Wednesday, January 6, 2016

50 Shades of Coffee

What's new at Starbucks?

Coffee? No.

Milk? Nope.

Prosecco, Villa Sandi “Il Fresco” Doc Treviso, Italy - Bubbly and floral with sweet hints of apple and honey?

Yep. Hey, after three cups of quintuple-shot carmel macchiato, you might need to unwind a little.

What's really revolutionary - and I mean totally, mind blowing-ly new and different - is the way they combine coffee and milk. Think about it - do you pour the coffee in first or the milk? Do it one way and you can call it one thing. Pour it in another way, you can call it something else and charge double.

For example, my regular drink is a latte which is described by Starbucks as "Our rich, rich espresso . . . balanced with steamed milk and topped with a light layer of foam." Whereas, the latest addition to the Starbucks lineup, the latte macchiato, is described this way: "This new espresso classic layers shots of espresso atop lightly foamed whole milk for a bold and roasty new way to sip."

In case you were unable to discern the difference, the latte macchiato is both new and classic.

Oh, and by the way, the coffee sinks to the bottom because, really, nothing goes atop lightly foamed milk except cinnamon sprinkles.

I ordered a latte macchiato today and watched the barista make it. When I get a latte, they put the espresso into a cup first and then pour steamed milk on top. With the latte macchiato, the steamed milk went into the cup first and the espresso was carefully drizzled in afterward. The latte machiato required much more finesse for which Starbuck could have easily charged a premium but the latte macchiato rang up a good four cents cheaper. (No doubt, this will be corrected by end of day.)

As for the taste, I couldn't tell the difference. (I might not be the only one.) The macchiato technique is exactly how I make it at home only I call it a latte. Maybe I'm new and classic.

Here's a good visual from Venessa Wong at Buzzfeed News that might make it easier to comprehend:

Note, particularly, the difference between the Flat white and the Latte.

I love Starbucks. I love them for what they are: unapologetic drug dealers. I'm looking at the Starbucks online menu for espresso drinks. At the bottom is one called "Doubleshot on Ice." Makes me think of a Disney-like coffee character on ice skates. What's not to like?

And then there's their new coffee machine, the Clover, which is "a rare leap forward in coffee brewing technology that lets us craft a single cup . . . ." A single cup. This is truly classic and new: The vacuum technology for coffee has been around since the 1830s. It's the piston that's new and has been around since at least 2007. (So, new-ish.) This ingenious, 110 pound coffee maker will brew the perfect cup of coffee for only $11,000. Obviously, you wouldn't have this in your home because who's that crazy about coffee? (Okay, stop pointing fingers.) But, you can try one at select Starbucks stores. Probably the same ones that offer booze.

I'm just surprised Kool-Aid isn't on the menu.

(h/t to SLB for bringing this to my attention.)

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