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Latte "Art" Peeve

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm totally sick of latte "art" and wish coffee shops and restaurants would end the practice altogether.

I LOVE espresso drinks-mostly double cappuccinos.

Unfortunately, it seems that anyone who has an espresso machine puts more energy into perfecting the design on the surface of the drink than crafting the drink itself properly.

 

I just came back from a coffee shop where I paid 4.50 for a double cappuccino and got a 16 ounce drink with the most impressive indian head painted in milk and coffee floating on the surface. However, it tasted as much like coffee as if the barista had waved a bag of beans over the cup, not to mention it was about 115˚F and had only a skim of froth on the top.

 

Can we put an end to this stupid trend and trend toward properly crafted espresso drinks? Like 2 ounces of espresso, 2 ounces of steamed milk and a fluffy layer of thick, billowy milk foam on top? Please?

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post #2 of 5

My goodness, you want substance over appearance?

 

What a revolutionary approach! wink.gif

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 5

If you want foam instead of latte art milk ask for it.  Most good cafes can, will and should accommodate.

 

Floating billows of foam is not only passe, but declasse -- very "Starbucks," if you know what I mean.   As a rule, it's also a cover for bad coffee.  The current trend in coffee is to steam latte milk quickly and lightly to produce something very silky which mixes with the coffee rather than floats on top.  It's not a bad or a good thing, it's trend and just is. On the other hand, the current trend is to steam cappuccino and machiatto milk a little tighter and harder so it does float.  If it's a hip cafe, the baristas should know how to make both types of milk. 

 

So... Current schmurrent, Starbucks starschmucks.  Have what you want.

 

Brew temperature should NEVER be an issue in a decent cafe, and most cafes have their machines set so the coffee is brewed at a very consistent temp, and the employees sufficiently well trained so that -- even if they don't use a thermometer -- they can get very consistent milk temps as well.   

 

If your coffee doesn't come hot enough at a cafe, there are three likely causes:  They didn't preheat the cup, the coffee cooled while waiting for the barista to prep the milk and pour it; and/or your order lingered before it was delivered to you.  Of all the problems you wrote about, the one which concerned me most was your perception that the coffee was weak. 

 

If you like a lot of other things about the cafe, talking to them is worth a try.  You never know, it could take care of everything.

 

$4.50 may be a lot of money for some things, but not for a good latte in my part of the country; assuming, that is, the customer is properly indulged.   

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/2/13 at 9:17am
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

I didn't order a latte. 

 

Double cappuccino.

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Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #5 of 5

The decorations originated as a personal show of skill of the person making the coffee.  Pouring the milk in in spurts makes it mix more with the coffee (where it's sent in more quickly) and float on top (when it pours out slowly) and probably the leaflike designs were the result of that artful pouring.  Making the foam dense and creamy makes it possible, you can't do much decorating with big bubbles (big bubbles being, for me, the sign of a lousy bar). 

Probably working at a coffee bar is not the most exciting job in the world so developing some side talents (portraits on the foam) is just a way to get some job satisfaction out of a badly paid boring job,  And the people who have to work at bars making coffee may not have ever had the money or occasion to frequent high-end bars and have the real thing.  We can't expect to pay people for manual labor and have them be experts.  The bar is at fault, anyway, not the barista, since the bar is the one who trained him (or didn't). 

 

If you put too much steam through the grinds your coffee will taste like boiled coffee and i must say, i never had a cappuccino in the states that didn;t do that -you should get only about 3 tbsp of coffee in your espresso, and also in your cappuccino and the amount of milk is proportionate, much less than would be considered even worth carrying to a table in the US and UK, and nobody stands up for a coffee there.  Maybe the places you guys go to are better, but not where i've ever been.  But if the person making the coffee is Italian, even if it's a starbucks or a caffe nero you can ask him to make it the real way and you can get something that won;t taste like poison.  I know people who've made coffee abroad and though they're italians, they had to adapt their coffeemaking to the foreign taste (which is fundamentally just more of everything, a larger quantity of liquid) but they'll make you a "real" espresso, very little liquid, if you ask them with a tone of complicity.  I've gotten a reasonable cappuccino and espresso by simply asking to put only one finger's height of coffee in it even when the person was not italian and thought i was nuts.  

 

However, as BDL implies, it requires realizing that the person making the coffee is a person who might be talked to as such.  smile.gif 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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