The baristaFirst off, let’s make sure you know who is creating your delicious coffee today. The person perfecting your drink is called a barista — not a waiter/waitress, not a server — a barista. Even though you should never have to refer to your barista with a “hey, barista” (an “excuse me” will do), you should be aware that they are an important part of a coffee shop, and you should be polite.
Cup SizeDepending on the coffee house, the names of sizes will vary, but the actual sizes are pretty standard.
ShortA short is the smallest cup size available at Starbucks, and was one of the two original sizes available at Seattle’s first Starbucks. It is only eight ounces and a more “authentic” Italian size (even though there are no Starbucks coffee shops in Italy ). This size is not advertised, but it is available if you request it.
Small vs. TallSome coffee houses, such as Starbucks, refer to their small, 12-ounce beverage size as a tall. Other venues may simply call a 12-ounce drink a small. The tall at Starbucks is the other original Starbucks size.
Medium vs. GrandeA medium is normally 16 ounces and is called a grande at Starbucks. Grande means large in Italian.
Large vs. VentiA large is usually 20 ounces and is called a venti at Starbucks. Venti means 20 in Italian.
TrentaWho would have thought Starbucks would create the equivalent of a super-sized Polar Pop? It exists. The trenta is the largest size available at Starbucks at 31 ounces, but is only available for iced beverages such as iced coffee and tea. Trenta means 30 in Italian.
“I’ll have a skinny…”At many coffee shops ordering anything skinny means using fat-free milk or skim milk. A Starbucks “skinny” is NOT the same. At Starbucks, ordering a skinny latte will result in a drink with fat-free milk and artificial sweetener.
“Non-fat, please”If you just want skim milk in your beverage, order your latte fat-free or non-fat. If you are unfamiliar with the coffee shop you are in always ask for fat-free/non-fat and not a skinny just in case there’s a difference.
What is Espresso?There is an age-old dispute among coffee snobs and enthusiasts whether or not espresso is a roast or a process of making coffee. Why can’t it be both? Espresso can be a type of dark roast created with the intentions of using it for espresso shots, but it doesn’t have to be. Espresso can be made out of any type of roast because it is a result of how the coffee is processed. A dark or medium roast is often preferred for espresso because of the strong taste. To create espresso, a machine will push hot water through fine-ground coffee at a high pressure. This allows the flavors and ingredients of the beverage to be highly concentrated, which in turn gives you a nice jolt of caffeine. Be sure to pronounce espresso with an “s” and not an “x.” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said “expresso.” I’m guessing it’s my small-town nature that compels me to mispronounce odd words.
“I’ll have a shot of…”A shot is simply a one-ounce serving size for espresso. While most flavored coffee beverages are based from at least one espresso shot for 12 ounces, two shots for 16 ounces and so on, Americano beverages sometimes have two shots for 12 ounces and double as you increase the size. No matter what beverage you choose, however, you can add more espresso shots to your beverage (and you will normally be charged for extra).
“A single…”Asking for a single is simply implying that you want only one shot of espresso in your beverage. For me, one shot = mildly awake, no jitters.
“Make mine a double”Asking for a double indicates you want two shots of espresso. For me, two shots of espresso = wired.
“Make that a triple”I’m sure you’ve caught on, but asking for a triple indicates you want three shots of espresso. For me, three shots of espresso = wired, jittery and an upset stomach *Note: If you need four shots of espresso, you need help and should seek a caffeine rehab. That is just too much!
“I’ll have a half-caf…”Ordering a drink half-caf means you want half regular espresso or coffee and half decaf espresso or coffee in your beverage. Therefore, you are ordering half the normal amount of caffeine in your drink.
Customizing your beverage
“I’ll have an extra pump of…”Asking for a certain number of pumps is an acceptable way to order an extra serving size of flavored syrup. Coffee shops usually have the mother-load of flavors; so if you want more, ask. Be aware that some places may charge you extra or be out of certain flavors for seasonal beverages.
“I’ll have a dry cappuccino”Augmenting beverages with steamed milk is not a problem as long as you ask politely. This usually goes for beverages heavy in steamed milk such as lattes and cappuccinos. If you prefer a heavier amount of foam in your drink ask for it dry. This instructs the barista that you want less milk and more foam. You can also simply ask for more foam if a new barista gives you trouble with the term. Be warned : baristas who are very proud of their coffee-making skills may cringe at the term. Some baristas seem to think it can ruin the drink.
“I’ll have a wet cappuccino”If you prefer less foam in your drink, ask for it wet. This tells the barista you want less foam in your drink and more milk. You can also simply ask for less foam if a new barista gives you trouble.
Blended v. FrappuccinoI now realize that my past mistake was because I had blended and Frappuccino confused. A Frappuccino (or Frap) is an iced coffee beverage where the ice is blended with the coffee like a smoothie. It still seems to mean the same thing to me, but it is redundant to most baristas unless they themselves ask you if you want your drink over ice or blended (My Starbucks in Target at home always does this to me!). Now that you are more familiar with some basic coffee house lingo, go out and order a delicious hand-crafted beverage. “I’ll have a grande, double non-fat Chai Tea Latte, please.”
