Affogato vs Espresso: Traditional, Starbucks, and More

Millions of coffee lovers everyday enjoy the bitter, complex flavor of espresso. The simple drink is a perfect way to get a caffeine boost while on the go.

The majority of coffee drinks we love use espresso as the base. Lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites and more are all popular espresso drink options.

While these are all popular drink choices of coffee connoisseurs, there is one post-meal drink that combines both the delicious flavors of espresso and the sweetness of a Italian dessert, gelato.

Today were covering the history and more of the iconic Italian dessert, the affogato as well as some espresso basics.

You’ll find out about the traditional take on this drink as well as the popular Starbucks rendition, some alternative options and more.

Affogato vs Espresso: Traditional, Starbucks, and More

Espresso: A Coffee Essential

A shot of espresso is the standard on the go drink for many people, especially in Italy where (surprise!) the drink originated.

While the style of the espresso machine has changed since 1884, the time of its invention, the drink has stayed a staple throughout time.

This shot of intense flavor is created by pushing hot water at a high pressure through tightly packed, finely-ground coffee.

When done correctly, the result is a highly concentrated shot of coffee that has consist of three distinct parts: crema, body, and heart.

Crema

This is probably one of parts espresso is best known for.

It is the creamy golden layer that sits directly on top of a perfectly pulled shot of hot espresso. The crema helps create a more visually appealing drink and is delicious.

Body

The Body of an espresso shot is a bit more complex then the crema or heart. This portion actually consists of three different components: Soluble solids, soluble gasses and insoluble solids.

Without going into too much detail, these are all different things that result when water is pushed through the ground coffee.

The soluble solids give you the taste of the actual espresso, the soluble gases the lovely coffee smell, and the insoluble solids are things such as the oil that comes from the beans that helps along the smell, taste, and mouthfeel of the shot.

Heart

This portion of the espresso shot is found at the very bottom of the glass.

The heart is much thicker than the rest of the liquid as it was the first water pushed through the espresso and thus sits at the bottom of the glass.

This part is also responsible for most of the acidity you taste in a shot of espresso.

Affogato al caffè: A Classic Italian dessert

Now is time to dive into the main star of today’s post, the affogato. This is both a dessert but also a style of espresso shot, referred to as affogato style.

This balanced Italian dessert is thought to have originated in Italy, but when and where is a point of confusion.

There are a few theories floating around currently, the first being that this delicious dessert originated back in the 1600’s thanks to a Franciscan friar named Angelico who decided to mix a bit of espresso with a bit of vanilla ice cream.

Another suggests that affogato originated in Naples, Italy, but was created or at least strongly influenced by the French.

It has also been suggested that while it was around before the mid 1900’s, it was in the 1950’s when the dessert really started to get popular. This is thought to have been due to ice cream also becoming increasingly popular after WW2.

While we may not know where or when this dessert truly came to be, we do know that it is absolutely incredible when made well.

Creating a traditional Italian affogato

One of the beautiful things about an affogato is that it’s simple.

However, because there are only two ingredients, you need to make sure they are high quality and created well if you want that authentic taste. (if you’re making this in your kitchen as a midnight snack it might not matter as much)

As we discussed already, the two main components of an affogato are the espresso shot and the vanilla gelato.

The Espresso

You really want to try and pull a shot of espresso that has a good crema and captures that complex, intense flavor that espresso is known for.

One of the best parts of an affogato is the balance of the espresso flavor with the creaminess of the gelato. Additionally, it is recommended to stick to a single shot of espresso (30-40 mL) per one scoop of gelato.

Although affogato is the Italian word meaning “drowned”, you don’t want to completely drown your gelato so much in espresso that you throw off the flavor ratio.

The Gelato

When in doubt, go to the source! Recipes From Italy states that if you want to keep it traditional, the best gelato to use is either “gelato alla crema” or “Fior di latte gelato”.

Fior di Latte gelato specifically is considered a very pure gelato as it doesn’t contain eggs or anything else beyond milk, sugar, and heavy cream (yum!).

Pro Tip: It is highly recommended to make sure your gelato is quite frozen before using it! This way, your scoop of vanilla gelato wont won’t completely melt when you add the fresh espresso.

Alternative Options: Straying away from Traditional Affogato

Like any dish, there is a traditional and non-traditional way to make it. Maybe you don’t have an espresso machine or are not a fan of vanilla gelato. Whatever reason you have, there’s no shame in creating your own version of an affogato.

Alternatives to using espresso

According to Spruce Eatsthere are definitely some good alternatives for espresso when it comes to making an affogato. What makes an affogato great, is the balance between the bold and strong espresso flavors and the smooth creaminess of the gelato.

Using a French press, moka pot, or pour over are all great ways to recreate this strong coffee flavor without an espresso machine.

Additionally, using a darker roast of coffee beans will help accomplish this flavor as they tend to make coffee that is bolder, stronger and less acidic in taste.

Alternatives to Vanilla Gelato

Depending on where you’re searching for an affogato, you’ll find more often than not, that it is being served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of gelato.

Adding a scoop of ice cream is definitely common and still gives you that creamy/bitter combination that you might want with an affogato.

If you’re straying away from the vanilla flavor all together, there are a few flavors that work better than others when adding espresso.

Some of the popular options are either dark or milk chocolate and hazelnut. While some people recommend against using coffee ice cream, if you want a extra kick of coffee flavor, feel free to give this a go!

Adding a Boozy Finish

As affogato is often offered as a dessert, adding a bit of booze is not uncommon. Similar to the alternative gelato or ice cream flavors, adding hazelnut liqueurs like Frangelico, a shot of amaretto, or a bit of rum are all great options to enhance the flavors.

Lowering the Caffeine Content: Decaf Options

Like any other coffee drink, you can always make a shot of decaf espresso to go with your affogato. Caffeine affects everyone differently and just because you might not want as much caffeine as an espresso shot gives you, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this delicious dessert!

The only difference you may notice with a decaf shot of espresso is a milder flavor profile. This is due to the decaffeination process and how the shot itself pulls.

A shot of espresso contains around 80 mg of caffeine.

Where to Find an Affogato

As this is a traditionally Italian dessert and coffee drink, you should be able to find it easily in many Italian restaurants. Fine dining or higher end restaurants who sell espresso also typically offer affogato as an after-dinner drink option.

In my experience in the United States, I don’t find many coffee shops offer ice cream options so I wouldn’t assume that your favorite stop would offer an affogato-style shot, but it never hurts to check! If you travel to Italy or Europe this likely will not be the same case!

Starbucks' Take on the Affagato: The Frappuccino

The coffee conglomerate has been known to take traditional coffee drinks and spin them into some of the most iconic drinks on the market.

If you’ve ever worked in a coffee shop before, you are probably familiar with having to ask people if they would like a traditional macchiato or a “Starbucks” version when they order.

This case is no different. As we all know, Starbucks isn’t exactly serving up traditional affogatos in the drive through, but they do sell hundreds and hundreds of Frappuccinos a day.

A Frappuccino is a flavored frozen blended drink that was invented by Starbucks market director Andrew Frank in 1992. It was launched in stores a few years later in 1994.]

To date, Starbucks offers over 30 different flavors of the Frappuccino and in 2011 the popular blended drink accounted for 20% of the total sales.

While the Frappuccino may not actually contain ice cream, the balance of sweet and bold flavors are still very present, though most likely on the sweeter side of things.

In a classic Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino you’ll find similar ingredients to what makes up ice cream: Ice, milk and whipped cream.

Espresso is also added similar to an affogato along with coffee Frappuccino syrup to give it an extra punch. Any other flavorings like caramel sauce or vanilla bean powder are also added in as needed.

Obviously if you have a taste for a classic affogato, a Frappuccino is probably not at all what you’re looking for. But it has undeniably changed the blended drinks market since its late 90’s launch.

Summary: Affogato vs. Espresso

Although the title of this article is “Affogato VS. Espresso” that really isn’t the case.

While they are two separate drinks to be enjoyed, one is more of a dessert that cannot traditionally exist without the other.

While espresso is, and always will be, the essential in so many coffee drinks, it can be enjoyed on its own and in many other ways.

A good shot of espresso will have three crucial parts: a good smooth crema, great body, and good heart found at the bottom of the shot, providing acidity and mouthfeel.

Affogato on the other hand, is a style of the espresso shot, poured over gelato or ice cream.

Ideally, around 30-40 mL or one shot of espresso will be used for every one cup of gelato or ice cream used.

Although the word affogato in Italian translates to “drown”, you don’t want to have too much espresso in your affogato.

One of the best things about an affogato is when the hot espresso joins the gelato, slightly melting it. This creates a beautiful combination of the different flavors, temperatures, and textures.

The popular dessert has been enjoyed for decades and has even been adapted by Starbucks and transformed into one of their most popular blended drinks, the Frappuccino.

Although inspired by the Italian dessert, the Frappuccino is only similar as the ingreidents used are similar to those in gelato or ice cream.

Starbucks has offered around 30 different flavors of frappuccinos since its birth in 1994.

If you ever come across an affogato while in a cafe in Italy or just a nice restaurant elsewhere, I highly recommend giving it a go.

While it may not be the best option for someone who loves sweeter drinks, it’s the perfect way to get an extra bit of caffeine after a meal.


Can You Drink Coffee With A Retainer In? (Invisalign & More)

Retainers exist for a number of different reasons, whether it’s keeping your teeth in place after braces or slowly creating your new smile with Invisalign.

