HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


I blame Starbucks....(Layer Cake in Irvine) [moved from L.A. board]

I'm not mad at Layer Cake, really I'm not. I can't say I'm totally happy with the way they handled the situation, but maybe I could have handled it differently, as well.

I blame Charbucks for this....and the fact that I've became an espresso snob, since discovering what espresso drinks should taste like when done well (as opposed to what's become the Starbucks norm, over the past five to ten or so years).

Here's the deal - so I go to Layer Cake in Irvine today, for a nice slice of one of their generally very good cakes and an espresso drink. I end up ordering a slice of the white cake with white chocolate filling inside and green tea buttercream frosting outside. It was good.

Also I ordered a double espresso macchiato. In the classical parlance, this is an espresso "marked" with just a bit of steamed milk or, sometimes, foam.

What I got was a 12-oz paper cup filled to the brim with a dense, stiff foam. Somewhere down there, I could tell, was a good amount of liquid which told me that there was not only the 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of espresso that should constitute a double shot, but also a good deal of milk.

Once I took the lid off and discovered this, I stared at it awhile, trying to decide if I could live with it or not. After a few bites of the cake (waiting until the counter person was not busy with other customers), I decided no, I should explain what I had in mind versus what I received. I wasn't rude (I don't think), but I didn't say "I'm sorry, but this isn't what I had in mind" either - it probably would have gone smoother if I had. Instead, I said in a reasonable voice to the young lady at the counter helping me that this isn't a macchiato.

She made a bit of a face and said "well this is how we make macchiatos here". Would you like an espresso instead ?" When I answered yes, I would, she started to ring it up as another order. When I said that the fact that they were going to charge this was not making me very happy, she made more of a face and called the manager and went over to her to explain the situation. The manager made a face and said something (probably "give it to him"), and the counter person swept away the original drink and dramatically poured it down the sink. It got quiet real fast.

So while the young lady was doing the espresso (now in a smaller paper cup), the manager came up to me and she said that what they gave me was a macchiato. I explained that no, actually what I got was probably more like a latte and she said well, yes maybe but this is how Starbucks makes their macchatos. To which I replied well that's not macchiato either....well we pretty much left it there.

It was basically a draw, I got my double espresso (which actually wasn't bad), but nobody was particularly happy. I was surprised about the poor customer service in a way (sure, they replaced the drink but it was all done very grudgingly ) -- so who really won here ? Will I be back soon ? Probably not...unfortunately. I don't go to a place to pick a fight - though that's what happened in a way.

I guess the lesson I take away is, that it's really tough to get both a nice slice of cake and a great cup of coffee. And especially, you need to be really specific when ordering a drink that Starbucks has monkeyed around with, because it's now assumed that the Starbucks way is the correct way - because that's what most people now expect.

I've worked retail and a bit of food service, and I do understand how hard it is, and especially in these tough times. But because of that I also understand the value of a happy customer experience versus an unhappy one. My old boss (a wise man) used to say "A happy customer will tell one or two of his friends, but an unhappy customer will tell ten of his friends".

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well that's an interesting experience.
    I would say, in this case, a call to the corporate office may be in order.
    The only reason, in the last few years, I've gone into Starbucks was to pick up one of their maple scones. I love them.
    About 3 months ago they decided to stop making them. I asked a person, who said he was the manager, what had happened to them. He told me they quit outsourcing them and they (Starbucks) was now making their own.
    Being the person I am, and not willing to take his word as the gospel, I called the corporate office.
    A very nice, congenial and accomodating lady in customer service told me that what the manager said was an untruth and the maple scone would be back in the stores in the fall as it appears to be a seasonal item. She told me the 'outsourcing' response was totally false and the manager really didn't know what he was talking about.
    I suggest you call corporate and ask them about the macchiato....perhaps they'll have a different answer for you :).

    1. ok, well... I've been in this situation, where I've ordered a macchiato and got something quite different.

      sadly, it is accepted that a macchiato can both be milk marked with espresso, or espresso marked with foam... and maybe the person taking your order should ask which you mean.

