Another Sweeping Generalization

I've been doing some research lately. I've come up with a hypothesis that I'm trying to verify—entirely through anecdotal evidence, which isn't very scientific, I know. However, it's all I've got right now. Here's the hypothesis:

Women baristas make better lattes than men.

I had noticed that sometimes I got really excellent lattes (creamy, smooth, comforting), and other times, they sucked (bitter, sour, scorched, unsatisfying). I thought about who had served me the good ones and who had served me the bad ones, and I came up with a commonality: women were behind the former, and men the latter. I think men tend to overheat the milk (regardless of the kind—whole, skim, soy).

I've been putting this hypothesis to the test, and so far it's holding up. The smoothness of the espresso varies and does not seem to be related to the gender of the barista, but men definitely seem to have their thermostats set permanently on extra-hot, and women lean toward "drinkable now." (This penchant for non-tongue-burning temperatures can be taken to undesirable extremes: I recently got a short decaf latte that could be called lukewarm at best. And yes, I got it from a female barista.)

Because the smoothness of the espresso varies, it's important to get the temperature of the milk just right. Well-steamed milk can even out a bitter shot, and it can make a smooth one sublime—the ultimate comforting beverage. Scorched milk can make even a smooth shot taste icky.

If I come up with further evidence to support my hypothesis, or—as is not entirely unlikely—I become obsessive and start cataloging various short decaf latte experiences in a database, I'll follow up. In the meantime, I'll be smiling whenever I see a chick behind the steamer at Starbucks.

Posted by Lori in food at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2003


I notice the same with Soy Mochas at my local Stinkbucks as well. The guys don't make them as tasty.
I further notice that often I'll get a Mocha and when it's very hot it doesn't taste good at all. It'll be awfully bitter, almost like pure espresso. After it cools a bit it tastes more like hot chocolate with a hint of espresso. I'm not sure if the temperature has something to do with it. Stirring before I drink it to scrape any chocolate syrup off of the bottom of the cup doesn't seem to make a difference either. they usually don't taste very good until they cool down a bit.

fascinating, I know.

Posted by: goalie_jason at April 7, 2003 12:19 PM

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