Since they play such a large role in shaping and maintaining your new smile, it is very important to take proper care of them (and your teeth!) to make sure you get your money’s worth.  

With the average time your retainer should be worn after having braces clocking in at 22 hrs a day, it’s inevitable to want to enjoy a coffee or other beverage while wearing one.

While it is good practice to always remove your retainer before eating and drinking anything besides plain water, sometimes that’s just not an option! 

So, today we are delving into retainer basics, how to properly clean and maintain one so you can have good oral hygiene , and answering one of the most common questions….

Can you drink coffee with a retainer in? 

women at dentist appointment, retainer

Table Of Contents (Just click on the section you want to read!)

Diving into retainer basics

Potential impacts of coffee on your retainer

The staining potential of coffee

The impact of a hot coffee 

The impact of high acidity and sugar

Reducing the impact coffee has on your retainer

So, you drank coffee with your retainer in… now what?

Conclusion: Can you drink coffee with your retainer in?

 

Let’s Dive into Retainer Basics

Firstly, lets learn a bit more about retainer basics, such as what they’re made of and so on. 

There are three main types of retainers on the market right now:

#1 The Hawley Retainer

green Hawley permanent retainer

The Hawley Retainer is going to be your go-to classic removeable retainer.

Made out of acrylic and metal and perfectly molded to your fit your post braces teeth, this is one of the most common retainers out there.

One of the benefits of this retainer is you can choose what color you want it to be, or even put a pattern on it.

I even had mine customized with the logo of my high school!

#2: Clear Retainers / Clear Braces

Clear retainers have quickly become one of the most common removable retainers out there. these ones act both as a retainer but also can an alignment tool.

While you probably most likely know this type of retainer as part of the Invisalign treatment program but there are actually two types of retainers that fall into this this category. 

Both Essix retainers and Vivera (Invisalign) retainers are made out of clear, durable, thermoplastic that has been named “Smart Track”.

They are molded to the user’s teeth perfectly and when maintained well, are almost invisible.

The main difference between the two is the thickness of the retainer.

Essix retainers are actually 30% thinner than Vivera retainers, leading to them warping and distorting much easier than the Invisalign trays. 

#3 Permanent or fixed retainers

The last common type of retainer on the market is a permanent or fixed retainer.

These are made of metal and some type of bonding material that fits the metal wire to the teeth.

You’ll typically find these behind attached to the back of your bottom teeth or behind your top teeth. 

While you most likely still need to wear a removable retainer after having braces, having a permanent retainer substantially minimizes the amount of tooth movement over time.

The only major downside to these permanent retainers is that they can be very difficult to keep clean.

Food particles commonly get stuck in between the teeth under the wire and are difficult to properly get out.

Potential Impacts Coffee May Have on Retainers 

While you can drink water and other drinks while having your retainer in, drinking coffee, especially hot coffee, poses a few different risks for your retainer.

1. The Staining Potential of Coffee

One of the biggest concerns with drinking coffee while having a retainer in is the staining potential.

Similar to red wine, coffee has the ability to stain a variety of materials such as linens, plastics and even our teeth.

This staining property comes from the tannins found in coffee.

When these are present, the color compounds in coffee (aka the brown color) has the ability to stick to things, leading to stained teeth and potentially a stained retainer.

While we have some ways to get stains out of our teeth such as teeth whitening, it can be a bit more difficult to get the coffee stains out of plastic materials. 

Plastic materials tend to be much more porous and thus really absorb that lovely brown coffee color.

While it may not be a huge deal that your colored removable retainer picks up a bit of coffee stain, it may be a bit more noticeable for those using Invisalign retainers as they’re completely clear.

With the whole point being that the retainer is “invisible”, you don’t want to turn them yellow!

 

2. The Impact of a Hot Coffee

The second main concern when drinking coffee with a retainer in is how the heat from the coffee might affect the materials the retainer is made of.

Experts state an ideal cup of hot coffee will be served at a temperature between 180 and 185 F.

From my barista experience, we steamed milk to around 140 F, so we will say the average coffee temperature ranges from 140-180 F. 

When it comes to both Hawley retainers and clear (Essix & Vivera) aligners, the melting point for the plastics used sits around 300-320 degrees Fahrenheit.

Again, for average cup of coffee, you’ll be hitting around 140-180 degrees Fahrenheit, so around halfway to the plastics’ melting point.

Although the heat from your coffee will not melt the material, it can definitely weaken the plastic material leading to deformation, which would unfortunately defeat the point of your retainer! 

Also remember the Essix retainers are much thinner than the similar Invisalign aligners, so having hot drinks with this retainer may cause deformation quicker than the alternatives.

 

3. The Impact of High Acidity & Sugar

The last factor to take into consideration is the high acidity and potentially high sugar content of your morning coffee.

While we talked about how tannins can cause staining on your teeth and retainer, we haven’t talked about how the sugar/acid combination can affect your retainer and oral health.

Coffee is considered a pretty acidic drink, sitting at about a 4.85-5.1 on the pH scale.

This isn’t surprising as coffee beans actually contain nine different acids.

Chlorogenic acid is the most prevalent followed by quinic, citric, acetic, lactic, malic, phosphoric, linoleic, and palmitic acids.

These acids tend to come out more in the flavor profiles of lighter roast coffees as the beans aren’t in the roaster long enough to burn off these acids.

While the acidic nature of the delicious drink may not have an immediate effect on your retainer, overtime without proper cleaning, the exposure to the high acids can eat away at the plastic and acrylic materials. 

The impact of sugar on the other hand, mainly poses a problem for your pearly whites.

Sugary drinks are known to cause tooth decay if the teeth are not properly taken care of.

This risk is only increased when wearing a retainer that traps the sugary drink right next to your teeth for a long period of time. 

Additionally, when your retainer is also exposed to sugar, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. 

This can not only make the retainer harder to clean and maintain, but also can lead to bad breath and overall bad dental health.

 

How to Reduce the Potential Problems from Drinking Coffee with a Retainer In

Now, if you absolutely need to have a coffee with your retainer in, don’t worry!

There are a few fixes to help minimize the risks of damaging or discoloring your retainer. 

1. Choose a darker roast coffee

We briefly talked about this earlier, but light roast coffee tends to carry a much stronger acidic profile than dark roast coffee.

For a reference, a lighter roast coffee may have a pH closer to 4.85 while a darker roast will be around 5.1 on the pH scale.

This is due to the amount of time they’re roasted for but also the temperature that the beans are roasted at. 

Since dark roast coffee is roasted for a longer period of time at a higher temperature, a lot of the acids in the coffee beans are broken down. 

2. Drink a cold brew coffee instead of a hot coffee

This quick swap has 2x the benefits.

Not only does switching to cold coffee help prevent warping and distortion of the retainer itself, but cold brew coffee is actually 66% less acidic than a normal hot coffee. 

3. Use a plastic or metal straw to drink from

When you use a straw, the majority of the liquid you’re drinking bypasses your teeth and thus your retainer.

This can help prevent any liquid from getting trapped between your teeth and retainers. 

 

So you drank coffee with your retainer in…now what?

Drinking something you’re not supposed to while having a retainer in isn’t a good idea, but it’s definitely not the end of the world!

Since the main concern when it comes to drinking coffee with a retainer in is staining, the next steps are to give it (and your teeth) a nice deep clean.

Cleaning Clear Retainers

Surprisingly, using toothpaste is actually not recommended for cleaning your clear retainers due to 

abrasive material in the toothpaste can leave microabrasions on your retainers and give them a cloudy appearance

Instead, soaking them in cold water (do not use hot water!! this can deform them quickly) with a cleaning tablet specifically for retainers or dentures.

If you want to be extra careful, you can use an approved cleaner, like WhiteFoam. This is a cleaner that was made for clear retainers specifically.   

It is also recommended against using mouthwash or any colored cleaners on these as keeping the clear look is the most important thing. 

Cleaning Hawley Retainers

Thankfully, it is a bit easier to keep your Hawley retainers clean.

Since these removable retainers are made of hard plastic and wire, all you really need to do is soak them in cold water and give them a good brush to keep clean.

Similar to clear retainers, you can add in a retainer cleaning tablet to the water to give them an even deeper clean. 

Note: It is recommended to not soak them for more than 15 minutes. 

Cleaning Your Permanent Retainer

Since your permanent retainer is well… permanent, you’re going to drink coffee with it in at some point (unless you decide to quit completely).

Thankfully since it’s hidden behind your teeth, appearance doesn’t matter at all.

But it is still important to keep up your dental hygiene especially with this type of retainer.

It can be very difficult to floss between your teeth since the wire is in the way, which can lead to bad oral hygiene as food particles and sugars are much more likely to stay trapped between your teeth.

Using a flossing needle is the way to go as it provides an easy way to get floss in between your teeth to keep your smile gorgeous!

 

Conclusion: Can You Drink Coffee With Your Retainer in?

Especially in the winter, it may be tempting to enjoy a hot coffee, or even a hot chocolate while you have your retainer in.

However, it is definitely recommended to not have any hot liquids or any coffee while your retainer is in. 

There are three main reasons for the concern of drinking coffee with a retainer in:

1. Staining / Discoloration of the retainer

2. Warping / Deformation 

3. Damage to the retainer from acids / sugars in your favorite beverage

Staining & discoloration is by far the biggest concern when it comes to drinking coffee.

This is mainly because coffee contains tannins, which cause the brown coffee color to stain and hang onto a lot of different materials (including teeth!).

