Sunday, November 11, 2012


I've never been a coffee person.  Yes, I know: many of you are looking at your computer/RSS feed/mobile device thinking “WHAT!? What kind of human being doesn't love the rich, mellow, caffeinated goodness of coffee!?” This kind, that’s who. It’s just not something I really enjoyed.  Give me tea, hot chocolate or – gasp – soda for any caffeine fix I might need.  And though I can and do appreciate bitterness in my food, I just don’t care for it in coffee format.

Official Name: State of Washington
State Nickname: The Evergreen State
Admission to the US: November 11, 1889 (#42)
Capital: Olympia (21st largest)
Other Important Cities: Seattle (largest), Spokane (2nd largest), Tacoma (3rd largest) 
Region: Northwest, Pacific, Pacific Rim; Pacific (US Census)
RAFT NationsSalmon
Bordered by: Pacific Ocean (west), Oregon (south), Idaho (east), British Columbia (Canada) (north)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: apple (fruit); bluebunch wheatgrass (grass); steelhead trout (fish); Walla Walla sweet onion (vegetable)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Pacific coast seafood, including but not limited to: Dungeness crab, salmon, trout, scallops of many varieties, Geoduck clam, mussels, oysters, halibut, cod; blackberries, apples, huckleberries, cranberries, cherries; hazelnuts; coffee

And yet, a survey of Washington would be completely remiss without a nod to that most world-famous Seattle export, coffee.  Hold up, I know you’re thinking: coffee doesn't come from Seattle!  Well no, that's absurd.  Coffee was first cultivated thousands of years ago in Ethiopia.  Only in the last few centuries did it spread to Europe and the Americas.

When I talk about coffee and Seattle, I’m talking about that most famous of Seattle-area food businesses, Starbucks (you can debate if Nordstrom or Amazon are more famous, but you don't find a Nordstrom on every other corner, now do you?).  Yes, one of the Evil Empires that has now taken over the world and (in this case) much of its coffee market, a business that doesn't mind out-competing even itself – so I saw in grad school back in Riverside, California, several years ago, when there was a dining-slash-theater complex net to the university with not one but two separate Starbucks facilities in it.  I think they’re back down to one now but you get the picture.  And even though you see the resurgence of local, community, Mom & Pop (or even Mom & Ma) coffee shops all over big and small town America, the groundwork is laid: Starbucks has taken over America, much like those creepy androids built by enterprising engineering grad students will soon take over the world and enslave us all.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

While Starbucks is by no means the only coffee business in Seattle, it is the most successful.  According to the website, Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl started Starbucks in 1971 in Seattle, first selling coffee beans and coffee making equipment before graduating to selling actual cups of coffee in the 1980's.  Since then it has expanded across the United States, North America and around the world, spreading its Cyberman-like influence into other coffee corporations, including fellow Seattle-based company Seattle's Best.  There are now about 17.000 of these places in 55 countries, with well over half of these in the US [, date unknown]

For this post, it wasn't my goal to make a recipe that uses Starbucks coffee in it: I actually wanted to replicate a Starbucks beverage in my own kitchen.  For this I first turned to the Top Secret Recipes series by Todd Wilbur.  I figured I would easily find a recipe in there.  But surprisingly, TSR was silent about replicating Starbucks, at least in the books I looked in.  (NB: A search online yielded several replicated top secret Starbucks recipes, which I failed to even consider, for some odd reason.  Note that if you do try his website you may need to pay for some of these recipes - as with his caramel macchiato recipe). Undaunted, I searched elsewhere.  After muddling through a few websites from Starbucks talking about how to use their products (I think these were meant specifically to be used in-house.  I’m surprised they were that easy to find), I eventually stumbled upon a small handful of “Make your own Starbucks” websites.  The one that intrigued me the most, from the Squidoo website, by user "kiwisoutback"[2008], featured a few recipes for Starbucks-like drinks - and this one I did not have to pay for.  Notably, the recipe that jumped out at me the most was one for Iced Latte, utilizing two to three shots of espresso, recommendably from Starbucks itself if possible (CAFFEINE OVERLOAD WOW WWWWOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!).  With all this caffeine, is this wild amount of espresso, um, safe?  

The Recipe: Iced Latte

To be your own barista right at home, assemble the following:

* milk (preferably whole - I had some in the fridge)
* espresso (two shots, which I found to be somewhat stronger than I am used to.  I did use Starbucks brand for about $2.50.  Did they only charge me for one shot?)
* simple syrup (I've had this in the fridge since I made that mint julep a while back)
* ice (preferably crushed or small cubes; again, these I had on hand)

Pour the simple syrup in a cup.

Next add the espresso to the cup.

Add your ice.

And finally, add the milk.

Shake well to combine it all.

How can I describe this drink?  It was tasty.  It was also strong.  Very, very strong.  In fact so strong it aggravated some reflux mighty bad.  This drink is way too strong for me, but for those who like these iced lattes, it sure will wake you up.

- - - - -

It's time to say a final goodbye to the Pacific Northwest, as we head for one last time to Appalachia and the place where South, Northeast and Midwest all meet together.  It's time for pepperoni rolls!  Yes, we are hitting West Virginia.


Douglas, Tom.  Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen.  William Morrow: New York, 2001.

"kiwisoutback" ( user).  "How to Make a Starbucks Iced Latte."  In "Starbucks Coffee Drink Recipes", Copyright 2008,  All rights reserved.

Washington Apple Commission.  "Crop facts."  Copyright 2010 Washington Apple Commission.  All rights reserved. 

Washington Apple Commission.  "Golden Apples and Yams."  Copyright 2010 Washington Apple Commission.  All rights reserved.  "History of Starbucks."  Date unknown.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Washington" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Washington".