Cappuccino Smackdown

I usually brew my own coffee at home, but sometimes I want something special — not just a plain old cup of joe, but an espresso drink like a latte or cappuccino. Enter the milk dilemma.

My favorite chain coffeehouse is Peet’s, the Berkeley-based company that makes a signature blend of beans called Major Dickason, which is a staple in our house. Unfortunately, Peet’s does not offer coconut milk, only almond and soy. I can’t tolerate soy milk, and once I tried an almond milk latte at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that was so awful, I swore off almond milk forever.

So for a while, my go-to to-go cup was a Starbucks coconut milk cappuccino. Steamed coconut milk froths beautifully, and I was so enchanted by this thick snowbank of lactose-free foam that I overlooked the mediocre Starbucks coffee underneath it.

Then one day I decided to try Peet’s almond milk cappuccino. Not only was it delicious — I would go so far as to say it was the most memorable coffee experience of my life. (Right up there with the first time I ever drank coffee, during my freshman year of college, after which I stayed up all night studying and aced a test the next day.)

Peet's almond milk capuccino
Who knew almond milk could taste so good?

Somehow Peet’s made the almond milk taste exactly like cow’s milk. It was less frothy than Starbucks’s coconut milk, but I was fine with that; actually, the proportion of foam to liquid in the Peet’s cappuccino allowed for a more balanced mouthful with each sip. And Peet’s coffee is just the best. Ultimately, no matter what the milk is like, you’ve got to start with excellent coffee.

I have since tried taking Peet’s almond milk cappuccino to-go, and although it was still tasty, I strongly recommend drinking it as soon as the barista hands it to you. Carve out a block of time for this much deserved indulgence. And don’t feel guilty: As we already established, caffeine makes you smarter.

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