      I tend to go by price... if the macchiato is closer in price to an espresso than it is to a latte, I will assume that it is an espresso w/ foam.

      1. Oh dear. Apparently - if Wikipedia is to be believed in this instance - what you asked for or at least wanted was a "caffe macchiato," an espresso marked with milk. What you got may have been a valid "latte macchiato," a cup of milk marked with espresso:

        Now, what the drink was actually was called on their menu, I don't know. And I don't think they handled it well. It sounded like you ordered correctly - how could anyone interpret a double-espresso macchiato as meaning double the milk and even less of the espresso?

        Anyone who's going to venture to serve an espresso drink should have a working knowledge of what goes in them and the generally appropriate amounts, no matter where they are. And the service was just not good, period.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cinnamon

          I want to confirm the Wikipeda entry Cinnamon has referenced (at least, what has been referenced here).

          It sounds like they served you a latte macchiato rather than the caffee macchiato you wanted. This is not an issue of fault but a lack of clarity since macchiato only refers to the marking or spotting, but not to the liquid doing said spotting.

          A double espresso macchiato sounds like you were trying to clarify, though.

        2. Sorry, you lost me when you mentioned green tea frosting. What exactly did you expect? This isn't Italy, you know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tgmm

            Maybe you are just trying to be funny, but as a pastry chef this comment rubs me the wrong way. How do creative baking and staying true to established espresso traditions not mix?

            I had to post because I just had a seminar with a French pastry chef from Brittany who demo'd a chocolate mousse with green tea creme brulee and raspberry meringue. He said green tea is super trendy as an ingredient right now in France. OK, still not Italy, but just to say that Europeans can be open to new ingredients while still using traditional techniques - the cake was very French style, just with a new flavor. Serious bakers like to play with ingredients as much as serious chefs, and I would expect nothing less than great espresso from a respectable, high-end pastry shop. I may end up disappointed, but that is what I would expect!

          2. They served the espresso in a paper cup?

            1. WhaT a difficult place to find oneself.

              A real barista is a highy trained worker with a wealth of knowledge about the product they serve. The equipment they use offers up freedom to make adjustments so they don't end up with over extracted, under extracted, or truly unacceptable product.

              That being said, and your disappointed noted I must ask; what are the standards you have in place for judging whether you can expect proper espresso drinks?

              Were the machines on the premises super automatics? Were the beans ground to order? Was the puck hand tamped? Was the person making the drink using a shot timer? What was on the menu? If I see a word like "ristretto" my expectations rise

              Starbucks (like most specialty coffee places) doesn't train baristas, like McDonalds doesn't train chefs.

              I interviewed for a job at a Dean and Delucca owned store. During the interview I asked about their espresso gear. I won't have high expectations if i ever get a coffee drink at the place.

              I agree that it is sad when Starbucks is accepted as the default for coffee terminology.

              22 Replies
              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                It really does depend on the location.
                I haven't found many Starbucks in the LA area that live up to the original vision for Starbucks. That being said I have never liked their purposely burnt beans.
                Seattle" Starbucks, the true beginning in the Pike Place Market was the premiere coffeehouse. The place was well equipped with the most knowledgeable and educated baristas on the west coast at the time. Their baristas were not only well trained but dedicated and loyal. There was no such thing as a 'super automatic'...the beans were ground as the customer ordered.
                Everyone can agree that Starbucks is not what it used to be many, many years ago.
                However it is shocking what passes as 'good espresso' in this town. It is truly hard to get used to not having beans comparable to what I was used to living in Seattle.
                Although I've settled for Intelligensia, after searching for months, I'd love to find a coffeehouse with espresso that is unbelievable and unforgettable. Within that coffeehouse I'd love to find baristas who have made their trade their profession and their lifelong pride...I've known a few but it's just not here.

                1. re: latindancer

                  If you are "settling" for Intelli, you're probably not going to find anything to please you as Intelli is pretty far up the scale. Having employed Seattle baristas, I've found their tastes to be different than ours. Not sure why that is - Seattle-ites seem to like more roast flavor than we do.

