There is a quote of indeterminate origin, sometimes attributed to Martin Luther, that reads: “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds and stars.” It tells the faithful they can find divinity or meaning in all things, even the most mundane. Which means the gospel is written in Starbucks’ new Cloud Macchiato. Which brings to mind a seminal quote from “The Office:” “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.”
Yes, there is a new Starbucks drink, and, no, it is not disgusting. It is not inspired by a unicorn or mermaid or vampire or witch. It does not have ingredients that are described by the color of their powders rather than their flavors. It does not tell you a fortune. On Tuesday, Starbucks added the espresso drink to its permanent menu in two flavors, caramel and cinnamon, available hot or iced. The drink is a new take on a macchiato — which was not invented by Starbucks. Many people associate the word with Starbucks’ caramel macchiato, a tall, sugary and milky drink. But a classic macchiato is a shot of espresso “marked” with a dash of frothed milk, which is how it gets its name in Italian. It is served in a tiny glass, and it is not typically sweet.
Starbucks’ Cloud Macchiato is yet another indulgent departure from that standard, but for a drink named after clouds, it feels more grounded. Starbucks blankets its macchiato with a thick foam — an ingredient that gained popularity over the summer in its cold brew drinks — and makes it even foamier with the addition of egg whites. The foam, which comes in vanilla or lemon flavor, falls just shy of meringue. A Starbucks news release says the topping is inspired by “leche merengada, or ‘meringue milk,’ a summer drink from the cafes of Barcelona that dates back centuries.”
In “You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon sang, “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.” Perhaps that’s what Ariana Grande, who had dreams to become a Starbucks brand ambassador, was channeling in this promotional tweet:
Anyway, the foam holds up well and does not instantly dissolve into the coffee. Like a down comforter for your coffee, it is luxurious without being ostentatious. It is like drinking a coffee-flavored bubble bath, but the $40 L’Occitane fancy kind, not the cheap Mr. Bubble.
Let it sit too long, and the clouds will part. The foam that clings to the sides of the cup will grow crispy and mottled. It is the gospel of Starbucks: To every thing there is a season, and to every season, a new drink named after a thing.
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