When I was in high school, I worked at a coffee shop. The thing about working behind the coffee counter is that you learn things about people. There are the demanding people who know EXACTLY what they want and expect you to have magically known that they were coming and have their drink ready moments before they even walked through the door. There are the usual people who come in everyday around the same time and order the same thing. These are the people who are about as carefree as they get and they're always up for a chat (unless they are in a hurry, in which case they apologize profusely and promise to see you tomorrow). There are the confused people who know that they have a "usual" but who have no idea what it is or what it tastes like and they look at you pleadingly to either know what it is or to somehow figure it out. Then you have the adventurous people. These are the ones who have no idea what they want or what they are in the mood for and are up for ANYTHING.
The adventurous people were the fun ones. I concocted all sorts of drinks for them and they're the ones I think of when I get the urge to create a coffee shop version of a beverage at home. Some of them turned into regulars whose visits (and orders) I could count on. Some of them stayed adventurers and that was okay too.
I learned a lot spending my afternoons (and then my mornings) working at that coffee shop. I learned how to spot these different types of people, how to please them, and how to keep a smile on my face no matter what. My years behind the coffee counter were some of the best lessons in learning to serve others and yet every single customer ended up serving me too. I know, we all say that about everything, but maybe we say it because it's true.
My latest kitchen success took me back to those days. I wanted a DIY version of one of THE most popular winter drinks and I think I achieved it. Whether you're Demanding Dan, Usual Ulysses, Confused Connie, or Adventurous Adam...If you're a fan of peppermint in your drinks, I think you'll love this at home version!
Ingredient gathering is SIMPLE. Basically, we're making a simple syrup infused with peppermint. It goes like this: sugar, water, extract. DONE.
First up is the sugar. Any kind of white sugar is what you're after. I happen to use pure cane sugar, but that's just me.
We're going to add the water and get a syrup going over medium heat. Basically, we're just disolving the sugar. Keep your eye on it, stir it occasionally, but don't stress. It's easy, it goes quickly, and it gets HOT because there is sugar involved. The longer you simmer, the thicker your syrup will get.
Once your sugar water has turned into syrup, add in your peppermint extract. Less is more when it comes to extracts, so go easy at first knowing that you will be able to add more if you want to. You can simmer it for a few more minutes, but you don't need to.
When you're happy with the syrup, remove it from the heat and let it cool in the pan until it has reached room temperature. Pour it into a little jar and store it in the refrigerator. To use, simply add about a teaspoon to your coffee or hot cocoa and you're all set! In case you're wondering, the cane sugar is the reason for the unsightly color of this syrup. Once it's stirred into your drink you'll have forgotten all about that strange looking specimen jar sitting in the back of you fridge. I promise.
Now...Go make some!
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
1/4-1/2 tsp peppermint extract
Simmer sugar and water over medium heat until they reach a syrupy consistency (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add peppermint extract (I added just shy of 1/2 tsp to mine). May simmer for a few more minutes or you may remove from heat to cool down.
Once your syrup has reached room temperature, transfer to a small jar and refrigerate. Add 1 tsp to your favorite beverage for a peppermint kick.
Do you have a favorite at home coffee shop beverage?
What's your coffee ordering personality type?