“Coffee has always been a significant part of my life. For me, it’s a chance to start my day and gather my thoughts – it’s fuel for my creative process.” ~ Connor Franta
It is no secret that I am a proud coffeeholic. Awhile ago, I had gotten requests for my coffee order which led to me creating a poll on Instagram to see if people wanted a post on my (rather extensive) list, which changes not just on the coffee shop I go to, but also what time of year it is. Because I was in the process of moving and then summer came ’round, this post kinda fell by the wayside until now. (oops)
I am finally, FINALLY getting it up and since it is Monday, it is kinda fitting. Coffee and Mondays go together like Peanut butter and jelly. Coffee is always necessary, but it seems especially so at the start of the work week. I joke all the time about coffee being my first love and my longest relationship and all of that is true. Coffee isn’t just a photo prop for me (though it is a great one!). There is nothing like a great cup of coffee to kickstart my day, and I love the conversations I get to have with my baristas.
My drinks differ from shop to shop. If you know what I drink, it means we are true friends. Kinda, maybe just my Starbucks and Frontside orders. Coffee shops have different techniques, different types of espresso beans and even their syrups and dairy products can vary greatly, which is why I have different orders. Being a Gemini, also might play a part in it. Temperature can also affect the flavor of coffee and espresso, which is why cold brew has become so popular because of it’s rich smoother taste and why depending on the shop as well as season, I might prefer hot or cold coffee.
In the long held debate of Dunkin vs Starbucks, Starbucks is that old faithful. Admittedly, Starbucks is what kickstarted my love for coffee, (after having numerous bad experiences with Dunkin) and with hundreds of thousands (yes you read that right) of shops world wide, consistency is key to their business model making it a guarantee you will almost always get the same drink, unless you have a rogue barista. Their is a reason my nephews and nieces call me a Starbucks junkie. Even when I travel, I know I can rely on Starbucks to fuel my coffeeholic self.
When I first started drinking coffee, I was a noob and my order showcased that in spectacular fashion. I was addicted to their white mocha (I hate chocolate) which gave way to a Caramel Macchiato, Frappuccinos and then I got hardcore…kinda. These days, a caramel macchiato is more of a splurge then an every day must have. During winter, my hot drink is a pretty basic soy latte. Starbuck’s Soy milk is vanilla flavored so it is essentially a vanilla latte and it hits the spot without being overly sweet.
My summer game was forever changed when Starbucks put cold brew on their menu. Vanilla sweet cream cold brew, three pumps vanilla, light ice, might just be my fav coffee drink ever! It is just the right amount of sweetness mixed with the coffee taste that I am so obsessed with. If I wasn’t so sensitive to temperature I would drink it year round, and it is my tried and true at “Buckies.”
While I love the cold brew at Starbucks, I am obsessed with Peet’s hot espresso. The Havanna Cappuccino is a very real obsession. Unfortunately, as a predominantly West Coast chain, there aren’t many Peet’s around, (though you can find them in some Capital One branches) but that has not stopped me from obsessing over it. In fact I was tempted to almost move to the West Coast or even DC (where they replaced a local chain) JUST to have a daily dose of Peet’s fuel….Yes I might have a problem.
The Havana Cappuccino which is my obsession, is made with espresso, milk, condensed syrup and topped with foam and cinnamon. It has just the right amount of sweetness that matches the strong nutty smooth espresso that Peet’s is known for. I could have one every day and it would never get old. In contrast, their iced version is to milky and diluted for my tastes. I am hoping that one of these days I will be able to try their cold brew, but for now just gimme ALL the Havana Cappuccinos please!
While there is comfort in consistency with chains like Starbuck’s and Peet’s, I love a good local coffee shop. You can tell so much about a town or city by the vibes of their cafes. If you follow my blog, you know how real my addiction to frontside is. I love Their maple lattes. Despite extensive travel, I have never found a maple latte that compares like Frontside. Their espresso beans are second to none and they use real maple syrup. Which as someone who grew up in maple syrup country, it is sacrilegious to use anything BUT the real stuff. (sorry Mrs. Butterworth)
Frontside is another coffee shop, where I prefer their hot maple latte to the cold version. In fact it is such a rarity that I get iced, that it is always a shock to the baristas who legit are the nicest people. Thankfully, this summer I met the coffee game-changer of all coffee game changers after talking to one of the baristas about their cold brew. I finally tried it an doh my lord I am obsessed!
Cold brew with maple syrup and almond milk, just might be better then even the maple latte. Their cold brew is so flavorful and chocolatey smooth, you could drink it without anything in it, though the maple takes it to that next level. I drank it all summer and to add to the Summertime Sadness Lana Del Rey is always talking about, it is another reason I do not want summer to end.
Your’s Truly is a local New York chain with a blink and you will walk by it location on the Upper East Side. While their location is small, they know how to pack a punch, and they are a coffee bean dealer to many coffee shops around the city including my favorite one.
When I first moved to the city, still on a coffee high from my time in France, I frequented a now defunct European coffee shop that served liquid chocolate which included Nutella that they would put in their coffee. It was truly devine and when they closed, my taste buds mourned. (though pretty sure my hips celebrated)
While I don’t like chocolate there is something about Nutella that is amazing! And Nutella and coffee are a match made in heaven. Your’s Truly has the perfect balance of espresso and coffee. They also have a coffee club because in the city that never sleeps we need our coffee 24/7.
