What Starbucks Doesn’t Want You to Know: Happiness in a Beaker

Go into any Starbucks, and you’ll see shelves lined with coffee presses, expensive espresso machines, mugs and thermoses in any size, in any color, all with one goal: to sell the coffee experience.

But the experience comes with a hidden price. They know that what people want is the froth, but not just any froth, but their froth. Have you ever, really, seen anyone buy an actual espresso machine from Starbucks? No. Their purpose on the shelves is to send a message that Starbucks  wants you to be independent, when they know damn well that you won’t. “Here, get your own espresso machine,” they pretend to say. “You don’t really need us.” Wink wink.

This is all a ploy. Because if they really wanted you to be happy and independent from their control, their shelves would include the one item that they don’t want you to know about, because if you did, it would put them out of business.

milkfrother.jpgmilkfrother.jpgAnd that’s the Bodum Milk Frother that you can get for twenty bucks at any cooking specialty store. I just picked one up a few days ago, by accident, really, when Miguel and I went shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We were on our way to the chocolate ice cream scoopers, when the sparkle of the sample glass beaker caught my eye. I then spent maybe twenty minutes deliberating the long term value of this item, a process which Miguel calls “verbal thinking,” which means it’s one of those conversations to myself that no one else really needs to hear, because they weren’t invited.

But, I reasoned, tt could be money wasted, or it could be the best twenty bucks ever spent in my whole entire life.

It was worth it. I ended up getting a second one, so I have one at my place and one at Miguel’s.

It’s just a glass beaker, with a plunger like in a French coffee press. I recommend the Bodum Milk Frother (Faoit a Lait if you really want the full experience), because you can heat it up on your stove top. There is another model by the brand Bonjour, which you can heat in your microwave, but that’s no fun.

You just fill the beaker up to the line with cold milk, place on the stove stop and heat up for a few minutes. Tests conducted at both Katie and Miguel Labs show that heating the milk up to a slight simmer — but not a boil! —  provides the best frothing conditions.

Then, just plunge the plunger, and have at it. In just a few quick plunges, your once cold, boring milk will turn into a steamy, frothy delight.

You can pour with the plunger in place. It comes with a screen, I guess to remove impurities, but if you have impurities, you really should stick with fresh milk. I remove the plunger entirely, and pour into a nice pint glass. Then, I pour in coffee straight from a French press.

And then I am very, very happy. Maybe a little too happy right now, as my fingers are moving faster than my keyboard can handle.

I am still working on developing the perfect coffee formula, however. Which beans work best? Columbiano or Major Dickason? Ground or whole bean? One scoop or two?

So there you have it, happiness in a beaker, and liberation from the big man, free at last, free at last. Maybe a little too free. I’ve got the jitters.


About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Art, Finances, Propaganda, Religious Cults, Reviews, Things I Bet You Didn't Know. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What Starbucks Doesn’t Want You to Know: Happiness in a Beaker

  1. Hi KK:

    Finally found your blog!

    Hey, I also got a Bodum milk frother, except mine is called a”schiuma.” It’s like a mini hand-blender. You put the milk or cream in your cup, then froth it with the schiuma, then add your coffee slowly.

    But I don’t use it for that. I use my schiuma for blending smoothies at work. Well, I add protein powder and such to my Odwalla smoothies and blend away. That’s why I’m so fast. 😉

    Anyway, I decided to be more like you and got a blog of my own:



  2. lauren says:

    i used to be a barista at a coffee shop.

    there’s a definite art to getting the right kind of froth and it’s a pain in the butt at home on one of those little tiny espresso steam machines..

    but that milk frother thing sounds perfectly, perfect as far as ease of use. i’m going to get one.

  3. katiekelly says:

    I’m not going to lie to you. The froth is not the same as the Starbucks froth, and I don’t know if it’s psychological or what. There is something soothing about the Starbucks cup and lid, for example. I think of them as bottles — sippee cups, if you will — for adults. I like walking down the street seeing adults with their sippee cups. So, my home brew in my personal Thermos is not the same. But maybe it is a matter of perspective. This is my home brew, made by my own hands, with my own froth, in my own beaker, on my own stove top. In my own personal sippee cup, with the spill-free lid, that I can use over and over again. Maybe this is better.

  4. ok, so i had nothing to do with this purchase as he had it before i met him.

    But…we have a Starbucks espresso machine which gets daily use at our house…

  5. Emily says:

    I have a Stabucks Barista mcahine that I use daily to make a latte. I will say that Starbuck’s froth is much better than my froth. But given the recent increase in prices at Starbucks and the number of lattes I can get out of a pound of Peet’s coffee, I am willing to but up with lame-ass home made froth.

  6. Kyle says:

    So the Starbucks Barista machine has traditionally had frothing problems. Without doing it “right” and getting the real spro machine with a real steamer, I too have made due with a retired mini french press for my “steamed milk” Works like a champ and if you have the endurance for it, I think can produce better milk than starbucks.

    My two cents – Oh and monday I get my new Rancillio Silvia with a steamer, needless to say, I’m pumped!

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