In honor of the few weeks left to cram in exercise before spring break, I decided to try some teas claiming to help boost one’s exercise ability.
I’m no athlete, so some of these teas seemed perfect to help motivate me to work on my bikini bod — even if I will spend spring break on my parents’ couch.
Many of us want to look good this spring break, but do exercise teas even work?
“Get Limber” herb tea for flexibility
“Get Limber” herb tea is a tea from the Republic of Tea’s “Be Active Teas.” The tea claims to be a tea for flexibility, which is great for yoga, Pilates, and other exercises with a lot of joint movement.
“Get Limber” is a green tea, which is full of health benefits ranging from boosting metabolism to fighting cancer. This tea also contains ginger root (to help heart rate and blood pressure), orange peel, turmeric root (to help metabolism), lemongrass (to help detoxify the body), cat’s claw root and bark (a plant used to reduce osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms) and yucca root extract (also a plant to reduce arthritis symptoms). I thought “Get Limber” tasted pretty good with just enough hints of citrus and ginger to be flavorful, but not too overwhelming.
Does it work?
After a cup of “Get Limber” tea, I can’t say I was able to do splits and cartwheels, but I did notice some difference in how my joints felt. After trying some creative yoga, I felt less stiff in moving poses, but overall there was no astounding difference.
“Get Limber” did prove to have a hidden benefit: It’s great for injured muscles and joints. For example, my right shoulder was injured in high school, and I still have some limited mobility. After drinking “Get Limber,” I felt I could move my shoulder a little more fluidly.
“Get Active” herb tea for endurance
Like “Get Limber” tea, “Get Active” tea is another green tea blend from the Republic of Tea’s “Be Active Teas.” The tea’s other ingredients include holy basil (to detoxify and distress), licorice root (for digestive and respiratory health), Indian sarsaparilla root (to increase sweating and treat arthritis symptoms), maca root (said to help energy levels and endurance), acerola berry extract (to regulate blood pressure) and natural orange and vanilla flavoring.
Does it work?
“Get Active” tea claims to be a tea for endurance in light workouts as well a caffeine-free way to wake up in the morning.
Trying to wake up in the morning without caffeine? Challenge accepted, and challenge failed. Drinking this tea in the morning did nothing to help me wake up for my morning class, and I completely blame it for my zombie-like state until I reached caffeine.
Even drinking this tea was difficult. I’m sure “Get Active” is loved by wacky health-nut gurus because this tea tastes disgusting! Why do things that are supposed to be so good for you taste so terrible? The basil and vanilla flavors really stood out and created a repulsive combination. A few sips and my taste buds were too tortured for more.
As far as endurance enhancement, I tested the tea with a brisk walk to Franklin Hall. I’m not in terrible shape, but the quick walk usually puts me a little out of breath. Even after the tea, however, I was still tired from the walk and heaving for air.
Bottom line: I think this tea could possibly work as a wake-up tea for those not addicted to caffeine, but I really noticed no change in my endurance. The pungent taste was enough to turn me away, and I will not be trying anymore ”Get Active” tea for quite awhile.
Sleep should be filled with dreams, drooling and snoring, but the stresses of college life often make sleep impossible.
Luckily, there are remedies for sleep that not only work, but are as simple as a cup of tea. Here are some teas that will help you sip your way to a good night’s rest.
The power of chamomile
Chamomile is a great herb to look for when selecting a sleep inducing tea.
For generations chamomile flowers have been dried and added to tea blends due to their many health benefits. For sleep aid, chamomile acts as a light sedative that causes relaxation without drowsy effects the next day.
Celestial Seasonings’ “Sleepytime Herbal Tea”
“Sleepytime Herbal Tea” is the classic chamomile tea. In addition to chamomile, the tea includes other calming herbs and plants such as spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds. This tea has a very floral aroma and taste, and it soothes as it moves to the stomach. I find “Sleepytime Herbal Tea” to be bitter and like to add a small amount of sugar (a pinch, not a full tablespoon!). Although I am not crazy about the ultra- floral taste of this tea, it is very soothing and eases me to sleep after finishing a cup.
Valerian root extract
Valerian is an herb also used for sleep aid. The oil from the root is often extracted for use in teas and other beverages to help anxiety and insomnia. Much like chamomile, valerian root is a natural sedative that is strong enough to put you to sleep.
Republic of Tea’s “Get some zzz's - No. 5 Herb Tea for Rest”
“Get some zzz’s” is another fantastic tea from the Republic of Tea’s “Be Well Red Tea” collection. Unlike regular chamomile tea, this red tea also has valerian root extract for extra eye-shutting power. “Get some zzz’s” also contains a blend of orange peal, spearmint, passionflower (herb) and the natural sweetener stevia. This tea still has a floral taste, but is very toned down and lighter in taste compared to “Sleepytime Herbal Tea.” A warning: although this tea tastes good, it smells like dishwater, so do not inhale for a soothing aroma.
After drinking half of an average sized mug of “Get some zzz’s,” I was ready to conk out for the night.
