Frank Chen

Frank Chen

find the way you like things even if it involves modifications

I like good coffee. Most people do.

I started off as a guy who liked the black stuff - espressos, double-shot espressos, and Americanos (espressos + water). Over time, I've found the pure espresso to be a bit too sour for me. As my tastes moved toward the "darker is better" side, Americanos became too diluted. I found myself ordering "Americanos with less water", and even that was too light.

A 12-ounce cup is usually the standard, but I always asked for 6 ounces. A shot of espresso comes out to around 1 ounce, so a 1 ounce to 5 ounce coffee/water ratio would be much better than a 1 ounce to 11 ounce ratio. If it was a double shot diluted to 6-8 ounces, that brings the coffee water ratio to 1:3 or 1:2, which is even better. But because coffee places are generally inconsistent as to how many shots an espresso drink contains, it's a pain in the ass to ask and do all the math. Americanos with less water also trend towards being a bit too sour, so really, I was back to square one.

One of the ways to quench the "sourness" from espresso is to smooth things over with milk. Of course, adding enough water, like in the case of an Americano, works to reduce sourness too, but again, dilution results in less "coffee".

The answer then, is to get a traditional Italian macchiato, which is non-diluted espresso with just the tiniest amount of frothed milk. The milk serves to smooth things out. Contrast that with a latte, which basically replaces the water of an Americano with milk - not what I'm looking for. When I ask for a macchiato, many baristas confirm that it's the traditional one I'm talking about, not the bastardized "macchiato" that Starbucks makes (a sugary delicious bomb in its own right).

So, the macchiato has served my purpose for quite some time, but drink something long enough, and I will find something wrong with it. This time around, it wasn't a characteristic of the coffee that wasn't to my liking, it was just that I wanted more. So really, being a glutton was the problem.

Macchiatos were too small. They were a grand whopping total of 4 ounces, and I was too impatient to wait until tomorrow just so I could have another coffee. So, I did what most others do. I went for more. This is something unheard of, at least for myself. Usually, I have much better self-control.

I had this thought about a week ago, and well, I acted on it. I marched straight back to the barista and asked if I could have another. Amy ordered the first round, so I was sure I was not going to be identified. But the first words out of the barista were "oh you're back for more? I'm so glad you liked it!"

I laughed awkwardly, paid, and whisked my second coffee away, nearly spilling it as I half-powerwalked back to my seat in an effort to hide the flush in my cheeks.

Of course, after downing my second coffee, I had more to say. I was talking my mouth off to Amy since my brain was moving at the speed of light and my palms were sweating bullets because I was probably in full cardiac arrest under the influence of FOUR shots of espresso.

"You know Amy, it could've been in one cup."

So after all of my qualms, I think I've come up with the perfect solution which balances all the issues of volume, prominent coffee taste, optimal milk amount, excessive containers, and enjoyment value.

The next time I order my macchiato:

  1. I'm going to order two macchiatos, ensuring that each macchiato consists of a double shot. This preserves the intensity of coffee flavor.
  2. For one of the two macchiatos, I'll ask for decaf, which fixes the caffeine problem. This means two caffeinated shots and two decaffeinated shots.
  3. Macchiatos naturally only have a dab of milk foam, so two dabs of milk foam still keeps the milk volume low. If one macchiato tastes great, doubling the ingredients should be no problem right? This isn't baking.
  4. Asking for two macchiatos in one cup means I save on a cup. I'm saving the Earth.
  5. On average, a macchiato is about 4 ounces. This means in the end, I get around 4 ounces of espresso to 4 ounces of milk foam which puts me at a coffee/milk ratio of 1:1. That means for every ounce of coffee there is an ounce of milk or whatever. Awesome. You can't lose with a 1:1 ratio.
  6. I don't have to wait anymore for the next day to enjoy another coffee. I can have it now.

The only con? Baristas will probably hate the hell out of me. "Sir, why not just get a cortado or a flat white?" to which I will respond with my points above, in a very pedantic, nerd-explanatory voice in which they will oblige to just so they can move on with their life.

Also, this smashes my wallet pretty nicely. This "super macchiato" shoots the cost into the $6-9 range, depending on location, tax, and tip. But man, it's gonna be great. Don't be afraid to fucking get what you want. Customize your life.

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