Coffee Is More Than Caffeine

Coffee Offers Me Not Just Caffeine, But A Cultivated Community Of Creatives

It's not just a phase mom.

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Coffee has become something of an icon in the recent years. Everywhere you look you see coffee everything – pictures, quotes, cups, community, etc. Shops can be found on every corner and they each hold their own story and history.

When I was younger, my friends and I would hang out at each other's houses. We wouldn't even have to have anything planned. We would just hang out, talk, and eat food. Now, most people go "out to coffee" and talk. Coffee shops have become the new place to sit down with someone and catch up or talk about the hard things in life.

As I sit in coffee shops I see all sorts of people coming and going. Some who are on first dates with significant others, some catching up with a long-time friend they haven't seen since college, and some just having a quiet time by themselves. Each one holds "their" drink that they hold near and dear to their heart, all while smiling into the mug as they drink and go about their day.

I have seen first-hand how coffee has connected people and brought others into the community. I met one of my best friends at a coffee shop. We talked for four hours about everything and by the end of it, I felt like she was a long-time friend. I have done Bible studies with a coffee beside me, spent "me" time at coffee shops, and written in the bean-roasted environment. I even met my roommate while working at a coffee shop.

I love coffee. I love the taste; I love how you can buy different kinds of creamers to go with it. I love how every different coffee shop you go to has different cups and saucers for you and different combinations of drinks. I love how I can sit down and write for hours upon hours by myself and not feel judged for showing up alone. I love how I don't even have to leave my house to enjoy coffee and community. I love the nights when I'm staying up late to write a paper, on my fifth cup of coffee, and my hands are so jittery I can barely type. I love how I sit down with my dad at six in the morning, drinking coffee, and just talk about life.

Coffee shops allow people to do much more than just get their daily shot of caffeine and sugar. It's a place of refuge, where you can get away and be yourself for a little while. It's a place where you can seek advice from a friend and cry without anyone staring at you. It's a place where you can have the biggest Jesus moments while deep into your Bible with highlighters all around you. It's also a place where you can quickly type up a twelve-page paper on the history of chocolate milk.

Coffee is much more than just something to keep you going through the day. It's a new tool that connects people together and tells a story. You can know a lot about a person just by their coffee order. And from there, you can open a door into a story, an opportunity, or a new friend.

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12 Starbucks Iced Drinks You NEED In Your Life This Summer

Must-try beverages brought to you by your local barista.
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Be kind to your baristas, they can make you some pretty great drinks. With the temperature rising and the days getting longer, it's approaching the time to find your summer staple to keep you cool (and caffeinated) over the next few months.

Starbucks offers a wide variety of cold beverages that really hit the spot during the summer months, from espresso drinks to fraps, smoothies, teas and refreshers. As a Starbucks barista, I've had the opportunity to taste most drinks on the menu and receive feedback from customers on the do's and don'ts of cold beverages.

While this is not an exhaustive list, I pulled together some of my favorites to give you, the "Ultimate Starbucks Iced Beverage Bucket List for 2017" that you MUST try this season:

1. Pink Drink

Three words: Basic white girl. If you want a photogenic drink that tastes like a Starburst and makes baristas happy, the Pink Drink is for you. It's a pretty simple beverage... this Strawberry Acai Refresher combined with Coconutmilk is sure to satisfy your hipster needs.

2. Iced White Mocha

This sinfully sweet iced espresso drink is not only one of the most popular beverages on the menu, but sure to wake you up at any time of day. Jazz it up by asking for half white chocolate, half mocha sauce, topped with a mocha drizzle, and you've got yourself an Iced Tuxedo Mocha!

3. Doubleshot on Ice

If nothing else, this quick pick-me-up looks classy while giving you the energy boost you need to get through the day. With two shots of espresso, a bit of milk and classic syrup, this drink is easy to enjoy in little time... it's like a caffeine I.V.!

4. Iced Caramel Machiatto

Surprise, surprise... Caramel Machiattos are actually made with vanilla syrup. Nonetheless, these espresso-topped beverages are absolutely delicious at any time of year, but summer calls for ice! Want to change things up? Ask your barista to make it with half vanilla syrup, half toffee nut syrup to make an Iced Salted Caramel Machiatto!

5. Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

A sister to the Pink Drink, the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is a fruit juice-blackberry combo that makes for a pretty chilled beverage to enjoy on the go. The caffeine content is minimal, making it a great option for any time of day.


6. Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Cold Brew is basically Starbucks' version of a smoother-tasting iced coffee with more caffeine. The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is a standard drink topped with vanilla-flavored heavy cream to create a sweet taste and a marbled appearance in the beverage. Want something with flavor, but not in the mood for vanilla? Try the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew!


