This is something you’ll never hear anywhere else from anyone else; perhaps most of you don't know it’s happening at all. Montreal is trying to kill off the cappuccino, replacing it with another similarly milk-infused coffee drink, the “fauxppuccino.” In the grand scheme of things I can’t imagine this really matters, but why is it happening at all? Why do new school coffee shops in Montreal refuse (or not know how) to make foamy cappuccinos?
I had my first fauxppuccino about two years ago. I was in desperate need of coffee, but was either in a bit of a rush or not feeling social enough that day to weather the long line at Social Club cafe on St. Viateur. Seeing as I was already there when I saw the line was too long, I decided to cross the street and check out the new shi-shi/chick/hipster cafe (the kind of place that also sells tee-shirts and shoes, just because) across the street. “Je prends un petit cappuccino pour emporter, s.v.p.” I said to the young barista who was tattered fingertip to fingertip.
Ok, it is bit pricier than I am used to, for this neighbourhood anyway, but fine. I dart my eyes guiltily; the place is nice, the cleanest cafe on Saint Viateur, without a doubt. But the randomness of the items for purchase and the cognitive dissonance I was having with the setting hurt my unprepared, uncaffeneited mind. I heard the barista call out cappuccino. Nobody else seemed to be waiting for it, so I go for it. But when I look down, all I see is a latte.
“Excuse me,” I say to the same barista, “is this a cappuccino?”
She kind of rolls her eyes, though still not failing to look totally authentic and straight up.
I bolted, holding on to the coffee, almost giddy; I felt I was in on some secret. The knowledge that this coffee shop is either so ignorant it doesn’t know what a cappuccino really is, or so arrogant they don’t give a f***. Either way, it seemed insane. How could anyone give out a latte in place of a cappuccino?
Until I realized, actually, that this is a thing, and it’s happening all over the place. Go to any new, trendy looking cafe and you will find the same thing. Go to the places where they observe the low heating temperature of the milk, so as to retain that sweetness to the coffee which is why you keep going back, and you’ll see, you cannot order a foamy cappuccino. You can order a cappuccino, for sure, but that’s not what they’ll give you. The fact barristers are able to serve these with a straight face made me wonder for about a year, do they even know there’s a problem?
I googled "fake cappuccino Montreal” and “do hipsters know how to make cappuccinos” and came up with nothing. As though the phenomenon was not occurring. Then I started to ask the baristas in these places, “um do you know about, like, cappuccinos with foam?”
“Oh, you mean traditional cappuccino?”
“Yeah. Can I have a traditional cappuccino?”
“Sorry, we don’t make those here.”
So now I’m wondering, is this just a Montreal thing? When I described the epidemic to a friend, she said, “When the sons and nephews of the Olympico’s and Social Club’s stop learning the ways of the coffee from their fathers and uncles, we’ll probably see the complete death of the cappuccino.”
You know, she just might be right. I was going to make a documentary and call it Fauxppuccino. I felt somebody had to document what is happening. But instead, as the hip cafes pop up like wild lilacs and I find myself no longer outraged at the latte cappuccino’s, the fauxppuccinos, I see I have become complacent. There might not be time to do the documentary; I might soon slide completely into oblivion and, if someone were to ask me, “is that a cappuccino?” simply answer, “yeah.”