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Cappuccino or Latte?

Cappuccino or Latte?

The only difference is a sprinkle of sugary chocolate dust?

So, its Friday, yippee!   You decide to head in to town to pick up the random items not possible to get in the weekly shopping. While in town you decide to treat yourself to a large shot of hot caffeine, but which one?

  • Cappuccino is in theory ⅓ of espresso coffee, ⅓ milk and ⅓ froth, usually with some chocolate sprinkles or powder on top.
  • Lattes arrived later to our shores, at least I think they did and are milkier!

Back when I was working for peanuts, in hotels and restaurants, it was Cappuccino’s all the way.  Nobody outside Italy, knew what a Latte was! This normally involved splashing, steaming, screaming, hot milk about in a big, old milk caked jug and hoping that you would muster something resembling foam.  You then would spoon onto a cup of steaming black stuff made several hours earlier.

What is a Latte?

So, a Latte, often served in a tall glass, precariously on a saucer that doesn’t fit the base with a long spoon. What’s that all about? Also with a single or double espresso shot.  Depending on what you have ordered or the premises you have visited.  The milk should be silky smooth with a little foam on the top, which if lucky, your Barista (get me) may have created something artistic on top for you to gaze at.

The Cappuccino

So, to conclude! Cappuccino should taste a little stronger as there is less milk and more air, and probably less calories if you forgo the chocolate on top.  Latte is a milky coffee, it will be a longer drink as there is more milk and less aeration.  You will possibly get a mixture of the two as the cafe are making lattes and cappuccinos at the same time. The only discernible difference will be that whoosh of hot chocolate on the top and the type of cup or glass that they have served it in.

After queueing for more than 5 mins, drooling over the lemon drizzle cake and chocolate tiffin tray bake. At the same time you are justifying why you should or shouldn’t treat yourself. Then reluctantly realising there is a very real chance that you are going to get a parking ticket. So you opt for a takeaway.  A takeaway then will leave you completely clueless what you have been served until it’s finished.  This is the time when you take the lid off to get the best bits of the ‘Capsulate’ chocolate foam entrails.  Don’t forget this  requires you sticking in your middle finger around the edges of the cup to rescue the good bits.  In the process you get it all over your hand and down your chin in the process, or is that only me?

Roll on wine o’clock when there are no such complicated decisions to be made.

Thats a new drink

Thats a new drink

I heard someone during the week ask for a “large skimmed, extra wet, extra hot latte”.  What the hell is that I asked the barista once the lady had been served. She told me “I gave her a hot latte”.  I did chuckle but it got me thinking about what it was that the customer was really looking for.

Breaking down the drink, firstly the milk element – All mammals produce milk as a means of nutrition for the young. Around 87% of milk is water. Then it’s made up of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.   Milk for our daily coffees generally comes from cows, although these days a wide choice is available depending on requirement and health. It doesn’t even have to be milk as we know it as alternatives are available. The customer requested skimmed milk. This is done by separating the fat content out by spinning in what’s called a centrifugal separator. The remaining liquid contains an average of only 0.1% fat content once it’s spun through this process. Compare this to whole or full fat milk which contains 3.5% fats.

Latte Stage 2

Second part of the lady’s drink choice – Extra Wet? Ever wondered what this is all about? Wet and Dry are terms describing how much foam is present in the drink and as far as I’m aware only relevant to cappuccinos and introduced by the Americans.

“Wet” has more milk and less foam than a “dry” beverage that will contain pretty much all foam. Extra Wet I am struggling with so assuming she wanted a large cup of hot semi skimmed milk!

Finally, she wanted it extra hot. I can only guess she had a long drive ahead of her and wanted to give the drink to someone else when she arrived! Burnt milk smells bad and tastes bad. To get the best from the espresso the milk really should be at 70 degrees Celsius allowing the proteins and sweetness to enhance the espresso and allow good foam to form for a great end result.

Final stages

The take-away cup was full to over flowing, the lady then added a couple of sugar to it. This I found ironic!  She gave the steaming liquid a stir, put a lid on it, grabbed a sleeve to ensure she did not blister her hand and off she went. Most bizarre!

It’s all subjective and the customer is always right apparently.  I can understand why the barista gave her a latte.  Did the customer know what she wanted or was it the barista knowing the customers needs better?

Whether its Almond, Coconut, Rice, Semi, Full fat, Skimmed, cow, goat or any other mammal! Without milk the world would be without large skimmed, extra wet, extra hot latte’s and without quirky customers keeping the industry alive.

I ordered a cup of tea!

Decaffeinated Single Shot 100 x 8g

Decaffeinated Single Shot 100 x 8g

Pre-ground to espresso consistency and individually wrapped for freshness. These single shots allow you to offer the same speciality range of drinks in decaf form, i.e. cappuccino / latte etc etc. 8gram is the industry standard for a single shot espresso.

Eyes Wide Open – Bean to Cup Machine

Eyes Wide Open – Bean to Cup Machine

The bean to cup coffee machine is not what I would normally be impressed by as I am very much a traditionalist on espresso machines.  I say this mainly because of the many years spent in the coffee industry.  Knowing through experience what a barista has to achieve manually to produce perfect espresso shots.

