Okay, to be fair, this incident did not happen at a starbucks. But, I’m blaming them anyway (so much for fairness). Why can’t rent-a-baristas be bothered to learn about the product they’re selling?
We stopped at some service area off the New York Thruway on the way to Albany. I decided to get a cappucino so I wouldn’t fall asleep and kill us. Yes, I know there’s not much caffeine in a cappucino, but it satisfies the oral fixation…especially with the baklava that I was getting to go with….
So, this little coffee shop looked like it was decent. I go in and order a: short cappucino, dry. Not a complicated order. I then say, “I’d also like a piece of baklava.”
After a couple moments of silence, the barista says, “Large or small?”
Taken off guard, I hesitate, then reply, “Oh, the coffee? Small.”
She then starts to pull a short of espresso, turns and asks, “You said a short?”
It is at this moment that I realize I have no idea what she’s talking about. So, I nod blankly. She carries on like nothing unusual has happened. She has never even acknowledged that I uttered the word “dry”. I get my drink and it is, by accident, made correctly. I believe, after watching her make it, that she thought short meant to short me steamed milk, and that she had no idea what dry means in a drink order.
I don’t expect the general populace to know drink recipes, but bartenders and baristas should at least know the basics. For random people’s edification:
Short/Tall: The relative size (volume) of a finished drink
Dry/Wet: Refers to the amount of mixer (milk, vermouth, Kahlua, whatever) added to the base. Less/More, respectively.
What has Starbucks to do with all this? Well, they just make up names for already existing drinks in order to Starbucks-ify them. In our mass-consumption society, many people then assume that the Starbucks way must be the one true way. Then, when you try to order drinks at Starbucks, the baristas look at you like you’re an alien.
For example, a cafe au-lait doesn’t exist at Starbucks. I can’t remember what it’s called there because no one else in the world refers to it as whatever goofy name it has in Starbucks-land. It also isn’t printed on their big-board menus so I can’t refer there and get my order. My ordeal, uh…order usually goes like this.
“I’d like an au-lait, please.”
“No, a cafe au-lait.”
“Yeah. A cafe latte.”
“No. Au-lait. Drip coffee with steamed milk.”
“I don’t know, sir. That’s called a &^@(DJLJnaruI(@.”
“Yeah. Whatever. That’s what I’d like.”
MISTO. That’s what they call it; I just remembered.
And God help anyone who orders a Macchiato at Starbucks. Well over 90% of the time you will receive a tall carmel latte. See, that’s what they call a Carmel Macchiato. There are a couple of different interpretations of a macchiato (spotted coffee), but the one I prefer is a shot or two of espresso with a small dollop of foamed milk. Another quite common recipe is espresso with thetiniest dash milk in it (to mark or spot the top of the coffee). You can get this drink at Starbucks, but it seems not to be the default.
While I’m at it. A slippery nipple is NOT made with butterscotch schnapps! Whoever started this, stop it! I no longer tend bar, but that was one of my biggest pet peeves. A slippery nipple is irish cream and sambuca, the other is a buttery nipple.