                  Not sure how close Coffee Klatch (San Dimas) is to you, but would suggest trying that. Mike Perry roasts on premises and has won numerous awards for his espresso. Daughter Heather is a three-time US barista champion and full-time trainer. She'll be doing this for life.

                  As to what Starbucks can/can't do and whether they're trained - yes, they are trained, and trained better than 98% of independent shops as far as coffee knowledge. Unfortunately they're also trained on their menu and machines. But just about every Sbux barista I've known does indeed know what a "real" macchiato is and can make one. You just have to ask for it correctly - caffe macchiato or, better yet, "not the big macchiato, the little one in the demitasse cup, you know?."

                  1. re: Panini Guy

                    Thanks, Panini.
                    I'll check out Coffee Klatch the next time I'm around San Dimas. The place sounds intriguing.

                  2. re: latindancer

                    Intelligentsia is as good or better than anything in Seattle. IMO the best caffe in Seattle is Stumptown- which is of course a Portland outfit.

                    The new superautos at Sbux grind every drink to order. I'm not a fan, but this improvement has to be noted.

                    OP- in Europe you have to specify "espresso macchiato" (aka "caffe macchiato") or "latte macchiato." In Germany, which generally has very unimpressive espresso-based coffee joints, "macchiato" would be a "layered" (I know, stiff foam icky 1995 drink of choice) latte. Here in NA I don't make the distinction but I guess some people define it differently.

                    FWIW you CAN get an espresso machiatto at Sbux- it's on the menu w/ espresso con panna.

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      "intelligentsia is as good or better than anything in Seattle. IMO the best caffe in Seattle is Stumptown-which is of course a Portland outfit".
                      I was born and raised in Seattle. Not that this has anything to do with what I know about coffee but I do know a few things about some of the key people who made this industry the giant it is today.
                      David Schomer....need I say more? David began his professional career at a kiosk on Broadway on Capital Hill. It was, at that time, like drinking gold. The latte art combined with the knowledge of the baristas and the velvety smoothness of his espresso was like nothing I'd ever tasted before. This was all done on a cart.
                      In 1993 I attended my first Coffee Fest in Seattle and David was there.
                      There were cafe owners and baristas from all over the globe surrounding his little demonstration on his cart with his espresso machine. He simply taught interested people how to extract espresso. It was one of the highlights of my life to watch this man.
                      Andrew Barnett (Stumptown) learned everything he knows from David Schomer.
                      Here in Los Angeles there are other espresso shops who either have learned from David or buy David's beans from Seattle. One of these very popular shops is on Montana, in Santa Monica, and they sell his beans, the same ones I order, for a much higher price than the ones I occasionally mail order FedEx overnight.
                      I know coffee inside and out. When I came to Los Angeles, years ago, the only thing I ever missed was great coffee. I spent weeks looking for what I was used to and never found it.
                      Intelligentsia is good. I like it. It's certainly not better than anything in Seattle, as you say, but the place has a cult following and I decided to become part of it because the baristas, in the original location, know what they're doing for the most part.

                      1. re: latindancer

                        "Andrew Barnett (Stumptown) learned everything he knows from David Schomer."

                        Do you mean Andrew Barnett of Ecco Caffe in Sonoma? Andrew did learn from Schomer, but to best of my knowledge never worked in Portland or for Stumptown.

                        1. re: Panini Guy

                          I humbly apologize for this.
                          Yes, you are right, I meant Ecco in Sonoma which I love.

                          1. re: Panini Guy

                            I had the good fortune of attending a barista training seminar taught by Schomer.

                            My traveling companions called him "the espresso nazi"

                            He would be very much at home as a winemaker.

                    2. re: Brandon Nelson

                      Interesting questions and issues raised - with regard to my standards, I've had to learn to adjust them downward and even so, I was obviously expecting too much.

                      They do have a roaster in the window, but I doubt it's used much.