As clear plastic retainers have become increasingly popular in the last few years, having a stained or cloudy retainer would defeat the purpose of them completely.

The best way to combat potential retainer staining and general wear is by getting into a good cleaning routine. 

While it is easy to clean a Hawley (hard removable retainer) by soaking it in cold water and giving it a gentle brush, Invisalign wearers have it a bit harder.

The process of cleaning Invisalign retainers or an Essix retainer proves a bit more complicated as you are unable to brush them.

It is recommended to use a retainer cleaning tablet when soaking them in water and to avoid using a colored cleaners (such as mouthwash) or even toothpaste as it could create tiny scratches on the plastic leading to a cloudier look. 

If you absolutely need to have a coffee and can’t take your retainer out, try an opt for an iced coffee!

This way you are eliminating the risk of melting or deforming your retainer.

Additionally, you can swap your normal coffee for a cold brew or a darker roast to help bring that pesky acidity level down.

Since braces are definitely considered an expensive orthodontic treatment, it’s important to keep your teeth set in their new positions!

Wearing and taking care of your retainer helps this process along and ultimately, you’ll save money if you take care of your retainer and new teeth from the beginning!


Your Cuisinart Single Serve Coffee Maker Problems Solved!

The iconic Keurig machine completely changed the coffee industry when they invented k-cups and single serve brewers back in 1998.

While intended to be used in offices, I think we can all agree, these single serve coffee machines have taken over college dorms, households and everywhere in between.

While Keurig put their home brewers on the market in 2004, Cuisinart was quick to follow and by 2005, Cuisinart created their own single serve coffee makers.

They now offer six different single serve brewers in total, with some even having the options to grind your own coffee beans, where the grounds go directly into a reusable k-cup.

This particular brewer, the DGB-2 Series, has even been listed as the best single-serve coffee maker with a grinder attached by Good Housekeeping.

This guide mainly applies to many of these single serve coffee makers (such as the Cuisinart SS-15) but does not cover ones such as the DGB-2 series we widely.

Problems are unfortunately unavoidable when it comes to owning a more mechanical product like a coffee machine but doesn’t mean they can’t be easily fixed so you can get back to spending some quality time with a cup of good coffee.

Today, we’ll delve into seven of the most common problems with Cuisinart single-serve coffee makers, along with potential solutions if you come across any of these issues!

7 Common Problems with Cuisinart's Single Serve Coffee Makers

Problem #1: My Cuisinart coffee maker won't turn on / Power Issues 

Cause #1: The machine isn’t plugged in

Yes, it sounds silly but we have all been there!

Either we forget to plug the machine in or someone else accidentally unplugged it. This is an easy and quick potential fix to the problem.

Cause #2: The power source isn’t working

The best way to test if the power outlet you are using is bad, is to plug in something you 100% know will work.  My go to is my phone charger since I use it every day.

If the outlet is not working correctly, try resetting the correct switch on your circuit breaker to see if that helps.

Cause #3: The power cord or internal circuit board is damaged

The last potential cause for your Cuisinart coffee maker not turning on is that the power cord attached to it, or a separate internal component may be damaged.

To check the cord itself, unplug the machine and look for any wires that might be poking out of the cord. Any cracked areas of the cord could also be signs of damage.

If you don’t see any damage on the outside of the cord, the issue may be internal. At this stage, I would recommend calling the Cuisinart Customer Service line to get the machine serviced.

Problem #2: There are coffee grounds in your cup

If you find your k-cup’s exploding or if there are a lot of coffee grounds making their way into your cup, there are two potential causes for this.

Cause #1: The pod has been incorrectly placed

When you’re placing a K-Cup or coffee pod into the holder, make sure it is fully clicked into place, and that the arrow on the coffee pod holder lines up perfectly with the arrow on the machine itself.

Cause #2: The piercing & exit needles are clogged

The second potential cause for this issue is that the piercing & exit needles (the needles that go into the k-cups) have grounds in them and have gotten clogged.

This can lead to water not being able to correctly flow through the needles and thus a pressure buildup causing the cup to “explode”.

These blocked needles can actually cause quite a few common problems for these single serve coffee makers so we’ve created a section dedicated to cleaning them.

 Click here to jump to the section!

Problem #3: My coffee maker is only brewing a partial cup of coffee

Cause #1: The “add water” indicator is on / there is a lack of water in the reservoir

It’s an easy fix for this one! Be sure to double check the water level in the reservoir and fill it accordingly. Cuisinart recommends adding at least 11oz to the container if water is needed.

Cause #2: The piercing needles need to be cleaned

Again, clogged piercing needles can cause many problems. If you’re coffee machine isn’t brewing a full cup, it may be time to give the needles a clean.

Click here to jump to the section with a detailed description and video on how to clean these needles.

Cause #3: The capsule holder & funnel needs to be cleaned

If you have ever used your single serve machine, you are definitely familiar with the brewing chamber or capsule holder area!

This is just the section of your coffee machine where your coffee pod sits.

To clean this section of your single serve coffee maker is really similar to cleaning the needles!

To start, lift the handle on the coffee maker to open. Grab the top of the holder and pull it out of the section.

Once you have the holder out, you can remove the funnel off the bottom fo the holder by twisting it off. Once you do this you will see one of the piecing needles which you can clean using the method above.

Both of these parts, the capsule holder and funnel are top rack dishwasher safe, so feel free to pop those in on a low temperature to clean.

Once taken everything out as well, you can clean the piercing needle that is located in the brewing chamber if you want to be thorough.

Again, feel free to use the method & videos above to help!

Cause #4: The machine needs descaling

Scale in a coffee machine occurs when a variety of minerals found in water (mainly tap) start to build up in the machine and on the components.

 It’s important to descale your machine to ensure that it runs correctly.

Cuisinart single serve coffee makers do have sensors that will notify you via the screen when the machine needs to be descaled.

However, they also recommend doing it every 3-6 months or as often as you need even if the “descale” display does not come up.

Click here to jump to our section on how to properly descale your Cuisinart single serve coffee machine.

Problem #4: My brewing temperatures are inconsistent

Inconsistent brewing temperatures are typically caused by issues with the boiler or heating element within the coffee machine.

If scale, or minerals from the water, builds up on this heating element, the boiler may not heat correctly.

This temperature variation is not only annoying but can also affect how your coffee tastes since it isn’t being brewed properly.

Solution:

Like our last problem, the solution here is to give your machine a nice clean via descaling.

Click here to jump to the section on descaling your machine!

Problem #5: My Cuisinart isn't dispensing any water or coffee

Cause #1:  The piercing needles are clogged 

If your machine isn’t properly dispensing your drink, the piercing needles may be clogged and therefor water cannot get through.

Again, this is a common problem so click here to jump to the section on how to clean these needles properly!

Cause #2: The water reservoir isn’t filled correctly

If your water reservoir doesn’t contain enough water, the machine won’t dispense your coffee!

 Double check by filling your reservoir to the max fill line or having at least 11 oz of water in the container.

Cause #3: The machine is acting up 

Sometimes you just need to give your machine the ol’ reboot.

Unplug your machine and leave it off for at least thirty seconds or longer. Once enough time has passed, plug it back in, turn it back on and try again.

Problem #6: There is a leak coming from the water tank / reservoir

Cause: The O-Ring needs cleaning or replacing

O-Rings are a type of seal found commonly in equipment or machinery.  In the case of your coffee machine, they help prevent leaks and also keeps the pressure regulated.

In your single serve coffee maker, there is most likely one at the connection point of the water reservoir and the machine, as well as in the brew basket.

If the O-Ring is dirty or broken, it doesn’t seal water in correctly, which can cause water leakage from the bottom of the reservoir.

Cuisinart put out a video breaking down the best way to go about it here!

Problem #7: There is a leak coming from the dispenser or brew head

Cause: The piercing needles are blocked 

If your machine keeps leaking after you’ve brewed a coffee, the piecing needles may be blocked. with coffee grounds or other things!

Click here to jump to the section on how to clean these needles properly.

Problem #8: There is constant mineral or scale build up in my machine

Cause: Using mineral rich tap water

If you find yourself constantly having the same problems such as scale buildup in your coffee machine, it may be time to look at the type of water you’re using.

Unfiltered tap water is considered “hard water”. It contains a number of minerals and other particles that can cause scale build up in your machine and water hose.

By using filtered or “soft water” to brew your coffee, you can minimize the amount of scale build up. In turn, you may not need your Cuisinart machine as much!

An extra bonus to using filtered water is that it makes a much better cup of coffee, as you don’t have all the extra minerals interfering with that flavor coffee lovers enjoy.

Maintenance Tips & Tricks for a Cuisinart Single-Serve Brewer

Cleaning clogged piercing needles:

While this solution requires slightly more effort, it is still very easy to do.

First start by taking the k-cup holder out from the coffee machine.

Once this is completed you should be able to twist it apart, leaving you with an upper and lower half.

Then, take a paper clip and straighten part of it out. Insert the paper clip into the upper needle and twist to remove and grounds or grime.

Then, repeat this step with the bottom needle.

Once both needles are cleaned, piece back the k-cup holder and reinsert into the machine.

Are you visual learner? Here is a video from Cuisinart themselves showing the process.

Before brewing another cup of coffee, run a cycle or two using a vinegar water mix to ensure the needles and machine are clean completely.

Descaling Solution

Although Descaling may sound complicated, it’s actually easy and only involves you adding a bit of vinegar to the water reservoir system and brewing like normal.

