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.
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, things that are creepy and crawly catch my eye a little more frequently than they do the rest of the year. Fred’s Tea Bones tea infuser isn’t an item that needs to be relegated to your box of Halloween decorations 11 months out of the year, but it certainly is perfect for adding some frightening flair to your favorite tea this time of year. The infuser is made of molded food-safe silicone and has two main parts, a skull and crossbones. The crossbones act as an anchor for the skull, which pops open to give you a perfect cavity to stash your tea, and the two parts are connected by a thin chain. It’s a great looking infuser that is ideal for use with spicy seasonal teas – especially if you have clear glasses in which to steep your tea so you can enjoy the spooky effect.
I recently made a batch of Candy Corn Simple Syrup over at Baking Bites. It’s a honey and vanilla flavored simple syrup that is made with – you guessed it – melted down candy corn. The syrup is a great use for leftover candy corn because it makes it a lot more versatile (and more delicious) than a pile of sugary candies. The candies also don’t have a particularly strong flavor on their own, so boosting it by adding honey into the syrup really amplifies that subtle note. The syrup is bright orange and, in spite of its unusual color, it can be used just like any other syrup to sweeten and flavor a drink. This Candy Corn Latte is made using that bright orange simple syrup and, while it doesn’t taste exactly like candy corn, it does have a hint of honey and vanilla to it that makes it a very enjoyable fall drink.
I used espresso and steamed milk for this latte, though you can also use roughly equal parts of strong, brewed coffee and hot milk, as well, and poured in the candy syrup. You’ll note from the picture that I didn’t stir it in immediately so that you could see the color against the coffee at the bottom of the glass. This is a lovely way to serve it for the effect, and the syrup will dissolve almost immediately in to the drink when it is stirred in before you take your first sip.
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.