                      The machine was a super-automatic, so tamping and all that is done automatically. I don't recall hearing a grinder being used at all, during my 15-minute or so visit. No ristrettto on offer, that I can recall.

                      And as someone else commented, only paper cups, I looked for but saw no real cups.

                      1. re: mikester

                        superautomatic= average to bad espresso. All of the little bits and pieces that go into pulling a great shot can't be adjusted. They are set it and forget it mechanisms.

                        Its like "cooking" with a microwave

                        Paper cups aren't the kiss of death, they are to go cups. I have had some of the most satisfying machiattos and espressos in paper cups

                        1. re: Brandon Nelson

                          "All of the little bits and pieces that go into pulling a great shot can't be adjusted.": are you quite sure about that?

                          Consumer superautomatic e.g. Saeco and Jura-Capresso and such have adjustability, albeit not extensive. One can adjust: fineness of grinder, water volume (extraction time), among other things.

                          I don't know for sure, but I have got to believe that "commercial" super-automatics like those used by Starbucks (and every Starbucks uses one these days, it seems) have to be just as "tunable" if not more.

                          And what's wrong with "set it and forget it"? I will always take the consistency of a machine than rely on a human that may be hung over, pissed at her boyfriend, sick of his job, mad at the customer demanding an espresso macchiato even though he asked for a "macchiato" and got a latte macchiato :) , etc.

                          1. re: aqn

                            aqn - "I will always take the consistency of a machine than rely on a human..."

                            That sounds like a lot of frozen entrees getting nuked at your house to avoid human intervention.

                            Sure a human can make a bad shot. Even without being pissed off there are thousands of bad baristas out there.

                            But good barista humans can also make shots that Saecos and Capresso and Starbucks superautos can't approach.

                            1. re: Panini Guy

                              I think it would be an interesting experiment to do a blind taste test with coffee experts/lovers tasting top flight machine and top flight barista made drinks and seeing if they could tell the difference.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                If your panel is expert tasters, it's a lot simpler than you might think. For people new to or unfamiliar with espresso, maybe not so much.

                                First off, the superautos aren't created to be "top flight" artisinal machines. They're created to be relatively consistent (an operational) within a short spectrum of brew/grind parameters, and more importantly, easy to maintain and clean. The machine dynamics of a superauto vs. a manual/semiauto aren't even the same. They operate off very different psi variables, which changes dosage requirements, flow rate and shot times. Thus, espresso for superautos are often blended and roasted specifically to perform reliably under those working parameters. Coffee blends for superautos are also designed for big milk drinks, not as standalone shots as that's why superautos exist in the first place.

                                It's not like you can just toss in some Black Cat or Hairbender into a superauto and have at it. Those would come out fairly flat compared to a variety of ways one could highlight different flavor components on a good manual machine.

                                In short, it would be something like asking someone to compare the difference between a sous vide steak and one cooked on a grill. Even if they both taste acceptable, the latter will always be more interesting and flavorful, even if it may have some flaws and unevenness.

                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                  I have the feeling it would be more akin to "wine experts" coming to completely different conclusions when tasting the same wine twice (with knowing that they were having it again).

                                  I would be willing to bet that it is much more about the taste that comes with the visual cues of having ones coffee made by an "expert barista" (rather than a "machine") than any actual taste difference in the final product.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    servorg: "I would be willing to bet that it is much more about the taste that comes with the visual cues of having ones coffee made by an "expert barista" (rather than a "machine") than any actual taste difference in the final product."

                                    It would be a difficult test to adequately eliminate all sensory cues (esp. sound, sight) while still being able to serve the espresso in its ideal state. And if you were talking a dark roasted espresso, the differences would be miniscule as the predominate flavor is the roast, not the bean.

                                    But if we're talking lighter roasts like those favored at shops that seem to be getting most of the publicity (Intelli, Stumptown, Terroir, etc.) a trained taster would absolutely be able to tell the difference without breaking a sweat. I'd happily take up that challenge myself.

