A beverage that seemingly has many different faces and flavours. One consistent factor though, is it’s popularity. Considered a favorite by many is the Starbucks caramel macchiato. According to an employee at the campus location, the caramel macchiato is by far the most ordered drink on the lengthy menu. But, do people really understand what they are asking for when they utter the Italian word meaning “marked?” Indeed, macchiato means marked, but why name a coffee beverage this? As it turns out the large, sweet, caramel beverage offered by many establishments, including Starbucks, is a far cry from a traditional macchiato enjoyed around the world. A traditional macchiato is a shot of espresso “marked” by a very small amount of steamed milk. Usually not more that a dollop of foam and a drop of milk. In fact, the macchiato has the lowest milk to espresso ratio of any traditional beverage containing these two ingredients. The Starbucks version of the macchiato has become so popular that at many coffee shops serving the traditional macchiato, baristas are required to ask the customer if they know whet they are getting themselves into.
So, next time you order a caramel macchiato, remember that you are ordering lies and deceit.
This seems to be the case with many coffee beverages and establishments serving them. While coffee originated as a specialty beverage, a delicacy, a luxury, it has become something very different in our society. Coffee has become the main form in which we we ingest our productivity fuel, caffeine, and as demand for this chemical grows the delivery system seems to decay into a far cry from what it once was. Coffee now is cheap where it once was expensive. It is burned for consistency. It has become harsh and tasteless, and we dilute it with creme and sugar. The concept of flavour notes are lost in the minds of the average coffee consumer. “Coffee tastes like coffee.” most people say. But the burnt flavour most people are experiencing is not the true flavour of coffee. In fact every different coffee is meant to have subtle and very different flavour notes. The coffee bean comes from a cherry; coffee is a fruit. It is seasonal and it grows many different ways in many different parts of the world. It should have subtle undertones ranging from mango to caramel to stone fruit to fig. The “bold” flavor most coffees have is caused by intentional over roasting. Producers are intentionally burning the beans because it is the only way to guarantee consistency from something that is meant to be unique and individual.
Traditional brewing methods were long, drawn out labours of love, with everything being done by hand with precision and care. Now we are hard pressed to wait two minutes for the automated brewer to spew out our hot, brown, liquid fix. We need it to function, we cannot start our day without it, but we are not giving it the respect and care it deserves.
Coffee is special, it always has been special. Let’s not let impatience and consumerism ruin this Nectar of the Gods.