A Guide to Coffee

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Coffee is more than just a drink, it is an entire culture. Many people spend a great deal of time in coffee shops, and also rely on their coffee wholly in order to wake themselves up in the morning in order to be able to face work. The coffee shop meanwhile has a whole culture of its own, and is a favourite place for students to work, for those who have spare time during the day to hang out with friends, and for busy business men and women to stop in or a pick me up during their lunch break. In mainland Europe meanwhile, it is common for everyone to enjoy coffee sitting outside and facing onto the streets where they can quietly watch the world go by. It’s also not uncommon for coffee shops to provide the venue for job interviews, one to one business meetings and proposals and even dates – where what you choose to drink it likely to be closely scrutinised.

This makes coffee a very sociable drink, a cultural drink and one that seems to carry with it some status in the business world. Understanding coffee, and choosing your poison carefully then is no insignificant task. At the same time it may be able to help your productivity and that you might just find you enjoy. No matter who you are, there’s normally a hot drink you can enjoy for sale at most coffee shops, here are a few of them.

Cappuccino: The cappuccino is very much the ‘standard’ coffee option and the one that most people will default to. It is stronger than a regular coffee as a rule, but also features a great froth on top which you can add to with chocolate sprinkles (often in attractive shapes). This may be a bit strong for those who are not too fond of coffee, but also varies quite a lot from place to place. This is a great morning pick me up, but in a large quantities might lead to tremors and dehydration. Cappuccino from vending machines is surprisingly good tasting.

Mocha: A mocha is a chocolate cappuccino that is very much like a hot chocolate but with more caffeine. Very tasty and suitable for those who are less fond of strong coffee. However on the downside it is less healthy than most other options and also quite rich and sickly in large quantities. Coffee snobs may frown on this option.

Latté: A latté is a very milky cappuccino in essence and is made from steamed milk with one or two shots of espresso. This makes it almost like a coffee flavoured milkshake and a lot less of a strong taste. A great entry level coffee then, but also one for those who would like to have fewer tremors. The best place to get a latté from a coffee chain is Costa coffee where they are very light and whippy. If you like your lattés large though, then travel to Rodeo drive in California which is well known for its huge mugs of latté. Elsewhere they will often come in tall glasses which differentiates them from cappuccinos (but makes it harder to stay in the coffee shop while pretending you’re still drinking).

Frappuccino: A frappuccino is another great alternative that doesn’t actually include any coffee. These instead are smoothies generally made of fruit with lots of crushed ice. This is very refreshing and will give you a more natural energy boost from all of the vitamin C and vitamin B6. As another added bonus it also won’t leave you feeling jittery and dehydrated. At the same time though it’s not quite as much of a mental boost and also puts you outside of the coffee clique. Starbucks seem to offer the largest range of frappuccino including those vanilla and chocolate versions. Distinct for being served cold.

Espresso: The espresso is the coffee for the busy business executive who needs a quick pick-me-up but doesn’t have time to sit and enjoy the coffee shop atmosphere. Essentially this is a shot of very strong black coffee that will be a bit strong for those who aren’t used to drinking strong coffee, but will give you a very quick (and cheap) energy lift on a coffee break or first thing in the morning when you don’t have time to stop. Also good for those driving long distances who don’t want to risk spilling coffee on their car interiors. This is a hardened coffee-expert’s coffee.

Tea: Tea is a very English option but is enjoyed the world over. Depending on the venue you might get a tea pot with cups, or just one cup of tea – the former being better value for money and often sufficient in fact to serve two people for the price of one. This is a much gentler and more relaxing drink, possible more suitable for the evenings. If you want to put an eastern European spin on your tea however, then try it with lemon instead of milk which can give you more of a zesty kick.

Decaf: Decaf coffee is essentially coffee without the caffeine. For many people this may seem to defeat the object, but if you genuinely enjoy the taste and texture of coffee, it can be a great way to get the creamy taste before bed without it keeping you up all night, or for those who find that coffee is keeping them awake at night or giving them headaches. Roibos do a great decaf coffee that is almost indistinguishable.

Green tea: Green tea is the decaf tea option, along with other fruit teas such as apple or lemon. These often have other natural stimulants to keep you awake but in less of a jittery way and have been shown to have a lot of other health benefits too.

Americano: An Americano is an espresso with steamed water. This waters it down and makes it almost as strong tasting as a cappuccino and with as much of a kick, while taking longer to drink. Another coffee order that will impress other coffee enthusiasts.

Hot chocolate: A hot chocolate is different from a cafe mocha for being, just hot chocolate and milk without the caffeine. Another one that’s good for those who want to avoid strong coffee and well suited to warming you up during the evenings and on cold or rainy days. Again though this won’t win you any kudos among coffee fans.

Iced tea: As it sounds, iced tea is tea that is served cold. It comes in a range of flavours and varieties however and is suitable for when it’s too hot for a coffee or tea, but you still want something to give you caffeine high.

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