As most of you will know by now I'm a skinny cap girl.
I love my milk smooth and creamy, I never take sugar, but I sure do like that little touch of chocolatey sweetness on the top, hence why I've always had a preference for cappuccino over a latte.
Figure 1: a fine example of a Melbourne Skinny Cap
Chapel Street, circa January 2008
Exceptions to this rule occurred in Seattle where I discovered cappuccino means half a cup of over-boiled milk with washing-up foam on top. Thankfully due to the obliging self-service nature of the chocolate sprinkles in most establishments, I found I could ask for a latte for the perfect milk consistency and self-serve my own chocolatey goodness. Result!
You can't imagine the relief of this discovery, visiting Seattle was practically a pilgrimage for little ol' Anibucks. In my former years, many an hour had been wiled away sitting in the cosy armchairs of that famous Seattle-born coffee house overlooking Edinburgh castle. Four years in Perth having to sit on the flimsy Parisian style cafe chairs of Dome cafes - the closest thing Perth had to a 'bucks - had left me reminiscing and glassy eyed at the prospect of visiting the motherland.
Anyhoo, the one thing that never changes about my cap is the "skinny" part.
So just now, when I got my skinny cap and the chap before me got a regular latte. Why was the milk poured from the same jug?
I even asked the lady what milk she used and she replied "you asked for skinny, yeah?". Very clever answer Mrs Politician Lady. Clarify what I asked for not what you gave me. I see your game.
It's all in the ordering.
Ask the right questions, use the right phrase and you'll land the magic word that gets you what you're after. "Skinny" might work in most places, "non-fat" might in others, or it might just get you a quizzical look.
The coffee shop downstairs from my old work in Perth even had it's very own codes. After months of asking for my usual skinny cap, I was served by a new guy who unwittingly asked me "is that hi-lo or blue-cap?"
See in that particular cafe, "skinny" meant Hi-Lo - otherwise known as "semi-skimmed" for the Brits, what would that be for the Americans - 1%/2%? - and if you wanted actual skinny, non-fat, milk you needed to ask for "blue cap" because that's the colour of the lids on the bottles their non-fat milk used to come in.
Which incidentally is a whole other thing. In the UK red meant skimmed... eek I can't even remember what semi-skimmed and full fat were... were they blue and green? Anyways, in Oz it's not as standardised so to add to the confusion the "blue cap" milk this cafe now used was actually poured out of a bottle with a YELLOW lid. Go figure.
I'd been ordering the wrong thing all those months but I sure did feel very daft when I upgraded to ask for a "blue cap cap".
It wasn't all Dome and blue cap caps in Perth, there were some fabulous gems of coffee shops, and of course Melbourne too sure knows how to make a decent cup of coffee - in fact, they're famous for their laneways and cafe culture don't doubt it's half the reason we moved here. But despite the fantasticness of the coffee and the creativity of the latte art, Ani wants some standards. I need to know what to ask for and what I'm going to get.
I'm a simple minded lass and don't forget most of these transactions occur before I've had my coffee, the brain's not in gear yet.