Pot Luck

McCafe Latte at McDonald's

"Do you want vanilla or caramel?" the lady behind the counter asked when I ordered a large McCafe Latte at a fancy McDonald's in Mississippi. I was driving across the state on my way to the annual symposium of the Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford.

"I don't want a flavor," I replied. "I just want a café latte."

"We don't do it that way," the lady said.

McDonald's new McCafe espresso drinks are slowly rolling out across the country. Houston doesn't have them yet, but I hear Austin is getting them soon. This upscale McDonald's in Mississippi was located at the intersection of Highway 82 and Interstate 55 near Greenwood where Viking Range Corporation is headquartered, so I guess the upscale drinks were targeted to all the gourmet cooks who pass through there.

McCafe selections include cappuccino, café latte and mocha. The mocha comes with chocolate syrup and a dusting of chocolate powder. When you order the others, you are supposed to choose a flavor.

"You can get vanilla syrup, sugar-free vanilla syrup, or caramel syrup," the lady said.

"Just don't put any syrup in mine," I persisted.

"It's going to be awfully bitter," she winced.

"That's fine with me," I said. The real problem, as it turned out, was figuring out how to ring it up on the cash register. She had to call a manager over to find a button to press. When they got it all figured out, I paid $3.29 for the plain large café latte.

As you might expect, the coffee drink was way too weak. No wonder they want you to put some flavoring in it. - Robb Walsh

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