Saturday, August 22, 2009


There are several coffee bars (bar sounds more hip than the terms shop, store or joint) that I frequent in the city where I live. I usually patronize two places which in fact are now owned by the same person. One is a chain and one is a self starter store. From time to time I go to a really big chain coffee place that also sells books; a small family run coffee place that also sells light lunches, vegetarian sushi and baking ( a great place but out of my way); or to another coffee chain.

I drink my coffee as a latte when I go to these places. I have my latte script down pat. Sixteen ounces, extra hot, skim, a shot of sugar free caramel and in a go cup. I feel sometimes I am in a seinfeld show when I ordered my coffee. I am picky and I watch how they make it. I will also add commentary while they are making my order. There are some days when I want to get behind the counter and make it myself. Now I can't drink coffee black - it is toooooo bitter. I guess that is why I can't drink beer - toooooo bitter. I need my coffee to be partnered with milk and, some kind of sweetner. Some people think I am not a true coffee drinker as I am not a purist and mix things into coffee.

This morning while doing errands, my DH and I went to a coffee joint that we don't frequent very often. I ordered my usual and this being a Saturday I went over the top and got the latte with the caramel drizzle added on top of the foam. When I got my coffee handed to me by the woman behind the counter I saw how little caramel she had drizzled on the foam. I asked her for more and she didn't blink an eye and squeezed a generous amount into the coffee. Probably more that what was needed. When she handed the latte to me, I did pause in my step. Looking down at the cup I saw that the foam didn't even reach the top of the coffee cup. There was a noticeable space. I felt cheated. I didn't say anything and walked out of the store.

So why did I question this particular latte? It is about money, need, want and quality of product.
  • With tax, each of my lattes cost anywhere from $4.30 to close to $5.00 depending on the coffee bar. Being a non accountant, let's round it up to $5 a latte. I am paying $5 for a shot of strong coffee, an ounce of caramel and about a cup and a half of skim milk. This equates to me to be a good profit margin. I could buy at the store or a restaurant real food for the price of the latte.
  • How many lattes should I consume each week? While on holidays this summer, it was almost a daily occurrence. How much milk should I consume each day along with my other protein?
  • Should I be drinking coffee each day? For a number of years I didn't drink coffee. Is it a want or a need?
  • There is a difference in your latte when made by someone who takes the extra moment to make it perfect. The foam is the right amount, the extra hot is hot, and you know the coffee person has put some effort in making that particular latte versus treating it like an assembly line process and making it fast, automatic and sloppy.
So where do I go from here? Is it worth investing in buying your own coffee machine that makes lattes? I did have one given to me as a birthday present years ago from a group of friends. I enjoyed it but it takes effort to make it. Should I stick to buying lattes twice a week and drink tea or regular coffee at work on the other days? Should I invest the dollars in a latte machine that I would have spent instead at the coffee bar? It would take six or seven months to recover my investment. What would you do?? One thing is for certain. If I want a latte, I plan to patronize the two usual coffee bars that I go to. I like the customer service and most of the people that make the lattes take that extra moment to make it perfect. Until next time......

1 comment:

  1. Well said!! It does seem that lattes are a tad pricey ... but then what price can a girl put on her happiness?? I say keep up the indulgence ... you wouldn't be happy making them at home. Even though you've been known to spend hours in the kitchen fixing and mixing, somehow I think the notion of fussing with the making of a latte would put you over the top!!