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Americano: Apparently Big is Better with Coffee Too
Americans drink a lot of coffee, as do Europeans and South Americans and Middle Easterners. However, the American manta of "the bigger the better" applies to coffee as well. A small - sorry, tall - coffee in Starbucks is roughly the size of the child's sand pail. Again, it's not quality, but quantity that matters in the US. Coffee in Europe for example is served in much smaller cups, but the quality is much higher in general. You can actually taste the coffee and it does wake you up. Most coffees served in the US (e.g. Americano) only wake you up by sending you to the bathroom every 5 minutes.
Starbucks has made inroads in Europe as well, where hipsters partake in massive servings of weak coffee with rabid affection. Most manage to drink the servings over a few hours of sitting in the coffee shop. Luckily Europeans still take the time to sit, read and talk whilst drinking coffee, as opposed to Americans who insist on gulping down their bucket sized servings in their cars and just managing to find a cup holder not already used for holding sugary pop. If no cup holder is open, no problem. Just drive with one hand and gulp away.
Coffee in the US is not meant to be enjoyed, it is meant to be gulped in huge quantities. In Europe a bucket of weak, burnt coffee at Starbucks costs almost $7, when a cup of quality espresso or cappuccino at a normal everyday local café costs a fraction of that. Of course, Starbucks is the new thing now for hipsters in Europe who are willing to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for what has been successfully been branded as being "good" and trendy. It remains to be seen how long this fad will last, but I don't expect much. There are also various copy-cat Starbucks type coffee shops all over Europe, serving sugary and massive doses of so-called coffee. I've found that local small pastry shops in Europe have great coffee, and you can drink it standing up, and it won't make you need to pee constantly.
American coffee has the added snag of being pumped full of sugar and cream and sprinkles etc. Its just a matter of time before you'll be able to get hamburger flavored coffee, combining the wonders of breakfast and lunch.
A great way to get small doses of great European style coffee in your own home is to buy a quality machine such as the ones made by Nespresso. This company was the first to come up with a system to package coffee in small capsules which you put into the machine and which then makes you a quality cup. You can even prepare cappuccinos and lattes. This is a much better investment than pretentiously ordering a "tall", "grande", or "venti" at Starbucks. Using exotic names for coffee sizes will not make the contents taste any better.
Nespresso machines & capsules - Perfect Espresso
American coffee culture has virtually been taken over by Starbucks. It's sad that in a country that prided itself on having choices and small businesses etc., that many areas of business are becoming more and more centralized by just a few massive corporations: Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Chase Manhattan, Bank of America, Simon Malls, Starbucks etc. Small start-ups don't have much of a chance in any sector besides perhaps IT. But I digress.
Getting huge doses of fatty coffee does not help the obesity situation in this country either. Sure, they have supposedly healthy fruit smoothies, bagels, sandwiches and water at grossly inflated prices, but lets face it, they make their money off of coffee, and the accessories that you can pick up. Just taking a look at the mugs they sell will show you what Starbucks considers a normal dose of coffee. The bigger the mug you buy, the more coffee you're going to fill it up with, and the more money they make. Nobody buys a massive bucket of a mug and fills it halfway. No: we have to fill the mugs to the top.
Even when I've asked for room for cream in a regular roast coffee it is almost filled to the brim.
What I am suggesting is that smaller doses of better quality goes a lot further than huge buckets of swill. This is also true for restaurant serving sizes of food. American have become used to eating huge portions. European give much smaller portions but that doesn't mean its not enough.