                                  2. re: Panini Guy

                                    Absolutely. Well stated.
                                    I am now in the horrible position of having to purchase a new espresso semiautomatic machine. My Euro 2000 is on its last leg after only a short 6 years and now I must say goodbye. It's mindboggling out there when it comes to purchasing.
                                    However...never would I ever consider a superautomatic.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      Latindancer, Espresso machines, especially semi's are fairly simple mechanical devices. There is not much that can go wrong that can't be fixed. I would suggest posting over at coffeegeek with a description of the problems you are having. They could also steer you toward a repair place near your area. However, upgradeitus is also a beautiful thing and should not be ignored when the feeling strikes you.

                                      1. re: chipman

                                        Thanks for the advice. While I agree with your analysis that 'semi's are fairly simple mechanical devices' and that 'not much can go wrong that can't be fixed" I've had this in and out of a repair shop, that I purchased it from, about .100 times (just kidding but close to it) in the last year. The heating element has a mind of its own and decides when it will work and when it won't. I love this machine and I really don't want to part with it. I've been to coffeegeek and, although these are highly qualified people with numerous suggestions, the problem just comes and goes without any warning. Los Angeles is not equipped with competition when it comes to espresso repair shops and a few months ago I thought about sending my machine to a place in Seattle that I know well and have nothing but stellar experiences with in the past.
                                        However it's time to 'bite the bullet' and move on. As you say 'upgradeitus' is a beautiful thing. Now I've got to know the best approach to upgrading my beloved machine. I want to make sure I'm going upward and onward instead of downward and backward.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          latindancer - next time you're at Intelligentsia, ask the barista if they know of any home machines being sold - a lot of their baristas (and their friends) have machines they work on and might be willing to part with. They may send you to coffeegeek as well, but if you ask one or more of them for recommendations, the worst that will happen is that they'll respect you even more for consulting with them before purchasing.

                                2. re: Panini Guy

                                  I must clarify: when I said "I will always take the consistency of a machine than rely on a human that may be hung over..." I was referring to when going to an outside coffee place to get espresso, not at home. (Sorry if people got the impression that I have my own butler, chaffeur, and barista with a super-auto right in my home! :) ) Therefore, I was referring to the huge super-autos in Starbucks, not the home variety. I'd love to know whether/how tunable the Starbucks super-autos are.

                                  I was claiming that, while I don't know for sure, those machines are to espresso making and human baristas what rice cookers are to cooking rice and human chefs: sure, quite soulless, but stone-cold reliable and consistent. I'd much rather go with the consistency of the machine, especially when in a strange city, than with a human. Even locally, unless I know the skills of a particular barista at a particular espresso joint, as well as his/her tenure there, the same preference applies.

                                  P.S. Panini Guy: You don't know me. Don't presume you know what's cooked and eaten at my house.

                                3. re: aqn

                                  In order to achieve consistent quality pulling espresso you must have the ability to adjust all the variables and the knowledge to know those that need adjusting.

                                  A super automatic is always paired with a person who would have no clue how to make great espresso. No one who can make it right would use a super auto.

                                  It falls into the same category as pre chopped onion or jarred garlic, serious cooks don't use such things because of their negative effect on the final product.

                          2. and loosely on the subject of coffee and not getting what you expect, I was recently at at Dunkin Donuts (in Connecticut as perhaps it's geographically relevant). I mostly make my coffee at home, so don't know much about assumptions, but I asked for a "large coffee to go". Took it out to my car, and back to the B&B I was staying at (too early for there to be coffee there). Opened it up to find it was a "regular" (with milk and sugar). As I'm a black coffee only girl, I got back in my car and took it back. She looked at me like I had two heads. "You didn't SAY you wanted black". She grudgingly replaced it.

                            Was I wrong? Is "regular" the assumption? Shouldn't she ask before putting something IN my coffee?

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: DGresh

                              "A cappuccino is an espresso that has one part steamed milk and one part steamed milk foam added to it. The word macchiato in Italian literally means "stained" or "marked." A macchiato is an espresso that has been "marked" with just a dollop of steamed milk foam on top."