My dad used to tell me that drinking black coffee would put hair on my chest, and to this day, I still can’t drink my coffee black. Not because I’m afraid I’ll sprout a mat of gorilla chest hair, but because creamers make coffee taste even better.
Even the best coffees I’ve tried are too strong without a dash of creamer. Here’s a guide for the best way to enhance your coffee with creamer, chest hair free.
Creamers should enhance, not cover up coffee
International Delight creamers are my go-to flavored creamer. They are generally cheaper than Coffee-mate creamers and come in a ridiculous amount of flavors. It is important that you do not buy creamers that cover up the coffee taste. Creamers should enhance a cup of coffee’s flavor, as well as make it creamier and sweeter. I have to admit that many flavored creamers, like Pumpkin Spice, are delicious, but treat this creamer as a way to make a flavored drink, not as an additive to quality roasted coffee that has its own unique flavors.
Fat vs. fat free
I prefer to buy creamer with fat, because fat free isn’t as great as it advertises. Most International Delight fat free creamers only have a five-calorie difference and only about one gram less sugar and fat. Fat-free creamers also have added sodium and carbohydrates. I also think fat-free tastes weird and thin in my coffee. Although all International Delight creamers are lactose free, the odd taste from the fat-free may be because creamers higher in fat compliment coffee best.
Flavored creamers that compliment coffee
French Vanilla (International Delight)
French Vanilla is the flavor I normally use in my morning coffee. It is sweet, with just enough vanilla to taste delicious and not artificial.
Be warned: flavored creamers can sometimes take away the different undertones of coffee, so try to accompany a French Vanilla creamer with a rich coffee or a coffee with complementary flavors. Cherry, chocolate, cinnamon and even lemon can all go great with vanilla. Bent Tree’s Guatemala Huehuetenango (way-way-ten-nang-oh) coffee is my favorite coffee with French Vanilla creamer because the cherry and chocolate flavors really stand out.
Irish Crème (International Delight)
This year was the first time I’ve ever tried Irish Crème creamer. For years, I thought it was a mint-flavored creamer because of the green packaging, but my Irish fallacy could not have been more wrong. Irish Crème is sweet and creamy, but doesn’t have a flavor that totally alters the coffee. This creamer is also non-alcoholic, so sorry to the Bailey’s Irish Cream fans. Irish Crème is great for those who still want their coffee sweet, but without the outside flavors of vanilla.
This creamer will go with almost any type of coffee, but I really like it with dark roasts with spicy flavors. I’m not usually one for dark roasts, but Irish Crème creamer instantly transforms Bent Tree’s Sumatra Kopi Gayo into a spicy, rich coffee without so much of the earthy taste.
Reuse, reduce, recycle. That motto heard every Earth Day isn’t exactly something bouncing off the kitchen walls when a Keurig brews your morning coffee. The Keurig’s K-cups may be wonderfully convenient, but they are also terribly expensive, non-recyclable plastic.
College kids are notoriously broke and yet so many of us buy K-cups and toss them out after one use. Why not try saving a few bucks and reuse those old K-cups? It’s easy and a great way to enhance that overused motto: Reuse, reduce, recycle, ca-ching!
Many people are easily fooled into a good deal, and K-cups are no exception. On the surface, a pack of around 16 K-cups is about the same as a bag of coffee, but the amount of coffee is very significant.
Let’s use Starbucks’ House Blend as an example. At the store, a bag of the coffee and a pack of K-cups both cost around $12 (give or take a few dollars based on the retailer). A box of House Blend K-cups contains roughly 6.7 ounces of coffee, while a bag of the same coffee contains 16 ounces of coffee. K-cups don’t even contain half the amount of the ground coffee! In the long run, buying ground coffee for your Keurig can save you more than half the price of buying K-cups. And those few bucks are very significant to a Starbucks junkie.
Reusing old K-cups is an easy way to save a few bucks. Simply remove the foil from your used K-cup and rinse out the coffee grounds. Allow the K-cup to dry for a few hours and you are ready to start making your very own.
Gather what you’ll need
Fill the K-cup
Place a few spoonfuls of coffee grounds into your K-cup, filling it up to the brim. Make sure to lightly pack the coffee grounds into the K-cup to help extract flavor. You can even mix different coffee grounds together to create your very own blend of coffee. Make sure when choosing a coffee ground that it is medium ground. This degree of ground size will help the coffee absorb the hot water better and create a flavorful cup. If the ground size is too large it will produce a weak cup. If the ground size is too small, it may leak from the K-cup.
Make a seal
Take your filled K-cup and place a square (or circle) of aluminum foil on top of it. Create a smooth surface with the foil and fold the excess foil around the K-cup as tight as possible. If you have too much foil bunching at the sides, cut some of the excess off so it won’t get stuck in your Keurig.
Make some coffee!
Voila! A homemade K-cup. Now all that’s left is to make a great cup of coffee. Place the K-cup into your Keurig and try your best to align the old puncture hole on the bottom of the K-cup with the needle at the base of the K-cup holder. Close the lid, press the brew button and get ready to enjoy a green cup of coffee. A benefit for both the environment and your wallet.