The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a Southern California-based coffee shop that is a big regional competitor for Starbucks. They have a lot of similar drinks on the menu and everyone seems to have a favorite drink at each shop. But fans of Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato (and the Hazelnut Macchiato) have never been able to get that same type of drink at Coffee Bean. Coffee Bean stuck to their guns about what a traditional macchiato should be and offered up a caramel latte with a similar flavor profile to the Starbucks’ drink – but that wasn’t quite enough to win over Caramel Macchiato-fans. Finally, this year, Coffee Bean launched a line of Latte Macchiatos that are similar to the Starbucks’ drinks. They’re made with steamed milk, flavored syrups and have the espresso shots poured over the top to “mark” the foam and give the drinks a layered look. They’re available in caramel, vanilla bean and dark chocolate, and they’re sure to attract So Cal fans of Starbucks’ macchiato who want to give their new flavors a try.
Starbucks Via Lattes are the newest addition to the Via instant coffee lineup. I’m a big fan of Via, which actually tastes like the coffee roast that it promises to taste like, since it is such a handy thing to have when I’m traveling. Starbucks has had some holiday flavors of Via out before, but the new Via Lattes are the first permanent expansion to the Via lineup. The Via Lattes are available in two flavors: Vanilla Latte and Caffe Mocha. The primary difference between them and standard Via is that they contain milk, sugar and all natural flavors (vanilla and cocoa powder, respectively) to replicate the flavor of a Starbucks latte in instant form.
You’ve probably been told that coffee causes dehydration because it is a diuretic. It turns out that this widely-repeated “fact” is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. A new study conducted at the University of Birmingham concluded that “coffee … provides similar hydrating qualities to water” and that consumption of caffeinated coffee had no influence on hydration status. This means that coffee doesn’t encourage the body to pee or otherwise cause you to dry out more quickly – reassuring news for regular coffee drinkers who often hear that they need to drink more water. This isn’t the first study on this subject, and more research out there counteracting this long-standing myth is the first step towards getting a real fact out there in place of the old tall tale.
That said, you probably aren’t drinking enough water, so you might want to order an extra coffee or a cup of water the next time you are out so that you really do stay hydrated!
I’m usually a big fan of the loyalty programs because it’s nice to be rewarded for enjoying something that you would buy anyway. I have a Starbucks gold card, but I also have a few punch cards from local coffee shops that offer their own rewards programs. I use the Starbucks card a lot more frequently than the indie coffee cards because there is usually a Starbucks that is convenient for me to drop in to when I’m out and about, whether I’m out of state or just running errands. I fill those indie cards eventually, but if it takes me six months to earn one reward, then the reward card isn’t much of an incentive for me to go out of my way.
This is exactly why a half dozen Washington DC-area indie coffee shops have banded together to create a disloyalty program. With their card, customers actually are rewarded for trying out every participating shop – not just for sticking to one. This means that they’ll actually have an incentive to visit new shops and they’re that much more likely to be within a short distance of a coffee shop they can get rewards from. And once they know where the indie shops are, they’re probably a little more likely to go back for that second cup because they don’t have to hunt down the shop on their GPS or wonder if the coffee is going to be good enough to make the effort.