by Mason Bar Company

Here’s the story about how I fell in love with coffee – well, iced lattes anyway.  I grew tired of my corporate marketing job and the last year of working there, my heart yearned to do photography full-time.  The only motivation to get to my desk was rewarding myself with a latte from the Starbucks drive-thru on the way to work.  Sadness occurred when I was done with my latte by lunch, so I’d jump in my car and get another one to get me through the rest of the day.

I had never been a coffee drinker in my life.  And, for the record my marketing job was’t bad at all. I was there for five glorious years and made fantastic friendships and had amazing perks (Monday thru Thursday, 32 hours a week with full-time benefits and working from home when I wanted to).  But when the heart calls you in a different direction, it just does, and so my little iced vanilla latte addiction was created as I powered through my desk job until I departed.

My good friend Ricki noticed my obsessive latte drinking and recommended I get an espresso machine.  She patiently walked me through the steps of making my own latte, answering my crazy questions like, “Why can’t I just keep running the thing until the water isn’t brown any more?” to “Steaming the milk? Why can’t I just nuke it in the microwave?”  I am a bit more domestic because of the time my sweet Ricki has invested in me and I love her so much for it.

Now onward with how to do it yourself at home!


What you need: milk, ground espresso beans (that’s ground for espresso), and the syrup if you wish.  For me, I just use the soy vanilla milk and add a shot of espresso.

First, please make sure you put water in the container before you start.  And always check that it doesn’t run out.  The machine I have is the Saeco Via Venezia.


Scoop the espresso in there and use the espresso tamper and put pressure to condense the grounds. If this is too messy, you can also use a pod and there’s an adapter that comes with the machine for it.

**UPDATE** 3/2/2014
I now use Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk and that’s enough – not needing the syrup.

Another favorite espresso beans is called Espresso Di Carlo, by Mr. Espresso in SF.  You can buy online here.  Just specify what machine you need it ground for.


I suggest going to your favorite local coffee shop and using their grounds.  If you like a particular coffee shop, it’s because you like their espresso beans. My favorite is Hava Java in Central Phoenix so I always go there and order a pound of ground espresso beans, ground for espresso.


Turn on the machine, red light will appear.  I push in the left button telling it I want it to give me a shot. I wait until the light turns on to say the water is hot and ready.  The bottom below is for steaming your milk if you want it warm (more on that later).


Red light on, push it so it’ll brew your shot.


It pours into the espresso brew pitcher (not included).  This is when I didn’t know when to stop and Ricki had to tell me.  I figured I’d keep running it until it was clear but then she told me that meant your espresso/caffeine intake/taste would be diluted.

I put in ice, add the milk (and syrup if you want), and then pour the shot in.  It’s like ombre latte!



If you want to steam your milk before you add it (like for winter time), you just need a frothing pitcher and a cappuccino frothing thermometer.  You pour the milk in (not to the top because it will get full), and you steam it to the side of the machine.


Equipment used: Canon 5D Mark III / 50mm f/1.2L /85 f/1.4EX

Diana Elizabeth always has to have an iced vanilla latte every day. Every.Day.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.



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