Sep 18, 2009

In search of the perfect caffèlatte

There are rumors in Budapest that this blog is powered by Unicum. That is only occasionally true. For the most part, inspiration comes from steady, massive doses of caffeine, administered in a variety of ways as teas or coffee, most especially caffèlatte. If I'm feeling ambitious I might do a nice cezve of Turkish coffee, but my comfort drink is the latte, with strong coffee made in my French press. My espresso machine and steamer died long ago (worn out), and I prefer the greater control that the press gives me over the quality of the brew. For quite a while after the steamer got tossed out I used an electric whisk to foam the milk to varying degrees of stiffness until I discovered the pleasures of milk foam prepared in a ceramic frother for hot chocolate that I bought under the mistaken impression that it was another version of a French press. There are apparently milk frothers widely available for this very purpose, and foam prepared in this manner has superior stability and texture. Foamed hot chocolate milk in combination with coffee so strong you can stand a spoon in it is definitely the thing to keep one charged up for a long evening of patent translation. And usually the preparations are topped with a grind of spices obtained from our local Viennese coffee house.

I find that the rituals in our office for preparing teas and coffees, with each of us relieving the other under pressure with a fresh cup of a favorite brew, provide a bit of needed sanity and friendly communication on days when it's hard to speak two sentences before the phone rings.


  1. I too love my milk frother, but I use mine to make cafe au lait in my big Waechtersbach mugs. Nothing beats a good cup of coffee to get the little grey cells firing.

  2. Numerous studies show that caffeine in the right doses is an enhancer of performance and mood. This one, for example. It also includes an interesting data table to show how wired the average person is in various countries.

  3. On the rare occasion that my wife prepares me a latte, she delights in telling me how she warmed and frothed the milk by vigorously gargling it and spitting it at high pressure into the cup.

  4. Confessions of a pleb: I let machines do things to my cappuccino that I would never let them do to my texts - I use a Tassimo machine.
    The content may be rather non-PC, but I particularly enjoy it when I drink it in a mug I bought from Poole Pottery in England with the inscription:

    Happy to be a hard working, tax man persecuted, buck stops here, "what's 9 till 5?" Self Employed Person


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