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Foam wars

A new coffee place opened not far from my house. Of course I had to go in and check out the lattes. The first one had almost no foam, even though I asked for extra. The second time I went in, I actually had a conversation about foam and what I knew about it (which isn't a lot), and the guy fixing the drink spent quite a bit of time doing what he thought was right to get me extra foam. But in fact it looked good from where I stood at the counter but fizzled before I even got out the door.

Some places make good foam and some don't, and it is fairly consistent. Elaine says it has part to do with the machines they use, that some are just a lot easier to use, to get it working right (she worked at Borders, in the food section, for a while). My suspicion is that this new place doesn't have that kind, and neither do several other places I check out periodically.

This morning I went to one of my regular joints. They hardly ever get the foam right, but sometimes they do. I sipped but didn't pull off the cap until I got to work with my large latte. I was surprised to see quite a bit of foam there, holding up. As I kept drinking, and took out my spoon to scoop some up, I noticed it was looking odd. It had a weird consistency that was more like that of sour milk than of good foam. I think the milk was past its prime. Ultimately I threw the drink out.

Of course, as I write this, I think of how many people in the world have real problems to worry about.

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Judith Lautner
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