Baristas Share Coffee Drink They’ll Never Order

Baristas Share Coffee Drink They'll Never Order

Lattes, which include espresso, steamed milk and a top layer of frothed milk, can be found at countless coffee shops, and many baristas agree that they’re among the “safest” orders you can place at an unfamiliar cafe. A latte “is simple and pretty easy to make. It’s also a popular drink, so the odds are that any barista working in a coffee shop likely makes many of these on a daily basis,” said Jessica Rapuano, barista at Willoughby’s Coffee in Connecticut.

James Benson, co-owner of Progress Coffee in Austin, agrees that lattes are a “reliable” bet at most coffee shops, and that’s exactly why a discerning coffee drinker can “judge a shop by them. You can tell if the espresso is too bitter or smoky most of the time, and you can also tell if they made a mistake steaming the milk.”

But while a standard-issue latte is a good benchmark of a cafe’s overall quality and an easy “old faithful” drink to keep in your back pocket, the rise of flavored and infused lattes isn’t a favorite trend of many baristas. “Fancy lattes will always be flashes in the pan because they are niche and more focused on visual appeal than flavor,” said Reuben Villagomez, owner and head roaster of Paloma Coffee and Bakery in Brooklyn.

Prime examples of flavored espresso drinks that don’t necessarily make the most of their core ingredient are holiday — and season-themed lattes (like Starbucks’ famous, or infamous, Pumpkin Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha). Chuck Wylie, general manager of Jo’s Red River in Austin, told us that he never orders these drinks because “the recipes are too sweet. I don’t like to ask for ‘less sweet’ or other modifications because the [original] recipe is how the drink is meant to taste. But I want to taste the coffee, not the sugar!” 

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