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An Open Letter to LA's Barista Community: Lattes

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Dear baristas and coffee mixologists of LA:

LAist loves coffee. In fact, collectively our staff probably drinks enough java on a daily basis to ensure many of your weekly salaries. But increasingly, we’ve found fewer and fewer of our local coffee bars and local Starbucks around LA know how to make really good lattes.

Here are a few things that you might wan to consider when we order a simple nonfat latte. Following these tips might help stuff your college fund jar at the register.

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>> A latte is not a cappuccino. Basically, there’s more steamed milk in a latte with a shorter cap of foam, making it a milder drink. The cappuccino has about equal parts espresso and milk, and a good amount of foam.

>> Froth away. What we really can't stand is a latte that has too much milk and not enough foam. It's that foam that cuts the sharpness of the espresso; but drown it in lukewarm milk, it tastes almost as good as a Sanka decaf (just add water!). If we wanted a cafe con leche we would have ordered it. So please, take an extra minute to froth well. It's so worth it.

>> Keep it hot. Dip the espresso wand long enough in the milk to keep it piping hot. Lukewarm milk is great for bedtime, but not for breakfast lattes.

>> Nonfat is king. Use nonfat milk for lattes and cappuccinos. We've heard that the lesser amount of fat in milk makes for better frothing. If your customers don't ask for a type of milk specifically, then maybe go with the skim (it's the healthier choice, anyway).

If you need to test out a near close-to-perfect latte, then we recommend the lattes at Abbey Lane Cafe (in picture), located just down the road from CalArts in Santa Clarita. Sure, it takes them a little longer to make the drink, but no matter who makes the latte, it's always consistently good with the perfect ratio of foam-milk-espresso. Like a little taste of Italy right here in LA.

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Thanks for listening and we'll see tomorrow morning.

Yours truly,
Your coffee-holic friends at LAist.

Photo by Christine N. Ziemba/LAist.