About a year ago, my husband and I borrowed this book and this book from my sister, who is beautifully environmentally and ethically conscious, and committed to trying a little harder to be more ethical in our consumer choices.
Although there are other factors that come into it, for us the big three areas were: supermarket/food shopping, Fairtrade products, and coffee shops. These three feature prominently in our lives, and are important to us.
Living just down the road from a Tesco, and now having a baby in the house to take up our time, we have been unable to commit 100% to the right supermarket (Tesco are terrible ethically), but we have switched to doing a main fortnightly online shop from Sainsbury’s, and try to only go to Tesco for top-ups of things like bread, milk, baking products (like flour and eggs) and fresh fruit.
We have tried to stick to Fairtrade products where they are available (Sainsbury’s are particularly good at this), especially with things like chocolate, tea & coffee, bananas, and cotton wool pads. There are some things our budget will not allow (like a lot of organic things), but Fairtrade is a priority for us where possible.
And then, there’s coffee shops.
This was a tough area for us. Admittedly, since having a baby we do go out for coffee less, but when we do, it can be so tempting just to go to the nearest Starbucks rather than search for a more ethical choice, especially in winter when the sweet smells of gingerbread or pumpkin spice lattes are wafting from the open door, promising to warm us from the inside out.
So, we have been trying hard to find more ethical places to go, and I have done a bit of research on making some of my favourite drinks I feel I’m missing out on at home.
And it turns out, it’s really quite easy!
So, as Christmas creeps up on us, I thought I would share a couple of those drinks with you to help keep you sane when your tables are covered with wrapping paper and sellotape. Take a deep breath, put down the scissors, and take five mins to make yourself a lovely warming drink before you sit back down to it – it will make it all better! 🙂
Please note: we were blessed to receive an espresso machine as a birthday gift a while ago, so we use that for the coffee and steamed milk, but you can heat the milk up in the microwave or on the hob (or buy this inexpensive milk frother if you make lattes often), and you can use strong coffee instead of espresso. Also, while breastfeeding, I have been making mine decaf, and it works just as well and tastes just as nice with this if you are caffeine-free.
Based on this recipe.
200g caster sugar
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Coffee & milk to make the latte
1. Mix water, sugar and spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. The mixture should have thickened ever so slightly and gone dark brown. Take it off the heat and mix in the vanilla extract. Once the syrup has cooled, you can store it in a Tupperware in the fridge for a couple of months.
2. To make a latte, put 3-4 tbsp of the syrup in the bottom of a mug, and top with an espresso shot or half a cup of strong hot coffee. Put another 3 tbsp of the syrup in with the milk and either heat and froth with a milk frother, steam with an espresso machine steamer, or heat in the microwave for no more than 1 min. Pour the frothy hot milk into the syrup and coffee mixture. You can top this drink with a bit of whipped cream and/or cinnamon to taste if you want.
Based on an Abel & Cole recipe.
1 (butternut) squash or small pumpkin, peeled and cubed
150g demerara/brown sugar (you can use more or less to suit your tastes)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick (optional, but makes for a much better flavour)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
5 cloves (again, optional, but makes it much better)
Coffee & milk to make the latte
1. Boil the squash or pumpkin for about 20 mins, or until soft. Drain and puree, then put half aside for later use (or use it all and double the rest of the ingredients), and pour the other half into a saucepan.
2. Add all the other ingredients and bring to the boil, then simmer for a few mins (a heavenly smell should fill your kitchen at this point!).
3. Pour the mixture through a sieve, pressing down with a spoon so that you get as much liquid through as possible. (I usually give the syrup a good stir before using it, because inevitably some of the thinner puree gets through, which is fine!). You can keep the syrup in a Tupperware in the fridge for a few weeks.
4. Make the latte in the same way as the gingerbread one, but omit the syrup in the milk.
Feel free to play around with how much syrup you add – some people prefer stronger syrup taste while others would rather just have a hint of it!
Et voila! Homemade barista-style drinks for a fraction of the cost, and healthier, more natural ingredients.