Starbucks, that world-renowned purveyor of steamed milk with a dab of coffee in it, are forever tweaking the beverages they offer, in the hope the variety will addle your brain and make you pay to drink more of them. They even surreptitiously changed from “coffee” to “hand-crafted beverage”. Whether that was because some cynics didn’t think the hot brown stuff Starbucks produces is worthy of the name coffee, or because they needed to make the menu more complicated, or just that Starbucks is run by a bloke who’s not afraid to call a spade a metallic digging implement, we may never know.

This year’s innovation is the Dolce Latte. While a little Italian would let you know that means “sweet milk”, a little knowledge is a bad thing: you’d be expecting a venti latte was twenty milks. And who wants to listen to a small Italian anyway?

Anyway, I’ve drunk so much coffee (sorry, hand-crafted beverages) at Starbucks lately that they gave me two free drinks, and it seemed churlish to turn down the chance to sample the latest invention. However…

A Dolce Latte isn’t some sweet milk, or an enjoyable dairy-based dessert. It was constructed in highly secretive circumstances behind the espresso machine, but from the end results I inferred the barista made a regular caffe latte and then injected it with as much sugar syrup as she could find, before topping it off with a belch of pressurised whipped cream from an enormous stainless steel canister. This is not your normal coffee.

I drank it. I needed caffeine today.

Then again, I had a beer this evening. I needed to drink. To drink, to forget the taste of the horrid Dolce Latte, and all that diabetes-inducing sugar that was dissolved in it. I’m not sure if the worst part was the cream, or the sugar, or the over-roasted coffee, or just the abject feeling of guilt and shame at drinking this stuff. I suppose if you were seven years old and lived on a diet of jelly babies and sugar-coated cereal, it might be aligned to your palate’s demands, but honestly, you don’t want seven-year-olds hopped up on coffee and sugar. Do you?

Still, the one saving grace of the Dolce Latte That Is Really Just Milk And Sugar And Sugar (And Sugar) is that it’s made with two shots of espresso. If only my computer had drunk one of the shots and been productive, rather than plodding through the day like a somnambulist, I might not even had needed tonight’s beer.

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