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Naming Signature Drinks: Why and How PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric S. Chen   
Thursday, 15 June 2006
Copyright 2006 Eric S. Chen for

shifltess_serving1.thumbnailImagine going to buy a car. You look at the models, consider the colors, then turn to the salesman and say:
"I'll take a unibody construction, 4 cylinder engine - oh, make sure it's an all aluminum engine - with the upgraded alloy wheels but the standard tires. Please put some extra molybdenum in my piston rings. You guys tend to use too much chrome and not enough moly...."

How stupid! What kind of a car company would force their customers to verbally list all of the components that make up a car? Doing this only causes more errors, forces customers to think about things they shouldn't have to, and undercuts the sales-boosting effect of marketing.

Well, then: why does the espresso industry force our customers to order their drinks this way?

A better way is modeled by our distant cousins in the (alcohol) bar business. Now, I can't claim all that much familiarity with bartending. I don't even drink much other than coffee-based drinks. Still, I think it is an elegant and simple idea to have more or less standard names for drinks.

Think about it. A customer who tries, and likes, a Black Russian does not need to know what is in it. They only need to know that they like it, and what the name is.

On top of that, the names help to sell the drinks. A drink name can evoke a place, a mood, an epoch, or an event. A name can associate the drink (or other product) with something entirely unrelated to the product itself.

Other benefits of named drinks include shorter average time at the register, fewer ingredient errors, and less need for customers to rely on the menu board. Admit it: no one likes reading the menu.

I think that this industry needs named drinks; not the trademarked one-company-only sorts of names that confuse everyone, but the common-use names that anyone can use, and everyone does use, because they are pretty much the same everywhere.

Here are two of my drinks, named and with recipes. I will be posting these in the BARISTO recipe board as soon as we get it up and running. They are free for your use, but please note the copyright: if you post these recipes anywhere, please refer to this original online publication at

shifltess_serving1.thumbnailBaristo's own "August Sunrise":

A latte with whip, and an extra shot as well as a dot of raspberry syrup through the foam. The espresso mark and the raspberry mark should be on top of each other.

Visually, the drink should look like the sun in a clear sky.

It evokes a time of day (that's why I need the extra shot!) as well as a time of year (raspberries ripen in August). The taste of raspberry will bring up personal memories relating to that taste, making this a very personal drink even from a standard recipe.

shifltess_serving1.thumbnailBaristo's Own "Tallahassee Verandah":

An iced Americano, with orange syrup, and whip.

The name evokes a region (deep south); a time of year (summer); a social interaction (porch socializing). Oranges grow in Florida. I would avoid doing this one as an iced latte; somehow the idea of drinking milk in a Florida summer, even cold milk, does not seem that appealing to me. I have the impression that Southerners do not do it.

Please start creating and posting your recipes with their names in the BARISTO posting board. (Make sure you do not post any proprietary recipes or trademarked names that belong to your employer.)

BARISTO shares posted recipes freely and without charge to all site visitors. Share the joy, and let's start standardizing the drink names for this industry.

Let me know how much interest you have in Signature Drink recipes. BARISTO will publish guidebooks for in-store use if you want to use them out there.

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