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6:54pm on Sunday, 15th August, 2010:

A Latte to Remember


While I was entirely and annoyingly wasting my precious Sunday afternoon today, I visited Costa Coffee in Newmarket and ordered a takeaway latte. Here's what the barista did:

She poured the dregs out of a milk jug into the steaming jug, which may or may not already have had something in it. She then put a new milk carton in the milk jug and opened it, squirting milk out. She left it where it landed and proceeded to pour from the milk jug into the steaming jug. Some more milk slopped out, but she left that too. She put the steaming rod into the steaming jug and turned it on.

Next, she got the coffee scoop from the espresso machine, splashing a couple of drops of coffee on her blouse in the process. She took the scoop to the crusty emptying bin and bashed out its previous contents, then placed it vaguely under the grounds dispenser. She gave it a couple of doses of grounds, most of which went into the scoop, then put the result under the flattener to press it. When she took it out of the flattener, she brushed some excess grounds off with her finger. She placed the scoop with the coffee in it into the slot above a two-spout dispenser and switched it on.

At this point, she noticed that the heavily coffee-stained espresso cup underneath one of the two spouts had some old coffee in it from the last time someone ordered a drink that needed a shot of coffee in it. She pulled it away just as the coffee started to flow from the spouts, tipped most of what was inside it out, and replaced it to collect the freshly-brewed coffee. Coffee was flowing out of both spouts; on one side it went into the espresso cup and on the other it went everywhere. There was probably a drain built into the espresso machine picking it up.

The barista noticed that the milk was boiling like crazy, and switched off the steamer. She poured the froth into my waiting cardboard cup. Pleasingly, none of it went elsewhere this time. She then removed the espresso cup and tipped its contents, plus whatever bits and pieces it picked up from the stains on the side, into my cup on top of the milk. Not all of it made it: some dribbled down the espresso cup and out onto the work surface. She topped my drink off with some more steamed milk, cleaned the steamer with one of those J-cloths which, to be fair, never look at all clean, and then she took a plastic lid for my cup, snapped it on, and handed me the result.

All that for £2.05. The worrying thing is, when I drank it the coffee actually tasted pretty damned good.

Referenced by Another Latte to Remember.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).