Follow these steps to de-scale your unit:

1. Empty the reservoir

2. Disable the AUTO OFF and OFF TIME features

3. Making sure there is no capsule in the brewing chamber, fill the reservoir with 20 oz. of white vinegar, plus 40 oz. of water

4. Place a large mug on the drip tray. Press and hold the HOT WATER and RINSE buttons to start the de-scale process. Discard contents of mug.

5. Repeat Step 4 until ADD WATER is displayed on the control panel.

6. Rinse the water reservoir thoroughly and fill with fresh water.

7. Run another Hot Water cycle (see page 11). Discard contents of large mug.

8. Repeat hot water process until ADD WATER is displayed on the control panel.

9. You may need to perform additional Hot Water cycles if you detect any residual vinegar taste. Note: If DE-SCALE is still displayed on the control panel after completing the procedure, repeat the de-scaling procedure above. Maintenance: Any oth

Cuisinart states in their own troubleshooting guide that if you have de-scaled your machine twice already and the issue persists, contact customer their service team. 1-800-726-0190

Use filtered water

While it may seem a bit fancy to only use filtered water in your coffee machine, there are real benefits to it!

Firstly, you’ll most likely have to clean your machine less often. Scale buildup is one of the biggest issues when it comes to having a coffee machine. Tap water contains so many minerals that build up on various parts of the machine, causing it to not work as well as we might want.

Filtered water often has substantially less of these minerals, often leading to less scale buildup and overall, a cleaner machine,

Beyond cleanliness, the lack of minerals in filtered water leads tooa  clenaer and better tasting cup of cofee being brewed.

Pro Tip: The SS-10 actualyl comes with a charcoal water filter attachment in it. Having this filter helps prevent scale and other gunk from getting into the internal parts and water lines of your favorite machine.

Routine inspection of machine components

The best way to take care of your machine is to do proper maintenance or regular cleaning on it 9or at least semi-regularly!)

This way you can catch a potential problem before it gets bad.

There are simple ways to do this, either by setting a time every month to descale your machine, or just giving the capsule holder a good rinse every now and then.

Cuisinart put out a video on how to properly clean your single-serve brewer to help ensure you can have it for as long as possible!

Brewing with a reusable filter cup (reusable k-cup)

If you have one of the handy refillable pods at home with you, that’s fantastic! The process to brewing a fresh coffee is pretty much the same as if you were using a normal k-cup. All you need to do is pop out that brewing capsule that you would normally place your k-cup in, and replace it with your resuable one.

note: when you’re filling your reusable k-cup with coffee grounds, be sure not to fill it above the max line and leave it loose or untamped.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes you can try everything, and the problem still won’t go away. When this happens, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and call customer support for help.

There are a few instances when Cuisinart actually suggests this, rather than keep trying to solve the issue. One of these instances is if you have descaled the machine properly twice and the descale alert will not go away.

The good thing is, most, if not all, of Cuisinart machines come with a 3-year limited time warranty. This warranty takes place from the date of purchase IF you have proof. If you haven’t kept your receipt since you’ve bought it, it will go from the day the product was manufactured.

If you’re interested in getting your product serviced. you can call the toll-free Cuisinart number at 1-800-726-0190. Note this is only for the US & Canada (and with exceptions for California)

Lastly, all warranty information (and also more cleaning guides!) should be in the manual that came with your coffee brewer. If you’ve thrown yours out (like I do!) they actually have all of them, even the discontinued ones, on the website!

Just click here to access it! 

If this add water indicator doesn’t turn off after the water is added, there may be a different issue and it’s recommended to call the customer service line.

Conclusion

Cuisinart machines are fantastic and have found their way into so many homes around the world. Maintenace problems are expected as with most machines, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world!

We covered a lot of information today for the 7 most common issues when it comes to Cuisinart single serve brewers, but the two main causes for these issues across the board was the piercing needles needing to be cleaned or the machine might need a good descale.

Thankfully both of these are easy to fix and it definitely helps that Cuisinart has put together a number of great videos to help you through the process.

You can find both of these videos below this summary as well as a general cleaning video here.

If you keep having problems with your Cuisinart or these solutions don’t fix your problem, you most likely have a 3-year warranty on your machine.

Cuisinart has a toll-free customer service number for US and Canada customers to help get a service started!

And lastly, remember, the best way to take care of your single-serve brewer is to clean it more often than not!


Can You (and should you) Put Hot Coffee in a Red Solo Cup?

Red Solo Cup: the iconic plastic cup that has swept the nation over the years and has inspired one of Toby Keith’s most well known songs.

The burning question we will be answering today is for all of the college students, campers, or anyone else out there who is in a pinch for a coffee cup.

Can you put hot coffee (or any hot liquid) into a red solo cup??

The simple answer to this question is yes, of course you can pour your coffee into a plastic cup. No one is going to stop you. 

The real question is.. should you be doing it?

It is not unknown that there are some health concerns when you heat up certain types of plastic. So today were going to dive into the nitty gritty of the plastics world!

We will cover what these cups are made of, potential health issues, and some alternative options that may be better for you and the environment.

So, without any more introduction, here is the answer to the question…

Can you (or should you) put hot coffee in a red solo cup?

To kick off answering this question, we need to learn about the world of plastics. Which types are good to use, which to stay way from and when they start to melt.

The Seven Main Plastics

There are seven different categories of plastics that we mainly use. If you look on the bottom of your Tupperware or plastic coke bottle, you’ll probably see the recycling symbol with a number inside of it.

That number represents what type of plastic material the item is made out of and if you can recycle it.

The seven main plastic types are as follows.

  1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  2. High density polyethylene (HDPE)
  3. Polyvinyl chlorine (PVC)
  4. Low density polyethylene (LDPE)
  5. Polypropylene (PP)
  6. Polystyrene (PS)
  7. Bisphenol and others

The most commonly used plastic is plastic #1 or PET. Water bottles, Gatorade bottles and condiment bottles are made up of this type of plastic.

You will also find a number of cups being made from #4 (LDPE) or #6 (PS) plastics. These will be your typical plastic or Styrofoam cups.

Since each plastic has a different purpose, there are a few that are suitable to use for food and drink while some you should definitely stay away from.

What are red solo cups made of?

Solo Cup has a few different types of disposable cups on their website. These are the classic red plastic solo cup, a see-through colored version and a run of the mill plastic cup.

The clear cups are listed as being made with the #1 plastic (PET) that we just talked about while the red solo cups & see through colored cups are made with a #6 plastic, or polystyrene.

Both plastics are able to be recycled and are reported to be BPA free.

Bisphenol A or BPA’s are found in many plastic & metal items we use every day.

Over time, pronounced negative health effects such as hormone disruption and low vitamin D levels have been linked to BPA consumption.

Since then, it has been advised to stay away from BPA’s whenever possible.

Melting point of plastics

A very important things to keep in mind when it comes to plastics is their melting point.

When plastics are exposed to heat, they degrade faster leading to toxic chemicals leaching into the environment around them.

Plastic #1 (PET) has a melting point of 255 degrees Celsius (491 degrees Fahrenheit while plastic #6 (PS) has a melting point of 100-120 degrees Celsius (212 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit).

These temperatures may seem extremely high, but in reality, the boiling point of water falls at 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Note: This temperature drops the higher above sea level you go.

So, if you find yourself in Colorado, the boiling point of water may be closer to 95 Celsius or 209 Fahrenheit due to the high elevation.

With coffee experts arguing that the ideal temperature for a cup of coffee is around 160 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the melting point of plastic #6 (and red solo cups) is not far off.

Potential health problems from using plastic cups

Plastic Leaching & Micro-Plastics

One of the main concerns when it comes to putting hot liquids in plastic cups is plastic leaching and microplastics (a term I’m sure you’re familiar with)

Both definitions are as follows:

Plastic leaching: when the chemicals from the plastic leak out into the surrounding environment.

Although plastic leaching is inevitable, it is known that heating plastics only increases the amount of leaching that occurs.

Microplastics: tiny plastic particles that result from both commercial product development and the breakdown of larger plastics

Microplastics on a fingertip

 

It may seem like microplastics would not be an issue when it comes to using plastic cups, however, a recent study testing the level of microplastics found in liquid before and after being in a plastic found:

the microplastic abundance in water reached 723–1,489 particles cup−1 after 5 min exposure and increased significantly with increasing residence time

Think you can drink your coffee before the plastic degrades?

Sudha Goel, an assistant professor from the Indian institute of technology, stated that 

In the 15 minutes it takes for (hot) coffee or tea to be consumed the microplastic layer on the cup degrades and releases 25,000 micron-sized particles into the hot beverage.

Essentially, this means that when using any plastic cup, especially with a hot drink, you will be most likely be consuming microplastics and any chemicals leaching from the plastic cup.

Chemicals Released

Many of the extremely harmful chemicals found in plastics are thankfully not used in food & drink items.

However, there are still many chemicals that are found our everyday plastic items.

Nonylphenol is a plastic found on the “chemicals of concern in plastics” produced by the Australian government back in 2021.

Unlike many of the other chemicals on the list that are found mainly in PVC, this chemical is found is Polystyrene or plastic #6.

If you remember from earlier in the article, this is the plastic that red solo cups are made out of.

Common chemicals that can be released as well are BPA’s and phthalates which can lead to other health concerns such as lower fertility rates.

Thankfully, as we discussed before, red solo cups are BPA free.

Side effects from ingested plastics

Obviously, plastics were never made to be ingested. So, the side effects that come with ingesting microplastics and chemicals from plastic cups cannot be great for us.

