A Barista’s Guide to the Best Beans and Brew
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 21:10
The leaves are starting to turn gold and crimson, the morning air is crisp and the sky seems just a little bluer. Fall demands a switch in wardrobes and more importantly, a switch in go-to beverages. Drinking a cappuccino might seem crazy when it’s swelteringly hot, but that’s about to change. Put down the ice and start using those sleeves. The hotter, the better.
Good news for coffee and tea junkies: Both are great for your body and mind. Herbal and caffeinated teas have a variety of benefits, ranging from cancer and heart-disease prevention to encouraging weight loss and mental alertness. The purported benefits of moderate coffee intake are up for debate but include a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes, various cancers and even dementia. However, that’s before you drown your cup of Joe with cream and sugar. But even if you’re someone who prefers a daily caffeine intake to be a little sweeter, drinks are easily customized while still keeping sugar and calories at bay. You can always opt for nonfat or soymilk, sugar-free syrup or no whipped cream. The perks of coffee and tea are psychological, not just physical. Warm drinks can quickly change your mood for the better whether you’re craving relaxation, energy or a simple daily ritual.
After working at Saxbys for a few weeks, I’ve quickly come to associate customers’ drink orders with their moods. Here are some of my best recommendations to make it through everything coming your way this October.
Big yawns and sleepy stares signal that it’s midterm season. If you need to wake up fast for a test or to finish a paper, you’ve got to bring out the big guns. Order espresso, or maybe a “Red Eye” — drip coffee with a shot or two — if you’re really feeling the lack of sleep. Love that regular mocha of yours but want a boost? Add an extra shot, even to a tea latte. You’ll sound like a coffee pro if you order a dirty chai. Even better? Studies have shown time and time again that coffee can actually boost brain cognition and can enhance performance, especially if you’re sleep deprived, although I’m a little in awe of the guys who frequently order quad shots.
For me, fall means one thing in particular: pumpkin. My friends can attest to my obsession with this seasonal delicacy. Lucky for all of us fall lovers out there, coffee shops embrace the pumpkin trend, too. I know what you’re going to order if I spot you watching the falling leaves on O Street. While pumpkin spice lattes are a favorite this time of year, try a pumpkin pie chai if you’re not a coffee drinker. Some shops also offer a seasonal blend of pumpkin spice drip coffee, too. Don’t be afraid to double up. Ordering a pumpkin muffin and a pumpkin spice latte just makes you the ultimate fan. If for some crazy reason the idea of a pumpkin drink sounds repulsive, hot apple cider is another heart-warming fall favorite.
When stress from internship apps or your extracurricular commitments leaves you wound up or on edge, reach for tea. There are so many options, and every coffee shop has its own unique selection. Step out of your green or black rut and try something new. Chamomile is good anywhere, anytime, not just when you want to something to help you fall asleep. At Midnight MUG, Alpine Berry is a sweet decaffeinated tea with a little tartness to keep things fresh. Saxbys offers some of the best peppermint tea in the area, which perfectly captures minty invigoration. Next time you’re at Starbucks, try a rooibos hot tea or vanilla latte, made with an African red tea that is very full-bodied and earthy.
Take advantage of this glorious fall weather and embrace these steamy and satisfying coffee or tea drinks. Arnold Palmers, frappuccinos and the infamous frozen concoction of chocolate, chocolate chips and Oreos that is the Saxbys Kookie Monster can wait until warmer weather returns.
Kylie Mohr is a sophomore in the College. HEALTHY HOYA appears every other Friday in the guide.