Vegetarian Means Vegan, Right?

Actually vegetarians tend to differ from what Vegans consider themselves to be. The exact reasons for why, evade me at the moment.

I eat plenty of vegetables but also enjoy eggs so I think this means I may be a vegetarian but I am not a vegan because eggs are not on their menu. I need to watch my calories and weight.

Veganism, if I may, seems to be more like a religion than just a healthy eating regime. I think the term is applied to not only eggs but even to wearing things that may have once been alive, like leather.

I have no feelings on this one way or another and think our life choices are just that, our life choices.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Basics Of Ordering Espresso Drinks For Beginners

By Davis Hawthorne

Back in the day, the only people youd find in an espresso bar would be people who knew what they wanted to order and how. In serious coffee towns like Seattle, Portland and New York City anyone who entered the realm of gourmet coffee was there for a reason"they wanted something better than the cup of Joe at the doughnut shop. Espresso bars in other cities served a niche population who understood the concept of gourmet coffee and sought out these establishments.

Today, espresso bars are ubiquitous in any decent sized city or town. Thats a good thing for those of us who like espresso, but has presented its own set of problems. The problem Ive encountered at establishments that arent in traditional espresso country is that far too often the customers are neophytes who not only dont know what they want but dont understand the entire concept of espresso. Frequently, lines will ensue not because the staff isnt pulling shots quickly enough or that theyve got too many customers but because some clueless newbie is hemming and hawing over what to order.

For the benefit of espresso newcomers here are some tips that will help you get what you want, as well as helping the staff at your local espresso bar keep things moving along at an orderly pace.

--Know what you want beforehand. You should have a few drinks that are your drinks, and order those more often than not. For example my drinks are a Latte with an extra shot served either iced or hot depending on the weather. Occasionally, Ill have a cappuccino or a shot or two of espresso. If you want a specific sort of milk (soy milk, skim milk, etc.) ask for it when you order. The barista may ask you what kind of milk youd like"answer quickly or, if it doesnt matter just say so. Typically, youll get 2% or some other default selection. Also, make sure to know what size you want. I usually get a tall at most espresso bars and a venti at Starbucks, which are the largest sizes they offer. The espresso bar"as the name implies"isnt very different in concept than the alcohol bar: they basically offer the same things (or they can all make the same thing) with some unique in-house specialties. You wouldnt go to the bar at the Ritz-Carlton or other classy establishment (or, for that matter, even a dive bar) and expect the bartender to explain the entire concept of cocktails, explain whats in a martini and so forth.

--Avoid taking your children to an espresso bar. This is not only in the interest of preserving the ambiance of a good espresso bar, but for the sake of your kids as well. Kids don't want to drink coffee. Take them to get an ice cream or somewhere they'll actually enjoy. If you must take them, the same rules apply for them that apply to adults--make sure they know what they want. Many espresso places also serve soft drinks, if not they'll usually have bottled juices or they can whip up an Italian soda. In any case, its not their responsibility to come up with "kid friendly" drinks any more than I'd expect the local Chuck E. Cheese to make me a martini or a single malt scotch. Also, make sure they're own their best behavior. Explain to them that this is a grown up environment, and they're expected to conduct themselves as such.

--Tip the barista. Generous tipping is a good rule in general. It's good karma, and helps make your life easier and more pleasant. Nowhere is this more evident than the local espresso bar. Most will have a tip cup, but if they don't don't be shy about slipping the help a dollar when you pay for your drink. It'll be the best investment you ever make, and particularly if its a place you patronize regularly.

--If you want your drink made a certain way, explain it while you order. This implies you know what youre doing and should not be confused with stammering around about espresso basics. The good news is that most of the big chains like Starbucks and Barnes and Noble train their help to make a decently consistent drink. Theyre taught to follow a procedure, however, and if you want your drink done a certain way that isnt standard operating practice youll need to explain what you want. Don't assume that just because your local coffee shop makes a drink a certain way that every other espresso bar in the world will do the same. If you're in doubt, ask.

--And one final tip: the word is ES-PRESS-O and NOT EX-PRESS-O. Theres no X in the word. Nothing will tip you off as a coffee novice faster than this fundamental mistake.

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