Category Archives: Coffee Shop Cheats

My Pathetic Attemps at Latte Art

After weird Tupperware pudding comes failed Latte art. This is really a 2 part self-deprecation mini-series.

I want to be able to do latte art! It’s so impressive. My dream is to serve someone, a man friend perhaps, a coffee that doubles as art. I mean, how hard is it to draw a heart with espresso and milk?

Well, hard. And I should have realized that I can’t draw with a paper and pencil, never mind coffee. Everyone thinks engineers need to be good at drawing. Most of us are not at all.

My favourite cafe (Castel, go there, it is awesome!) makes crazy lattes. Sometimes they draw faces, sometimes leaves, this time, the guy drew what I think is a dragon. It could also be a peacock? It’s kind of like an ink blot test. Comment what you think it is so I can psychoanalyse you muahaha

20130609-003455.jpg I plan on watching some YouTube tutorials which will hopefully enlighten me on how to acquire this skill. I just might have to make lots of coffees. And I just might have to drink them, so they don’t go to waste. This might be good for productivity, on this day of presentation prep and studying. Here’s to useful procrastination!


Coffee Shop Cheats: Save $ at Starbucks


I know, I know. I’m supposed to be avoiding coffee shops, but let’s face it, it’s not realistic to say that I will never go to a coffee shop again. One thing for sure, i’m obsessed with coffee. I’m just trying to be smarter about it.


  • By packing a muffin or a baked good before I leave the house (check out the healthy recipes I will be posting for inspiration). That way, I’m not tempted by the high-fat goodies in the elegant display.
  • By bringing my own mug. Most places offer a discount.
  • By becoming familiar with the deals. At Second Cup, if you load a pre-paid card with 30$, you get a free latte. Also, on Tuesdays, lattes are significantly cheaper. At a different coffee shop, buy 10 coffees and get a free one.
  • By buying a simple brewed coffee. It is usually the cheapest item on the menu, and they sometimes offer flavoured coffee for a fraction of the price of a sugary mocchacino. I can then go for some extra flavour with any add-ins they have at the counter, such as milk, cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla sugar, etc.
  • By not ordering the largest size. I know it’s only 20 cents more, but I drink super slowly and I never end up finishing it. I rather have those 20 cents in my pocket.

It should be noted that I completely disregard any rules when it comes to seasonal coffees. Gotta live. That means indulging in a pumpkin latte every fall, an eggnog latte every winter, a candy-cane latter during Xmas shopping and a maple latte in the spring. The rules also go out the window when I’m in need of some extra study motivation. Isn’t that plate with the scone cute? The scone came with raspberry jam and butter. It was by far inferior to my scone recipe though so if you’re craving scones, save your $ and check out my super easy scone recipe.

Tagged , , , , ,

Coffee Shop Cheats: Iced Tea Lemonade

This cheat of so simple I am ashamed of writing a whole post about it. Last summer, my brother and I were obsessed with Iced Tea Lemonade. OBSESSED. We once went to three different coffee shops before we found one that wasn’t out of iced green tea.

The crazy thing is that this drink is sold for 3 to 4 $ a pop. That is nonsense. You can make it for pennies by following these steps:

Iced Tea-Lemonade Ingredients

Step 1: Brew some tea in a pitcher.

Any kind of tea, but make it plain (green or black or wtv). I’m not feeling the spiced chai-lemonade combo, but if anyone has tried this please let me know if it’s good. Also, you may want to invest in a good quality tea. I feel like hot drinks don’t have to taste perfect but when you drink them cold, you really notice the flavour subtleties.

Use an appropriate amount of tea bags! Say 3 for a regular sized pitcher.

Step 2: Stick it in the fridge. Wait until it is cold.

As an engineer-in-training, I feel it is my duty to tell you to wait for the tea to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. From the laws of thermodynamics, it is much more energy efficient this way.

Step 3: Buy a carton of lemonade

You can also make it yourself if you’re extra motivated, but I don’t have time for that!

Step 4: Get a glass, put some ice cubes in it, fill with a 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade.

If you’re feeling fancy, add a sprig of fresh mint. If you’re feeling fine, add a shot of vodka.

Assuming this recipe (the virgin version) costs 50 cents a glass, that’s 3$ saved for every glass. I’ll drink to that.

Iced Tea-Lemonade

Tagged , , , ,

Coffee Shop Cheats: Scones

Let’s talk about scones to kick off the series. I adore scones, god forbid I walk into a Second Cup on an empty stomach. I’ve tried to save money lately and although I’m not sure it’s working, I have good intentions. I haven’t spent more than 5$ in a coffee shop all month, which is a considerable improvement.

As it turns out, scones are really easy to bake. For me, a recipe that uses only one bowl, 1 utensil + your hands, and that takes less than 10 minutes to throw together, is golden.

Lovely Blackberry Scones

Make plain vanilla scones and add whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand. At my local grocery store, they give you a small gift if your bill is $50+ (hey big spendah!). This week I received some fresh blackberries. Having no idea what to do with them, I froze them. This is pretty much the student reflex to any food you can’t cope with. Extra bread? Freeze it! Pasta? Freeze it! Extra broccoli? Freeze it. I digress.

Also, though usually recipes call for a specific milk fat content, I only stock skim milk in my fridge. It will do just fine.

Recipe Adapted for Student Kitchens. Original from Baking Bites.

Servings: 8 scones

Time: 10-15 min active (depending on how many cups of coffee you had today), about 40 min total.

2cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 400 deg C. Prepare a pan with something non-stick (grease, parchment paper, etc).
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Use your fingers to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it feels like sand. Go nuts here, it’s like free therapy.
Combine milk and vanilla, add to flour mixture, stir to form dough. Stir in berries.
Form a disk of dough 3/4 inch thick ( I do this directly on the pan). Cut into 8 wedges.
Bake 20min.

If you oven sucks as much as mine does, rotate the pan after 10min.

Tagged , , , , ,

Coffee Shop Cheats Series

I’m excited to launch a new series called “Coffee Shop Cheats”. I used to spend a lot of money at coffee shops, especially Second Cup, which I affectionately nicknamed my Second Home. I was spending on average 5$ a day at a coffee shop, or about 150$ per month. I realized this was a total waste of money, and I came up with ways to wean myself off the coffee shop tit. Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing some tips and recipes so that you too, can stop wasting your money.

I promise you, all the tips will be realistic and practical, and the recipes will be as easy as the “lazy student recipes” (if not easier).

Coffee in the Comfort of my Home/ Coffee is my Life