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.
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.
The biggest problem with Frappuccinos – those delicious ice blended drinks from Starbucks – is that people like to complain about them. Opponents of tasty frozen drinks constantly harp about what calorie bombs they are, annoying the rest of us who want to drink our frozen treats without a guilt trip. It’s true that a super sized Frappuccino with whipped cream has a lot of calories, but so do a lot of other foods. If you don’t want a giant drink, simply order a smaller size. Starbucks is currently test marketing a mini Frappuccino, for those who want the option to order the smallest possible drink.
The new Frappuccinos are currently being tested in Houston and Denver, after a smaller test in San Diego earlier this year. They are 10-ounces – 2 ounces smaller than the current Tall option – and come in a mini cup with their own mini lid. They give customers a slightly less expensive way to taste a new Frappuccino flavor, as well as a slightly lower calorie option than a full size drink.