                              I so wish they knew this at Starbucks: I now request a "foam only cappucino", which for me is my shots and foam. No Milk at all. Not all barristas make good dense foam.

                              latindancer, come to Montreal for espresso/coffee that makes your heart sing,
                              Cafe Myriade.

                              1. re: superbossmom

                                "Not all barristas make good dense foam."

                                And that is a good thing. Dense foam is not what your looking for. A description of correctly steamed milk would be 'velvety'. The milk should be poured, not spooned on the drink.

                                1. re: chipman

                                  Actually, dense would be the proper descriptor for good microfoam. The big detergent-looking bubbles that are common is mediocre shops are less dense - they have more air. You can't really pour them. Tighter foam with less bubbles = more dense. Velvety/silky texture = very dense.

                                  Would also add that I think there's a disturbing trend for trying to pour well-defined latte art onto cappuccinos. That's not right. You might be able to get away with a heart or tulips, but you shouldn't be able to pour a 20 leaf rosetta. Capp milk should be a bit looser than latte milk, IMO, with a noticeable layer of top foam at least 1/4" deep. Otherwise it's a latte mouthfeel.

                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                    I interpreted the post as foam that just sat on top of the espresso. She said 'no milk at all.' No matter how micro foam is described, there is still milk infused with the espresso.

                                    1. re: chipman

                                      I admittedly didn't read the post above yours. Was just responding to the dense/microfoam part.

                                      Even though we pour microfoam/latte art into everything, on macchiatos there's no shame in using a spoon for requests like hers.

                                2. re: superbossmom

                                  Interesting, when we were trained at my restaurant we were taught that it was 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. As it says here:

                                  BASIC CAPPUCCINO Although ratios may vary to taste, a common recipe for a traditional 6 oz. cappuccino is: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 frothed milk. Purists consider this recipe complete as is. Powdered cocoa or cinnamon may be sprinkled on top as a garnish.

                                  It sounds like you like a "dry" cappuccino.

                                3. re: DGresh

                                  No, yes and yes.
                                  The more I read the more I believe there should be more people sitting at a desk, looking at the wall.

                                  1. re: DGresh

                                    Find the manager's name, call the manager. That server sounds like she's probably regularly making other people's mornings miserable due to thoughtlessness.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      In New England, you will always get a "regular", a coffee with cream and sugar unless you ask for something else. A regional difference to be sure..... don't get us started on what a milkshake is around here.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Yup. When my New England mother comes here (LA) to visit, she orders "black coffee" and people look at her funny.

                                      2. re: DGresh

                                        This is why I don't like Dunkin Donuts for coffee. I like to control what goes into mine, thank you very much. I read once that "Regular" is the term to use at DD if you want it with milk and suguar. I'd never have guessed that. I would assume it means plain old black coffee, non-decaf.

                                        1. re: ivanova

                                          it's not just DD; it's a well-accepted term, which I guess is why I got burned. LONG ago when I was a kid working at the mall, someone went out to get coffee and asked whether "regular" was ok. I said sure, assuming what you assumed. That's when I learned what "regular" means.

                                          1. re: ivanova

                                            This isn't a DD thing. It is a regional thing. Any diner, any restaurant, anywhere that you don't pour your own coffee, a regular has cream and sugar.

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              my problem was that I didn't ask for a regular, I asked for "a coffee" and got a regular. That's what surprised me.

                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                See, I think this is weird--anywhere I've been in NYC, you say "coffee, light-n-sweet" if you want milk and sugar; if I don't specify, they generally ask, including at Dunkin Donuts and at street carts (the places you don't tend to administer your own mix-ins). Then again, I rarely get coffee at Dunkin Donuts--I think their coffee tastes like chemicals and dirty dishwater.

                                        2. Outside of a place truly dedicated to coffee I never expect to get a real macchiato or cappucino. To me a macchiato is just what you wanted and a cappucino does NOT come in a 12oz. or larger cup. But, order a cappucino at Panera and see what you get. Starbucks is to real coffee what Miller Lite is to real beer.

