I have always enjoyed spending time in coffee shops, whether I’m visiting with friends, reading or doing a little work on my computer. Part of the reason I enjoy them is because being ni a coffee shop gives me very easy access to coffee. The other reason - and this might be because I spend so much time in coffee shops in the first place – is that I enjoy the general sounds of being in a coffee shop. It’s a mixture of people talking, milk steaming, espresso shots being pulled and coffee beans being ground. And it is a blend of sounds that I find very, very pleasant. There are plenty of times when I wish I were in a coffee shop instead of in an office next to any annoying coworking, or in my home office while my laundry is thumping around in the dryer, and lately I’ve been bringing coffee shop sounds into my home office to change the mood a bit and give me some familiar “white noise” to work to.
If you like the bustling atmosphere of a coffee shop and don’t feel like trekking out to your favorite location – perhaps the weather is too awful outside or you just don’t feel like changing out of your pajamas – try playing the above video while you work. It’s got 1 hour of coffee shop sounds that you can play any time. It’s not the only one on YouTube, so you can search around for something that sounds even more like your local favorite shop, but it’s a great one to start out with and I find that one hour of relaxing coffee sounds are all I need to kick start my work day. That, and a cup of coffee.
I recently picked up a jar of the delicious Pumpkin Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe’s. This seasonal offering is made with real pumpkin and fresh spices, with a generous dose of pumpkin pie spices to give it some extra complexity. The fluid sauce is the perfect way to finish off a bowl of ice cream or a slice of apple pie, but it is even more well-suited to making Caramel Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
The drink is a very easy one to make because it only involves three ingredients. Of course, the catch is that you need to head out to your nearest Trader Joe’s to pick up the sauce in the first place, but once you have it on hand, that one jar will get you through quite a few of these drinks. The base of the latte is nothing more than espresso with the caramel sauce dissolved into it. While it seems like the flavor of the pumpkin might get lost under the flavor of the coffee, it actually really stands out while the sweetness of the caramel itself is tempered a bit! The result is a drink that tastes like a delicious, caramel twist on that ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte and is a very satisfying drink to treat yourself with on a cool fall evening.
Some days, you just need an extra shot. This might mean an extra shot of espresso, turning your coffee into a red eye for an extra boost of caffeine. This might also mean an extra shot of whiskey or your other favorite booze, turning your coffee into a nightcap. Either way, this Extra Shot Coffee Mug has you covered. The mug is accessorized with a stainless steel shot glass and a leatherette belt that holds it in place. The flask definitely isn’t a standard size, but it is big enough to get the job done – or, at least, make you look like you prefer your coffee with a kick! If you don’t want to (or aren’t allowed to) drink at work, you can fill your flask with a shot of cream or creamer to take back to your desk and add in when needed. The belt slides right off when you’re ready to wash your cup, although you can wipe it down as needed in case you get any drips on it. The flask should be rinsed by hand, mostly because its small size makes it less-than-ideal for running through the dishwasher.
A few days ago, Starbucks quietly announced the launch of a “secret” seasonal drink – the Franken Frappuccino. Also known as the Frankenstein Frappuccino at some stores, this drink did not appear on any regular menus and was said to be available for three days only leading up to Halloween. A quick survey of stores in my area found that some were promoting this secret drink on their chalk menu boards, while others had no signs of any kind posted about it. Whether there was a display or not, every single one knew exactly how to make it.
The frappuccino is made with a green tea base, to which white chocolate mocha and peppermint syrups are added, along with java chips for color and texture. A mocha drizzle on the side of the cup gives it a creepier overall color scheme and the drink is topped with whipped cream and a mocha drizzle to finish it off. The drink has an underlying matcha flavor with a generous dash of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s not as sweet as you might expect, since the matcha really reins in the sweetness of the white chocolate and peppermint. The mocha drizzle and java chips were a really nice touch and the frappuccino looked perfectly Halloween-y. Despite its swamp-thing appearance, it actually tastes very good. That said, it wasn’t my absolutely favorite, but only because I am not a huge fan of matcha frappuccinos and ice blended drinks in general. If you do like matcha, this is a Halloween treat that is worth tracking down.
If you want to give it a try when you head out to trick or treat tonight (10/31), the Franken Frappuccino will still be available through the end of the day. If you go after 2pm, all grande sized Frappuccinos will be only $3, which amounts to a savings of about $2.50 on the Halloween drink.