Dec 092014
 

I often go to a coffee shop. It’s lovely. Big, spacious, high ceilings, long tables, great wifi.

It is, however, flawed.

First, minorly, they have  “B” rating. In my city, the Department of Heath rates every food service establishment “A,” “B,” or “C.” I’m not a food snob. I’m not a germophobe. I happily eat in “B” or “C” rated restaurants when their owners are immigrants, or working class, when complying with byzantine local bureaucratic requirements is so far down their list of interests or capabilities that it simply doesn’t happen, and when the food is just so damned good that I don’t care if the sink is five feet too close to the trash, or whatever. I read the ratings not as an indication of food quality, but of priorities.

When a restaurant is run by pretentious white hipsters with college educations and the clientele is crunchy and granola? A “B” rating is a problem in such a place.

In this particular place, it’s less of a problem, because all the food they serve is gluten free and/or vegan. And there’s not much of it. And what there is is old, I think – it certainly looks unappetizing. And, there’s no variety. So there’s no danger of my eating it.

Which means that I’m relegated to simply drinking their coffee, while I type away on my laptop at one of their lovely, long tables, under one of their lovely, high ceilings.

Which brings me to the second gripe I have: my drink is a drink called a cappuccino. You may have heard of it. It’s coffee with steamed milk. Typically, it looks like this:

A cup of cappuccino

This picture is from the Wikipedia web page for cappuccino. The caption is “classic cappuccino.”

At this particular coffee shop, cappuccinos (or “cappuccini”) are served in glasses.

I don’t like my coffee in a glass. I was raised in the U.S., and in my country, it is uncommon to drink hot drinks in glass. For whatever associational reasons, I prefer my hot drinks in the mugs to which I’m accustomed. Whether right or wrong, I feel that in a glass, the heat is lost too quickly, and there’s something about the experience that’s a little jarring to me – like drinking wine out of a can, or beer out of a carton. I’m sure there’s no taste difference, but the experience just feels… wrong.

So, in this coffee shop, I have learned that I should ask for my cappuccino in a mug. Otherwise, they give it to me in a glass.

Nine times out of ten, this is not a problem. The mugs they have here are a little bigger than the glasses, so the baristas are left with a challenge, if they want to keep their cappuccino recipe constant: they either give me a drink that doesn’t quite fill the mug, or they increase the amount of coffee and steamed milk, and fill the mug. Sometimes, I imagine, they increase the steamed milk without increasing the coffee – or the other way ‘round – and I have to say, I’m almost always none the wiser. On occasion, they’ve filled the cup and charged me an extra fifty cents. This seems to me unnecessary, but I understand it.

But one time out of ten, the barista is an asshole.

This morning, the exchange went like this:

Me:  I’d like a skim cappuccino please, in a mug.
Him:  I’m sorry. We make it in a glass.
Me:  I know you usually do, but I’d like mine in a mug, if you would.
Him:  I’m sorry. I can’t do that.
Me:  You can’t do that?
Him:  I can’t do that. There won’t be enough steamed milk.
Me:  Um – I come here every day. This is generally not a problem. (The super-cute barista standing next to him, who has made me dozens of cappuccinos in mugs, watched. What was her take? I don’t know. She has to deal with me as a customer for five minutes most days. She has to deal with him as a coworker all day every day. Does she think I’m a boor? He’s a prick? Both? I don’t know. She’s unfailingly friendly to me, compliant, and cute. So I, you know, like her.)
Him:  Well, if I do it, it’ll taste bad. And, it won’t be a cappuccino.
Me:  Um. Look. I just want it in a mug. Would you mind indulging me, violating your principles, and make it for me?
Him:  I will, but it’ll taste bad.
Me:  Please. Just violate your principles for me.

As I settled up with the woman who’d been looking on, she said, “Maybe we should come up with a name for that drink you want.”

So I guess she’s on his side.

For the record, here are a couple of things Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

“Caffè Latte is often served in a large glass; cappuccino mostly in a 150 – 180 ml cup with a handle.”

“Cappuccino differs from caffè latte foremost in size: Cappuccino is traditionally small (max 180 ml), while ‘latte’ traditionally is large (200 ml-300 ml). Cappuccino traditionally has a layer of textured milk micro foam exceeding 1 cm in thickness; Micro foam is frothed/steamed milk in which the bubbles are so small and so numerous that they are not seen, but it makes the milk lighter and thicker. As a result the micro foam will remain partly on top of the mug when the espresso is poured in correctly as well as mix well with the rest of the cappuccino.”

“Usually a mug holds approximately 12 fluid ounces (350 mL) of liquid; double a tea cup.”

So it seems that he and I each have our points. He’s correct that a cappuccino is, usually, smaller than 350 mL. I’m correct that it’s usually served in an opaque receptacle. Perhaps I should get off my high horse and order a latte next time. But a latte, per Wikipedia, lacks the layer of micro-foam that characterizes cappuccino.

But. I’m the fucking customer. And what I wanted really wasn’t that complicated.

For the record, here’s what I have to say on the subject (though not to his face – to his face, I tried hard took be polite, not at all snarky): “Dude. Please. Make me a cappuccino in a mug. And hold the attitude, if you would.”

 

Postscript: In general, it doesn’t taste bad. Today it did. Did he piss in it? Did I earn his piss in it?

And a postscript: as I packed up to leave, the female barista approached me at my seat. “Sorry about what happened today,” she said.

“Oh, no worries,” I replied. “Mostly, it was just funny.”

“Sometimes, you know, you just get barista pride.”

“Thanks,” I said, and strode out into the rain.

  3 Responses to “Fucking coffee attitude – a rant”

  1. Here’s what you do: you ask for a double (or single, depending on how strong you want it) shot latte with foam. I’m sure they’ll do it for you. To be honest they could be doing cappuccinos in glasses because that way they can see the layers better while making it. There’s a whole layering philosophy to making cappuccinos.
    Maybe the bartender was a beginner and didn’t know how to layer without the transparency of the glass hence the bad cappuccino.

    In the best cafe’s in the south of Italy they serve coffee in transparent glass receptacles, they are mug shaped or espresso mug shaped but glass… so it is acceptable if the Italians are doing it. But I do get your frustration with it.

  2. Oh my god. You should work there. You’d fit right in. 😉

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