Innovations in Coffee

The best consequence of all the Starbucks news of late, at least for me, was Mike Mandel’s blog entry on the subject over at Business Week. Mandel wonders whether the slowdown in US Starbucks sales is an early sign of a consumer crunch; I don’t care about that. I’m much more interested in his wife’s Starbucks drink of choice: a triple espresso, half caf, foam on the top, with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Mike can’t remember if the foam is whole or skim: I can tell him that it’s whole, from looking at the glorious logic of this drink, which I’m going to try out (maybe sans the cinnamon) next time I find a coffee shop – with china cups, of course – which will make it for me. You start with a cappuccino, but there’s lots wrong with a cappuccino: for one thing, its milk-to-coffee ratio is far too high. So you radically cut down on the milk (no liquid milk, just foam), and turn it into more of an espresso macchiato. But rather than short sharp shock of the macchiato, you boost the liquid (not the milk) content by ordering a triple shot. Which would normally give you way too much of a caffeine boost, so you make the whole thing half-caf. The milk has to be whole, because it’s where the sweetness comes in; otherwise, the sheer amount of bitter espresso coffee would be overwhelming.

It’s all very clever indeed. But I do wonder what Starbucks charges for this concoction. A habit of one or two a day, as Mike’s wife seems to have, could get quite expensive.

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