I've been making these for a while now. My Starbucks spending was on the rise, so I put myself on a $20/month limit and had to find a way to make up for the rest of the days. By the way, I know Starbucks isn't exactly top-shelf quality coffee. I know they regularly burn their beans, and I know they're overpriced. But Starbucks has endless flavor creation options, and they're easy to find in basically any city, and they do Pumpkin Spice like nobody else (IMO). So my Gold Card is justified by their convenience and variety, and by the fact that I can go to one anywhere in the world and my drink is basically going to taste like it does when I buy it down the street from my house.

As I mentioned, however, their prices are high. Since I'm a regular person on a regular-person budget, it doesn't make sense to spend $4 on a latte everyday just to get my caffeine fix with the flavor I like. I'm easy to please, though. It didn't take much effort to whip something up in my kitchen that would satisfy my coffee cravings. All it takes is four (4) simple ingredients.

  • Instant Coffee. I'm currently using a local grocery store brand that costs about $3 for an 8oz bottle. I've also used Folgers' instant packets and a couple other brands. My only requirement is that "coffee" be the only item on the list of ingredients. 
  • Raw Sugar. Also known as Cane Sugar or Turbinado. My sweet tooth gets ravenous at times, so I only use a little of this stuff in hopes of keeping the monster in check. Thankfully a little goes a long way, so half a teaspoon does the job.
  • Almond Milk. I prefer to buy the unsweetened vanilla version, but the unsweetened original also works. If I'm craving a different flavor, Silk has a Dark Chocolate Almond Milk that blends pretty well with instant coffee, and since it's already sweetened, I skip ingredient number two.
  • Ice. Because, ice.
I usually pour the almond milk into a mason jar until it's half full, then I add a teaspoon of coffee and then the sugar (if needed).

The next step is to put it in the microwave, on high, for 90 seconds. Next, stir everything while it's nice and hot. I've tried stirring it before I put it in the microwave, but that doesn't work, and I'm pretty sure that's something they taught us in chemistry class, about certain things only being able to dissolve in heated liquids, but science was not my strong suit.

Trial and error is often the best instructor.

After everything has blended and all the sugar dissolves, add ice - because, ice. I feel super strange typing out that step, because duh... but in efforts to be thorough here, yes, add ice.

Then drank!

If I'm in the mood for something less "thick" than a latte, I swap the almond milk for water, or do half almond milk/half water. This whole process also works on the stovetop. Before I had a microwave (I didn't have a microwave for a couple years - I didn't really miss it, either.), I'd just heat the almond milk on low in a small pot. It only takes a couple minutes, and I can't tell a difference in taste.

Next I'll find a way to make my own Pumpkin Spice flavoring. I have a feeling it will involve canned pumpkin and vanilla extract.