If you’ve ever been told off by a snarky barista when you order a macchiato and get something surprisingly different, you may be another casualty of America’s miseducation on coffee. After working in the industry for years as a barista and a manager, Vanguard alum David Foster has written “The Coffee Snob” which brings to the table many issues in this steamy debate.
“The Coffee Snob” is Foster’s humorously informative response to America’s unawareness of the café menu. It covers a handful of drinks spanning from cappuccinos to the mocha, the “gateway drug to coffee.” In his book, Foster introduces the basic coffee drinks as they were meant to be, and clarifies how Starbucks “the green mermaid” has contributed to the confusion.
The green mermaid has responded appropriately to America’s demand for their morning sugary, oversized pick-me-ups. They even created their own language, as Foster points out, to tailor to their customers. This liberty has unfortunately thrown the average coffee drinker into a crossfire whenever they venture into a new shop for their cup of joe. While the traditionalists or “snobs” hold to the beverages’ true identity, coffee super stores have made numerous compromises leading to wide-spread misunderstandings.
The macchiato, not to be confused with the caramel macchiato, is perhaps one of the most misunderstood café items. For instance, Foster points out that if you were to order just “a macchiato” at an independent shop today, you would get a cup of espresso topped lightly with a dollop of foam. Starbucks’ self-invented caramel macchiato has unfortunately overtaken the name of this classic drink. It’s polarity has since then transferred to other shops, robbing the macchiato of it’s true identity.
On the flip side, america’s barista’s are hit with an onslaught of the public’s misconceptions. “[As a barista] you are left in an inevitable reality that you are going to disappoint the customer when you try to serve them quality coffee” said Foster in an interview with The Voice.
When I asked him if coffee is a religion, he laughed saying “I wouldn’t say so for myself… but if it is, it seems to gather in major cities like the bay.”
“The Coffee Snob” observes how the coffee world has become fixated on the “quantity of product” rather than it’s quality. However, people have begun to become more aware and passionate about what’s in their cup. Likewise, Foster predicts a potential split in the market between consumerist coffee drinkers and the growing few who make it more than a daily ritual.
“Snob” insists that when it comes to coffee, less is more. “While corporate America shouts more is better to the American people, the origins of the café menu preach less is quality” Foster says. Even so, he admits to occasionally resorting to gas-station coffee at times when he needed his fix. “Every once in a while, you just crave that mocha” he says.
At the end of the day, Foster says, coffee “comes down to preference.” Whether you like it best doused in sugar and cream, or blackened to an eternal cool, just “enjoy your coffee.”
For more information on the café menu, let me suggest “The Coffee Snob” and avoid another embarrassing encounter in the coffee world.