The Endrocine Soctiey states that the chemicals leached from plastics can contain “endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)”.

These can harm the body’s hormone system leading to a variety of health issues such as cancer and diabetes.

These EDC’s can stay in the body for an extended period of time and cause cumulative effects over your lifetime.”

Environmental Impacts

The environmental impact of plastic cups brings us back to the microplastic argument.

Plastics are everywhere in our day to day lives. So much so that there is a garbage patch in the middle of the ocean that is filled with plastic we just can’t seem to get rid of.

Plastic cups can be fantastic because of how inexpensive and convenient they are. However, being a single use plastic item, their impact on the environment adds up quickly.

To put it in perspective a bit more, research found that in the United States back in 2020,  “219.73 million Americans used disposable cups and plates in 2020”

Even further, it was found that the entire world “produces around 350 million tonnes of plastic waste each year”.

If you multiply that by the 0.5% of plastic that ends up in the oceans, you get 17,500,000 tons of plastic still making their way in the ocean each year.

The locations of the great pacific garbage patch

The Coffee Experience

Taste Difference

Obviously one of the biggest factors into a good cup of coffee is the taste!

Have you ever used a cheap coffee machine and found it tasted slightly off?  Have you left a bottle of water in the car and when you tried it the taste was a bit funky?

This change in taste happens when plastic, especially when its heated, and starts to degrade. Therefor your quality of coffee might decrease if you decide to put it in a plastic cup.

Temperature Retention

Each material has different insulating properties, meaning each material can keep hot for different amounts of time.

Metal has a very high insulating property, hence why if you get a quality metal thermos, your drinks will stay long for ages.

This property is a one of the many downfalls of using plastic cups for hot beverages.

Although the plastic cup will keep your beverage hot, it only will do so for around 1-2 hours according to The Commons. 

This is a short amount of time compared to the better alternatives we are going to discusses further below.

Alternatives To Red Solo Cups

The good news is that there are so many other options for the type of cups you can use to avoid some of the negative health effects that come with plastic cups.

Some of the more popular options are as follows:

How to choose the right alternative cup

So, you want to make the switch! Congratulations! There are a few different factors to consider before investing in a new travel or reusable coffee mug.

1. Price point

Thankfully at this point in time there are so many reusable cups out there, you can find one at pretty much any price point.

I have found that the majority of reusable coffee cups are in the price range of $10-30 USD, with the higher quality items, like this Stanly, being at the upper end of this range.

A quality reuseable mug may seem like a big investment at first but trust me it pays for itself overtime.

An additional bonus is that many coffee shops offer discounts when you bring it your own cup, so you can save a bit of money on your morning coffee as well.

Tip: If you don’t want to splurge just yet, a popular choice (and one of my favorites) is this Contigo mug. It’s inexpensive and good quality for the price!

2. Durability

I have added this section purely because I am a major clutz and I’m sure a few of you out there are as well.

Some of the most popular takeaway cups on the market, like this Keep Cup, are made of glass or ceramic materials.

These materials are all fantastic alternatives to plastic as we discussed above, but depending on you as a person, some may be better than others!

As I mentioned above, I tend to be prone to breaking things, so having an extremely breakable travel mug is out of the question for me.

So, before you buy one, think about the likelihood of you dropping it or it getting damaged in your day-to-day life.

3. Heat retention

Obviously, this is one of the most important things. No one wants a cold cup of coffee!

I have had travel mugs that kept coffee hot for over 6 hours and some where you had an hour to drink it before it goes luke-warm.

If you want your coffee to stay hot for longer periods, think getting a travel mug in the higher price range.

These typically keep liquids hot for ages and you’ll never have to worry about cold coffee again.

4. Size & Bulkiness

Some companies specifically make their cups to fit cupholders in cars while some you’ll have no chance of getting it to sit in that cupholder.

The size and width of the bottom of the cup may be something to consider if you’re constantly in situations where you need to set it down but have limited space.

Many companies offer various sizes in each model of their mugs, so take a peek to see if your preferred brand has one that works for you!

Bonus: There are cup holder adapters now! Click here to check out a popular option.

Summary: Should you be putting hot coffee in a red solo cup (or any plastic cup)?

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, you can absolutely put hot coffee into a red solo cup or any plastic cup for that matter! No one is going to stop you.

Although there are a few benefits to using plastic cups such as convenience, there are some major negatives to putting hot liquids into plastic cups such as

  • health risks from plastic leaching and microplastics
  • environmental impacts
  • taste & quality changes

Because of these risks and negative impacts from using hot drinks in red solo cups, there are some better alternatives out there.

If you’re on a budget, try using solo paper cups.

You don’t have to spend a lot up front, but you still protect yourself from the potential chemical exposure from warm plastics.

Glass, stainless steel, and ceramic mugs travel mugs are also fantastic environmentally friendly alternatives, though the price may be a bit higher.

All in all, I would only recommend using red solo cups for cold beverages only as recommended by the company.

It may be a bit less convenient, but it may be worth it in the long run.

As always, thank you for reading today’s article! Do you have a favorite reusable mug? Tell us below in the comments!

 

You may also enjoy these other articles on the Procaffinator website.

Do you love cafes? Follow the Procaffinator Instagram to see cafes all around the world!

Have a great rest of your day and keep on procaffinating!


Black vs. White Coffee: Which is right for you?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the easiest way to avoid having a bad coffee is to know which one you will like.

The way to do this? Learning the basics of coffee. Like every other subject, coffee can be broken down into many smaller categories: such as roast type, espresso, drip coffee and so on.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I initially thought white coffee was just another term to talk about lattes, flat whites & other milk drinks. but it is far from it!

Today we will be learning about the 3 main roast categories and specifically what white coffee is.

There will also be some common flavor notes for the main roasts on the market to help you decide which roast might be the best for you!

So, without further ado…

Black Vs. White Coffee: What's the difference?

Now, before we get into discussing anything, you need to learn about the process of roasting coffee beans. Hint: It’s the most important step in making coffee

Coffee Roasting & The Most Common Roasts

The coffee roasting process is one of the most important steps in creating a great tasting cup of coffee.

Without this process, the coffee beans would stay green (yes, green!) and would have no taste, smell, or pretty much any flavor profile.

The flavors & smell that coffee lovers adore, comes majorly from the roasting process.

The roasting process can be incredibly complex as it varies from roaster to roaster and essentially is a giant chemistry project to make great coffee.

So, to start, we are going to take a quick peek into the three main coffee roasts to see how they are roasted. This will set the baseline for talking about black and white coffee late on.

Do you already know about the coffee roasting process? Click here to skip learn about white coffee!

The Three "Pillar" Coffee Bean Roasts

 

The majority of coffee on the market will fall into three main roast categories: light roast, medium roast, and a darker roast.

There are many more types of coffee beans that fall into sub-categories of these three.

For instance, you will find your city or cinnamon roasts in the light roast category. But for the most part these are going to be your three most commonly seen roasts on the market.

 

 

The coffee roasting process only begins after the harvested beans are processed and dried. After this has been done, the green coffee beans will be placed in roaster.

The amount of time the beans are roasted depends solely on the type of roast the company is trying to achieve.

In general, the green beans are roasted anywhere from 356 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of 7 to 20 minutes. As you might expect, the longer the beans stay in the heater, the darker the roast it will be.

Note: Black coffee is defined as a dark roast or darker roasted bean.

During this roasting period, a chemical reaction, called the Maillard reaction, takes place between the sugars and amino acids in the unroasted coffee beans.

This reaction creates the delicious flavors we coffee drinkers know and love!

Note: If you want to learn about the nitty gritty of coffee roasting and more about the Maillard reaction, check out the following posts & videos!

Now, a very important point in this roasting process is called the first crack.

At around 385 F, a cracking noise will occur when a lot of the moisture inside the beans has evaporated and needs to escape. 

This first crack is important to roasters as the coffee beans have approached the stage of being a light roast once it happens.

The iconic groove you see on coffee beans is from the cracks during the roasting process!

 

Now, because the beans are roasted for different periods of time, the flavors vary from roast to roast. Acidity and bitterness are two major flavors that change with how long the beans are roasted.

Below is a breakdown of the flavor basics for each main roast.

P.S. this is a great way to see which type of coffee you may like! I personally hate acidic coffee so I almost never go for a light roast.

  • Light Roast Coffee: roasted at about 356-401 F for 5-7 minutes
    • least bitter
    • more “origin characteristics” (unique flavors from the area the coffee beans were grown)
  • Medium Roast: roasted at about 410-428 F for 8-10 minutes
    • a middle ground for acidity and bitterness!
    • bright flavor profiles
  • Dark Roast Coffee: roasted between 464-482 F for 12-15 minutes
    • most likely to have a strong bitter taste
    • many dark roasts taste similar as the origin characteristics are lost due to the high heat
    • Produces oily, black beans depending on how dark the roast is

What is white coffee & where did it come from?

White coffee beans

Now that we’ve covered the basics of roasting and the most popular roasts, what exactly is white coffee?

I was surprised to find out that white coffee isn’t a type of drink like a latte or flat white.

Instead, white coffee is a roast of coffee that is even lighter than a light roast coffee.

Like I said earlier, there are the three main roasts when it comes to coffee, but there are many coffees that fall within or outside of these roasts. White coffee is a great example of this!

This extremely lightly roasted coffee originated in the middle east in Yemen, back in the early 1900’s, and was initially combined with hawaji, a spice mix from Yemen.

Hawaji, made up of cardamon, turmeric, cinnamon and more, deepens the nutty flavors of the drink while adding an earthy component as well.

If you want to try out Hawaji for yourself, you can find a great recipe here!

White coffee is typically only roasted at low temperatures, between 300 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and only for 5 to 6 minutes.

Now, the beans do undergo some of the roasting process, hence the color change from green to white, but they are taken out of the roaster before that important first crack.

What does white coffee taste like?

Now, as we mentioned, the beans don’t undergo “first crack” with white coffee, so unlike your typical coffee beans, white coffee has a unique flavor profile that is much more consistent, and subtle.

White coffee has been known to be more acidic than other coffee roasts and also have a nutty flavor component to the roast as mentioned before.

Due to the short roasting process, this roast has almost no bitter aftertaste to it!

I personally have yet to try white coffee so these flavor notes are based off of other people’s experiences and research, but hopefully I will get my hands on some soon!

Although I have yet to come across white coffee in my day-to-day life, the better health benefits of white coffee and increased caffeine content have helped popularity grow over the years.

Let’s go back and talk about that important roasting process now. There are two more topics that come into play with the popularity of white coffee: caffeine content and chlorogenic acid.

Caffeine Content

Remember when I talked about how the first crack happens because of some liquids in the green coffee beans evaporate and need to escape?

The caffeine in the coffee beans makes up some of the liquid that evaporates as the beans are heated.

Therefore, when the beans undergo a shorter roasting time, the higher the caffeine content will be.

White beans will have a higher caffeine content as they are roasted at a much lower temperature for a short amount of time. Comparatively, black coffee beans are roasted at higher temperatures for longer. Thus, more caffeine evaporates, and you are left with less caffeine in your cup of coffee.

Now although there is a difference in the caffeine levels, it is not drastic.

According to Latte Love Brew, the difference in how much caffeine is in a normal espresso shot vs a white coffee espresso shot is only around 4mg of caffeine.

but hey! when you’re looking for a caffeine kick, an additional 4mg doesn’t hurt!

Chlorogenic Acid

While you may have not heard about this ingredient in coffee beans, you probably have heard of the term antioxidants.

Antioxidants are found in a variety of healthy foods that you and I probably try and eat on a normal bases, such as fruit, veggies, whole grains and so on.

The antioxidants found in these foods are known to help your body stay healthy by fighting off free radicals.

Free radicals, or unstable atoms can occur in the body from a variety of things such as smoking and alcohol and can cause damage to the healthy cells in your body over time.

Some health issues that have been linked to free radicals going rogue are:

So obviously making sure you have enough antioxidants in your diet is important!

Fortunately, chlorogenic acid is one among them, giving coffee an excellent source of antioxidants.

The chlorogenic acid content in coffee, like the caffeine content, drops as the beans are roasted. As a result, lighter roast coffee has more antioxidants.

This just means that white coffee and other light roasts, aid in weight loss and have more health advantages over darker roasts of coffee.

So, you want to try it... where can you find it?

While you can try to hunt it down in your local coffee shop or grocery store, your best bet for a guaranteed find will be buying it online or at a specialty roaster.

Now, since I haven’t tried white coffee myself, I unfortunately have none to recommend, but Brew Smartly has put together a great list of their 5 recommended white coffee beans for 2023 that you can read here.

If you don’t feel like reading another article, here is a summary of a few of their recommended beans!

Note: The unique roasting process makes white coffee beans much harder and dense than regular coffee beans. Because of this you will need to have a special coffee grinder if you purchase a non-grounded bag of beans. I came across this article that has a great step-by-step guide on how to brew the best white coffee at home.

Final thoughts on the differences between white and black coffee

The roasting process has so much influence over how the flavor of your cup of coffee will develop. The caffeine content, although slight, does change with the roasting process as well as the acidity and bitterness the beans will produce.

Below is a side by side comparison of the main differences between white and black coffee!

White coffee is an extremely light roast that undergoes substantially less time in the roaster than other roasts of beans, creating a distinct nutty flavor that many people love.

The additional antioxidants found in white coffee only adds to the appeal and this roast has been officially added onto my list of new coffee drinks to try!

I hope you give it a try if you come across it, and if you do, drop a comment below to share your experience!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read today’s post! If you want to learn a bit more about the world of coffee check out these related articles:

if you haven’t already, check out the Procaffinator Instagram here for cafe review & coffee content!

I hope you have a great rest of your day and keep on procaffinating! 🙂


Who Makes (the surprisingly great) McDonald's McCafe Coffee?

McDonald’s has an absolute staple world wide with a massive 40,275 resturants around the globe, 13,345 of those being in the United States, the birthplace of the iconic chain.

They are known for some of our favorite childhood & college staples like the Apple Pie, Sausage & Egg McMuffin (growing up this was the #1 road trip fuel) and loads of other late night snacks.

The golden arches company took it one step further by creating a new subset of stores that have since become iconic, the infamous McCafé’s.

The History of Mcdonalds & McCafe Drinks

 

Opening their first store back in 1941, it took the McDonald’s founders, Ray Kroc & Maurice McDonald, 42 years before serving their first drip coffee in restaurants. Fast forward a short 10 years late and the first McCafe Restaurant, serving espresso drinks, was launched in beautiful Melbourne, Australia.

This first location was a great choice on their end as Australian’s love their coffee, with 30% of Aussies drinking three or more cups of coffee per day as of 2021.

The idea behind the McCafe was to offer better coffee drinks than their fast-food chain competitor while serving up some delicious snacks in a comfortable environment.

Since the launch of the first Australian McCafe and the launch of the first North America McCafe in Chicago back in 2001, the McCafe menu & brand has grown rapidly.  McCafe beverages started to be served at every McDonalds Drive through as of 2014.

The McCafe drink menu now contains 20 different coffee beverages (if not more) including some popular espresso-based drinks such as the cappuccino, vanilla iced coffee and macchiatos.

The Deluxe Iced Caramel Latte from McDonalds

One fantastic thing about McDonald’s restaurants being worldwide is you can get a fun twist on your usual order if you’re traveling in different countries.

Check out some of the coolest McDonald’s around the world here!

However, one thing every coffee lover knows is that you can’t make good coffee without good coffee beans, so who is supplying McDonald’s the beans that make their coffee so good for such a low price?

Who Supplies McDonalds Their Delicious Coffee Beans?

In order to have good coffee, you need to have good coffee beans.

Thats why since the beginning of McDonalds Coffee back in 1983, Gaviña Gourmet Coffee Roasters have been one of McDonald’s main suppliers. The partnership began when the fast food restaurant started serving their drip coffee, and continued on when they added espresso based drinks following the launch of the McCafe.

Gaviña is a family owned and run company that started back in the 1870’s. They are currently based in California where the roasting and packaging of their coffee beans takes place.

Although specific countries were not mentioned on the website, the company mentions that Gaviña sources their coffee from some of the best places to grow coffee such as South and Central America as well as Africa.

This is backed up on the McDonald’s website which states:

They are 100% Rainforest Alliance Coffee Beans from Honduras, Columbia, Peru and Brazil.

Additionally, the beans McDonald’s receives from these countries are 100% Arabica coffee beans.

For those who don’t know exactly what that means, arabica coffee beans are known for producing a smoother tasting coffee. Pretty much they don’t have that acidic taste that is associated with Robusta beans.

A Robusta and Arabica coffee bean side by side

One downside to this however is that according to barista supplies, “Robusta beans contain twice the level of caffeine than Arabica beans”.  So, I guess it comes down to preference on if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of caffeine for the non-acidity that can come with Robusta beans.

McDonalds is not alone in where they source their coffee beans. Some of the other major coffee suppliers such as Starbucks and Tim Hortons, also source their coffee beans from these fantastic “coffee belt” countries. 

Gavina’s Involvements with Sustainability

Gavina Gourmet Coffee is a great company due to the quality of coffee they produce and supply, but one of the most important features of this company is their focus on environmental standards and sustainability.

Since it is now 2023, we absolutely love when large companies make an effort to decrease their impact on the planet. Gaviña coffee roasters does just that by only working with partners who are certified with the Rainforest Allegiance, USDA, and Fair Trade USA.

What does being certified by the Rainforest Allegiance mean?

The seal means that the certified ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.

The Rainforest Allegiance certification programs cover a broad range of issues by teaching on topics such as healthy foresting practices, responsible land management and helping farmers prepare for a variety of unpredictable weather conditions.

They additionally cover issues in human rights & the livelihood of the farmers and people they work with.

recent program that ran from 2018-2021 focused on developing

indicators and methodologies that will strengthen the capacity of governments and social partners to negotiate and set adequate wage levels.

Many of the pilot countries used in this project are major coffee producers such as Costa Rica and Ethiopia.

Fair Trade USA & USDA Organic

Making impacts similar to the Rainforest Allegiance, the Fair Trade certification help communities and farmers by having a

Guaranteed minimum price that acts as a safety net for coffee farmers and producers when the market prices are low

among other standards to keep coffee and other product production sustainable and healthy for both the workers & environment.

Extra Bonus Points for Gavina

Lastly, Gavina additionally achieved zero waste to landfill in 2017 and are running a recycling program with TerraCycle to increase the recycling of their product packaging.

You can learn more about their full efforts in sustainability on the Gavina website here.

How much caffeine is in McDonalds coffee?

Everyone reacts to caffeine differently, so it’s good to have an idea of how much caffeine you may be consuming in one of your favorite drinks.

