Homemade Latte

I love Starbucks lattes but can't justify the price - especially since it was just raised again.  I've reached my breaking point.  I've also given up on them - and mochas - because an unacceptable amount of room is now being left at the top of the cup (I even heard another customer talk to a barista about that, and he confirmed it, so it's a bona fide conspiracy).  And I'm tired of being handed a cup of regular coffee and immediately popping the top off and asking them to fill it some more.  Yes, I have a lot of rage towards Starbucks (which has been channeled into several complaint emails), but I keep going back...it's an abusive relationship.  "I just can't quit you."

Tangent over.  Anywho, I experimented at home with what I had on hand.  The result is just as good as what I get in the store.  I've only made them cold, but I'd think that it'd work well if heated.  The only challenge I have is that the drink "settles" pretty quickly, and I have to keep stirring (not a problem since I'm usually drinking it with a straw).  I have to play around with preparation time, like whether making it the night before gives more time for the ingredients to fully dissolve in the milk.

Unfortunately, I haven't escaped Starbucks' hold completely, since I use the VIA packets.  However, you get 12 for under $7.00, so it's still a good deal and gives you something very close to that particular Starbucks-y taste.  Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a recipe guide included in the VIA package with how to make ?eight? different drinks.  So if I can scale back my addiction to just VIA packets and two minutes of effort at home, I'm OK with that.  No need for any 12-step programs.

1 to 1 1/2 cups milk [I use a combination of skim and 2%]
1 Starbucks VIA packet
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder [optional; use if making a mocha]
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon sugar
cinnamon [optional]

(1) Add all ingredients to a small food processor or blender (I use a Magic Bullet).  Blend until combined.
(2) Taste and add ingredients as needed.

Notes: I don't like how much sugar goes into this, but it's too bitter otherwise.  I will experiment with other sweeteners (like the unopened agave in my pantry).  Also, adding a drop or two of an extract (mint, almond, coconut) could be just as good as paying $0.40 for a flavor shot.

Kid Participation: None...no caffeine for them!

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