Starbucks

Starbucks has gifted to the world an abomination, much like Frankenstein's monster, the coffee giant announced a new beverage this week and christened it the latte macchiato.

When the press release explaining how baristas are going to craft these monstrosities across America, my immediate reaction was essentially the Stephen Colbert GIF you see below. 

Starbucks describes the Latte Macchiato in the press release as "steamed whole milk that is perfectly aerated and free-poured creating dense foam reminiscent of meringue. The beverage is then marked by slowly-poured full espresso shots, creating a signature espresso dot."

I was still pretty skeptical.

I will admit to being pretty snobby about coffee. I like medium and dark roasts with chocolate-y notes brewed in my French press or from a Chemex. But, I am not above getting a latte at Starbucks. 

To make sure I checked myself before I wrecked myself, I spoke with a couple of Dallas baristas about the legitimacy of the latte macchiato. 

Valorie Clark, creator of Where Should I Coffee and a former barista at Method Coffee, said the latte macchiato sounded like the macchiato Starbucks has always served.

Starbucks

The thing is, the macchiato that Starbucks has had on their menu for years is not a traditional macchiato. It is far too big. The entire beverage should be 3 to 4 ounces, milk, espresso and all.

The traditional macchiato is an espresso served with a small amount of foamed milk. 

"Starbucks could rationalize serving a 14-ounce 'macchiato' by saying its milk is marked with 2-ounces of espresso, but it's not a traditional macchiato, not in the specialty coffee sense," Clark said.

Starbucks is right though, macchiato in Italian means spotted or marked and it should have some sort of dot of espresso on top of the foam.

Will Riggs, the general manager of Davis Street Espresso in Oak Cliff, was confused when presented with the diagram of the different Starbucks offerings.

"It was the largest on the diagram and it should have been the second smallest and the smallest of the milk-based drinks," Riggs said.

By the time I got to Starbucks to try to latte macchiato, I was worried. I built up the delusion that I would get there and the barista would tell me that I couldn't order a 16-ounce grande and would give me an appropriately sized drink.

They happily served me a grande latte macchiato. When I pressed the barista about what a latte macchiato exactly is, they looked annoyed and dutifully recited some of the language from the press release. 

"Steamed milk with the espresso shots poured on top, so it is marked."

They admitted it sounded a lot like an upside down latte.

My first sip of the latte macchiato was all warm milk. There was no balance. No rich espresso taste on the tip of my tongue. Eventually I found the coffee flavor, but compared to the macchiatos I've had a specialty coffee shops or in Europe, this was heavy. It was not rich nor decadent.

So the latte macchiato can be chalked up to another attempt to make up a new drink and brand it.

Are Dallas speciality coffee shops worried? No. 

Riggs, from Davis Street Espresso, sees great value in what Starbucks does. He said that the company continues to drive coffee culture in the United States. Ultimately, Riggs said, whenever Starbucks rolls out a new drink, more customers come to specialty shops looking for a deeper coffee education. 

"Starbucks pushes people to want more out of their coffee," Riggs said.

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