Where Would Americans Be Without Coffee Cups?
Credit: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa_CK0062/Coffee cups. American life is built around the stuff we drink from those cups. In our everyday jobs we watch the clock for the "coffee break". Lunch would not be complete without at least one cup of coffee and if we labor in an office or cubicle or spend our days in an automobile or truck it would not be difficult to find substantial evidence of our addiction.
Half filled cups on the desk. Traces of coffee found here and there on our paperwork. Empty styrofoam cups not yet discarded found in various spots inside our vehicles. Seems like we are never far from our coffee passion or it's residue.
Strange as it may seem as strong as the love of coffee is for the average American he or she may spend their entire coffee drinking life never having experienced a real cup of the stuff. Bulk commercial coffee grounds from pressurized cans are the norm in the average household. Oh sure we may make sure to purchase the proper grind for our particular coffee maker. We are coffee lovers after all and pride ourselves on buying the best brand from the supermarket shelf.
In addition we make sure to find the proper party store, gas station or fast food drive through from which to purchase our morning brew. And we know how we like it. Black for the John Wayne drinkers or for those with the sophisticated palette, some portion of cream or sugar.
But imagine for a moment you have accidentally strayed from your normal morning route and somehow find yourself in a real coffee shop such as a Starbucks. While waiting patiently in line your ears are assulted with such strange terms yo might find yourself looking around to make sure you have not benn transported magically into a foreign land.
You hear customers asking for Espresso Romano, Caffé Latte, Espresso Macchiato, Mocha, mocha java and other strange concoctions. If you happen to have a little extra time that morning and in possession of an inquisitive and mechanical nature you might step out of line and watch intently form the sidelines to see exactly what was taking place here.Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/62356
It would not be long before you were able to deduce the following.
You might learn that espresso was a very strong coffee made with a strange machine that forced hot water under pressure through very fine coffee grounds tightly packed into a receptacle. You might also notice that very few customers were ordering straight espresso. Instead you hear requests for these brews.
You hear customers discussing the exquisite Espresso Romano they enjoyed one early morning at a specialty restaurant. By listening carefully you realize the this is a tiny cup of espresso served with a twist or a thin slice of lemon. One customer speaks of occasionally ordering a double or doppio or Espresso Romano but only when he is sure of facing a long arduous day and needs the fuel supplied by such a strong drink. This is something you surmise that should only be consumed by very experience espresso drinkers.
A few customers order Espresso Macchiato and as you watch the clerk prepare this drink you notice a cup is half filled with hot, full milk into which a tiny portion of espresso is slowly dribbleCredit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/216138d. the clerk does this with great care and as she hands it to the customer to approve it appears to you to have multiple layers from the pure white at the top followed by a dark layer at the top and growing lighter towards the bottom. Very strange stuff indeed.
About now you hear a simple sounding order. Mocha which you can easily tell from close observation the is consists of about one third espresso, one third hot chocolate, and a third of steamed milk. You notice that the milk was the last item added. Maybe this stuff is not so mysterious after all.
You find your thoughts drifting back to your French language college classes as you hear someone order a Caffee Latte. You discover that this is made with one or two shots of espresso and three times as much foamed milk. You watched fascinated as the clerk poured the espresso and foamed mild together from either side of the large cup. Must take quite a while to trained these clerks. This is definitely not your ordinary gas station coffee service.
Cappuccino you learn is simply espresso served with steamed frothy milk.
Ah ha you mutter to yourself as you began to peal back the curtain of mystery behind this strange coffee shop. At this point the line of customers has thinned and you are reasy to put your new knowledge to use.
As you approach the counter you step up and in a very knowledgeable tone ask if you might please have a cafe mocha to which the harried clerk replies without looking up, "Will that be short, tall or grande". You realize too late that you have evidently missed an important piece of this serious coffee ordering technique.
Now you have decided that it is time to get out of here with a little of your pride in tact and so you tell the clerk, "you know what I just realized how late it is and so I would just like a medium coffee with double cream and sugar and a blueberry muffin if you please".
As you retrieve your order and head hurriedly for the exit you notice a large poster on the wall explaining the a Short is a basic 8 oz cup with one shot of espresso. A Tall is a 12 oz cup with one shot of espresso for a milder drink than found in the short or two shots of espresso for a stronger drink.
What's In A Name?
Finally a Grande is a large 16 oz cup with two shots of espresso which just offers a larger proportion of the Short. You decide now that if you should ever find yourself again in a real coffee shop, which is doubtful, before ordering anything for your coffee cups, you will first do your homework, take notes and hand the clerk a written request detailing exactly what you wish and pretending to that you do not speak English so that speech will not be required.
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