Stella and Fly
Probably my favorite coffee shop on the Upper East Side if not all of Manhattan, Stella and Fly fast became my home away from home the last year I lived in New York. An Irish coffee bar by day it transforms into a wine bar at night.
Small and cozy, it has comfy couches, Hipster decor, and baristas and bartenders who make you feel like family. Stella and Fly is also the place that truly made me appreciate a good shot of espresso.
Their cappuccino is out of this world. The foam itself not only looks, but tastes like art. Their coffee is strong and rich with none of the bitterness. This is a drink where adding sugar would be to much. Stella and Fly has brought the art of coffee back to the Upper East Side and reminded me of my days in France where if you didn’t drink it how it was presented you are committing a coffee crime.
I have written and shared a ton of pictures of Cafe Jax. It was my first writing home when I moved to the city (aside from Starbucks) and gave me all the France vibes mixed with some New York City realness. With a large downstairs area, you really could make it home away from home and many people go there to study and work.
Cafe Jax menu is quite extensive and doesn’t shy away from more exotic concoctions like a lavender latte, or the now incredibly trendy matcha latte. My favorite was a hot caramel latte which always came with the most gorgeous latte art. (how many times can I say latte?) It is sweet without being disgustingly so. Their chai is also phenomenal and some of the best chai I have ever had. Yes, it is even better then Starbucks!
DTUT is another hidden gem on the Upper East Side, much like Stella and Fly it is also a coffee shop by day and a bar by night. They also have a maple latte, but alas they use fake maple syrup so it is not at all like Frontsides. BUT they do make a delicious vanilla latte that I use to get all the time. They also serve a Bailey’s latte, which as a New Yorker, I absolutely adored! Nothing like an added kick to the caffeine!
I stumbled upon this gem when I went to San Diego, and it just might be one of my favorite coffee shops. Much like it’s name, it is an outdoor jungle oasis filled with succulents, patio furniture, and a true SoCal vibe.
They serve coffee out of a cart, and while you might think their menu would be simple, it is anything but that. They have an extensive menu from cortados to CBD lattes. They have a board that posts daily lattes, and when I went they were advertising a SNicker’s late where they used real protein enriched peanut butter in it. It was a little sweet for my tastes, but the espresso was delicious. I would love to try some of their other drinks, like a cappuccino or even their coldbrew.
City Lights Coffee
There are so many great coffee shops in Charleston. It really is a huge coffee mecca, which is why I love the city so much. (kidding, kinda) On my first visit, I researched all the coffee locales and kept coming back to City Lights Coffee. When I got to the hotel, I asked the front desk for recommendations and they also mentioned this tiny hole in the wall spot just off Kings Street.
This is a coffee connoisseurs place. While they have a multitude of syrups and can make exotic latte concoctions, they emphasis coffee. They also have a wide selection of teas and pastries including gluten free and vegan. I have had both their iced and hot coffee and shockingly I love both equally. My go to is a honey latte with skim milk, though their vanilla latte is also incredibly yummy.
Charleston Coffee Exchange
This might be my new home away from home. Their coffee is some of the best I have ever had. (and I have had a lot!) I feel like it is the local version of Starbucks with how many drinks and beans they offer. They sell an extensive assortment of fresh beans, pastries and even merchandise.
Perhaps it is because I am traveling and I want that extra jolt, but I did a latte that had white mocha and almond in it. It was one of their holiday specials and it sounds crazy, but it was so good and shockingly not to sweet. I can not wait to go back here. I think this will fast become my new home away from home.
Arabica Coffee House
Traveling to Portland, Maine, one of my favorite coffee shops is located right in the Old Port. It is a large space gives me all the feels of Cafe Jax and DTUT. It is definitely a shop that is designed for the digital nomads while still having that hipster feel.
Their menu is a true coffee connoisseurs. They don’t have a ton of flavorings and have a light hand when flavoring drinks. They do serve maple lattes. While it isn’t on par to Frontside’s, it is actually pretty good since they use real maple syrup. I also am a huge fan of their vanilla lattes which are subtle without being overpowering.
One of my favorite ever coffee shops is located on Tybee Island just off of Savannah, Georgia. This shop, much like Jungle Java, is a true oasis with colorful decor, plants, and a large outdoor patio area. The sense of community you find here, endears itself even more. The baristas were so sweet and doubling as an art gallery, it is such a fun hang-out.
The Tybean (I mean the name alone is adorable!) had everything from drip coffee to lavender lattes. I got a non fat almond latte which was so incredibly yummy, that I stuck with that my whole trip, and I still dream about it.
Thanks to extensive travels I have gone to a lot of coffee shops and unfortunately I couldn’t;t list them all here. It is something I always look for when I travel and second to good restaurants or beautiful beaches. While it is nice to have the consistency that Starbucks can give you as a chain, to me the true charm is finding that local shop that gives you the real feel for a place and the people who live there.
Good coffee is important to me, and lord knows I will never say no to a delicious cup of java, it is my daily treat, but more then that, it is connection. Whether I am meeting friends for coffee, (even of half of them order tea) or talking to the baristas, it is that human connection that in today’s insanely crazy world we can find lacking. It isn’t just because I call my barista’s caffeine dealers, but because my
multiple coffee runs always leave me with a smile on my face even before I have fueled up on the caffeinated goodness. Something that spreads positivity, promotes human interaction and makes me smile, is always a win in my book so cheers to coffee.
What is your go to coffee order? Do you switch it up depending on where you are? Do you like the coffee Shop vibes?