When I first went to Starbucks in Paris, I felt a little bit guilty that I was bypassing several local cafes that had a more “authentic” feel to them. When I read David Lebovitz’s comments about how bad French coffee is, any remaining guilt quickly passed. Starbucks in Paris is great because the bathrooms are usally clean and easy to access, the cafes are air conditioned and, unlike regular cafes, you aren’t charged more if you stay and linger instead of taking your cafe to-go. Plus, it’s nice to be able to order a french press or a big Americano without getting strange looks.
Price-wise, the drinks are a little bit more expensive than it is in the US (mostly because the Euro is stronger than the dollar), but the food comes out to about the same price points. I also thought that the food and pastries were better overseas. It seemed like there was a lot more variety and, while I do like the classic coffee cake here, I don’t think I can argue with things like this gorgeous chocolate-covered donut or the Starbucks Fusion desserts created by pastry chef Michalak.
Relatively speaking, there is a lot of discussion about wasted materials versus the necessary degree of insulation when it comes to paper coffee cups. Cups and sleeves made of recycled materials are great, but when the cups and sleeves are made thinner in an attempt to use fewer resources, many consumers feel the need to double cup – and sometimes add a sleeve on top of that. The best solution is probably a reusable cup, but following that, a reusable sleeve that can fit easily into a pocket or handbag is an excellent choice. Save the environment and your fingertips, right?
These Cup coats from Cup Couture come in a tremendous number of cute (and masculine) patterns, are very thin, reusable and will probably work out better than even a thick paper sleeve. I think they’re especially good for travelling, as some cities (and countries) seem to be a little less likely to provide sleeves or double-cups to begin with. They make really cute gifts, too.
An espresso blend is normally not my first choice for a brewed drip coffee because some of the somewhat burnt notes resulting from a dark roast become too strong (and bitter) when pulled as a drip. But when they were brewing samples of Trader Joe’s Organic Five Country Espresso Blend the last time I stopped into TJs, I liked it enough to give it a chance and bring some home with me. The coffee is strong and fruity, and while it doesn’t come close to the richness of a good espresso, it still had a bit of the smoky caramel note to it that makes espresso so good. It had a unexpectedly smooth finish, although not as smooth as the low-acid French Roast from TJ’s. I haven’t pulled any espresso with it yet, but I’m hoping that the fruitiness carries through and turns into a nice sweet-caramel combination in a shot. I’ll definitely pick this one up again.
Zhena’s Gypsy Tea PINK Acaiberry Green Tea is part of the PINK Tea for Women’s Health line from Zhena’s Gypsy. The line includes teas made from superfruit berries, including cherries, pomegranate, cranberries and cacao berries, that are high in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of tea in this line go towards The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The Acaiberry tea reminded me a lot of the Tazo Passion tea, except that the flavor of the green tea base actually came through the fruitiness slightly. It gave the tea a very clean, refreshing feel. Overall, the flavor was very fruity, somewhere between a strawberry, a kiwi and a grape – which boils down to it having an acai berry flavor, which is quite hard to pin down if you’ve never had it before. A great summertime tea, this one, like the Strawberry Kiwi Tea I tried not too long ago, also makes good iced tea. Unlike the Strawberry, which was excellent plain and sweetened, I would prefer this one completely unsweeted for iced tea so that the subtle flavors of the fruit can come out.