One day at work my boss and a coworker went for coffee, kindly taking orders for what to bring back for the rest of us. I asked for a macchiato, not realizing it wasn’t going to be on the menu. I knew where they were going. It was my favorite coffee house, in fact, and the owner had made macchiatos for me on several occasions. But when they returned I was handed a taller cup than expected, filled with what tasted like a caramel latte. Turns out the new barista didn’t know how to make a macchiato. More accurately she didn’t know what a macchiato was, since to make one only requires pulling an espresso and topping it with a dollop of steamed milk foam. At least she was willing to give it a go, though, which is something. My guess is that her effort was informed by Starbucks, where the name of this classical drink has been usurped by an especially caramelly concoction topped with whipped cream that might just as well fall into the category of milkshake.
I do love a good milkshake, though, and the caramel latte was delicious. And while I’m not quite enough of a snob about it to complain, I believe coffee is more than just a caffeine fix. It’s an art.
For anyone who might share this view or find it intriguing, I discovered this periodic table of sorts that displays the basic elements of our most common coffee drinks – beautifully illustrated by Lokesh Dhakar: