‘Tis the Season

online poll by Opinion Stage
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Let’s Put the Myths to Rest

As a caffeinated-crazed coffee lover, I have heard time and time again that if I keep drinking coffee it will stunt my growth. At age 19, standing at 5 feet 4 inches, I’m pretty sure that if coffee did in fact stunt my growth, I did not suffer from these effects. As you know, I have been drinking coffee before hitting double digits (on special occasions of course). I remember in high school I had a friend who was not allowed to drink coffee because her parents thought it would stunt her growth. Whenever she came to my house, or when we went to Dunkin’ Donuts before the football games, she would secretly order a coffee despite her parents’ warnings. Ironically, this friend is 5’9. I don’t think coffee negatively impacted her growth. So what’s the deal, does coffee really stunt your growth?!

It didn’t take much research to uncover the answer to this infamous dispute.

Myth: Coffee will stunt your growth.

Where the old wives’ tale began, no one has quite discovered that, but I can assure you that drinking coffee will not stunt your growth. I found a post on The Roasterie, that fully debunks this myth. The author of this post provides an explanation for the origin of this common myth. Perhaps the idea that coffee stunts one’s growth stemmed from the idea that “caffeine may reduce bone mass” although, “the study that developed this research was flawed from the get-go as the participants were elderly people whose diets significantly lacked calcium,” hence their reduction in bone mass. Not to mention, coffee is not the only caffeinated beverage, think of soda and energy drinks; yet, these caffeine filled drinks have no effects on one’s growth at all.

While this is not the only myth circulating about my beloved drink (yes, I am a tad defensive whenever someone talks negatively about coffee), there are other rumors that give coffee a bad name as well.

Myth: Drinking coffee makes it hard to sleep, or causes insomnia.

I can debunk this myth solely based on experience; I have never had trouble falling asleep because of coffee. Heck, I drink on average 3 cups a day (all caffeinated of course), and sometimes I finish that final cup just moments before hitting the pillow. While that is the case for me, caffeine’s effect on a person’s ability to fall asleep varies on the individual. I know my mom and roommate both cannot have a cup of coffee at least 4 hours before going to bed. This phenomenon is explained in Amy Anderson’s article Myths and facts about coffee: (hint: it doesn’t cause cancer, it’s not addictive, nor fat-free…). Anderson claims that the reason that coffee negatively affects the way some people sleep is because they “appear to metabolize caffeine particularly slowly” in comparison to those who are able to fall asleep regardless of the time they had their last cup of coffee.

7 Myths About Drinking Coffee, a post on the nutrition blog Fitnea, provides another, very similar explanation to debunk the myth “that caffeine causes insomnia.” According to the post, the human body instantly absorbs the caffeine and quickly disposes it. Within 4 to 5 hours after the consumption of caffeine, the liver processes this stimulant before half of  it is almost completely flushed out of the body. Depending on how fast an individual’s body processes caffeine, may affect their sleeping patterns if coffee is consumed later in the day.

Naturally, it is important to keep in mind that coffee must be consumed in moderation! If you notice that your excessive consumption of coffee is prohibiting you from a sound sleep, than perhaps it would be best to avoid drinking coffee late in the afternoon or early in the evening.

For further reading on more myths than mentioned above, check out the rest of Fitnea’s post and Amy Anderson’s full article on some of the most infamous myths about one of America’s beloved beverages – coffee.

 

Keurig vs. Hamilton Beach

With Christmas approaching, it is time to start thinking of gift ideas for my family. For some reason, my mom is always the toughest person to shop for. I’m not sure if this is because I value her opinion and don’t want her to be disappointed with a gift, or if she’s just too picky. Regardless, this year is no exception. Usually my sisters and I collaborate and get my mom one big gift. This year we are thinking of getting her a coffee maker. My mom was one of the pioneers of the Keurig. She had it before other companies began to release their own single cup coffee makers. Although, now, my mom has ditched her Keurig because K-Cups are too expensive for her (and her daughter’s) coffee drinking habits. As a college student living on her own, I have to agree with my mom on that one, K-Cups are definitely expensive, especially when using more than one a day.

Keurig Elite. Cost: $119.99

As a result, my mom started using her percolator. Yes, as in the big ancient looking coffee maker that only made guest appearances when company was over. Although, now that I am away at school, it’s a hassle for my mom to have to go through the process of making a big pot of coffee every morning for herself.

Since the Keurig is out of the question, I began to do some research on some other recommended single cup coffee makers that do not require any type of pod. One appliance that I came across was the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker. This single cup coffee maker eliminates “the mess and hassle of brewing a whole pot.” This convenient appliance allows you to replace K-Cups or pods with your own coffee in the scoop. Although the Keurig does offer the My K-Cup: a reusable coffee filter that can be used in any Keurig appliance in place of K-Cups. While my mom does have this accessory, using it is a rather tedious task. The ‘My K-Cup’ is small, and can be a little messy when filling it with one’s own coffee. On the other hand, the scoop is much bigger, making it easier and neater to use one’s own coffee.

Hamilton Beach “The Scoop.” Cost: $59.99

Julie Craves posted an informative review about the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Coffee Maker on her website Coffee and Conservation: Are your beans for the birds? She provides an in depth description about “The Scoop” after having the opportunity to test this appliance out. She touches upon all aspects of The Scoop from its design as a “sleek machine,” as well as “features that make it easier to use (and clean) than a Keurig.” Although, Craves is not a fan of single serve coffee makers in general, she felt The Scoop “was superior to any cup [she] made in a Keurig with a pre-fab K-Cup or any alternative device.” Craves as she continues to say that the Hamilton Beach is “never going to be as good as a careful made manual cup.” Although, I haven’t tested The Scoop, I have noticed the same shortcomings with the Keurig. This appliance does not deliver the same fresh, strong, and hot cup of coffee as manually brewing one’s own cup. Regardless, Craves is satisfied with The Scoop.

The Scoop can be found at any store that sells appliances including Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, BestBuy, and Sears. The going price for this coffee maker is $59.99.  The Scoop can be found on Amazon for $49.99. This appliance is much cheaper than the Keurig which can cost anywhere from $100 to $180.

So, I think the choice is clear, my mom will find The Scoop under the Christmas tree from her three loving daughters – I hope she doesn’t read this post…

What’s Your Coffee Preference?

online poll by Opinion Stage
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Sometimes, I’m an Eagles Fan

Although I am from North Jersey and a Giants fan, I do find myself rooting for the Eagles (when playing any other opponent, of course) every Sunday. I’m a part-time fan because when the Eagles win, I win…free coffee! Who wouldn’t want to see Philadelphia’s team win?

At the Dunkin’ Donuts five minutes from my building, anyone that shows the Dunkin’ Donuts App on their smart phone will get a free medium hot or iced Eagles Wincoffee the day after the Eagles win. This application can be downloaded for free at the App Store on one’s smart phone. This app has a lot of features including: special offers, Dunkin’ locations, the menu, and a section with frequently asked questions. Not only does this app allow me to redeem my free coffee, but has other cool offers as well!

The Eagles finished victorious over the Cardinals yesterday with their 24-21 victory, and I was rewarded with a medium mocha iced coffee. Although I am loyal to the Dunkin’ by my house, because they serve the best iced coffee, I won’t complain about a free iced coffee to pick me up on a Monday morning.

How to Stay ‘Skinny’ This Winter

As we have begun the first week of December, Christmas music and movies are now totally acceptable. With this new month, all of the winter flavors now become acceptable as well, including Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha Lattes. While I am a total pessimist when it comes to PSL, I am a promoter of Peppermint Mocha Lattes. While Peppermint Mocha is not alone as a beloved wintertime flavor, it is my favorite. While I have not been brave enough to try Gingerbread or Eggnog flavored drinks, I have tasted Caramel Brulee; I wasn’t a huge fan.

Venti. Skinny. Peppermint. Mocha. Latte.

Although Peppermint Mocha is tasty, this treat is not the most health conscientious or nicest on the pocket. Yet, Peppermint Mocha Lattes are way too tasty to give up, and now that it is sweater season, who cares if I gain a few pounds?

Although this may be the case, I can still enjoy my favorite wintertime drink in a healthier way. For starters, ordering a Skinny Peppermint Mocha Latte tastes just as good with three times less the calories! A skinny latte is made with nonfat milk, sugar-free mocha and peppermint syrups, and excludes whipped cream. A regular latte uses whole milk and includes whipped cream. A grande Peppermint Mocha Latte contains 410 calories while a grande Skinny Peppermint Mocha Latte contains only 130 calories!

This season the choice is clear; don’t be afraid to indulge when opting for a skinny!

All of my Friends Love Coffee

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is possibly one of the most exciting days for a college student; it’s the day where everyone comes home for the holiday after a long and tiresome semester. It marks the first time all semester that everyone will be home since the summer. This day I met with three of my friends, two of which I had not seen since August, at Rockin’ Joe for coffee – shocker.

Ironically, these aren’t my only friends that like coffee; almost all of my friends are avid coffee drinkers. This caffeinated beverage has the power to bring people together. Over breaks, friends and I always meet up for coffee at either the local Dunkin’ Donuts in town, Rockin’ Joe, or at the Café in Barnes and Noble. Regardless of where we meet, coffee is always involved. I can’t imagine being friends with someone that didn’t share in my love of coffee (I’m being slightly dramatic).

Large Cafe Mocha

Large Cafe Mocha

One of my favorite television shows is Friends. My roommates make fun of me because of my obsession; I have a poster hanging in our family room, can recite lines from various episodes, and watch reruns any chance I get. Aside from Chandler’s humor, Phoebe’s quirks, and Rachel’s fashion sense, I absolutely love the group’s hangout: Central Perk.

