Thursday, March 5, 2015

Coffee Talk

When I went my summer program almost two years ago, we had frequent Starbucks trips. I don't drink Starbucks at home, but my mom is an avid coffee lover and we just drank it normally from a coffee pot at home. I learned to like it with just a little bit of milk and a little bit of sweetener. I, of course, went through the middle school love of only knowing what a Frappucino was at Starbucks and calling it "coffee". I think I had gotten mochas before, but simply because in my head, 'mocha' meant chocolate, and the good Lord knows I'll have anything with some chocolate in it. And a dear friend at my summer program tried to explain coffee and espresso drinks to me, but I really just didn't understand.

By the way: the title of this post is most definitely in reference to one of my favorite SNL sketches, that you definitely should watch, and also, none of these photos have to do with whatever drink I'm talking about... I just have a lot of photos with coffee. It's a blogger prerequisite to have a class in "making an Insta photo with a cup of coffee".

At the business program

I'm no coffee expert, but I do love coffee. A lot (or should I say "a latte"?!!!! Ahahaha okay I'll stop). I also work at a cafe on campus where I make espresso drinks and have learned how to make them and what they're really comprised of. Also, because I'm a huge geek and analyze everything, I looked up the caffeine contents of each a while ago. I tend to find myself in conversations with people about it a lot (maybe they wish they weren't talking about it, but I don't even care). 

I'm from the South and not an avid lover of Dunkin' Donuts like those from the North are.... but I will agree that Dunkin' Donuts coffee is by far one of the best out there.

I used to be scared of ordering coffee because they'd ask if I wanted cream or sugar or room for either and I'd think "??? room???? I have room right here, I have my own room at home, what kind of room are they asking about??" or "Is it like cream cheese?? Is it the same as milk??" So I kind of just wrote out everything I know. For no particular reason other than I think it's fascinating and working at a place that sells coffee teaches you a lot about the coffee and about people.

A coffee. It's basically just taking coffee beans and brewing it with hot water. I know there's a lot more to it, but that's the best way to explain it. It's cheap and easy to make at home, but the coffee flavor extends all throughout. It's exactly $2.11 where I work and frequently bought with crumpled bills by grad students, professors, and people that know what they're about in life. I think it says something about someone when they just come in and want a coffee. They know exactly which blend and how much room they want, and they're there for that coffee. Where I work isn't the main coffee place on campus, so seeing someone get just a coffee says something about their attitude on life. What that is, I'm not sure, but I think of it as somewhat mysterious. Who knows. 

8 oz. of coffee has zero calories (if black) and about 95 mg of caffeine. 

Iced coffee. Same sort of deal, but as more of for refreshing people. Imagine people who always have their life together and are just the kind of people that make you happy. 

Latte. So here's where we get into espresso drinks and all that jazz. But like, actual jazz, because when I think of fancy shmancy espresso drinks, jazz tends to go along with it. Weird? Yes, but let's move along. A latte is the most basic of all espresso drinks. Lattes have one or two espresso shots, which could definitely have some sort of better explanation, but I just have to think of it as more coffee beans for the water that it's brewed with. For visual reference, two espresso shots fills up a small paper Dixie cup. The other part of a latte, the majority of it, is milk, which is where my problem with lattes comes in. You steam the milk, which just gets it real hot and then foamy, and pour that on top of the espresso shots, holding the foam until the very top. That's where you get the idea of that cute little art that goes on top of coffees. And it's not mixed, so you just have this sort of coffe-ish milk. 

Lattes? Not really my thing. Often people that get lattes are ones that don't really like the taste of coffee, but just want the caffeine. They're kind of a toss up. I absolutely can't stand drinking just milk and I like it when my drink is all mixed together, so I steer clear of them. And then there's the calories. I'd just really rather prefer to eat my calories than drink them. 

But the other part of lattes are that these are the ones where you can get all the flavors-- a vanilla (or caramel, hazelnut, etc.) latte is literally just what's above, but with a pump of a sugary flavored syrup.

You better believe that Tervis is always full of coffee.

And now for my favorite, a mocha. Here's the thing that always tripped me up.... a mocha is just a chocolate latte. But for some reason, the coffee gods decided to give it a different name. Where I work, the mocha is different in that the chocolate is a chocolate sauce and actually is mixed in with the drink because if not, it would all just settle at the bottom. I absolutely love mochas, but I only get them every so often because it's just a lot of unneeded sugar and they make my teeth hurt. I think people who order mochas are just smiley people who enjoy life. They know it's a chocolaty based drink and they're happy with it. They're having a dessert in the middle of the day for no particular reason and you know, more power to ya. YOU SEIZE THE DAY AND ENJOY IT, MY FRIEND.

