Sep 29, 2014

Java Monster Kona Blend, reviewed

Java Monster

If I say that I need an energy drink, that usually means that I want a cup of coffee – not a strangely flavored, slightly carbonated canned beverage. That said, I have found many canned and bottled coffee drinks that I enjoy over the years, and am always interested in giving new ones a taste to see what might provide a good, quick fix when I’m on the go. So, I was a bit torn when I first saw the new Java Monster Kona Blend, which was both an energy drink and a canned coffee drink in one! The use of Kona coffee won me over and convinced me to give it a shot – and I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised!

Java Monster Kona Blend is made with real Kona coffee, blended with milk, sugar and Monster’s energy blend, which includes taurine, ginseng and guarana seed extract, as well as some additional caffeine. It’ll definitely wake you up if you’re sensitive to caffeine, though I didn’t feel too much more of a “rush” than I would with a regular cup of black coffee. The drink is smooth, with a great blend of rich coffee and creamy milk flavors, plus just the right hint of sweetness. I didn’t intend to like it when I picked up the can, since I always prefer to get my energy from coffee or tea over an engineered “energy drink,” but this wildly exceeded my expectations and was better than many other bottled (or canned) coffee drinks I’ve had. In short, it tasted very good. The drink is offered in other flavors, which I haven’t tried, but the vanilla, mocha, toffee and irish cream flavors definitely sound interesting!

Sep 24, 2014

Snickerdoodle Latte

Fall Spice Latte

A snickerdoodle is a classic bake sale cookie with a very funny name. It’s a vanilla sugar cookie that is covered in a layer of cinnamon sugar, which gives it its signature speckled look and a strong pop of spice. They’re great cookies because they appeal to so many different people – even die-hard chocolate chip cookie fans – and their simple flavor profile makes them easy to adapt into other formats. For instance, this Snickerdoodle Latte is a delicious snickerdoodle-inspired way to start your day without eating dessert for breakfast.

The latte is made with a cinnamon-infused simple syrup that you can easily make at home. The cinnamon syrup is based on the same recipe I used for my homemade pumpkin spice syrup, though it only uses cinnamon and vanilla for flavoring. You’ll get the best results by using whole cinnamon sticks, rather than ground cinnamon, because the sticks are easy to strain out once your syrup is made. I recommend making a big batch and storing it in an airtight container or bottle in the fridge. It’ll keep for a long time when you store it properly, and you can use it to sweeten regular coffee and tea, in addition to making drinks like this latte.

You can make this drink with either espresso or with strong coffee (depending on what kind of coffee maker you have at home). Feel free to sweeten to taste and top with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, if desired.

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Sep 21, 2014

Coffee, Chocolate and Waffle Cones, a New Coffee Trend?

Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cones with Coffee! Yum!

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.

Sep 18, 2014

Starbucks Tests 10-oz Mini Frappuccinos

Starbucks Tests Mini Frappuccinos

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.

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