On the other hand, between Blue Bottle in SF, Peet's Starbucks-from-Berkeley style, Walnut Creek's own Pacific Bay Coffee Company and La Scala (open until 1am), there is a wealth of choice for the discerning caffeine connoisseur.
There is also a huge intra-shop choice of beverages, from your cappuccinos and your lattes, through your caffe con pana and white chocolate ristrettos, all the way to a Godiva dark chocolate raspberry freddo or matcha green tea frappuccino. This is how I first came across the dirty chai.
Although when we met it was called a chai tiger, and served in a lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. But what's in a name? The ingredients are a chai spice tea latte dirtied up by a shot of espresso, also importantly adding the caffeine element. And by any other name, it certainly tastes as sweet.
Having forked over enough cash to stimulate the US economy buying these incredible inventions, I decided it was time to save money (plus claim the means of production in a usual Marxist manner) and create my own version at home. I was inspired by finding a bottle of chai spice tea syrup at Cost Plus World Market, which I bought, proving that Marxism and capitalism are not mutually exclusive.
I was very scientific in my approach, even going so far as to use a tablespoon to measure the amount of syrup that would give the hot milk the correct delicious spicy bite. It was a little sweeter than anticipated, which meant the embittering effect of the espresso shot was even more welcome than usual. A final burst of steam power to add microbubble creaminess, and I had in my hand a drink not entirely dissimilar to a dirty chai. A little extra experimentation and I could probably put Starbies out of business.
So yet another espresso drink is added to my repertoire, which now includes cappuccinos with badly formed patterns in the foam, macchiatos (put the espresso into the milk after, instead of before), filter coffee and...um, that's it. Next time: iced salted caramel mocha.
First of all, make sure you've got the appropriate tools for the job.
Proper science, that.
Only use the finest beans (apologies to Dana, who brought me these from Seattle and would not approve of their use in this drink).
The cup was a little too tall for the steamer, but I improvised.
De-licious! If only I'd saved my cupcake from the previous post...