During the fall, Starbucks releases its Pumpkin Spice Latte for pumpkin spice fans everywhere. The drink is so popular that it sometimes overshadow’s the brands other offerings. I do like the PSL, but I have to admit that my favorite drink right now is something a little bit different. On warm fall days, I’m opting for an Iced Salted Caramel Mocha when I want to indulge a bit. The Starbucks version uses mocha and toffee nut syrups for a drink that is a blend of chocolaty and nutty flavors, then it is topped with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. I don’t have toffee nut syrup at home to make an exact replica of the drink – however you don’t need to have it to whip up a fantastic homemade version of this decadent drink.
My version of the drink starts with strong coffee, hot chocolate mix and salted caramel sauce. Salted caramel is so popular now that it is easy to find the sauce being sold at most grocery stores. I used a particularly buttery salted caramel from CC Made. If your store doesn’t carry it, you can use any caramel sauce that you like (thick sauce, not syrup) and add in a generous pinch of salt to contrast with its sweetness. Mix the strong coffee with hot cocoa and salted caramel sauce, then pour over ice and top with a splash of milk, a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel.
I recommend using double strength coffee or even espresso when making this drink, since the coffee will dilute when you pour it over the ice and you don’t want you drink to taste watered down. You can start out with iced coffee, however it is much easier to incorporate the cocoa powder and caramel if you are starting with hot. Continue reading »
Trader Joe’s Single Serve Coffee Cups, made for Keurig machines, have been around for about a year now. They’re made with their signature Joe’s Blend, a medium roast coffee that has a pretty broad appeal and is easy to adjust in strength by selecting different cup sizes on your brewer. That said, Trader Joe’s offers a lot of great coffees and I know that I wasn’t the only one interested in seeing some more of them offered in K-cup form. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s recently released some new French Roast Single Serve Coffee Cups. These cups are sold in packs of 12 for $4.99 (at my SoCal store), which brings the cost to about $.41 per cup. French roast has been a long-time TJ’s coffee staple, so it’s not surprising that they opted to make it their second K-cup release.
The format for these cups is the same as the originals: the pods have soft coffee-filter walls and plastic lids, and are individually wrapped for freshness. I found that the cups worked well in my machine, though I know that others have reported leakage from the soft walled cups.
I liked the idea of a darker roast for my k-cups and do enjoy the regular Trader Joe’s French Roast from time to time, but I wasn’t wowed by these new k-cups. The French roast is a bit dry, with a toasted cocoa flavor that is smooth and fairly flat, without much complexity. The coffee is easy to drink, but it is also a bit boring. You could blame the packaging for the coffee not tasting as good as fresh-brewed, however I felt that the original Joe’s blend k-cups packed a lot more flavor into their pods, and the packaging is all the same. Overall, it’s a good effort and the cups do brew a darker cup of coffee if you are looking for a strong cup of joe to kick-start your morning. That said, I’ll probably stick to the originals for now and keep my eyes out for any other k-cups that Trader Joe’s releases!
Rich, dark coffee can easily stain your teeth – just like other colorful foods and beverages, including red wine – if you drink it straight. Based on this, you might assume that coffee is bad for your teeth. If you look beyond the coffee stains (which can be removed with whitening toothpaste, by the way), it turns out that coffee is actually very good for your teeth! Researchers from Boston University discovered that drinking one or more cups of coffee each day can help product you from periodontal disease. Their study followed over 1000 men for more than 30 years and found that regular coffee drinkers had fewer teeth with bone loss (a sign of periodontal disease) than their non-coffee-drinking counterparts. They’re attributing this to the antioxidants in coffee, which may help to reduce gum and jaw inflammation. Researchers also point out that coffee is much less acidic than many other beverages, such as fruit juices, energy drinks and sodas, and regular coffee drinkers might also be selecting coffee over alternatives, rather than in addition to them.
I’m a big fan of the high quality Art of Tea iced teas. They offer great flavor, bags that are large enough to make a generous pitcher of tea and very clear instructions on how to ensure that the tea turns out perfectly. The Art of Tea Passionfruit Jasmine Iced Tea is a flavor that jumped out at me immediately, since I’m a fan of anything that includes passionfruit. This tea is a blend of black and green tea with jasmine flowers, not jasmine tea. The flowers give the tea a very delicate, sweet floral scent that blends well with the floral notes of passionfruit. It’s slightly sweet on its own, but the flavors pop even more when you add a little bit of sugar to the mix. Since the flavors are delicate, this is once iced tea that might lose its refreshing essence if you over-sweeten it. One package makes enough for four 2-quart pitchers of tea, which should be plenty to get you through two or three hot weekends this summer!