I was recently told at a large coffee chain that they could not make me an iced cappuccino, because putting the foamed milk over ice increased risk of bacteria problems. I had never heard of this before (and was not sure why this was much different than putting the steamed milk over ice, as they do for the ice latte they encouraged me to get instead). Is this true, and can anyone explain why?

Much appreciated.

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hmm sounds like a 4bucks chain thing..... I worked there a few years ago and that sounds typical ... maybe true but I'm more worried about milk being resteamed four times, after an hour at room temp, poorly washed or prepared product......creamer that's been out all day but I swear the corp trainers give out info like that to seem like they know more than the baristas, which in turn they can pass along to customers who are just going to be perplexed.
Iced cappuccinos are in the drink manual at Starbucks.
I would have to agree with this coffee house you visited to a certain degree, here's why...

First off, Ryan, just because Starbucks has "Iced Cappuccino" in the drink manual doesn't necessarily mean that it is AN ACTUAL Coffee beverage- they have drinks named "Frappuccino" and "Misto" (What the heck is that??) for crying out loud! Sorry friend, not trying to be rude...

Now to the matter at hand, when you get down to the basics of what constitutes what makes a Latte a Latte and Cappuccino a Cappuccino there is really only ONE major difference, the milk to foam ratios in each drink. When breaking down the actual ingredients of each drink they are EXACTLY THE SAME: both contain nothing but MILK AND ESPRESSO. That being said, the thing that differentiates the two is the amount of steamed milk and foam in each drink. A Latte is mostly steamed milk, espresso, and is topped with foam, while a Cappuccino on the other hand is mostly foam followed by steamed milk and espresso.

So technically speaking if you were requesting an ICED CAPPUCCINO what constitutes a Cappuccino being a Cappuccino (THE FOAM) cannot exist on ice. Pouring steamed milk over ice makes no sense as the beverage would be instantly watered down and the foam would not be able to maintain it's density (the bacteria thing I've never heard of, but again why would anyone in their right mind steam milk only to immediately pour it over ice?). Nor does pouring freshly brewed espresso over ice either as the espresso would turn bitter. Technically, you should have ordered an ICED LATTE, just as the Barista guided you to.

I'm not quite sure how the Barista handled the question/request you made, as it is our job to always make sure the customer is happy and ends up with a fine crafted beverage they will be able to enjoy. I hope they were friendly and helpful in explaining why they were unable to meet your EXACT request, and if they were not I apologize for that- IT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATE the "regular Joe Shmoe" coffee consumers today because as Baristas we are COFFEE AMBASSADORS!

Hope this helps and answers your question.
Boston Stoker out of Dayton, Ohio claim their, for the sake of a better term, iced latte, as their "Iced Capp" or "Iced Cappuccino". But the thing is, they shake it in tumbler cups to create a lot of cold airy foam like a traditional hot capp but with cold, unsteamed milk and with flavor thrown in the price already. Stoker claims they couldn't get away with using "Iced Latte" because *bucks claims rights to that term. But as far as escalating bacterial problems and steamed foam and milk over ice (which still seems completely ridiculous) I couldn't tell you much more.
Bacteria in food cause problems when they are given proper conditions in which to grow. These conditions are adequate food, time to grow, and comfortable temperatures. Milk gives them food. This wikipedia article covers "Danger Zone" time and temperature risks pretty well:

"The temperature range in which foodborne bacteria can grow is known as the danger zone... According to the 2005 FDA Food Code, the danger zone is defined as 41°F - 135°F (5°C - 57°C). Potentially hazardous food should not be stored at temperatures in this range in order to prevent foodborne illness, and food that remains in this zone for more than four hours must be discarded."

Please note the combination of time and temperature in this definition... so if milk exists at room temperature for 15 minutes it does not represent a risk.

I don't know why milk foam would represent a greater risk than steamed milk. I suspect that the first poster is correct...

I'm going to have to disagree with several aspects of your post, Casha (though I do agree that just being in the Starbucks manual isn't sufficient to make it be an actual drink...)... I've had several very tasty "iced cappuccinos"... microfoam CAN survive being scooped carefully over ice, and the result is delicious. It is a very different drink than an iced latte... the best way to understand this difference is to try one. I honestly thought the concept was ridiculous too, until I tasted one.

I don't agree with the name of this drink... but I suppose it is a relatively accurate way to describe the drink, which is a combination of milk foam, cold milk, and fresh espresso.

There are lots of different ways of doing things in coffee (for example, serving a hot "cappuccino" that is mostly foam). There are several here in this community that swear by icing steamed milk... apparently if you do it properly the sweetness of the steamed milk carries through to the finished drink. So lets not ridicule the idea of this based on speculation. Yes, we have a responsibility to educate, but lets base that education on fact and our own experiences and not just blindly perpetuate myths or assumptions.
Doesn't your jurisdictions require you to have food safety training, like ServSafe?

Anyway, Brady is on to something when he writes about the food "danger zone" of 40F - 140F. Food in this range CAN foster the spread of harmful bacteria - even though the probability is low.

The key is to consider how one creates this "Iced Cappuccino." If you're steaming the milk to 150F (or more) and then pouring it over ice to chill it down, then you technically would have passed through the "danger zone" safely. Even if you had steamed the milk within the zone to, let's say, 110F - the time it would have taken you to steam the milk, hold it while you filled the cup of ice and then poured it over, thereby reducing the liquids' temperature to below 40F (presuming that the beverage is served ice cold), would roughly be four minutes? All within acceptable safety practices for handling dairy or food within the "danger zone."
Casha Garcia said:
First off, Ryan, just because Starbucks has "Iced Cappuccino" in the drink manual doesn't necessarily mean that it is AN ACTUAL Coffee beverage- they have drinks named "Frappuccino" and "Misto" (What the heck is that??) for crying out loud! Sorry friend, not trying to be rude...

I was not making a defense for Starbucks and their drink naming practices, just trying add some accurate info for people inclined to jump to baseless conclusions. It's very trendy and safe to blame Starbucks for anything you don't like about chain coffee. The "Iced Cappuccino" in the Starbucks manual consists of cold milk, espresso, ice, and about 1/3 scooped foam to top. This is about as close as you can get to recreating the actual hot cappuccino on ice (depending on your country tradition) and is standard practice for many well respected coffee houses. You aren't being rude, just misinformed.

Also, the difference between frothed and cold milk in an iced latte is tremendous. I didn't believe it at first either, but frothing the milk before icing it creates a much sweeter, smoother finished product.

I'm sorry that I don't have much to add to the title discussion. Just wanted to hop on my soap box for a bit and clear a few things up.
the milk would have to sit out for 4 hours before bacteria count would reach an unacceptable level by health code.

the information they told you is misleading to defend why they do not make them. You should have an open conversation about food safety with them and talk through where the critical control points are. It is crucial that everyone is on the same page for everyone's sake.

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