PS Picks: An Ode to 'Slacker Milk,' Inspired by Austin's Richard Linklater

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Director Richard Linklater arrives at the premiere of Boyhood at the 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 9th, 2014, in Austin, Texas.

Director Richard Linklater arrives at the premiere of Boyhood at the 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 9th, 2014, in Austin, Texas.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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An Ode to 'Slacker Milk': In 2016, Starbucks faced lawsuits in two states alleging that it was shorting its customers on substance by overfilling its chilliest drinks—like iced lattes—with too much ice. In a breathy dismissal of the case, a California judge wrote that even a child could see that the plaintiff had "not alleged any viable claims." Starbucks, unsurprisingly, was pleased with the decision. And while this complaint might be beyond the purview of our legal system, it’s not hard to see why some coffee shop patrons feel iced out. Friends, there is a better way.

During a brief cafe interlude in Slacker, Richard Linklater's 1991 film about overeducated 20-somethings bumming around Austin, a barista pours espresso shots into two tall glasses of cold milk, neither iced nor foamed. At the table where the drinks are heartily slurped, one character sophomorically holds court on "the immense effort required in order not to create." More bloviation than brilliance, sure, but there's a nugget of wisdom in his froth: Sometimes less is indeed more.

A "slacker milk," as I call it, is exactly that. Next time you find yourself in an institution of caffeine, ask for an iced-latte-with-no-ice. You'll get a drink with less volume, but also with a full body undiluted by watery ice. The espresso permeates the milk at different concentrations throughout, creating a pleasant variance of flavor during consumption, and a sublime visual effect that recalls a leaky gaseous planet or, perhaps, the Milky Way.

Like Linklater's Austinites who dropped out of the rat race for an improved life, we coffee drinkers can build a better way by shirking orthodoxy and working outside the system (legal and otherwise). Instead of settling for what's on the menu, take an iceless sip with me. Slack on.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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