Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Cool Hot Beverage Of The Week: The Almond Steamer

Over the summer I have developed an addiction.  Prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke (One of the many  sacrifices I make for Radio Free Charleston.)  left me with a persistent cough, and I discovered that the only way to get rid of said cough was to drink hot liquids–something that my body is not used to doing.  I don’t drink coffee or tea, and hot chocolate got tired real fast.  Then I decided to try steamed milk. 

I’d tried steamers  at some of the area coffee shops back in the winter, and they were okay.  On my first-ever trip to Starbucks I asked for a steamer with chocolate syrup.  No dice.  They were out of or simply didn’t have chocolate syrup.  I asked what other types of syrup they had and stopped them when they got to “almond.” 

I figured “what the heck,” and took a gamble on it.  It turned out to be a fateful gamble indeed.  The thing tasted fantastic.  Sort of cherry-ish…a very subtle, sophisticated flavor…not very nutty at all.  I was hooked.  Now the Almond Steamer is the Official Hot Beverage of Radio Free Charleston, and if you watched the credits for our latest episode, you’ll notice that I’ve even anointed Radio Free Charleston’s Official Barista™ , one Chelsea Cook, of the Town Center Starbucks.  If you see her, say “Howdy!”

Sadly, I have to report that only Starbucks’ Almond Steamers qualify.  None of the other coffee shops I’ve tried use enough syrup or get the milk just that right temperature.  I’ve been living at the freaking mall this summer, sucking down these things like they’re going out of style.

There is one important point I have to make here:  The Almond Steamer should NEVER be served with whipped cream.  Only a god-forsaken heathen would dream of such a thing!  Not only does the whipped cream upset and ruin the delicate balance of flavors that makes the Almond Steamer a perfect beverage, but it also gums up that little hole in the lid that you’re supposed to sip through.   Whipped cream may be fine for other hot beverages, but it should NEVER be allowed anywhere near an Almond Steamer (I’m looking in YOUR direction, Huntington Mall Starbucks!). NEVER!

So if you want to taste a little bit of the RFC experience, work up a good cough, then go hit Starbucks for an Almond Steamer (no whipped cream–and be sure to shoot them a nasty glance if they even suggest it).  And don’t forget to tip your barista.


  1. Elvis Capone

    I left an almond steamer in the toilet this morning. Phew!

  2. Matt Salazar

    Dude, maybe you can get a sponsorship deal for RFC out of this.

  3. Mountain Woman Phd.

    I have a confession. Even though I try to “buy local” and patronize the independent coffee shops, nobody comes close to Starbucks in terms of quality and service. And I think those ARE local kids that work there. They’re always happy and bend over backwards to get your order right. Something I can’t say about the local shops.

    I’ll have to try an Almond Steamer sometime when I’m not in need of a caffiene infusion.

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