It takes time and skills for baristas to master their trade and be consistent.  Including an understanding of the origin of the coffees, coffee processes and coffee grind particle size. Plus you also need to include the correct dose, then the correct pressure in tamping the ground coffee level. Flushing group heads is part of their knowledge bases as in the purging of the steam wands. The list goes on with, silently foaming milk to create the perfect texture.  Also the correct techniques when pouring out the milk and serving in the correct sized cup. It also includes needing to know what the traditional machine needs to be doing in terms of water pressure at the correct time of dispense.  Because water temperature and dosing levels are also important to get the best out of the coffee.

In saying all this I have had my eyes opened this week when it comes to bean to cup machines and what they can achieve.

Bean to cup coffee machine knowledge

My initial knowledge of bean to cup coffee machines comes about because of historic experiences with using this type of equipment. Equipment that was known to regular have faults that even the best engineers and coffee technicians couldn’t resolve.  My perception of these old huge chunky machines was they would produce (if you were lucky) a luke warm, tasteless, thin, see-through liquid.  Also lets not forget whilst doing this they were also making horrendous clunking sounds for 45 seconds. Various degrees of nasty tasting coffee would emerge with poor end results had been my experience.  I think you can see why I may have stayed away from them, well that was until now!

This new era of bean to cup coffee machines drew me in with their slick, modern, peaceful noises.  Their new touch pads, fresh beans hopper, eye catching images and a range of drinks winning me over.  It kept shouting “come and try me,” “go on, give me a go.”

I was beckoned it to give it a try

So here I was being beckoned in towards the table top, free standing machine. I gingerly chose the espresso selection icon not expecting too much.  It then scrolled intuitively to a sliding menu offering me a host of drinks. Previously having steered clear of the bean to cup coffee machine I was now wanting to find out more.  So as you could imagine I had to find out more to see if my historic feelings were the same a few years on.

The bright clean lights offered me the option of an espresso. Not only that but a large espressos were an option too.  Or maybe it was a cappuccino I wanted! Or was it an Americano or a hot milk, latte macchiato, café latte or did I just want a hot water!  How can all this be hidden inside such a compact and sleek looking unit I thought.  The only thing protruding was a curved bean hopper that effortlessly blended into the top of the machine. 

This is going to be bad I thought, how can it not.  So I thought lets go with a milky based drink.  This would definitely confirm my previous feelings towards the machines, so I gently ran a finger over the cappuccino icon.

That Doh! moment

The machine screen sprang to life and told me that no cup was present – Doh, as homer would say! How did it know was my next thought, followed by a feeling of stupidity!  I should have known a cup is needed to be able to drink lukewarm, taste-less see through liquid. I was secretly impressed that the machine corrected my error as it could have been disastrous!

So back to pressing my cappuccino icon.  The screen woke again and informed me with a percentage reading that my drink was being made. Here we go I thought and again knowing what the barista must do to produce great milk I was under no illusion this wasn’t going to be good.  As the gentle noise of fresh beans began grinding so did the milk flow.  After a few moments the espresso began its decent into the cup cutting through the airy, shiny, glossy milk which was rising. 30 seconds later the liquid stopped at the top of the cup giving a good-looking foamy drink.  I was stunned!  This is not what I was expecting, however I knew the proof would be in the pudding and it would taste awful and I would be the winner!

Now I admit I was wrong

How wrong was I.  Perfect temperature, smooth light airy creamy textured milk, great mouthful with a good tasting espresso coffee in each sip? This was amazing, so much so I pressed Latte Macchiato to see what this would do.  It layered a drink with steamed milk followed by the espresso and the foamed milk.  I then thought I would press for an espresso and then a hot chocolate and finally an Americano.  The machine effortlessly produced quality drink after quality drink. If I had of had a hat on I would have eaten it!

The new Bean to cup coffee machine is impressive

I went to find the manager and asked how it did all that so smoothly and how it produced the drinks so well.  He admitted he was like I was.  Sceptical on all things bean to cup initially, but laughed as he opened it up proudly and showed me the internals. One fresh bean hopper.  Canisters for granulated milk, hot chocolate and decaf coffee.  Also included was a removable cleaning system for daily rinsing.  A removable brew chamber if ever needed from an engineering requirement and perfect coffee pucks.  Programming options were also included for all the things a barista can do.  These of course were including the dosage, temperature, brew time and grind size. A USB drive was also part of its mechanics to add video and images and blue tooth connectivity for diagnostics. I was silenced!

How wrong could I have been.   Eyes certainly opened wide this week. I am more than pleased that we will be introducing this machine into our estate over the coming weeks with the intention to open everyone’s eyes.  This is impressive so keep your eyes open!

Cup and Saucer CAPPUCCINO

Cup and Saucer CAPPUCCINO

The Royal Genware range is made from the highest quality vitrified porcelain, meaning it fully conforms to British Hotelware Standard BS4034.

The Porcelain glaze gives a white body finish with a classic pure white appearance  to the very best of high standards with a high impact resistance suitable for any occasion of which also resists cutting marks and scratching also ensures strength on vulnerable edges, minimising chipping.

Printed branded cups from your favourite coffee brand provides customers with the complete package when serving their favourite latte or cappuccino.

Available in Red or Black in either 3oz, 9oz or 12oz.