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Cafe Speak
by Maja Tarateta
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 4.1

I'll have a doublegrandeskinnyhalfcafnofoamvanillacaramelmochawithwhippedcream.

We've all been in line at the café and bemoaned the person ahead of us, who sounds more like a code-speaking spy than a coffee consumer. Perhaps a few of us will even admit to our own momentary lapses of reason, which led us to pronounce such Orwellian words ourselves. Even I will confess to (in my younger days, mind you) spouting such nonsense as "doubletallnonfatvanillalatte." But, if you think about it, annoying as the latte lingo may be, it does sound better than saying, "I'd like two espressos -- one caffeinated, one decaffeinated -- poured into an extra-large cup filled with steamed nonfat milk -- hold the foam -- made into a hot chocolate, and mixed with vanilla and caramel syrup. And please top that with a dollop of whipped cream."

Truth is, people who truly know and understand coffee can appreciate the indulgent nature of ordering such a beverage. But these folks might also wonder whether people ordering such concoctions have taken the time to taste some of the simpler -- and perhaps finer - offerings of the coffee world. Coffee industry professionals tend to have much more respect for a perfectly prepared espresso ristretto or beautifully brewed cup of Tanzania Peaberry than a cup that takes a mouthful of mumbojumbo to order. It's much more difficult to hide poor product or preparation in the simple coffee beverages than it is in something so convoluted with flavors and fanfare.

Still, you should know and use a few coffee-related words, and uttering them should not lead to complete alienation from your fellow coffee drinkers standing on the espresso line.

a is for affogato, espresso and ice cream delight,

b is for burnt, which is Starbucks' bean plight.

c is for cappuccino, espresso and steamed milk capped with foam,

d is for demitasse, espresso's small cup that's home.

e is for espresso, a short strong cup of joe,

f is for French, a roast everyone should know.

g is for grind, which must be precise,

h is for hot, take McDonald's advice.

i is for iced, coffee in summertime's heat,

j is for Jamaican, a Blue Mountain treat

k is for kaffeeklatsch, a gathering to discuss life and its ilk,

l is for latte, espresso with lots of steamed milk.

m is for macchiato, espresso "stained" with foam,

n is for nifty, like a machine with a dome.

o is for orgeat, almond sweetens coffee just so,

p is for pressure, needed for extracting espresso.

q is for quaff, done with coffee of a good sort,

r is for ristretto, an espresso extra short.

s is for steam, to make milk into foam,

t is for tea (I know, don't moan).

u is for under-roasted, bitter beans done too light,

v is for (in) vain, like quitting coffee tonight.

w is for water, coffee's most crucial device,

x is for the generation that rejuvenated "coffee vice."

y is for yammer, which is what I've done here today,

z is for zuppa inglese, which goes great with espresso, I must say.

I know I've forgotten some crucial words in my haste, Like lungo -- long espresso -- and crema, for its taste, I hope you'll forgive me and try only to say, "I'll have an espresso -- short," and call it a day.

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