Getting a latte used to be special. Watching the barista tap the espresso and steam the milk was truly exciting. Going out for espresso was not a daily occurrence so it actually meant something–back when lattes were occasional. In recent times, especially since the mid-’90s, Americans have taken to espresso drinks like flies to poop. Not only are gourmet coffee shops commonplace these days, espresso-flavored products (in every conceivable form) have popped up on store shelves everywhere. Here are eight reasons why coffee has become a whore.
1) Convenient Espresso
It appears that the cappuccino machine has replaced the slushy machine at the neighborhood convenience store. But there are few things worse than one of those nasty “cappuccinos” that gets dispensed by these kinds of automatic espresso machines (think chemicals). These machines often come emblazoned with fancy Italian names such as “Vivante” or “Café Presto.” You and I both know that most Italians would laugh their ass off if they walked into a store and saw one of these shiny things perched on the counter. Leave it up to Americans to completely dumb down a classic Italian beverage. Stick with a Slurpee.
2) Mickey D’s for Espresso?
You know coffee has become a whore when fast-food places like McDonald’s start pitching espresso drinks. The recently conceptualized McCafe (I know you have seen those incredibly annoying commercials) greatly adds to the dumbing down of coffee drinks. Essentially, McDonald’s has placed espresso stands in many of its restaurants, in hopes of getting people to have an iced latte with their double cheeseburger. It remains to be seen if this concept will work–milkshakes (fake ones, at that) are still the preferred drink when it comes to burgers and fries at Mickey D’s. But you never know–stranger things have happened in the restaurant industry.
3) Not Another Roadside Espresso Stand
Roadside espresso stands have become ubiquitous in the new millennium–littering our boulevards with a hodgepodge of little huts and shacks. The only problem here is that most of these places are highly inconsistent. Some of the worse espresso drinks I’ve ever had have come from these drive-thru shops. At least the larger coffee chains have strict employee guidelines for cleaning the equipment and properly steaming milk. It’s important that espresso machines are cleaned frequently–lest the coffee tends to taste like an old gym sock steeped in water. And overly steamed milk makes for a bitter latte, as well. This is what you usually get at these roadside places.
4) The Invasion of the Mermaid
Haven’t you heard: Starbucks has plans to take over the earth. This corporate coffee chain–with its highly recognizable mermaid logo–is just about everywhere these days. In other words, Starbucks coffee shops have become as common as Taco Bells (if not more) in recent years. This Seattle-based company (its flagship store is still in the Pike Place Market) has enjoyed a major growth spurt in the past decade. It doesn’t matter that Starbucks recently closed 600 stores because the company still has more than 15,000 stores in 44 countries. And with numbers like these, espresso drinks are no longer special anymore–just something that the company hopes you will drink everyday.
5) Coffee-flavored Tea?
There are few things in this world less ridiculous than the idea of coffee-flavored tea. But
you can find such a silly product on the shelves at many grocery stores and specialty food shops these days. Coffee-flavored this and coffee-flavored that seems to be a marketing trend with some staying power, though, as evidenced by the profusion of items available. Coffee has been infused into a plethora of products, including syrup, cake mixes, candy, and even beer. And as for flavored coffee itself, everyone seems to be jumping on the java bandwagon–even the crew of Discovery’s “The Deadliest Catch” makes a line of flavored coffee called “The Deadliest Brew.” What? Crab and salt water-flavored coffee? Yuck!
6) Take Me Out to the Ballpark
It used to be when you went to a professional baseball game that hot dogs, peanuts, and beer were the orders of the day. All this has changed in recent years, with many ballparks now serving sushi, prime rib sandwiches, and pizza. And let’s not forget those stinky garlic fries. Espresso drinks are another recent trend at Major League Baseball parks, especially at places like Safeco Field in Seattle. (Maybe all that coffee can keep the Mariners’ pitching staff awake past the seventh inning!) Not that an iced latte is a bad idea at a baseball game, but an ice-cold beer sounds much better, especially with salty peanuts.
7) Instant Coffee Sucks
I’m a coffee purist. So, I definitely don’t like just-add-water coffee that comes in those cute, little packets. You know what I’m talking about: hazelnut-flavored cappuccino, vanilla-flavored mocha, crème caramel cappuccino, etc… These instant coffee drinks don’t taste anything like coffee; instead they are redolent of artificial flavorings, sickly sweet corn syrup, coconut oil, and preservatives. But for some unexplainable reason people keep buying this crap, so the corporate hogs keep on inventing new and disgusting flavors. Enough already.
8) Corndogs and Cappuccinos
Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t rip on the idea of espresso drinks being served at state fairs all across this great land. Most state fairs now have strategically placed espresso stands–right next to the corndogs and funnel cakes. There’s nothing scarier than some mullet-head all junked out on a quadruple shot of espresso, except for maybe a mullet-head all junked out on meth. Yikes! It’s the less of two evils. I prefer to wash down my Pronto Pup with lemonade. Thank you very much.
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