WIf your name is wrong on the paper cup, there is more sugar in your coffee drink than caffeine and you paid a lot of money for it - then you most likely ended up with the American chain with the green logo. You would be kicked out of any Italian coffee bar if you asked for a caramel macchiato. After all, it doesn't really have much to do with coffee: there's probably an espresso in this mug, but you can hardly taste it under all the milk froth and caramel syrup. And that is exactly what makes it the coffee of my life.
I like to drink coffee, not that there are misunderstandings right at the beginning. But it just started with the caramel macchiato. sugar and milk make it an excellent starter drink for teenagers - and that's exactly what makes it such a fond memory for me. At that time, coffee was still something very special for me and not a daily (and sometimes afternoon) necessity.
After all, whoever drinks coffee is an adult!
I grew up in a suburb of Munich where the opportunities for young people to stay were rather manageable. Instead, those who thought they were cool met on Fridays after school at the S-Bahn and rode into town. Of course we didn't just hang out in the English Garden with a piece of bread we made ourselves, but went "for a coffee". After all, we knew that from series like Sex and the City. We felt incredibly grown up when we walked through the doors of the aforementioned coffee chain on Residenzstrasse and ordered a coffee rather than hot chocolate. We went to the coffee chain because we basically thought everything that came from the USA was cool at the time.
We always ordered our caramel macchiato “to go”, regardless of whether we looked for a seat on the large sofas and armchairs or roamed through downtown Munich. We thought the paper cup was – you guessed it – simply cool. Back then, the issue of the environment wasn't such an issue, at least not for us, and after all we could drink from cups at home. And that's exactly what it was all about: breaking out of the usual structures. We always had a cup of cocoa on the table at home in the morning, and if we hung out at the local mall we only risked bumping into annoying classmates, teachers, or worse, our parents.
Less lunch, more coffee
In the city, on the other hand, we felt free and independent. Nobody knew us, and over our caramel macchiato we made plans for the future. Sometimes we dreamed of life in the city; how we would elegantly master our dream jobs in high heels and chic handbags (we didn't know exactly what we wanted to be, but we imagined it to be glamorous). Another time it was just about the next party night and how we could get a bottle of sparkling wine for it. Sometimes the three of us shared a muffin, sometimes we wanted to watch our line. It was always a good time. Teenage friends often fight, but I only associate happy moments with our Caramel Macchiatos.
However, our “adulthood” was an expensive affair. Of course, my parents didn't want to finance the overpriced coffee splendor. So I literally saved the money for the expensive fun: We had afternoon classes twice a week, and I got five euros a day with me. That's how much the food in the school canteen cost, which of course we didn't go to, because for us the school canteen was the exact opposite of American coffee chains at the time: absolutely uncool. Instead, we marched to the nearby supermarket, where I bought a buttered pretzel for 1.20 euros and a yoghurt for 80 cents. I hid the remaining money in my pencil case. By the end of the week I had enough money for the macchiato and a third of the muffin.
In the meantime, my life has changed in many ways from what I imagined when I was 15. I would have to be very desperate if I were to order a Caramel Macciato today. Instead, I prefer filter coffee, still with a good dash of milk, but without sugar. I don't know when I was last at the coffee chain, I hardly ever use to-go cups anymore. My circle of friends has changed, I live in another city. I go to work in flat shoes. But "different" is not automatically worse.