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Achieving instant gourmet gratification


Indulging in a coffee fantasy sounds marvelous, but you might not be ready to invest in an espresso maker, steamer and coffee grinder.

Instant and ready-made products simulate the new coffee drinks without the appliance headaches.

New choices include General Foods' Cappio, a bottled iced cappuccino containing coffee, milk and sweetener. It comes in four-packs of individual servings or in 24-ounce bottles. Maxwell House offers Instant Cappuccino, a powdered coffee that produces a frothy top when hot water is added. Both products come in regular, mocha and cinnamon.

Nescafe's Mocha Cooler, in the dairy case, is a milk-based drink flavored with coffee and chocolate. Several other companies have introduced sweetened iced coffee in cans or bottles as well.

Hills Bros. and General Foods have been on the specialty coffee bandwagon for more than 15 years. Their flavored instant coffees set the stage for coffee as a luxury item.

Flavored coffee beans, now sold in most grocery stores, are a good opening move for consumers who aren't ready for a stiff espresso.

If you prefer, you can add extracts and sugars that flavor regular coffee, either during brewing or in the cup. Torani syrup, Coffee Accents flavored sugar, Wagner's flavorings and Flav-O-Mate, available in such flavors as praline, chocolate, Irish cream and hazelnut, are sold at specialty coffee shops. Even Coffee Mate comes in flavors now.

Another option is to make a cappuccino-style drink with ordinary coffee and milk in a blender.

Cappuccino purists would cringe at the idea of a "mock cappuccino"that substitutes strong coffee for espresso and uses blender to achieve a foamy milk topping.

This concoction does, however, offer a gourmet coffee experience with supplies you probably have at home.

Mock cappuccino

Makes 4 servings.

2 cups milk

3 cups hot brewed strong coffee

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Scald milk in small pan. (Small bubbles will form around edge, but the milk should not boil.)

Pour hot coffee into 4 mugs. Process half the milk at a time in blender on high speed until frothy. Pour over coffee. Sift cocoa over top.

Source: Adapted from Good Food magazine.

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