Espresso in the a.m. has been a ritual since the 80's. Once I discovered its hedonistic depth and flavor, there was no going back to coffee. The thing is, I've never been a black coffee kind of drinker, so the octane of my espresso was always tempered with a generous splash of cream. It was my own version of a strong, full-bodied latte.
Three years ago, when I found DDPYOGA and the guidance of Diamond Dallas Page and Terri Lange, they strongly urged me to give up cow dairy. It was sound advice, but I also knew I was in no way, shape or form ready or willing to give up cream from my beloved a.m. ritual. When I undertook a vow to change my life, health, and food choices, I knew that to make it work long-term, I had to be realistic. For me, this meant keeping pleasure in the equation to a certain extent...it would be crucial to the longevity of my changes. The deal I made with myself was as follows: cow cheese takes a hike; cream in the espresso stays in the picture. This decision was due in large part to never finding a suitable cream substitute. I didn't like the fake creamers or the substitutes made of soy or coconut. Then oneday, an unexpected revelation: Almond Milk makes FABULOUS latte's.
It all came about quite by accident while vacationing at my friend Rene's house. Rene is also a recent 'no cow dairy' convert and drinks only Almond Milk. My first morning there I was horrified to discover she hadn't had time to shop for cream, and I was too groggy for a supermarket run, so I bit the bullet and heated Almond Milk on the stove in a saucepan in tandem with the percolating Bialetti.
"It's gonna be horrible," I thought to myself as I mixed the two together in a mug. Then I took a sip. Then I smiled in delight. That was a year ago. Suffice it to say, I don't buy cream anymore. I'm not saying Almond Milk tastes the same. How could it? It's an entirely different substance with significantly less fat, but somehow, it still works. And it has loads more nutrition (Calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Manganese) than cream. Now that my palate is acclimated to it, cream tastes a little heavy and odd when I'm dining out and it's the only option.
The key to a good espresso latte is adding enough Almond Milk to make it milky and lush without overpowering the coffee. I use about a half cup of espresso to 1 cup of Almond Milk. Another way of gauging it is color: I prefer my Almond Latte's to be a deep beige. If you're not into espresso, use whatever coffee you're accustomed to. So if you're a regular coffee drinker, I hope you'll give the Almond option a try, and let me know how you like it. Oh, and it's also FANTASTIC chilled...just in time for heatwave season.
And last but not least: my favorite brand is Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze, Unsweetened. It's only 40 calories a cup, loaded with nutrients, and unloaded with sugar. Sweetened varieties can range from 60 to 90 calories a cup and I'd rather spend the calories elsewhere.