As the new year rolled around I thought I would stop drinking coffee, or rather, espresso—more specifically, my Triple Venti Peppermint Soy Caramel Drizzle Macchiato-style Latte, which I want to officially label as the Tony Macchiato. I first stumbled onto this drink the morning after my wife and I celebrated Christmas 2007 with the staff from a previous employer at a hotel in downtown Vancouver.
Starting from its humble beginnings as merely a Caramel Macchiato with peppermint syrup instead of vanilla, the drink evolved over the last year and a bit into its current incarnation. I have my barista friends, and even Starbucks itself, to thank for that.
For the last five years, I predictably ordered a Venti Six-Pump Toffee-Nut Long Americano every time I set foot in a store behind the green logo featuring a mermaid in a circle. My only deviation from the norm was during the summer, when I learned the iced version was 10 cents more expensive than a quad-shot long espresso, on which the drink was built. (Note: purists assure me that a Venti Americano is supposed to have five espresso shots, but most of the time they only give me four anyway).
However, once I stumbled upon this new pepperminty/caramelly/soyee espressoy beverage, it became my drink of choice. I even started making them at home.
Stirred, Not Shaken
One of the baristas suggested adding a third shot to compensate for the additional soy in a venti cup over a grande. I immediately fell in love with the boldness the extra shot offered. Sometimes a barista even offers to throw in the fourth shot that would normally be discarded anyway, giving it a double dose of boldness.
Regardless of the number of shots, the only way to enjoy this beverage is to stir it with a venti straw, and lick the foam off the straw before even sipping the drink. Like that scene from Tanpopo: look longingly at the caramel mesh as you slowly blend it with the foam, sensuously mingling the flavours into a divinely exhilarating experience. Caress the straw gently and enjoy the candy bar taste of the caramel exploding in your mouth. That sort of thing.
Membership Has Its Privileges?
When Starbucks introduced registered cardholder benefits, of which the free addition of syrup and soy milk into beverages is the easiest to quantify, I was in a quandry. When I paid with my registered card, I’d lose the free syrup benefit, as it was already included in the price of a caramel macchiato.
To further complicate matters, Starbucks still must charge for specific syrups like cinnamon dolce, white mocha, and caramel sauce. However, this requirement is not usually enforced, as baristas are rather ticked with HQ for closing so many stores in the US, and for hiring management from outside the ranks of current sbux employees.
Bad, bad, bad PR Mr. Schultz. This reeks worse than the breakfast sandwich. When your staff turn against you, all you have is your product, which is only part of the concept, but not the central idea. People don’t visit Starbucks for the product, but rather the ambience of an environment rich in coffee knowledge. But I won’t go there in this post.
Working Around the Red Tape
As the special syrup charge is not widely implemented, I found the best way to order this beverage is to ask the cashier to ring it into the till as a Triple Venti Peppermint Soy Caramel Drizzle Macchiato-style Latte. Paying with a registered card saves close to a buck fifty on the syrup, drizzle, and soy. Even if the barista charges for the drizzle, I save a buck, and the total cost works to be five cents less than a Caramel Macchiato.
Sometimes I may not even care if the espresso shots are poured on top, and skip confusing the issue by ordering the latte as a macchiato.
Not Cutting Out Coffee After All
I mentioned earlier that I started the new year looking for alternatives to drinking my espresso beverages. After suffering for about ten days, I caved and ordered my Tony Macchiatto. I tried the new fruit infusion beverages that Starbucks offered this year, and preferred the Berry Chai over the Apple Chai.
Then I stumbled onto Starbucks online beverage nutrition comparison chart and was amazed that among venti sized drink, the Tony Macchiato has 60 percent of the calories of the new Apple Chai Infusion, 50 fewer calories than the new Berry Chai Infusion, and just about on-par with, (well, 40 calories over), a Black Tea Soy Latte. The fruit tea infusion calories are all from sugar!
Of course, this isn’t taking into account any calories derived from fat. Soy milk definitely wins that comparison hands down, with a higher fat content than even whole milk. This nutritional information is still all my easily swayed mind needed to justify my espresso habit.
Next time you visit Starbucks, order a Tony Macchiato; I am certain that you will enjoy it. Print this article to remind yourself how to order it, and show the barista how to make it. You won’t even have to state a specific size: This drink is best enjoyed Venti.