The thing about lattes and mochas, though, is that you can get them with skim milk. I really don't understand what the whole big deal or stereotype is when you hear a girl order a "nonfat" or "skinny" drink.... maybe because I am one, but also because I don't like whole milk in general, so why would I want it in my drink? 

A latte can vary from 100-150 calories for 8 oz (but know that 8 oz is just one cup and the smallest size at Starbucks) and has about 75 mg of caffeine. 

Soooo, note that 8 oz of coffee has more caffeine than a latte. 

Cappucinos! Another thing that had a weird name and I didn't know much about. They're basically the same thing as a latte, but with less milk and a smoother texture. When the milk is steamed, it's supposed to have more air in it, so that when you pour it on top of the espresso shots, it's a lot less hot milk, but more 'frothy' milk. People that order cappucinos are light and fun and airy and just having a cappucino on a whim, in my book.

They have about 80 calories per 8 oz and also 75 mg of caffeine.

Americano. I love America and I love being an American.... but I don't like americanos. They're intimidating. They have no milk, just espresso and hot water. So when someone orders one, I think " Look at that bravery." There's an explanation behind the name because American coffee and European coffee is very different, but I can't really understand it that well. Because americanos are also typically two espresso shots, they're also 75 mg of caffeine. 

Espresso shots. That's it. I don't know whether I look at people ordering espresso shots or americanos more boldly, but they have an equal amount of intimidation correlated. I always wonder how on earth someone can order just an espresso shot and simply... sip on it? How do you drink something that's so small to begin with? Fancy or courageous people order these, and I admire it. 

Shoutout to Keurig for giving out free coffee during a football game...super nice.

Chai tea lattes. I don't mess with these, and they're not really coffee drinks, but it has the word latte in it, so I've gotta go for it. I like iced sweet tea and that's basically the only tea for me, but chai tea, is from what I understand, simply a type of tea with spices and whatnot. It comes cold, where I work, and is combined with milk, then steamed to make a chai tea latte. I'm not really sure of those, but lots of people love them. I believe it's about 50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz, but 120 calories, simply because there are calories coming from the tea and the milk. 

There are a whole multitude of other drinks you see at Starbucks, like macchiatos or Frappucinos, but they're basically just more layers (and calories) added to these espresso drinks (a caramel macchiato, for example, is a vanilla latte with caramel drizzle). Alsoooooooo, the place I work doesn't get this fancy, so I don't know much about them.

People (aka me on days of weakness) also tend to get an extra espresso shot in their drinks. Gives it a little more of a caffeine boost but without having to have another coffee. Or, I really love pumps of syrup into my coffee as well. 

I'm actually writing this while sipping on my "large iced coffee, light ice, pump of sugar-free hazelnut with little room". I used to be embarrassed by having so many requests, but I think the way people order their coffees is just so interesting and unique to each person. Maybe I'm thinking too much into it, but it's kind of actually pretty cool to think we have all these little requests and favorite things. Yeah, I can drink just a normal coffee without all of my quirks, but if I can make it my own, why not? I also have fun when I'm at work and get to try making different drinks-- my favorite right now is pulling two espresso shots over a little bit of peppermint syrup and a little bit of mocha, then filling the rest up with iced coffee and a little bit of milk. If it's just a good cup of coffee from home or my dorm room, it's a Splenda and a splash of milk. Coffee just makes me happy. It goes well with desserts, it's a thing to "have coffee" over something, it gives you a little boost of energy, it keeps you warm, and in general, it just brings people together. It's a happy thing.

To those who say they're too good for coffee and will never be "basics" because they don't drink it, sorry you're missing out (okay maybe you don't have a caffeine addition, which is good, but regardless, you're MISSIN OUT!). Coffee's been around for actual ages and isn't a "trendy" thing.  To those who have just never learned to drink coffee, come on over and I'll make you a cup. 


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  1. When I was in high school I taught myself to drink really strong coffee black. So now I can pretty much drink anything. When I'm out I just drink it black but at home I just use a dash of the So Delicious coconut milk creamer.

    Lauren Scorzafava
    Petite in Pearls

  2. Great post! I can relate with getting intimidated about ordering complicated drinks, too. Thanks to your post, I am now educated in coffee sciences:) Also, that background of the lake in one of your photos.. breathtaking.

    xo Hannah-Kate

  3. I remember one time when I was ordering my mocha with skim milk and the barista actually tried to talk me out of my milk! I'm just not a fan of other milks in my coffee and it's refreshing to know that there are other people that feel the same!

    xo Mallory
    Hoosier State Of Prep


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