You can get your Pumpkin Spice Latte fix early!

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While logging into the WiFi at Starbucks yesterday I saw something wonderful. An ad for early access to the coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte.

To get your PSL fan pass, head over to this link and type in the password (‘Pumpkin’). You’ll then be asked to type in your phone number and you’ll receive your very own PSL fanpass which when shown to a barista should allow you to order the Pumpkin Spice Latte before its official release.

I’m looking forward to trying this out later today. Fall is on its way, and the best part of Fall is the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte!

PSL fanpass

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

This morning, as I was picking up an after work snack, something caught my eye at the checkout. There was a display filled with Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bites, and I knew I had to try them. People love chocolate and people love caffeine, so why not combine the two? Each bite contains 50mg of caffeine, or roughly half a cup of coffee’s worth (according to the packaging). They were about $0.63 each, so I grabbed two.

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

 

The chocolate bites tasted smooth and very much like any other chocolate bar (nothing strange to them at all). I feel like they’d make a great companion for a cup of coffee if you want a little extra kick delivered via delicious chocolate. If you happen to see these bites (they also come in bars) at a checkout counter go ahead and give them a try, they’re quite enjoyable!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

Brunch at Fork and coffee at Java Hyde Park (Boise)

This past weekend Vanessa and I checked out few great Boise food destinations that we had often heard about but never got around to going to.

On Sunday we rode our bikes downtown to have brunch at Fork and it was well worth it. First of all the Sunday morning ride was pleasant and we were able to get nice outdoor seats right as we arrived.

Fork Boise brunch

It was nice enjoying breakfast downtown and I think weekend brunch at Fork is going to become something of a tradition for us. The coffee and food were great, I enjoyed Market Breakfast (over hard) and Vanessa had the Fork Benny and both were delicious! I highly recommend having brunch at Fork if you ever have a late start to your day on the weekend.

On Monday morning we rode over to Hyde Park in the Northend to check out Java Hyde Park. We usually just end up going to Starbucks, but we decided to try something new for our morning coffee. The ride was pleasant and we were excited to get some coffee and baked goods. The first thing we noticed was just how packed the place was. All of the outside seating was occupied and the line was out the door and down the stairs! I’m not sure if it’s always that packed or if the holiday had something to do with it. Either way it was worth the wait! I got the Bowl of Soul mocha and a cherry turnover and we walked up to Camelsback park to enjoy our coffees.

Java Hyde park

I highly recommend picking up a coffee from Java Hyde Park and walking around the area as you enjoy it. The Northend is a really neat area of Boise and I highly recommend hiking the trails in Camelsback Park as well!

Trying a Starbucks Reserve Coffee

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Usually my trips to Starbucks involve enjoying a latte, mocha or Frappuccino, but today I decided to try something a little different. After reading about the Starbucks Reserve store / tasting room opening in Seattle (it looks amazing) I figured I ought to try one of their Reserve roasts.

Reserve coffees are described as “the finest coffees” they offer and as “exquisite and rare.” They are made in a special brewer and from beans sourced from a single location. The drinks are priced in the same range as lattes and mochas (about $3-4).

I asked for the barista to recommend a dark coffee to try and ended up getting the Sumatra Lake Toba coffee. I’m no expert in describing taste, but I can say it’s strong and dark yet smooth and doesn’t taste burnt. I’ve had plenty of dark coffees that taste burned, so it’s nice that it can taste strong and yet still be smooth.

I’m interested in trying more Reserve coffees, so if you have any recommendations throw them my way in a comment. I may also have to purchase some beans at some point and get a coffee grinder.

 

The joy of Starbucks on a lovely Sunday morning

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The Ravens are playing as I write this, but for once I’m taking a break from watching them struggle to survive the season. I’m still wearing my Flacco jersey, but rather than sitting at home screaming at the TV I’m savoring a Salted Caramel Mocha Frapuccino while sitting in a comfortable chair under a heat lamp on a cool early November morning.

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I love the crisp blue of the Fall sky and the sound of cars passing by on the busy street. I’m enjoying the soft sounds of coffee house music floating down from the ceiling and mixing with the sound of everything around. And of course I love the coffee!

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I think I love enjoying a coffee while lounging in the outdoor seating at Starbucks so much because I don’t have a porch to relax on. Sure there’s a stoop, and I’ve enjoyed my fair share of coffee sipping mornings on it, but I long for a place to sit outdoors and take everything in while reading the NYT. Someday I’ll have an outdoor space of my own, but until then I’ll continue to enjoy these mornings at Starbucks.

