Picture the following:
It’s busy. It always is. You’re handing out drinks left and right, as if you have Octopus genetics inside you which enable you to use your 2 hands as 8. People are waiting at the bar – ready to take on the day after their daily, or sometimes bi-daily, intake of caffeine. Time is money. You hand someone their Cappuccino. It’s to-go. The one’s who comment always are. They lift it up – it’s a bit heavier than they are used to.
“Is this a capp?” they ask, lifting it up and down in a confused manner.
“You bet!” you say.
“Oh ok… Well what’s the difference between this and a latte/can I have more foam/why is it so heavy/I don’t want any milk just foam/insert anything here.”
You take it back politely, saying you will remake it for them, and steam the milk creating enough foam to wash your and your whole family tree’s clothes.
Pop Quiz: Which of the following exist?
b) An incredible Monday morning
c) A 12 or 16 oz Cappuccino.
The answer: None of the above.
I know some of you reading may be shocked to find out that Unicorns indeed are an animal of fiction, but it is true.
This being said, we now have to deal with c), the dreaded Tall and Grande (or sometimes even VENTI) Cappuccino. Now I know some people are out there reading this who have indeed, with their very own mouths, consumed a Tall Cappuccino. Perhaps you are even sporting a foamy milk moustache as we speak, fresh off your Capp.
Give me a moment. Allow me to explain.
First, the word: Cappuccino – It comes from the italian word “cappucio” which is the word for frock of the Franciscan Minor friars. In italian, when you add “ino” to the end of a word, it makes it smaller, in a cute kinda way. So, the word actually means a little “hood” so to speak. Anyone cluing in yet? If not, this is exactly why a Traditional Cappuccino (the only kind) has a “hood” like appearance on top of it, thanks to extra thick milk.
There are 2 types of Cappuccino milk. Dry/scooped and wet/poured. Scooped and poured are sort of barista slang, and more or less the same as dry and wet. The first is the milk that probably comes to mind when you think of a Cappuccino, in that it is very creamy and almost soft-pillow like.
It could also resemble dish washing soap at some cafe’s, but this is not good. It is the opposite of good. A perfect example of a great Trad Capp (the city’s best in my opinon) is any JJ Bean location. If you want to be more precise, go to JJ Bean Park and Tilford on a weekday at night. (you’ll either get that or won’t.) As has been my experience every time I’ve gone, JJ always does their trad capps the scooped way. The milk will be so thick and creamy that it won’t even know what to do with itself, so instead of trying to figure it out, it just decides to defy gravity and stand proudly a half inch over the top of the cup. Something to look for in properly scooped milk is a perfect circle in the crema.
The other type of Cappuccino milk, which is becoming quite trendy, is the wet. Basically the milk is done just a bit thicker than a latte (or in some places just the same) and the milk is poured out of the pitcher, usually making a beautiful design inside your cup.
People reading are probably saying to themselves right now, “So what? I get Tall Capp’s with Dry/Wet Milk all the time!” – Well here is the key fact about the Cappucino.
It’s a 6 oz drink. No less, no more. Always. No excuses. (ok fine, maybe an ounce or 2 give or take, but that’s it!)
It has 2 shots of espresso, (some will argue it has only 1. They are wrong.) and is then filled to the top of the cup with the barista’s choice of wet or dry milk. You may be given the choice if he/she likes you. The cappuccino is a perfect tried and tested ratio of milk to coffee – a coffee of thirds, if you will. One third Espresso, and two thirds milk. When made correctly, it is also one third awesomeness. When you add more milk, the ratio get’s hurt. Hurt bad. If you want more milk, then get a latte. The very word Latte means milk in italian, hence the predominant ratio of milk to espresso in the drink.
I can’t verify it for sure, but I believe the confusion started when places like Starbucks started giving out any size Cappuccino people wanted. I guess the logic was that bigger is better, but in actuality bigger is latte. So what are you actually getting when you order your tall capp?
A foamy latte. Yes, it’s true.
Author’s Note: I have nothing against making you, the customer, any drink you want. As a matter of fact, as long as you’re happy with your drink, I’m happy. Tall capp’s all around, on me! I do, however, want to educate and give you the best experience possible every time you come while I’m on bar. Knowledge is Power. Now you know.