Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Search of Coffee

Up until now, I have not been similar to those of my generation who are hugantic coffee drinkers. I found it bitter and hot and generally not my thing. However, when I was in Las Vegas earlier this year celebrating a good friend's 40th birthday, my guy and I went out to a nice restaurant together for dinner one night. After a delicious meal, we were offered coffee. I said I would try as long as I could doctor it with cream and sugar. They brought out all of the fixings and our own little pots of coffee. Since then I have been hooked.

So I have started trying to navigate the Starbucks coffee menu, which is daunting at best. Most of the time I approach the barista and say that I am Starbucks virgin and need help ordering something not too overwhelmingly coffee-ish with lots of cream and sweetness. Unfortunately several times, I have gotten the new girl on the block who really has not been much help at all, always sweet, but not helpful in my quest for what my taste buds are after.

A couple of weeks ago, I went in and the new girl helped me to order a grande latte, which normally comes with two shots of espresso. It was way to bitter and full of coffee taste. It was also too hot for me to drink. I brought it home, halved it into two mugs and began the doctoring process. I added lots more milk, chocolate syrup, sugar, almond extract, and even a little cinnamon. It was very tasty, but I am sure huge on the calories!

About a week later, I tried again. This barista was more helpful in guiding me to a grande mocha with only one shot of espresso and whipped cream. I really liked that one. Although, I had to let it cool considerably before I could fully enjoy it. What added to my low coffee ordering self esteem was the lady who ordered after me. She said some intricate order which included the words upside down. Upside down? Whatever on earth did that mean?

My mom pointed out when I told her of my latest more successful attempt that the whipped cream has a lot of calories. I said she was probably right, but it couldn't be as much as I had put in that first attempt when I doctored it at home! She nodded!

My guy and I tried again last weekend at the Barnes and Noble Starbucks. Finally a quiet atmosphere and a very helpful barista! She taught us some new Starbucks vocabulary, which included the fact that we could order our drinks at "kid temperature" if we didn't like it scald-your-mouth-and-throat hot. Then we asked her what upside down meant. She said it only meant that the shots of flavoring were put in last rather than first as some people prefer to have them mixed in from the top rather than the bottom. How much simpler that was than whatever I was imagining. Where do people learn all this stuff? Hopefully they stumble upon helpful baristas such as this nice lady!

I did again order my grande mocha with only one shot of espresso and whipped cream with equal success. I don't even feel the need to add extra sugar. Although my guy thought that I should have; he said it was too bitter, but he likes things even sweeter than I do. He had ordered the salted caramel something or other. It was all right to my tastes, only just a bit heavy on the nutty flavor. Plus my guy said that at the end it was way too salty because all the sea salt she had sprinkled on top had settled to the bottom. I didn't taste it at the end, but would have to say a bit of an "eww" to that one!

Maybe I have found my magic concoction. I don't know if I dare to try something different lest it make me shiver and quiver with unnecessary bitterness! Let me know if you have a favorite brew or some new vocabulary for me to learn in this silly new search of mine!


  1. Love this post! My advice for avoiding bitter brews would be to try somewhere besides Starbucks. I find their coffee to be more bitter, although I'm a seasonsed coffee drinker (one who didn't know what "upside down" means, albeit!) and don't mind it anymore. Is there a Peaberry anywhere near you? I so miss them, and have always had good experiences with the baristas there. They would probably be helpful to you! But, ordering any drink with less shots is a good start. I like Starbucks' Toffee Nut Latte and Real Caramel Latte (they use caramel sauce instead of syrup) Happy Drinking :)

  2. I started drinking coffee about 10 years ago. I went through a similar process at Starbuck's, but found the mocha to be the best. Around Christmas I like the peppermint mocha. And I learned you can order it skinny (low-fat milk). I treat myself on Friday mornings on my way to work and the barista's now know me by name and start making my mocha before I even order. It is kinda cool getting my mocha before others that have ordered before me! Thanks for the funny post!

  3. That was my post above but I have Blogger issues.