Cappuccino, Macchiato, Espresso Doppio, Joe Clark and Roger Johansson

I am a regular reader of both Joe and Roger, and from Roger’s comment on the coffees at @media 06 — and the fact he links to a site called kaffesnobben, it seems apparent that he likes his coffee — indeed that he’s a self-declared coffee snob.

Joe’s recent post ‘hip’ also covers coffee, although it’s more about wondering what makes people and places ‘hip’, and he admits that he’s not particularly bothered about his unhipness. Whereas what do I think of ‘hip’?

hey, hip is just wherever I am, yeah? Like, get down and groovy with that, daddy-o. Not only am I hip, but I’m down with the hoodies and the youth of today, with all of their beatniks and their popular beat combos. I’m cool with the idea of cats smoking E, although that’s not my personal scene, you dig? Respec’My thoughts on ‘hipness’

So, okay then. I’m not hip either. But Joe goes on to talk about trying to order a particular coffee from a particularly surly barista (is it me, or did they pick that name especially so they could sound like lawyers?). Now, it could be that Joe was just having a particularly grumpy day — we all have them from time to time. Joe obviously knows how this coffee is supposed to be made, and the barista himself doesn’t — although frankly the barista could actually have been right, for all I know — but this brings me to my main point.

Why can’t I just get “a cup of coffee” any more?

How come if I go to a shop, and ask for a cup of coffee, I’ll be asked if I want a Caffé Latte, a Caffé Americano, a Cappuccino, a Caramel Macchiato, an Espresso Macchiato, an Espresso Con Panna, an Espresso Doppio or so on. No, what I want is (pauses to speak loudly and slowly) a cup of coffee. I don’t mind so much if I’ve gone into a coffee shop, because it’s not unreasonable that a shop specialising in coffee will have multiple varieties of it, but how come I get this everywhere?

Of course, some places will tell me that my “cup of coffee” is an “Americano”. Why is it an Americano? If it’s American, why stick the “o” on the end like some kind of Italian affectation? Why not call it an “American coffee”? For that matter, you could also call it “an English coffee”, as I know plenty of English people who like coffee like this too. Oh, and the world coped for years with the terminology “white coffee” and “black coffee” (or possibly “coffee with milk” and “coffee without milk” as per personal preference). But of course us Brits are internationally famous for drinking tea, aren’t we, despite the fact that the most famous Tea Party in history happened in Boston…

Now I accept Roger is definitely, and Joe may well be coffee snobs who enjoy particularly fine coffee, and like it done in a particular way. That’s fine, and I don’t begrudge them that. But it’s not for me. I’m partial to a latte now and again, but the majority of the coffee I drink comes from an automated vending machine at 25p per plastic cupful. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s perfectly acceptable coffee. It’s hot, it’s wet, it’s brown and it’s got caffeine in it, what more do you want?

So, if anything I’m a reverse coffee snob: I like mine cheap and hurriedly thrown together. Just call me the anti-snob.

Obviously, I wouldn’t have vending machine coffee at home. How I’d do it at home would provide the ideal coffee, for ideal circumstances. Of course, to make coffee like I make it, you have to follow a fairly exact recipe. Which brings me to…

The Picardocchio

  1. Place one heaped teaspoon of instant coffee granules into a mug. Use caffeinated coffee, you’re allowed to use a specific brand if you like but it must be instant.
  2. Leave the teaspoon in the mug.
  3. Add semi-skimmed milk.
  4. Add freshly boiled water.
  5. Add artificial sweetener to taste, if required.
  6. Half-heartedly stir the coffee until the majority of the coffee granules are dissolved. Under no circumstances should you continue stirring until all are fully dissolved.
  7. Forget about it until it has cooled to around lukewarm.
  8. Drink it!

… and there you have it. The perfect Picardocchio. If, like me, you just want a bog standard cup of coffee, without froth, chocolate sprinkles or small biscuits added to the side of the plate, and the restaurant doesn’t offer a “white coffee”, ask for a Picardocchio. If they haven’t heard of it, and don’t know how to make it, make sure you sneer at them scornfully, ask them what the hell kind of establishment they think they’re running if they don’t know how to make something as simple as that, and then describe how to make your favourite cup of instant. Remember, if it sounds snobby enough, they’ll soon start adding it to their menus…

2 Responses to “Cappuccino, Macchiato, Espresso Doppio, Joe Clark and Roger Johansson”

  1. Joe Clark responds:

    No, I wasn’t grumpy at all. And I had three very good cups o’ espresso. It’s just a question of ambience and attitude.

  2. Alexander Shaw responds:

    Americano - I was told by a Scots-Italian girl I used to work with was a word coined in World War Two. When the Americans were in Italy they couldn’t take the espresso because it was too strong. They had it topped up with water, and it was named after them.

    To my knowledge coffee was around for about 400 years in this country before that so I object to be told in Beanscene that a white coffee is a white americano or latte. Its not.

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