03/04/2009 12:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Make Damn Good Cappuccino or Espresso at Home

For coffee lovers, there's nothing better than that perfect wake up cup in the morning. But in these crunch times, your daily Starbucks fix is better served in a retirement fund. Not to mention, the average American office worker goes through around 500 disposable cups every year, according to the Clean Air Council. So how about an authentic Italian-style cappuccino or espresso at a fraction of the cost that produces a fraction of the waste with a much lighter carbon footprint?

Yes, it is possible to meet all this criteria with less than 10 minutes added to your daily routine.

heart coffee italian espresso photo

Photo via Flickr.

1. Buy a Bialetti Espresso Machine
These little stove top cookers from Bialetti, running around $25, often make espresso better than the most expensive machines out there. They are also extremely easy to use (see directions below). Simply add water to the line, put in the metal cap, fill the cap with espresso, twist on the top, and cook until steam stops coming out of the top. Voila, killer espresso that will add cache to that resume of skills you pull out to impress house guests.

bialetti directions photo

Photo via Flickr.

I recommend Bialetti because, from my experience, the pressurizing devices can be a bit tricky--when other brands kick the bucket, Bialetti is still going.

If you are making just one coffee, save the left overs for the next day. Although a true conniseur might sniff at this, it tastes just as good and shaves a few more minutes off your routine. To preserve the coffee machine--which needs to be rinsed out immediately (no soap) to prevent rusting and mineral deposits--pour the extra coffee in a separate container. For a deeper clean, squeeze some lemon juice in the machine every few weeks and let it soak.

2. Buy a Milk Frother
Bialetti also has a Milk Frother that crushes the competition. If you've had a cappuccino or a latte in italy, you probably noticed that the milk was a totally different animal: rich, creamy, and poured slowly in thick fluffy cloud-like layers. Yep, you can actually do this at home. Basically you pump the milk in the frother (make sure the milk is only just steaming--if it is too hot the foam will go flat); knock the frother against the counter a few times, let it sit for 30 seconds, and then slowly stir it with a spoon.

3. Compost Your Coffee Grains
Toss your coffee grains right in your composter--or use them to mulch your garden. Rich in nutrients, they make fantastic fertilizer.

4. Pack it in a Reusable Coffee Thermos
Now, pour it in a thermos, and you have effectively removed that pesky wasteful cup. Not to mention the individually packages of sugar--also extremely wasteful--and the one-time use coffee stir.

5. Go Organic, Fair Trade, and Local
The greenest coffee also incorporates pesticide-free organic, fair trade and local beans and sugar.

Have green coffee tips? Comment below!

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