McDonalds states on their website that:

We publish the nutrients in our food as required by the FDA. However, the FDA does not require publishing caffeine levels.

which is…annoying to say the least

however, for all the barista made drinks containing espresso, it is safe to assume that for every shot of espresso in your coffee, you will be consuming around 63 mg of caffeine. There are many factors that can cause this amount of vary, such as the type of bean used, but for the most post, it should be in the 60-70 mg range.

If you’re extremely caffeine sensitive, think about giving your local store a call to see if they can give you a more exact answer.

Where can you buy McCafe Coffee for your home?

There are a number of ways you can brew a cup of McCafe brand coffee in your home, a known popular item being Keurig Coffee pods or K-cups.

The McCafe K-Cups take a step beyond the normal menu with even more flavors available in k-cup pods such as Horchata Latte, French Vanilla, and of course, Pumpkin Spice for fall time. You can get a variety of these K-Cups in light roasts, dark roasts, and a medium roast as well.

You can also find McCafe’s ground coffee in a premium roast (a medium roast), breakfast blend (light roast), Colombian blend (medium to dark roast), and French vanilla (dark roast) if you don’t use K-Cups.

Some of the most popular grocery stores carrying McCafe coffee are Meijer, Costco and Walmart. Meaning you can never be too far from a cup of McDonalds McCafe Coffee.

Summary: The McCafe Coffee Story

McDonald’s is an iconic fast food chain that has grown over the last eight decades and will only continue to grow. After adding McCafe’s to the brand only 20 years ago, McDonald’s McCafe coffee has checked all of the boxes by being a good cup of coffee that you can buy affordable price.

They couldn’t have chosen a better supplier for their beans as Gavina Gourmet Roasters is a company that prioritizes the future of coffee by only working with certified sustainable partners while producing a quality product.

All of this means you can enjoy an environmentally and farmer friendly cup of coffee at your local McDonalds or in the comfort of your own home!

Do you love McDonald’s coffee? Comment your favorite drink below!

Have a great day & Happy Procaffinating!


Caffeinated Ice cream: Is it a delicious alternative to coffee?

Caffeinated Ice Cream: Is it a delicious alternative to coffee?

You've heard of caffeinated gum (ick), caffeine pills, caffeine powder, and so many other products that can give you a caffeine fix if you're not one of the people out there who love the taste of coffee.

When I was back in my hometown the other day, I got to visiting one of my favorite spots for ice cream, The Chocolate Shoppe!

They produce some of the best ice cream I've ever had, and also have one ice cream, Iced Latte-da, that is caffeinated & part of their Bang! Ice cream collection.

So obviously I had to try it!

Spoiler alert, it was fantastic, and the coffee-flavored ice cream did not disappoint my slightly frozen taste buds in the slightest.

I highly recommend stopping by a store if you find yourself in Madison, WI or the surrounding area.

But, it did get me thinking, could you actually use coffee flavored or caffeinated ice cream to replace your morning cup of coffee? Or at least give you a boost when youre craving a sweet treat?

So today were going to be diving into the caffeine content of some popular coffee ice creams out there, to see how they compare with your favorite caffeinated drinks!

In order to figure out if the caffeine levels in ice cream is enough to give you a buzz, we have to see how much caffeine is actually in our day-to-day drinks.

First off, let's start off by addressing the caffeine content we normally get out of a cup of coffee. an energy drink, or a shot of espresso.

Caffeine Content In Coffee & Energy Drinks

On average, there is around 95 mg of caffeine in a cup of delicious coffee or around 63 mg of caffeine if you're drinking an espresso or an espresso based drink.

Decaf coffee obviously has substantially less, sitting at around 5.4 mg per 12oz cup of coffee. This amount can vary, but according to the USDA, as long as the caffeine content doesnt exceed

0.10 percent caffeine on a dry basis in the package" the coffee can be considered as decaffeinated.

If you're a diehard caffeine addict with a tolerance out of this world... check out Biohazard Coffee, otherwise known as the world's strongest coffee with a caffeine content of 925 MG PER 12OZ serving, how crazy is that??

​Personally, this would be enough caffeine to last me the month, but I know some of you out there working 24hr+ shifts may need it!

If you're more of an energy drink lover, there is quite a range of the amount of caffeine that can be found in the drinks. It can be anywhere from 50-300+ mg, it really just depends on the brand.

If you're wondering how much caffeine is in your favorite energy drink, check out this guide that gives a general answer to the question.

Take this information with a grain of salt however as I'm not 100% sure where they got their information from.

However, some of the drinks I did double on some of the caffeine amounts they say are in some drinks and it seems to be accurate.

Summary:

  • Average cup of coffee: 95 mg
  • 1 shot of espresso: 63 mg
  • Decaffeinated coffee:  5.4 mg per 12oz
  • Energy drinks: 50-300+ mg
  • The worlds strongest coffee: 925 mg per 12oz

How much caffeine is too much?

For an average cup of coffee, the 95 mg is about 1/4 of the maximum intake suggested by the FDA which comes to 400 milligrams of caffeine.

You obviously can have more than this amount, but you may have some unfortunate side effects if you do so, such as

  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • upset stomache

depending on your tolerance.

For those of us who have had the caffeine jitters on more than one occasion know that the effects of caffeine can be a real pain, so be careful on how much you have!

How does caffeine get into the ice cream?

Caffeine can work it's way into ice cream in a few different ways:

  1. Natural Sources (plants, seeds...etc)This caffeine comes from some ingredients like cocoa, tea, or other items found in nature. Ingredients like milk chocolate have substantially less caffeine that coffee itself, a 50-gram bar only containing 10 mg of caffeine.Dark chocolate on the other hand, has a bit more, containing 50 mg of caffeine per 50g bar.I got in touch with The Chocolate Shoppe and found out they actually use Guarana seed (shown in the image below) to produce a massive 125mg of caffeine that is found in just one scoop of their caffeinated ice cream.

    I’ve never heard of Guarana before, but apparently it is:

    a Brazilian plant native to the Amazon basin..... and 70% of guarana produced is used by the beverage industry in soft and energy drinks, while the remaining 30% is turned into powder (1).

    according to the same Healthline article, Guarana has a number of health benefits because of the effects the caffeine has on the body such as

    • weight loss
    • pain management (who knew that caffeine could help with this??)
    • improvements in skin appearance

    I had no idea that caffeine can have such an impact on the body beyond keeping you more focus and awake, so cheers to one more reason to keep drinking your morning coffees!

  2. Instant Coffee

    Instant coffee has soooo many uses beyond a hotel cup of coffee, including being a main ingredient in the iconic TikTok Dalgona coffee.


    It can also be used as a source of caffeine & flavor in coffee ice cream, especially if you're making your own at home.Two bigger coffee brands that use instant coffee in their ice cream are Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream

  3. Actual coffee

    It seems the majority of ice cream brands use actual coffee or espresso to bring the energy kick to their ice cream!According to this article, Talenti, Dryers, and Talenti all use coffee in their ice cream recipes.Bonus: A number of these ice cream brands also use a coffee extract to add that extra coffee flavor to the ice cream, without adding more caffeine.So yes, if you're looking for a coffee ice cream that won't keep you up at night, they do exist! They most likely just use coffee extract in the recipe instead of the alternatives listed above.

Breakdown of different brands of caffeinated ice creams

As I don't have the time currently or the funds honestly to try as many of these delicious coffee ice cream flavors as I would like, i am going off of this awesome ranked guide by Tasting Table.

I highly recommend you checking out the reviews if you're thinking of getting any of these caffeinated treats!

  • 0-20 mg (low caffeine content, a quarter (1/4) cup of coffee )
    Turkey Hill's Colombian Coffee - 2/3 cup = 15 mg

    Haagen Dazs Coffee - 1 Tub = 19 mg, a surprisingly low amount of caffeine
  • 30-40 mg, about a half-cup of coffee
    Breyer's Coffee - 1cups = 30 mg caffeine

    Oatly Coffee- 34mg per serving 
  • 40-60 mg - 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coffee
    Talenti's Coffee Chocolate Chip- 2/3 cup serving = 43-91 mg 

    Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzzbuzzbuzz! - 1/2 cup serving = 45 mg
    Edy's Coffee - 1 cup = 60 mg
  • 60-95 mg (around 1 cup of coffee)
    Trader Joe's Coffee Bean Blast - unconfirmed 95 mg per serving 
  • 95mg + (1+ cups of coffee)
    The Chocolate shoppe's iced coffee flavor, Iced Latte-da - 125mg/serving or scoop

As you can see, the amount of caffeine varies from brand to brand as well as the serving size!

Keep in mind that if you have 2 scoops of ice cream, you could be doubling the amount of caffeine you're having.

Conclusion: Will caffeinated ice cream actually do anything for you?

Depending on which ice cream you get and if you're caffeine sensitive, caffeinated ice cream can definitely have an impact on you.

If you are caffeine sensitive, I suggest doing some research on the ice cream you're thinking of trying as foods & beverages aren't actually required to disclose the amount of caffeine they have in them...which is very surprising in my opinion.

So instead of ending up with nightime caffeine jitters, take a closer look and plan ahead to find out the exact amount of caffeine you might be having.

Whether or not you want it to replace your morning cup of coffee...that's up to you. But in the meantime, enjoy the extra little burst of energy from your delicious treat!

If you're looking to save some money and make some delicious coffee ice cream at home, check out these popular recipes!

So! That's all for today, go find yourself a delicious treat filled with caffeine to brighten up your day and happy procaffinating!

