Something About Coffee: Cappuccinos

Here’s something about coffee: Did you know that cappuccinos aren’t supposed to taste like Satan’s spit?

A cappuccino should be a foamy, frothy, semi-sweet blessing to each and every one of your mornings, and yet it rarely is. So let’s talk about why.

If you’ve ever gotten a latte or other espresso drink that’s tasted like poison, your barista has either A) poisoned you or B) neglected your shots. If it’s the first, then may God be with your soul. If the second, let God contend with theirs.

To get to what’s going on with our drinks, we should first talk briefly about the sacred sauce of the gods, espresso. For those who may not know, espresso is just a way of preparing coffee beans. It is using pressurized water to extract tons of flavor from finely ground beans into just a few ounces of liquid. The thing about espresso is that if you let it sit for more than a few seconds without adding any sugar or protein to it, it’ll go flat. It’s like leaving a soda out overnight. The chemicals lose their unique parts and sorta meld into a Guinness beer-looking thing. Believe me, it’s nasty to drink. The poetically inclined have likened the taste to battery acid. I try not to be so melodramatic and just call it stuff like “Liquid Hatred.”

Sometimes you can’t tell if a shot’s gone bad. Drinks with syrups in them like caramel macchiatos and vanilla lattes not only have a lot of sweetness, they also are mostly milk and only a bit of foam on the top.

For example, in a 20-ounce hazelnut latte, we’ve got:

  • 2 oz of foam
  • 12 oz of milk
  • 3 oz of espresso
  • 3 oz of syrup

Those shots have plenty of room to thin out, not to mention all the sweet sugars to blend with from the hazelnut pumps.

So why can you always instantly tell when a cappuccino is bad? Capps are equal parts foam and milk and that’s it, so there’s not a lot of room for that bitterness to dissipate into if the shot was poorly pulled.

A 20-ounce capp’s got:

  • 8 oz of foam
  • 8 oz of milk
  • 3 oz of espresso

There’s nowhere for that awful, poisonous taste of a flat shot to hide.

So when you go to a chic little coffee shop and order a cappuccino and receive instead what appears to be pond water with a witch’s curse upon it, you now know why!

The Cappuccino is the king of espresso drinks, so don’t let this deter you from ordering it. Find a place that does them right and make it your own little haunt. God knows I have. I’d be there now only the cat is on my legs so I can’t get up.

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