Post by Mother-on-a-Mission
Guest blogger Mother-on-a-Mission lives in the country where she looks after her family, works a lot, comments on anything that takes her fancy and wears pink socks as often as possible as an antidote to a houseful of boys. She’s still trying to work out what she wants to be when she grows up and likes writing because it helps her think properly.
I love coffee. But I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to caffeine so I like it weak and milky. Years ago this used was something of a problem. Going out for coffee or having coffee after a meal in a restaurant was always a disappointment – far too strong and bitter for my delicate taste buds. I even resorted to tea, of which I’m not particularly fond. And then café latte arrived in this country and I was saved. Since coffee shops like Costa and Starbucks began multiplying in the UK like proverbial rabbits, I have looked for opportunities (OK, you’ve got me – excuses) to go out for coffee or stock up on lattes ‘to go’. However, my joy at being able to ask legitimately for a coffee full of hot milk and not be thought weird has been tempered by my discovery that a really good latte can be spoiled by too much froth.
Froth is the enemy of latte lovers everywhere and some coffee chains, who will remain nameless, are far too quick to serve up a cup of froth instead of a cup of coffee. I am told, by those who know and have been trained in the dark arts of the Barista, that a proper latte should have a small – let’s be clear about this, that’s SMALL – amount of foam on the top, not the half cup that has often been served to me in restaurants and coffee shops from Inverness to London (I haven’t been to John O’Groats or Land’s End recently but I’ve no reason to suppose the situation is any different there).
I particularly resent the über-foam latte when I have decided on one shot of expresso in a coffee that would usually contain two. On these occasions, I am saving the coffee-chain or restaurant money by paying the same price (because although you pay more for extra shots of expresso, no one ever reduces the price if you have less. That would just be silly now, wouldn’t it?). Surely then, it’s not too much to ask for a decent amount of liquid in the cup.
Being of a shy disposition, I used to accept this situation and grumble quietly into my cardboard cup; but no more. To the acute embarrassment of my poor children, I now ask for a top up of hot milk if my cup is not exactly overflowing. This week we are on holiday in the balmy south. On the way, we stopped at a service station for a drink and visited the coffee shop franchise to collect some take-away drinks. As we waited for my one-shot, medium latte, my son begged, “Just take what they give you, Mum. Don’t look in the cup. Just pick it up and walk away.” Fortunately, I am now quite experienced in what a good, medium latte should weigh so I could tell when I picked this one up that it was quite full of hot milky coffee and not of froth. To my son’s relief I did just pick it up and walk away; this time. But I won’t stop complaining if I feel I’ve been short changed and should any coffee-shop proprietor or server happen to read this, here’s a picture of a perfect latte with just the right amount of foam.