September 7, 2010


A cappuccino is, perhaps, near the pinnacle of espresso snob beverages. Oh sure, a purist may prefer a machiatto, or perhaps straight espresso. But no drink better combines both espresso and steamed milk. That is, milk that has truly been stretched, not just heated -- as can seem to be the case with a latte.

Cappuccinos are also fucking hard. You have to stretch the milk enough to generate quite a bit of foam, while controlling the process enough to avoid giant bubbles -- and spillage. Mostly the spillage. Which sounds easy, really. Only it's not. Somehow, some way, once milk gets going, it's like a boulder cascading off a cliff. You can stop it, sure, but only by allowing some damage.

In this case, by damage, I mean a mess. Such was the case today, as a first time milk steamer attempted her first cappuccino. I had my face right over the pitcher, observing the process. The milk careened towards my face, and I was the damsel tied to the proverbial tracks. There was nothing for it but to sit idly and take my medicine.

Of course, the milk actually turned out quite nice -- the amount that was still in the pitcher, anyway. Which is to say nothing of the various lattes she prepared, all of which were far too good for someone just learning the craft.

The lesson here -- And why is it I always try and end on some type of lesson? I'm not Jerry Springer -- is that cappuccinos are fickle bitches. Whether your a complete beginner or the most grizzled of veterans, they will kick your ass. But it's ok, because they're delicious.

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