What Size Cappuccino Would You Like?

March 30, 2010

image During my market research phase of developing Echo Coffee, I explored many of the various coffee shops throughout the greater Phoenix area.  In my travels, I invariably ordered a cappuccino as my “test” drink of choice.  The cappuccino is such a wonderful drink (my personal favorite coffee drink), and how it is made tells a great deal about the shop, the quality of the barista, and the quality of the espresso used within the cappuccino.

A traditional cappuccino has a very exacting recipe composed of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam.  Variations of the cappuccino are typically described as wet or dry, which helps to convey whether you want more or less foam than the traditional recipe calls for.  Accordingly, a 2 ounce double shot of espresso, plus 2 ounces of steamed milk, plus 2 ounces of foam results in a 6 oz cappuccino.  Wet or dry, the total volume is still 6 ounces, but the wet cappuccino has perhaps 3 ounces of milk, with 1 ounce or less of foam (most cappuccinos with latte art would accurately be described as wet).

The good coffee shops in town almost all serve a cappuccino in a ceramic or porcelain cup, and the best shops do so without asking.  Those shops simply assume a cappuccino drinker will want their drink in a “real” cup, fitting with this traditional drink.

So, when I enter a coffee shop to order a cappuccino, and get as a response, “What size would you like?”, I’m immediately confused.  Other than 6 ounces, what size could there possibly be?  Do they serve 3 oz cappuccinos?  Do they serve 9 ounce cappuccinos?  Both would be very odd.  As I stand with a puzzled look on my face, I’m often shown 8 oz, 12 oz, and 16 oz paper cups.  At this point I become reasonably sure that what the barista is planning on making is a latte, and perhaps planning to add some extra foam to the top.  (Thinking about the recipe, contemplate for a moment a 16 oz cappuccino…that’s over 5 ounces of espresso, or a quintuple shot!)

Invariably, I start looking around the shop for real cups, and if I see them, point and say, “the size that comes in that small cup”.  Hopefully I see 6 or 8 ounce cups on top of the espresso machine, which I’m pointing to.  Sadly, those cups are rarely used, but these baristas do seem to perk up a bit when you point them out and they realize they get a chance to use something they almost forget they have in the store.

Getting to the point, I highlight this particular question to provide a bit more insight into Echo Coffee’s trend toward traditionalism.  A cappuccino at Echo Coffee will come in only one size: 6 ounces.  We will be happy to make it wet or dry, although dry will be the standard. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss the Echo Coffee latte.


5 Responses to “What Size Cappuccino Would You Like?”

  1. Chris on March 30th, 2010 11:45 pm

    Right on! I’m in total agreement.

  2. Cheryl on April 6th, 2010 8:00 am

    6 oz seems right ! Looking forward to the opening.

  3. Jon on April 7th, 2010 1:38 pm

    You just earned my business.

  4. Tristan on April 7th, 2010 2:16 pm

    This is good news. My favorite cappuccino in the valley is Lux, but as I live in Tempe, I rarely drive all the way into central Phoenix just for coffee. (Cartel is my second favorite.) South Scottsdale needs a good coffee house. I’m also a mocha fan, so perhaps you could write a similar essay about your mocha intentions.

  5. Luke on April 10th, 2010 11:44 am

    Well said Steve! As I work just down the street from your up-and-coming coffee shop, I look forward to your opening. It sounds like you have a great business philosophy, best of luck with your shop!