Last year, Starbucks teamed up with the site Gilt to offer limited edition metal gift cards and they’re doing the same thing again this year because the special cards were such a hit that they sold out in minutes. The designer gift cards are made of rose-colored metal and have gold status (they’re not made of gold, alas). They’re pre-loaded with $400 and cost $450 to buy. The $50 is only a little more than you would pay for the first dozen drinks that you need to get gold status and you get a very exclusive card that you can flash around your local Starbucks on top of that. It’s not a bad gift for a Starbucks lover – but it is a difficult one to get. Starbucks offered up 5,000 cards last year, and that number is being cut back to 1,000 this year. Since last year’s cards are selling on sites like eBay for more than they cost (and without the $400 already loaded!), you can bet that people will be virtually camped out to try to buy one when they are released.
When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I want is a cup of coffee. At home, this usually isn’t a problem because my kitchen contains several different coffee-making options to satisfy my cravings. When I travel, getting coffee isn’t always so easy. Most hotel rooms still have small travel size coffee makers as a convenience for groggy travelers who don’t want to get fully dressed and head out in search of a cup of coffee moments after they wake up. The more expensive hotels tend not to have this convenience, forcing you to traipse down to the lobby, call room service or head out to a coffee shop to pick up a cup.
At Forbes, the question of if we should give up in-room hotel coffee is raised. They say yes for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that in-room hotel coffee isn’t usually very good. Does this mean that we should encourage hotels to dump the in-room coffee? Continue reading »
Starbucks recently lost a lawsuit over a dark roast coffee line, known as Charbucks, sold by a small New Hampshire coffee roaster. The Charbucks line of products essentially parody some of Starbucks more popular blends and are described (rather sarcastically) as containing “strong ‘dark’ notes that West Coast coffee drinkers like.” The East coast market has been traditional dominated by very light and medium roast coffees, a fact that is supported by the popularity of “blond” and other light roast brews out there, and the popularity of Starbucks makes it a frequent choice for just about any coffee-related jokes.
The courts said that Charbucks products – and Charbucks is not the name of the roaster, just of some of their coffees – would not be confused with actual Starbucks products. A phone survey that was used as evidence in the case found that “the number one association of the name ‘Charbucks’ in the minds of consumers is with the brand ‘Starbucks’” and that 39.5 percent of participants thought of “Starbucks” or “coffee” when they heard the word “Charbucks.” But the survey also found that less than 5% of people surveyed would expect to find a Charbucks product in a Starbucks location – a fact that the court used to support its ruling that consumers would most likely not confuse Charbucks packaged coffee with any product sold at a Starbucks store.
I used steamed milk in most of my recipes because it gives the drink a great texture and because I have an espresso machine that makes steaming milk easy. Steamed milk has a slightly velvety texture to it because it is aerated, which milk that has simply been heated up doesn’t have. If you don’t have an espresso machine to work with at home, you can’t easily steam milk to make your own lattes or cappuccinos – but, fortunately, there are some easy ways to mimic the look and feel of machine-steamed milk and make your homemade coffee drinks that much better.
The easiest way to “steam” milk is to whisk it vigorously with a small whisk that will fit inside your mug. I whisk the milk first – which will make it frothy – then add in my coffee, or whisk the milk in another glass and pour it into my coffee mug. Low fat and whole milks will froth up, though whole milk will sustain the bubbles a bit better. Both will become more foamy when cold, so your iced drinks may get a better “head” of foam on them than the hot drinks. Continue reading »