                                          1. I only like coffee frozen, as in coffee ice cream ,but I thought I'd inject a little humor here. A young man was training as a waiter at a I restaurant I was managing and innocently asked how to make a "black" coffee. He was obvioulsy better in his original position as a busboy.

                                            1. Sadly, I'm sure that if they were to make a traditional macchiato, there would be a far higher percentage of outraged customers...customers whose first (and probably only) connection to espresso is Starbucks. Since there is no way you can combat the massive presence of Starbucks, I think you're simply going to have to ask future baristas how they make their macchiatos and order accordingly (and perhaps educate them nicely when you explain the drink you really want).

                                              Here in the NW, I do not visit Starbucks and cappuccinos are my drink of choice. Outside of the NW, I DO visit Starbucks but drink mochas in order to keep the caffeine running but the taste diluted.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: sebetti

                                                "I think you're simply going to have to ask future baristas how they make their macchiatos and order accordingly": or you can be very explicit and correct and ask for what you want: a latte macchiato or an espresso macchiato, *AND* reinforce that with an explanation of what you want.

                                                I learned that "macchiato" simply means "stained"; wikipedia agrees with me :) . Asking for a "macchiato" is like asking for a "grilled". If one asks for a "grilled", why would one be surprised to get "grilled halibut" when one wanted a "grilled pepper"?

                                                And to be fair, at Starbucks, each drink on the board has a description. I don't want milk in coffee so I have never noticed what the description for "macchiato" says. What does it say?

                                                1. re: aqn

                                                  Because we all know that if wikipedia says it, it MUST be true... for the record, that same wikipedia entry states that caffe lattes are normally 1/3 espresso to 2/3 milk - and nothing could be further from the truth in that regard. It's more like 1:8 or 1:10 throughout North America.

                                                  But as long as you went there, you surely noticed what followed:
                                                  "Traditionally it is made with one shot of espresso, and the small amount of added milk was the "stain." However, later the "mark" or "stain" came to refer to the foamed milk that was put on top to indicate the beverage has a little milk in it (usually about a teaspoon [in fact, the Portuguese word for a macchiato is "pingo," which means "drop"]). The reason was for the baristas to show the serving waiters the difference between an espresso and an espresso with a little milk in it; the latter was marked."

                                                  Macchiato = a shot with a LITTLE MILK. Not a full 8 ounce cup, 12 ounce cup, 16 ounce cup or 20 ounce cup.

                                                  Starbucks and the businesses who try to imitate them (and their fanboys) are pretty much the only ones who think a macchiato is otherwise. Any decent coffeehouse knows the default is the demitasse version.

                                                  But I'll grant you that if someone goes into a Starbucks (or similar) and orders a macchiato, they deserve what they get.

                                                  1. re: aqn

                                                    I know what I will get from Espresso Vivace if I order a "macchiato". It will be the same preparation that I will get a Blue Bottle or Ritual as well. That tends to point to the notion that espresso machiatto is the default beverage for the term "machiatto" . I didn'tcreate this trend, but I will acknowledge it's existence.

                                                    Wikipedia is a fine source for general knowledge most of the time. It offers a nice compass to find better sources. It also allows for someone who defines "machiatto" as "that yummy carmel thing at Starbucks" to add 2 cents.

                                                2. "Large coffee, double cup with a sleeve, please leave room for milk"

                                                  If they make a mistake on any of those items (other than large, jfood just fixes at the milk bar.

                                                  It's this silly graday, frappay, poopay, everyday metalitay that has taken a simple cup of joe into a morning problem that jfood will continue to avoid.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    indeed, stand behind a group of Boca teens ordering in front of you at Sbux and you will be confuddled by their mochalatte frappes hold the whipped cream, iced green tea frappochinos hold the sprinkles and extra whipped, and be standing there for eons while the poor barista gets them all wrong and has to re-make them.