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!
Vanilla and cinnamon area wonderful combination in just about any dish, from cakes to cookies. They both also go extremely well with coffee, though most coffee places only offer cinnamon as a topping that you can add to scent your latte instead of as a flavor that you can incorporate into it. A Homemade Vanilla Cinnamon Latte is a great change of pace from the usual vanilla latte because it has just the right amount of spice to keep things interesting.
My latte is made with equal parts strong coffee and milk, though you can use espresso if you have an espresso machine for a more authentic latte (but I can assure you that the coffee version is excellent). I use homemade vanilla syrup and a small pinch of ground cinnamon to infuse the drink with sugar, vanilla and spice. Combine the cinnamon and vanilla syrup with very hot coffee and allow it to steep for a minute or so to really release the aroma of the cinnamon.
The vanilla syrup is easy to make, but you can also make this with sugar, cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract. I recommend alcohol free vanilla, since you can add more of it to your drink than you can with regular vanilla to get a much more pronounved vanilla flavor without getting any unpleasant alcohol notes in your coffee.
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.