Caffeine. Super-size it?
If you have been receiving our newsletter for a while, you will remember an article we wrote entitled “Caffeine: Good or Bad?”. We covered the basic studies and beliefs that have been around for ages. As you have probably heard, caffeine was once thought to be linked to many medical problems, like heart disease and high blood pressure. Then we gave you the good news: It’s not as bad as they thought! Having around 300mg of caffeine per day did not cause problems or create an addiction problem. However, the one thing we didn’t discuss was the size of the cups. If I drink three 16oz cappuccinos per day does my risk for problems increase? Is it bad for me? Or is it just a sign of our “super-sized” generation?
This may put your mind at ease: in order for caffeine to have an effect on the part of the brain responsible for addiction you would have to drink at least seven cups of coffee in a row. I find that fairly hard to do in a day, especially seven in a row. Wouldn’t you need a break? A cup of American drip coffee typically has 100mg of caffeine in each 6oz cup. A double shot of espresso has about 50mg of caffeine. I drink two 16oz cappuccinos per day. Each one has a double shot of espresso and then the rest of the cup is filled with frothed milk. That gives me more calories and milk than caffeine.
Lately, we have all been made aware of what our super-sizing is doing to us. The extra food at restaurants and fast food places is giving us more food and calories. The plus is that we get more quantity without paying too much more. Think about this: The average sized plate at a restaurant 20 years ago was 10 inches. Now it is around 12 inches. Do you remember the first time you saw a 20oz soda in a vending machine? I do. I thought it was huge. I have some coffee cups that inherited from my grandmother. Those cups are only 5oz. The cups I buy now can be any size I want. Most of them look like soup bowls with a handle. Doesn’t that tell you something about how everything is “growing”?
So, everything is getting bigger, but what does it have to do with specialty coffee? Well, for one thing, specialty coffee beans are not mass-produced. They are roasted in batches, usually small batches. Each batch is a little different. It also takes a little more effort and concentration to make a good shot of espresso. Another thing is that if you make specialty drinks according to the recipe, they are usually no larger than 8oz. For example, the “Basic Cappuccino” recipe contains one ounce of espresso and steamed/frothed milk. You put the espresso in first, then add your frothed and steamed milk in a 6oz cup.
Elegance and sophistication are also closely associated with espresso and specialty coffee drinks. Think about it, don’t the painted porcelain cups look attractive? Would you ever be able to use them if you only made 16oz cappuccinos? Probably not, unless you made your own cups. There is a feeling of sophistication that goes along with drinking a wonderfully tasting cappuccino in a hand-made cup. You give that up when it gets handed to you in a 16oz to 24oz paper cup.
I like the convenience of having one big cup with what I love in it. However, I also like the sophistication and elegance of sitting in a café and having that great cappuccino in the smaller, traditional cup. It just seems right. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one needs to worry that they will harm themselves by having a couple 16oz cappuccinos or lattes per day.