Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pricey New Latte Is Milking Us for All We're Worth

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pricey New Latte Is Milking Us for All We're Worth

Article excerpt

Confession: As unbelievable as this may sound, I never knew what a latte was until about 15 minutes ago.


Am I embarrassed to admit this? I guess so. After all, I live on a coffee-drenched continent. From time to time, I even write about trendy foods and beverages.

However, trendy coffees never captured my imagination. Not in the '70s. Not in the '80s. And not even in the '90s, when everyone -- or so it seemed -- was drinking coffees with names that sounded like ice cream sundaes with cherries on top.

Case in point: In Manhattan, circa 1993, I did an interview with Fran Drescher and her then-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, at the restaurant of the hotel where they were staying.

When Drescher asked our waiter for a large mocha latte something- or-other with a double shot of something-or-other and some other something-or-other sprinkled on top, I winced at her and said, "Honey, you've been in California too long."

Drescher laughed. (And you know what that sounds like.) So did her husband. So did I.

I figured that was that. But then, about two weeks later, she told the story to Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" and laughed again. So did Leno.

So did I.

Like Drescher, I grew up in Queens. Unlike her, I grew up Italian. When I was a kid, there were only two kinds of coffee on my radar screen.

On Sunday afternoons, after we finished dinner, my mother would poke her head into the dining room and ask my assorted aunts, uncles and cousins, "Who wants black and who wants brown?"

Black was espresso, served with anisette and a curl of lemon peel. Brown was Maxwell House or Chock Full O'Nuts.

The end.

In my teens I discovered iced coffee. And in my 20s, cappuccino - - which I never cared for -- popped up out of nowhere.

My dates always asked for it: "It tastes like hot chocolate, with whipped cream and cinnamon and bits of cocoa and ..."

"Yeah, whatever," I'd snarl.

I want a cuppa Joe, I don't want a carafe of Josephine.

After the cappuccino explosion, I was determined to pay as little attention as possible to the seemingly endless parade of caffeine variations that marched past me -- until a few minutes ago, that is, when I noticed a story in another newspaper about a cafe, in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, that was selling -- in the newspaper's words -- "a record-setting $7 latte. …

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