This is my rock-bottom broke version of coffee for the morning commute. The first recipe is for a single serving. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll find a recipe for a big batch. You may use white sugar or brown sugar in the recipe. White sugar is much cheaper. Brown sugar is traditional for European or New Orlean’s style coffee.
If you are paying $2 to $5 a day for a fancy cup of coffee because you’re always in the rush in the morning and don’t have time to brew your own, then consider preparing this instead. I know it’s a terrible blasphemy to suggest instant coffee instead of fresh brewed, but sometimes economy and time constraints must take precedence over aesthetics.
Try this for a week and see if you can live with it. First find and wash a reusable travel mug with a lid. You can find them at Dollar Stores for $2 and they pay for themselves the first time you use them. Besides that, a reusable mug is a green solution because you’re not wasting a disposable cup every day. After washing your cup prepare a big batch of café au lait using the cheapest instant coffee you can find. You may feel anxious, but stiffen your upper lip and carry on.
The next morning that you’re in a rush heat 2-cups of water to a boil in the microwave or on the stove. While it’s cooking you can tie your shoes or brush your teeth. Measure 1/3-cup of café au lait mix into your travel mug. Stir in the boiling water. Place the lid on the cup and rush out the door. You have just saved yourself not only the cash outlay of a cup of coffee, buy you’ve also saved the time you had to wait in line to purchase that cup of coffee. Now give the coffee a slurp. It’s not as bad as you thought it would be, is it?
A quick note for the coffee snobs, if you are really disgusted with the quality and flavor of the cheapest instant coffee then you may use Taster’s Choice brand French Roast in this recipe. I defy you or even the most educated palate to differentiate between this and fresh brewed coffee, especially with the addition of sugar, creamer and milk. Taster’s Choice costs about twice as much as the cheapest instant coffee you can buy, but it still costs less than buying a cup to go from your local coffee shop.
If you drink homemade Café Au Lait 5 days a week, instead of buying a $2 cup of coffee, you’ll save about $450 a year. If you drink it instead of buying a $5 cup of coffee, you’ll save $1235 a year. You’ll also save the 10 to 20 minutes you spend waiting in line. Most of us could use that extra time during the morning commute.
Instant Café Au Lait
- 1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 1-1/2 teaspoons powdered creamer
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (white or brown)
- 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
Measure all of the ingredients into a coffee cup. Add hot water and stir to dissolve. Savor the flavor of savings and convenience.
NOTE: 1-1/2 teaspoons is the same as half a tablespoon or 1 very heaping teaspoon. Every time you drink this instead of buying coffee from the local coffee shop, you save $2 to $4 bucks.
If you are out of either powdered creamer or dry milk, then double up on the one you do have. This would be 1/4-cup of dry milk powder or 1-tablespoon of powdered creamer.
Big Batch Café Au Lait
- 1/2 cup instant coffee
- 1/2 cup powdered creamer
- 1/2 cup sugar (or less if you prefer)
- 2 cups dry milk powder
Measure all of the ingredients into a zipper bag or a clean jar. Mix thoroughly. Store on the pantry shelf and use as desired.
Measure 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons into a coffee cup. Add hot water to fill and stir to dissolve.
Use 1/3-cup for a large (16-ounce) travel mug.