As more people do their shopping online, brick and mortar retailers often feel the pinch. We usually picture clothing stores and toy stores, but this kind of shift in shopping behavior also affects other types of stores, including the food and drink vendors in malls and shopping centers. Starbucks is just one example of a store that has seen a dip in some in-store sales over past holiday seasons – after all, commuters may not be stopping in for their morning coffee drink, either! – but this year, they are introducing a promotion that just might turn that trend around. Starbucks will be giving away free drinks for life to 10 lucky customers who use their registered Starbucks card between December 2nd and Christmas. Winning the promotion would entitle you to a free drink of your choice (I assume that you could select a different one every day) every day for the next 30 years. They’ll also be giving away other prizes for participating consumers.
The odds may be slim, but that is a pretty tempting prize for a coffee (or tea, especially since they’re incorporating more Tevana products) lover this holiday season. I’ll most likely be stopping by anyway, but it is a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit after doing the rest of your holiday shopping online.
Have you ever noticed that a cup of coffee can affect people very differently? You might be able to drink a few cups of your favorite roast and take a nap an hour later without a second thought, while your close friend might get the jitters after just half a cup. You might have chalked this up to caffeine tolerance – after all, caffeine is a drug – but it might be deeper than that. A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found that genetic variants explain why same amount of coffee can have different effects in different people.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied over 120,000 coffee drinkers and found six genetic variants linked to coffee. Two are thought to play a role in the positive effects of caffeine, the happy stimulant effect that you get from your first cup, while others had impacts on glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure regulation and addiction (to caffeine, for the purposes of this study). For instance, regular coffee drinkers were less likely to have high blood pressure than those who did not drink coffee. The study is interesting in part because it focused specifically on coffee and the caffeine in coffee, not just caffeine from general sources, and the fact that they identified links to coffee specifically help to explain why so many other studies have found health benefits related directly to coffee consumption.
When you work in an office, you probably have access to office coffee. Unless you happen to work at a place filled with coffee snobs or a place that actually produces/provides coffee (such as Starbucks, etc.), the office coffee is probably not all that good. Office coffee is rarely good, but we drink it when when have to in order to get through the day. I don’t always want to run across the street or down the block to get a fresh cup of coffee, so I’m always open to alternatives that could help out.
Nescafe with Coffee-Mate is a new line of products from Nescafe that blend their instant coffee with Coffee-Mate creamer flavors, delivering a two-in-one product for those who like their coffee on the sweeter side. Currently, they’re available in three different flavors: Original, French Vanilla and Hazelnut. The original is a classic sweetened cream flavor that is not overly sweet and allows you to taste the Nescafe coffee underneath. The vanilla has a strong, sweet vanilla flavor that is ideal for a vanilla lover or someone with a bit of a sweet tooth. Hazelnut is slightly milder than vanilla and blends in with the base coffee flavor, though it still comes through as being sweeter than the Original flavor. Of the three, Vanilla is my favorite simply because I am a vanilla-lover and enjoy the extra flavor boost, however a few friends who helped me do some taste testing thought that the Original was idea for delivering a nice balance of sweet, cream and coffee.
I loved the convenience of this product as something that was both ready to drink and very tasty right out of the package. The directions on the resealable containers are ok, though I found I preferred to use slightly more of the powder in my drinks for a stronger coffee flavor. They are on the sweet side, however, and you may find that they are sweeter than you prefer if you typically drink your coffee black. Fortunately, you can also use them as a substitute for regular coffee creamers (since they are creamers with coffee built in) to both sweeten up and strengthen a cup of the existing coffee that might be brewing at your office.
Sometimes it just takes a little bit of publicity for an idea to take off. This was the case for the Cronut, a donut-shaped, deep fried croissant. The first “cronut” wasn’t the first time that someone thought to deep fry laminated dough, but it was the first time that the treat came with some killer pr. The Alfred Cone doesn’t have as catchy of a name, but it is a new way to serve coffee that certainly has a lot of potential as a novel way to enjoy a quick cup of your favorite brew.
The Alfred Cone is a chocolate-rimmed waffle cone that is shaped like a small cup. They are being served up at Alfred Coffee & Kitchen on Melrose in Los Angeles as a novel way to enjoy an espresso or macchiato (other drinks are simply too large for the adorable and tasty cups). They’re a fun way to take your coffee because the chocolate rim melts as you sip, leaving you with a mini mocha with every mouthful. The edible cup is a upcharge from a regular espresso and it is currently being featured on a not-so-secret menu that you need to ask for (there is a photo near the register, in case you forget).
Not everyone is going to want to pay a few dollars more to enjoy their coffee this way, but the coffee shop reports that they are in pretty high demand with their customers. Many people want to try one just for the experience – not unlike first time Cronut-tasters – and those who are fans come back to them when they are feeling a little bit indulgent. The waffle cups are pretty easy to replicate, so keep an eye out for them at higher end cafes in your area. And if you do find some, try to see if you can add a small scoop of ice cream to yours, since the cup is the perfect way to enjoy an affogato.