7. Mango Black Tea Lemonade

The Mango Black Tea Lemonade is one of the most popular drinks on the menu. Iced Teavana tea mixed with mango syrup and lemonade makes for the perfect combination

8. Iced Chai Tea Latte

Iced Chais - sound so sophisticated, yet so simple to make. If you order this drink, there is a 10/10 chance that your barista will love you for it. Milk mixed with a sweet and spicy chai syrup makes for a classy drink that can be enjoyed at any time of day.


9. Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto

The identifying characteristic that makes a macchiato, well, a macchiato is that the espresso shots are poured on top of the milk and flavoring. Starbucks' Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Machiatto is a combination of cinnamon dolce syrup and almondmilk topped with espresso shots, a caramel drizzle and a cinnamon dolce topping to create a delicious dairy-free option in the macchiato family.

10. Sunset Refresher

This secret menu drink is fairly simple to make with a cool lime base, lemonade, lime slices, and ice topped with black tea. When finished, the drink will have an ombré appearance that makes it totally picture-worthy!

11. Iced Caffè Americano

Calling all espresso lovers: Americanos are a Starbucks signature. The drink itself is pretty simple - espresso and water topped with ice, but if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can mix things up with a flavored syrup. This drink is sure to wake you right up, no matter the time of day.

12. Strawberry Lemonade

Want something cold but not feeling coffee or a frap? Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is definitely worth a try! While this drink is not on the menu, most baristas are happy to make it upon request. Just ask for a combination of strawberry flavoring, lemonade, and ice blended together for a slushie-like beverage!

Cover Image Credit: FoodBeast

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The Insider Scoop From Your (Usually) Friendly Starbucks Barista

Yes we love our job; but that doesn't mean it's all fun and giggles.

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As much as we may love working at a place where we stay caffeinated for a good majority of the day, it does not mean that there isn't a downside.

1. Worth the competition.

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Starbucks has got to be probably one of those places that they take care of their employees so well, that people will actually stay and there is such a tough competition to get in, to begin with. People do not understand just how tough it is to truly get the job. There have been several baristas that I know that have applied for about a year or longer and it took them a while before they even got an interview.

2. Yes, we get free coffee sometimes...

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The most popular question that I could receive when people find out I am a barista is... "Do you get free coffee, how often?"

Yes, there are four separate opportunities where our coffee is free: 30 minutes before you clock in and out of work, on your ten-minute break, and during your lunch break. Now that doesn't include when we have taste testing (new roast of coffee that partners take a taste test of).

The free coffee is ONLY when we work. During regular times when we come in as a customer, we receive 30% off our purchase.

3. We are not employees.

Many probably hear us calling each other "partner" rather than employee...why is that?

Well, we are referred to as partners because it feels more of an inclusion and more personal rather than using the term "employee." By using the term "partner" it demonstrates a type of equality between everyone and viewing us as equals.

4. Variety is definitely hired.

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I can certainly stand by the statement that Starbucks is the one job that I know I have viewed a vast variety of people. Everyone is different... not everyone is an extrovert as most people tend to think!!!

Starbucks expresses highly to portray your personality within uniform regulations whether it may be through hair color, or pins on your apron, your personality is not hindered but rather encouraged.

5. No...you can't have a discount.

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I'm sorry mom, dad, family... great aunt Mary. You can't get a free drink as I am working.

Starbucks is extremely strict with just giving free drinks away because this is a business. That does not mean if we make it wrong we won't make another one. It just means that because I work there I am not permitted to give you a free drink or a discount.

However, when I am done with my shift and I ask for my drink after work, I can get the ONE drink and take it to you.

6. Imagine getting paid to talk?

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I am an extrovert! So for me to be encouraged to literally talk to customers and ask them about their life is probably one of the best jobs I can imagine doing. Starbucks encourages CUSTOMER CONNECTION.

Why?

Because if we connect so well we later ask "how are the kiddos?" you are going to feel welcomed, wanted and taken care for. You are likely to return to the store because we remembered your drink order or your name and we welcome you as you step foot into the store.

7. We do get tired even if "we are just making drinks."

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To be completely honest if you assume that all we do is make coffee and that is completely it?

WRONG.

We do so much more that the public does not see, so much that when I use to be a regular I did not even see myself. There is deep cleaning once a week and cleaning all day consistently and finishing our tasks. Let's not forget to mention the back of the house is sometimes a mess with our load of boxes coming in weekly.

Being a barista is far much more than just making the regular type of drinks, it's about a connection with your customers and being able to maintain a dirty environment at it's finest.

8. My partner became my best friend.

Photo by Daniella Escoto

In this type of work environment, you are able to not only just build great work relationships but friendships as well. Friendships are well built to the point where my fellow Starbucks partner became my best friend and I am grateful for that wonderful opportunity.

Working in this type of environment doesn't seem like a job, we constantly have fun and make each other laugh that it makes you want to go to work.

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