Adventures of a Part Time Barista

Episode 3: Some Like it Too Hot

There’s a certain type of coffee-drinker us baristas loathe to encounter above all else.

“I want a latte, one-hundred and ninety degrees, please.”

I’m not sure exactly what it is about 190 degrees, but that seems to be the magic number. Sometimes you’ll get someone make a general request, like “it’s for my kid, so like, ninety degrees. Not hot,” or “Can you make that extra hot please?” And if you want your latte cooler for your kid, or so you can drink right away, or you’re just used to the heat and like it extra hot, fine. But if you’re one of those people, or know one of those people, who ask precisely for a one hundred and ninety degree latte, I have a little secret for you.

That coffee you got was probably one seventy.

The little thermometers we have behind the counter only go up that far. There’s actually a little red bar under the number 170. Little red bars usually mean bad things.

One hundred and ninety degrees, for instance, is how hot McDonald’s coffees used to be. And they got sued because when people spilled those coffees it was hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

And if you’re asking for a latte or anything involving steamed milk, well, to quote a friend of mine, “milk explodes at two hundred degrees.”

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