"This is NOT a cappuccino"

Recession, economic crisis, gotterdammerung, whatever you want to call it, when things start to get increasingly expensive, I start to expect more. And as I’m a reasonable, tolerant, terribly sweet-natured person, when I go off on a rant, please indulge me.

Working downtown for many years, I’ve been noticing the price creep of basic lunches. Yesterday it really hit me when I went to Cosi for a salad and saw with a shock that everything there is now $7+. Yikes. My morning coffee breaks have also been creeping up. Now, my love affair with caffeine, the one substance I’ve ever been directly told by a doctor to lay off, is not the same as those coffee drones who really don’t have a freaking clue what the difference is between froth and crema. In other words, I’m a snob. Well, actually, no, I’m a purist. I want things to be right. If I am going to risk painful palpitations for it, at $3.08 my cappuccino better be a cappuccino, and not a latte..

Like the slide of suburban property values, I’ve been noticing the slide of the proper cappuccino in this city for some time, but nowhere is it more prevalent than the Caribou Coffee near my office at 13th & G. This morning is yet another time that I ask (nicely, politely, I’m not a jerk about it!) the barista to remake what they hand me. Filled to the brim with barely an 1/8 of froth is NOT a cappuccino. When I explained (nicely, politely) this time the response was “so you want it dry”.

(This is all Starbucks’ fault of course – wet, dry, skinny, tall, yadda yadda yadda. No wonder they all took off recently to relearn the basics.)

So – sigh – no, no, no. I don’t want a dry cappuccino. I want a cappuccino. And in this current economic clime, everything I have to shell out for had better be made/done right.

9 Comments so far

  1. Julia Frey (lajulia) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 11:34 am

    I can relate, but from the other side…years ago I was a barista in Seattle (not at Starbucks) and these ladies came to my counter wanting cappuccinos. I pulled the shot, steamed/frothed the milk and did my equal measures of espresso, steamed milk and foam. They woman almost jumped over the counter "What are you doing?!?" I said, "I’m making a cappuccino." She said, ‘You’re doing it wrong! You’re not supposed to pour any milk in!" I said oh so politely and officiously (because I really didn’t care that much, I was just so bored) "In ITALY, this is how you make them, etc etc etc and if you want me to make you a shot of espresso with just some foam on top, I can do that, no problem, but that’s not a cappuccino. Which would you prefer?" The ladies calmed down and said they would try my "cappuccino." HA! I was 26 and enjoyed my mini coffee rants.

  2. Don (dc_don) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

    The problem, as always, is not enough beatings.

  3. Carl Weaver (carlweaver) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    I have an employee who just quit her part-time job at Starbuck’s because she couldn’t take another person yelling at her about how the coffee drink wasn’t made the right way, despite it being how it was ordered. I don’t think I would last a week.

  4. bhrome on April 2nd, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

    That’s right, Jenn! Stick up for all us coffee snobs! I agree with Carl and Don – beatings must increase in intensity, as clearly they didn’t hear correctly.

  5. Jenn Larsen (dc_jennl) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

    Julia, I love you. "In ITALY" – yeah, if I were a barista that is exactly what I would say. In DC though that might get you fired.

    Don, Carl, Ben – thank you for the suggestion. I think carrying around a riding crop downtown would be most… illuminating.

    Seriously, I am always always sweet and polite when I ask it to be remade. Perhaps that’s the problem.

  6. Julia Frey (lajulia) on April 3rd, 2008 @ 12:28 am

    Hee hee hee! Thanks Jenn! I had been in Italy just a few months before I moved to Seattle, so I knew BEST!

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  9. amandaa on April 11th, 2008 @ 11:03 am

    just saw this and have to comment. i agree–trying to get a decent cappucino in town is generally an exercise in wasting money. certainly if one only goes to starbucks, cosi, or even port city java. not only is there usually too much milk in the drink, the milk has usually been steamed and resteamed multiple times to the point where the foam is hard, dry and disappears with one stir. AND (to be a total curmudgeon), half the time you’re getting nonfat milk without realizing it–and that pretty much ruins any coffee drink, in my opinion.

    murky coffee was a place with great cappucinos, and tryst still is, though–at almost $4 a pop–it winds up feeling like a splurge.

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