Coffee troubles

It's getting hot out, and you know what that means? Time to order iced coffee drinks from the local barista. Sadly though, the state of coffee ordering has gotten so complex for me that the addition of "iced" seems to throw my whole order into doubt. I switched to decaf ages ago. I used to order soy milk, now I usually get cow's milk, but never skim. And I mostly order small drinks, though sometimes medium. And I never know in what order to place all the different variables. Today I tried for "small decaf iced latte" and when the women said something about milk, I assumed she asked if I wanted whole milk, so I said yes. Two seconds later, I was served an iced coffee.

"Oh, sorry. I wanted a latte," I said, "An decaf latte."

It seemed to be corrected and one women went to make it while the other began to ring me up.

"Iced medium latte," she said.

Apparently at this coffee shop, latte = coffee and decaf = medium. Or maybe I was just mumbly? I'm not anymore, now I'm all ZIPPY! From what seems to be a medium NOT DECAF iced latte!!

15 thoughts on “Coffee troubles

  1. Not to add to your troubles, but FYI: “Starbucks Corp. said Thursday (5/31/07) it will replace whole milk with 2 percent for espresso drinks in all of its U.S. and Canadian stores by the end of the year. Drinks in North America will soon be made by default with the lower-fat milk, but customers can still request their cappuccino with whole milk, the company said.”

  2. My trick for getting the right iced beverage is to simply order the base beverage and worry about adding milk/sugar after the fact. I’m a cappuccino drinker in the cold months and the typical iced latte has far too much milk for my liking.
    My summer order is a “triple over ice.” Some places also call this an iced no-water Americano, but that has too much flowery language for me.
    Triple (espresso) over ice. Clear, cute, and concise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Actually, this situation makes me yearn for Starbucks, because they do have an order in which you specify all the components of your drink. But I prefer to frequent the two non-chain local coffeehouses in my neighborhood, and that’s where all this confusion seems to be happening.
    But thinking about it now, I think Starbucks makes you say “Decaf” before the size. E.g. a “Decaf grande soy latte.” Ah, here’s some information on How to Be an Excellent Starbucks Customer. Looks like it should be “Iced decaf tall latte.”
    Perhaps I’ll try ordering in Starbucks fashion at non-Starbucks and see if that works better. What I really need to do is buy a better machine and make my own at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Yeah, at Starbucks “decaf” always comes first… except now they’re finally accepting “iced” as the first modifier. That was a policy change a few months ago, and thank god. (It never made any sense to me to say “decaf” before “iced”, because if the barista was writing it down, she wouldn’t know on which cup to write it on! For this reason I think cup size should also come before “decaf”, but I’m still waiting for Starbucks to catch up with my practical brilliance on that one. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My favorite SB drinks:
    Decaf short latte (easiest)
    Decaf double tall 2% latte (medium difficulty)
    Decaf triple grande 2% 1 pump mocha latte OR
    Iced decaf triple grande 2% 1 pump mocha latte (almost no one gets this right — I usually end up with skim or whole milk and two pumps of mocha, which is too sweet for me).
    I’m busy trying to memorize the ordering style at a local cafe that brews some reliably awesome espresso. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Apropos of not much, I had lunch with a friend yesterday who had just finished reading the galley for How Starbucks Saved My Life, by a former J. Walter Thompson executive who lost his job and his family (cheated on his wife) and, as a broke, despairing, “old, opinionated white guy”, was offered a job as a barista at the Starbucks on 93rd and Broadway. He took it, and it was the best job he’d ever had. Gave him a sense of purpose, introduced him different people, a new perspective of life, etc….
    I think it really saved his life, though, because some studio snatched up the movie rights, with Tom Hanks to star.
    By the way, author Michael Gates Gill happens to be the son of former New Yorker critic Brendan Gill. AND happens to be the uncle of a childhood friend of mine.
    Maybe he can get me a job?

  6. I haven’t been to SB in ages actually… we have a lot more Dunkin’ Donuts in my area. My favorite cold-weather drink from DD is, I suppose, a creation of my own- half cocoa and half black coffee.
    The idiots still always ask me if I want cream and sugar in it. And I always have to repeat the order at least twice before they ask this.
    What does a BLACK coffee consist of nowadays, besides coffee? And how hard is it to press the little hot chocolate button and dispense it into a cup of BLACK coffee?

  7. I live in the far east side of the world, Indonesia.
    My journey switched a long time ago from drinking lattes to making lattes and recently hovering around to find the greatest beanmaker that local people can afford to buy.
    Though I’m a vegetarian. Decafs are not for me, neither do non-fats/skim milk. Making the coffee is part of my morning ritual after my yoga+meditation.
    The best part is, that very coffeebean that I now purchase on a regular basis cost about US$6/kg. My journey has just begun.

  8. I completely agree. After too many disapointments to count, I’ve resorted to ordering an iced coffee with room for milk and just add it myself. It saves me the headache and at long last, I’m in control again at the coffee shop!

  9. I don’t know if it’s just because English is not my native language, but whenever I ordered my Tall Soy Iced Latte I got something really strange… the worst for me was a kind of vanilla Tea Latte which made me want to puke.
    After I started to order it as “Iced Tall Soy Latte” I’ve never got myself into trouble.
    (I never order decaf so I wouldn’t know if decaf is a higher order modifier as Lori described above)
    But, well, I have been cheap and not wanting to spend the extra 35 cents for soy lately. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Although officially Starbucks does have a protocol for drink order placement, and a training manual on how to prepare said ordered drinks, the 3 SB here in Santa Fe (not including the SB counters in the Alberstons grocery stores) all take and make drinks differently.
    I am a fan of the Iced Venti Americano. But at the 2 stores most convenient to me they consistently make it with too much ice (approx 6 ounces of liquid in my 24 oz cup). So I’ve started changing my order to an Iced Venti Quad NF Latte. It’s about $2 more per beverage and I’ve finally decided I’m not going to take it anymore.
    Now if only I could figure out a polite way to ask for the beverage to be made properly: aka, how it says in the manual…

  11. I’m not embarrassed to say that the new iced coffee drinks at McDonald’s are very good (and cheap).
    But don’t get hazelnut, it sucks.

  12. Ok, so as a current Barista myself, I have found that as long as I am paying attention to the customer, and remember to ask if I think I hear something wrong, I never get an order wrong. I think it is more about paying attention to the customer and the customer being clear than the order of things.
    A half black coffee and half hot chocolate, at least where I work, is called an Au Chocolate. However, I am sure that varies from location to location.

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