Like the characters of Friends, my friends and I also love to bond over coffee. So, it was no surprise that we found ourselves at Rockin’ Joe on this Wednesday morning. I ordered my favorite – a Café Mocha Latte and a toasted bagel with cream cheese (nothing beats a Jersey bagel). While sitting in the coffee shop for a little over an hour, we discussed: school, finals, the upcoming holiday, winter break, family, and reminisced.

It was nice to catch up with some of my friends, especially the two I hadn’t seen all semester. As cliche as it may sound, coffee can bring people together in many ways. Not only does coffee provide a caffeine boost, but an opportunity for individuals to talk, relate, and enjoy some quality time together.  It’s no surprise that Friends is my favorite show; it has a common theme that revolves around coffee. Every episode contains at least one scene that takes place in the coffee shop. If only my friends and I could find a barista like Gunther.

 

What’s Your Coffee Limit?

online poll by Opinion Stage
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The ‘Silver Lining’ to Monday Mornings

It’s Sunday night. I still have about an hour or so left of homework. My apartment is freezing. I am exhausted. I can feel Thanksgiving break at my fingertips. Yet, I dread waking up to Monday morning.

The only thing (other than seeing my friends and family) that will get me through these next two days – coffee. I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow morning and have my hot cup of coffee during the quiet hours of the day. Although I am a night owl over an early bird any day of the week, I do cherish those moments before starting my day sipping on my cup of coffee. The time just before my roommates open their eyes, while the boys next door are not blasting their music, and before the doors begin their continuous slamming down the hall is quite possibly the quietest. While the sun makes its way through the windows providing light to my dark and dreary apartment living room, I can’t help but smile. This is probably my favorite time of day.

This morning I didn’t get my alone time with my beloved drink and silence. Instead I shared my morning cup of coffee with about 80 other people, including my friend Cyndi at the Llanerch Diner. Yes, as in the diner from the disastrous first date scene in Silver Linings Playbook. This quaint diner, located in Upper Darby, served as the location where Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence sat in a booth and argued about Raisin Bran.

While it was pretty cool to be at a diner where two of my favorite actors shot a scene from one of my favorite movies, the coffee impressed me more. Although I was bummed to have missed my morning cup of coffee alone in my apartment, the coffee at the Llanerch Diner was hot and hit the spot, enough so, that I had two cups. Today’s morning cup of coffee didn’t replace my normal cup, but was a good alternative. Although tomorrow is Monday morning, the most hated day of the week, I look forward to the aroma of coffee filling my apartment.  I can’t wait for that first sip of my coffee, the silver lining to tomorrow morning, and every morning.

Starbucks Has a Secret Menu?

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend Lexie, and fellow coffee lover, visited me at school. Every time we get together, our favorite drink is somehow involved; her most recent trip was no exception.

After making a quick run to Target for a few items we decided to grab some coffee (shocking, huh?) from the Starbucks located in Target. Although it was freezing outside, we had worked up a sweat while bundled up in our heavy coats and scarves walking through the store. We stood in line contemplating whether to satisfy our current state of feeling hot, or grab a drink that would warm our insides when taking on the bitter November weather. Our current state won, as we decided on Frappuccinos.

We both ordered Java Chip Frappuccinos to discover there was no more mocha syrup. Lexie substituted mocha syrup with caramel, and kept the java chip. Feeling indecisive, the barista named all of the possible syrups I could use in my drink.  I didn’t know half of the syrups she suggested even existed! I was overwhelmed and asked her to pick – she chose vanilla and a pump of caramel to compliment the java chip. When I took the first sip I fell in love; it was phenomenal!

Coffee Frappuccino. 2 pumps of caramel syrup. 2 pumps of vanilla syrup. Chocolate chips. Topped with whipped cream.

Coffee Frappuccino. 2 pumps of caramel syrup. 2 pumps of vanilla syrup. Chocolate chips. Topped with whipped cream.

A week later I was at the Starbucks on campus and told the barista about my recent experience. She informed me of the Starbucks’ secret menu. Apparently, there are so many possibilities for new and exciting drinks at Starbucks that don’t appear on the menu. This secret menu includes recipes for these creations submitted by loyal Starbucks drinkers for fellow Starbucks goers to try out! There are an endless amount of drink creations concocted by customers and connoisseurs around the world! While scrolling through the Starbucks Secret Menu, I stumbled upon the Secret Frappuccino Menu. I began to search for the name of the Frappuccino I fell in love with on that bitter autumn day. I discovered the Mix and Match Frappuccino, the closest one to my concoction. While the Mix and Match calls for half Vanilla Bean and half Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino, my drink consisted of a Coffee Frappuccino. The Mix and Match, like my frappuccino, adds a pump of caramel to the drink. Essentially, these two beverages contain most of the same ingredients and flavors.

Although I was unable to find my exact creation, I discovered a variety of Frappuccinos and other beverages I look forward to trying, including: Chocolate Dalmatian, Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino, and Cookie Dough Frappuccino.  There is an endless amount of creative beverage possibilities to enhance the Starbucks experience, so be sure to visit Starbucks Secret Menu and jot down a creative drink that appeals to you! Maybe I’ll submit my creation, and you too, can also get in on the secret.