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Wet vs dry cappucino??

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What the heck?!

Admittedly when it comes to modern "coffee drinks" I have my head in the sand.

In the morning I drink my coffee hot strong and black. At home it comes from a french press. In the evening I drink espresso...black.

On rare occasions I might treat myself to a morning cappucino which I did learn to appreciate when living in Italy. i'm not much of a milk drinker so when I do this it's typically my breakfast...and usually in places I know pull a good shot and will probably know how to make a good cappucino.

When it comes to Starbucks and the like...well I don't know much about them fancy "coffee drinks" but I do confess to liking peppermint mochas and gingerbread loaves at the holidays...but not because the mocha tastes like coffee...more like hot chocolate on a cold winter day.

Anyway, for whatever reason, while out shopping today I decided a cappucino would be a nice treat. I stopped in at a little place I'd never been to before and ordered one to go. First mistake..."to go" I don't know what I was thinking ordering one in a paper cup(ok I'm fussy I admit that part).

I'm asked "wet or dry?"

HUH??

The look on my face must have said it all. I replied "a cappucino please...not a latte"

I then got a long dissertation on the difference between a wet and dry cappucino. In the end I got a paper cup with two shots of espresso and foam that was as stiff as meringue(they decided I wanted a "dry" one since I kept saying I didn't want a latte)

Is this "wet or dry" thing normal these days??

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  1. yes. Primarily because people order one and then complain that it isn't a full cup of coffee...(or hot milk with a bit of coffee, and a cap of foam on top, as the case may be), I order a "tall dry cap" and it is proper. It is a cap on the coffee.

    Always ask for a "for here" cup- or glass- for your beverages there. They seem to automatically reach for the paper cup and you have to stop so they hear you and turn around to grab a ceramic cup. All the stand alone stores have them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      So if I want a real cappucino I should ask for a "dry" one? The dry one they made me....had no actual milk in it...just stiff foam.

      Yeah, I know better than to drink something like this "to go" since as a general rule I hate drinking out of paper and plastic anyhow. Combine that with the stiff foam and the stupid little opening in the lid that...it was a total disaster and waste of money.

      Oh well, live and learn.

      1. re: ziggylu

        My understanding of a cappuccino is that it should be 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam. A dry cappuccino would have less milk, but I don't see any reason why the foam shouldn't still be creamy.

        To answer your question, it is normal, or at least should be. You were lucky to wander into a place with some respect for he espresso tradition, as opposed to, say, starbucks, where they'll sell you a 20 ounce foamy latte and call it a cappuccino - that is just wrong!

        1. re: babette feasts

          That is the correct definition with the volume being 6 oz. and the foam should not be that dry.

    2. How dreadful. I typically have cappuccino at my neighbourhood haunt, the storied Caffè Italia (good, and cheap : old Italian workingman’s bar in Montréal, but female-friendly nowadays) - and am always shocked when I encounter that weak, foamy milk-heavy stuff at non-Italian chains, and a fairly good but non-Italian café near a friend’s house. Moreover, I’m lactose-intolerant, and can just handle that little bit of decorative foam on authentic cappuccinos. I have the staff at that place trained, but have to remember to be a bit of a pain in the arse everywhere else to get a coffee I can drink.

      1. I don't think it's as widespread as Cathy says. I spend a lot of time in cafés in a lot of major cities, and I've never been asked the wet/dry question.

        I would have assumed it had something to do with the stiffness of the foam.

        1. I always considered a dry to be more like an espresso machiatto, but have never had any barista ask if I wanted wet vs. dry.

          1. I find in Mom&Pop coffee houses it's best to ask for a "dry" Cappuccino so I don't get a cup of warm milk. At Starbucks I ask for a "short" cappuccino which is in a smaller cup ( I think it is an 8 oz. cup and they usually use it for a "doppio" shot of espresso.) If that fails I just order a regular cappuccino with an extra shot (which totals 3). When Starbucks first started they used this smaller cup for cappuccinos but Americans like all that extra milk so they went with a bigger cup.