Starbucks Redux

'Double, tall, non-fat, two raw sugar, extra hot, cappuccino' . . . that's my order at Starbucks. The reason I keep returning to the two or three around where work is that seven out of ten times the baristas get it right. Okay, a coffee in a paper cup, even with a sleeve, will never quite be the same as a hanging out over an espresso or grand crème at a cafe on boulevard St. Germain. But when the baristas get it right, for a moment at least the memory of Paris is still alive.

To be frank, however, the espresso I make at home using Starbucks' beans beats them all. I have an espresso machine called a Rancilio Silvia. It is the BMW of machines . . . sleek, smooth and just a little finicky. More often than not I can pull a perfect shot with my Rancilio. (That's coffee geek talk for a really good, strong espresso that is finished with a smooth, caramel 'crema'.)

Which brings me to my only complaint about the Starbucks in my immediate neighbourhood. I need my espresso beans ground at just less than a '3' on their grinder. I know it sounds precious, but that's what works best for my machine, and I can't quite see springing for the Mini Mazzer home grinder which is supposed to produce the best grind. The last time I purchased a pound of beans, the barista wouldn't let me get close enough to check that she had set the grind right. In fact, she seemed offended that I would question her skill. Guess what? She screwed it up. Next time I am going to insist on setting the machine myself. What do you think about my chances?

Starbucks . . . I am an outstanding customer. Tell your baristas to let real coffee geeks like me control the experience! I'm loyal. I know what makes a good espresso and cappuccino (1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk, 1/3 foam!). My machine cries out for just less than a '3' but not as fine as a '2 3/4. That's not too much to ask is it?

Citizen Journalism Redux

Keyla the Sloth