A few of my favorite things: Starbucks FVL and the NYT

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This afternoon I enjoyed a few of my favorite things on a Sunday in Korea. Enjoying coffee and the New York Times became a weekly tradition last spring, and I’ve managed to continue to enjoy the tradition through my travels in Hawaii and Korea this summer.

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The setting sun glows in the hazy sky above the dorms.

Unfortunately the Fall favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte hasn’t arrived at the Osan Starbucks yet, but the French Vanilla Latte is just as tasty. I love reading the ‘paper’ (in digital form of course) while enjoying a wonderful Starbucks beverage, especially while sitting outside. I miss sitting out and watching the trees and the cars back home, but it’s been nice to enjoy a relaxing hour each Sunday as I’ve counted down the days until I return (soon!).

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Enjoying the NYT and hotel coffee in Hawaii.

 

 

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Coffee in one of my favorite mugs on the steps back in Boise.

Starbucks Verismo 580: Love it!

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Today I picked up a Starbucks Verismo 580 for an unbeatable price. I saw the bundle pictured above at the Bx and couldn’t resist. The Verismo 580 sells for $149 through Starbucks (and on Amazon as well I believe) however the Bx had it for just $99 AND it included 6 boxes of Verismo coffee and espresso pods and a welcome pack with 10 additional pods (for a total of 82 pods!).

Boxes of Verismo pods sell for $12.95 each through Starbucks, so this bundle came with over $77 worth of pods all while being $50 cheaper than the machine alone elsewhere! I believe the bundle was leftover from the holidays, and I’m not sure how they lasted this long.

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So far I’m really impressed with the machine. It has a water reservoir which is a really nice feature, allowing you to make quite a few drinks before it needs refilled. You feed the pods through the top and after your drink is done brewing you just flip the lever up to drop the used pods down into the used pod container. The machine looks wonderful and feels quite sturdy which is nice.

I haven’t tried brewing any coffee yet, but the espresso is done in a flash as you can see in the video below. I mixed in some chilled 1% milk and had a great tasting drink in under a minute! I’m looking forward to recreating my favorite Starbucks drink, the Vanilla Iced Coffee tomorrow after work.

NYTimes: ‘The Food May be Fast…’

I just finished reading the article “The Food May Be Fast, but These Customers Won’t Be Rushed” in the NYTimes and I wanted to share it with you.

The article is a discussion about how the dining rooms of fast food restaurants (McDonald’s is discussed mostly) are starting to look more like the insides of a Starbucks. In other words you see more and more customers ordering just a cup of coffee and taking up space at a table for extended periods of time. This is popular with the elderly (and sometimes homeless) especially at McDonalds. They’ll buy a small coffee and read the newspaper for 30 minutes or longer. McDonalds used to be a place where customers would buy food, eat and leave, but it’s starting to become a place where people do more than just eat.

This trend has annoyed some fast food employees and customers who have a more difficult time finding places to sit, but the article brings up a good point considering public space. The article quotes Don Mitchell, a Syracuse professor of urban geography:

“Whether they have been private property, public property or something in between,” he said, “taking up space is a way to claim a right to be, a right to be visible, to say, ‘We’re part of the city too.’ ”

The coffee drinking patrons could certainly do whatever task they’re doing at home, be it reading the newspaper, their mail or a book, but there’s a sense of participating in society that is gained doing these things in a public space. It’s the reason I love drinking a coffee at Starbucks or in a library; there’s stuff going on around you: conversations, people coming and going, etc. that makes life more interesting. It’s a welcome change of scenery for those who may not have a lot going on at home (some elderly for example). I don’t think this behavior needs to be discouraged. In fact we could use more of it.

Iced coffee in winter

Is it weird to continue to drink iced and frozen coffees in the middle of winter? Every time I’m at Starbucks I can never get anything other than a vanilla iced coffee, or a Frappuccino no matter how frigid it is outside. In the morning I don’t mind drinking a hot coffee at home, but in the afternoon I have to go with a chilled drink.

On a related note, does anyone have a Verismo coffee maker? We have a Hamilton Beach Keurig brewer but it’s pretty cheap and I really like the way the Verismo machines look. How do the drinks taste? I’m really thinking about picking one up once I get my tax refund as I think it’ll look a lot better on the counter and will last awhile longer.

Anywho, tonight we’re probably going to have a drink or two and play some Wii Bowling before watching either August Osage County or Her. I’ll be sure to post a few words about whichever we end up seeing.