A dear friend of mine who has lived in Paris for years recently moved to Australia. Her Facebook status this morning bemoaned the state of Australian espresso: “I think I’ll have to become a latté girl for the time being!” I know that, given time, she’ll be a permanent convert. I’m a latté girl, through and through, and there’s nothing like a well-made latté to get me out of bed like a lightning bolt. My routine is well-established and I could almost do it with my eyes closed. Wait — I practically do, because it isn’t until that latté is touching my lips that I really wake up.
I have it down to a fine art. Fair trade organic coffee beans go into the grinder. Cold water fills the bottom of my stove-top espresso maker. Freshly ground coffee gets tamped down carefully. On goes the gas stove. Meanwhile, I heat milk over low heat. Out comes the most amazing kitchen gadget that I own: my battery-operated milk frother.
Now, it deserves a quick aside. I bought this milk frother when I first moved from Toronto to this small town where I now live. I was city-sick and lonely, and found my consolation in the surprisingly excellent coffee shop on the main street. Unfortunately, it was not financially responsible to spend my days slurping down their $3.50 lattés, so I invested in the necessary equipment to do them myself; hence, the milk frother. Sadly, it got lost when we moved from a cottage into a rental house. I searched for months, but it never appeared. When we moved again, eight months later, it turned up in a box of dried lasagna noodles, where I’d safely stowed it for the first move. Serves me right for not making lasagna during those eight months…
Then I froth the milk. Interestingly, the lower the fat content of milk, the better foam it makes, so 1% and 2% is ideal. Milk gets set aside while I pour steaming espresso into half the mug. In goes the hot milk, topped by billowy foam. Usually the hot milky coffee creeps up the sides, tinging the edges of the foam, and it looks very professional. (Can you tell I’m slightly obsessed with my lattés?)
Lattés satisfy me for a number of reasons. They’re substantial enough to fill a mug, warm my hands, last long enough to enjoy thoroughly — not like a tantalizing gulp of sweet, hot espresso that’s gone in a flash. And yet a latté is made with strong enough coffee to taste real, not insipid and watery like drip-style coffee (“weasel pee,” as my husband calls it).
I limit myself to one a day. Since I’m still breastfeeding, it doesn’t seem to affect the baby anymore and it keeps the ritual special. I’ll be a latté girl forever.