Friday, January 06, 2006

The Starbucks Short Cappucino

Slate provides us the froth on how to have a good Cappucino at Starbucks, everyone's favorite caffeine pusher

The secret - order a "short cappucino" - 8 ounces tall. Apparently,

The World Barista Championship rules, for example, define a traditional cappuccino as a "five- to six-ounce beverage." This is also the size of cappuccino served by many continental cafés. Within reason, the shorter the cappuccino, the better.

The problem with large cappuccinos is that it's impossible to make the fine-bubbled milk froth ("microfoam," in the lingo) in large quantities, no matter how skilled the barista.

Slate goes on to explain the reason for the under-the-radar visibility of the short cappucino, despite it's better taste. Lower price, lower margins on the short cappucino mean the store would rather sell the more 'visible' tall/grande/venti sizes. Giving even more insight in price fixing, the article explains,

"The more market power firms have, the less attractive they make the cheaper products."
The Starbucks fix is addictive, and costly, but only if you're thinking about the price. My favorite Starbucks coffee is the Starbucks misto, better known as the cafe au lait a tall shot of espresso and steamed milk, another item not on the menu that's divine. My wife can't do without her fix of extra-hot Tazo chai - almost the taste of masala chai, desi-style. When I was in China, we searched out avidly for branches of Xing Ba Ke, the Chinese version of Starbucks. Now, one drives 5-6 miles every other day to use the closest Starbucks drive-through.

Such is post-modern price-blind life.

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