Comment below your favorite ice cream brand or shop!


Order Coffee In Australia Like a Pro (Read Before Traveling to Melbourne!)

Melbourne. 

The holy place of coffee culture in Australia.  

The place that is mentioned in any Australia tiktok video where someone is complaining about coffee or coffee snobs. 

The city where the baristas probably cry themselves to sleep every night because the coffee orders just get too excessive.  

The metropolis that is the ENTIRE reason I felt the need to write this blog post. 

Australian coffee culture is a HUUUGE thing, specifically in the arts & culture city that is Melbourne.  

I have discovered a lot about how to avoid the confusion of ordering a coffee while working as a barista near the beautiful city of Melbourne, SO in order to keep your barista’s sanity in tact, lets get straight into it.

THIS is how to order coffee in Australia like a professional

We will start off with the GOLDEN RULE of ordering a coffee

Do not order just a coffee, you need to order something specific!!!

Notice how many exclamation points I put? That means you need to follow this rule.

*Embarrassing Story Ahead* 

My first day arriving in Melbourne, was a very embarrassing one for me to say the least. 

As a coffee lover, when I am in need of something to do, I typically go to a café to grab a drink. 

The atmosphere is relaxing, it's something I’ve done 100 times, so I figured, since I was feeling a bit nervous after getting to a new country, why shouldn’t I grab a coffee?

What. Could. Go. Wrong.

I headed down to this cute café near the hostel I was staying at and looked down at the menu to see what to order. To preface this, in the states we usually have everything listed on the menu, so that’s what I was expecting to see.  

But NO, all this café had written on their menu under drinks, was the word “coffee”, nothing else.  

So naturally, as I was naive and probably jet lagged, I just ordered a coffee, expecting to get just a cup of black caffeine like you would in America.  

But no, the baristas were confused, like, extremely confused, and had no idea what I wanted. 

Naturally we ended up going back and forth with questions until the poor barista summarized that after  alllll the questioning, I had pretty much just ordered a latte *deep sigh* 

Speaking of lattes: Check out this Aussie's recipe for a great Pumpkin Spice Latte!

The whole experience was very embarrassing, especially as an American who tries and continuously fails to break the “American’s are stupid” stereotype. (Is anyone else like this or just me?) 

Hopefully with the breakdown of the following seven coffee orders, you will enter the Melbourne coffee culture with grace and hopefully not have any embarrassing moments like I did.  

 

#1: Ristretto 

We are starting off with the base of a Melbourne coffee order, a ristretto.

A ristretto, is extremely similar to an espresso shot, but is has a way more concentrated flavor to it (who knew that was even possible)  

When you pour or “pull” an espresso shot out a machine, the water runs through the coffee grounds for around 25-30 seconds, creating the espresso shot.  

With a ristretto, the water only runs through the coffee grounds for around 20 seconds.  

The less time the machine is ran, the less water goes through the grounds which creates this boulder and stronger tasting shot of coffee.

This shorter pour also creates a sweeter tasting and less caffeinated shot, which is why some people prefer it to the classic espresso shot. 

This ristretto shot is also the base for another classic Melbourne coffee drink, the Magic. 

P.S. If you want a more indepth comparison between an espresso shot and a ristretto shot, check out this blog post by Coffee Affection 

 

#2: Magic 

A Magic coffee is an EXTREMELY Melbourne coffee, you will probably only hear about this drink in the actual city or in the state of Victoria but not in too other many places, if any, in Australia. 

A magic is very similar to a latte when it comes to the amount of micro foam used but created with a double ristretto pour (see above if you didn’t read about what a ristretto is) and only filled ¾ of way up

This combination creates an extremely strong but sweeter tasting drink thanks to the use of the ristretto and because the coffee to milk ratio is much higher than a typical latte.   

 

#3: An Iced Coffee 

The way an iced coffee is made here in Australia was so strange to me when I first arrived, and honestly, I have a hard time considering it a coffee in general.  

An iced coffee in Australia is made with ice cream and sugar syrup in additon to the classic espresso and cold milk base. 

You will be essentially getting a non-blended version of a coffee milkshake when you order this one. 

This can change based on where you are or who your barista is, so its best to check with the barista to see what you will actually be receiving.  

If you’re looking for a non ice cream version of a iced coffee A.K.A the classic version in my opinion, be sure to order something along the following lines: 

  • Iced Latte: Single espresso shot & cold milk
  • Iced Long Black: Double espresso shot & cold water

#4: Muggaccino

A muggaccino.  

An order I think is entirely unnecessary and have come to the conclusion that primarily only the elderly use this term. 

This drink is just a cappuccino but you or the customer you're serving wants it in a mug instead of a normal ceramic cup.

That’s it.  

Apparently, it's too complicated to order the size separately so it has just been morphed into one word to make life "simpler."

Again, this isn't a drink I see ordered by too many people, but in case you see it on a menu or hear it from someone else, now you're covered. 

 

#5 Long Black 

A long black!  

The closest thing you will be receiving to a bulk brewed American style coffee. 

Similar to an americano but not quite, this drink consists of a double shot of espresso poured on top of hot water. 

This is the key difference between a long black and an americano.  

With an americano, the espresso is poured before the hot water.

When the espresso is poured after the hot water, such as with the long black, the crema stays intact creating a beautiful creamy looking coffee as opposed to a black or “coffee diner” looking coffee. 

If you want more details on the difference between the two, check out my other post on the most commonly ordered coffees 

 

#6: Piccolo 

Next up is the piccolo, another variation on the latte pretty much. Australians love their lattes. 

This drink is essentially a mini latte, cute right? 

The picollo is poured in a smaller glass cup, with a single shot of espresso and steamed milk.  

With this drink, you get a stronger espresso taste since the espressio to milk ratio is 1:2 instead of a 1:4 ratio like in a normal latte. 

After reading around a bit, I’ve seen that some places may use a ristretto shot for a piccolo instead of a normal espresso shot. So keep in mind depending on where you go, the taste may be different.


 

#7: Long & Short Macchiato 

I have touched on these two drinks as well in my previous post on coffees, but I have learned more since said post was published! 

These two drinks are definitely more on the “coffee connoisseur” end of things and consist of a single shot (short mac) or double shot (long mac) of espresso, foam, and a small amount of steamed milk.  

The defining feature of a good macchiato is the layering, it honestly looks fantastic when done correctly. (as seen in the stunning photo at the end of this section) 

Essentially you start with your espresso pour, either single or double shot, followed by taking a spoon and placing the micro foam from your streamed milk in the middle of the shot. 

In order to create the iconic layering effect, you then pour a small amount of steamed milk onto the foam/espresso combination, and ideally it will settle into three distinct layers

A trick to make sure the drink doesn’t mix together when you add the steamed milk is to use the back of a teaspoon. 

Place the teaspoon slightly over the surface of the macchiato, and pour the steamed milk over the back of the spoon. This just allows the milk to slowly flow into the drink, which allows it to layer much easier than if it was pourred in roughly. 

BTW, this goes for any drink that you want to layer, cocktails, shots, literally whatever, if you want to layer it, pour it over the back of a spoon!

 

The Conclusion of Your Melbourne & Australia Coffee Education 

I hope you found this quick guide to some of Melbourne’s and Australia’s iconic coffees helpful! Or at least helpful enough to avoid making the same mistakes as myself.  

Your future baristas will love and thank you for coming in all educated and prepared, trust me.  

Seeing as this post is about Australia and specifically Melbourne, here are some awesome events  to check out if you're in the area!

  • If you're looking to take a day trip and get away from the Melbourne crowds check out this list of the best day trips in Victoria 
  • Who doesn’t love a coffee shop tour? Check out this one by Walk Melbourne to visit 4 hand picked coffee shops 
  • This awesome Melbourne based blogger created a Melbourne Bucket List(with 55 things to do!!) if you're in the beautiful city, so be sure to check it out if you need something to fill your day!

 

That's all for today! Follow the Procaffinator Instagram to see some awesome latte art (or check out these other awesome Instagram's for some) and cafe reviews if you haven't already and Happy Procaffinating! 


Why You Should Be Studying At A Coffee Shop (Backed By Science!)

With an alarming 92% of college students drinking coffee, it is no surprise that coffee shops are a popular study spot.

As an engineering student, I spent the majority of my time in my local coffee shop, trying to understand what was happening in my classes and consume as much coffee as possible.

​While there are benefits to studying in school libraries, coffee shops actually have a number of scientifically backed benefits that make them the perfect study space.

So today were learning about how studying in a coffee shop can lead to increased productivity, increased focus, and overall better information retention!

Why You Should Be Studying In A Coffee Shop

Easy and frequent access to a caffeine source

Caffeine is pretty much in the blood of every college student, as mentioned before, 92% of students drink coffee!

The addictive drink keeps you moving through the days and the inevitable long nights of studying.

Coffee shops have the ability to create a number of exciting, caffeinated drinks, a great step up from the instant coffee most students use.

Caffeine also has a number of known health benefits such as lowering the risk of depression,, but it also has a few benefits when it comes to learning.

This Open University article states that beyond keeping you awake; caffeine can also:

help to improve alertness and enhance short-term capabilities so that you can easily learn and absorb new information.

Moving on from caffeine, many coffee shops are also a great place to grab some food or a fresh bakery item.

While eating junk food isn’t recommended while studying, many cafes offer a number of foods that stimulate brain activity such as fruit and chocolate.

If you’re going to be studying for a few hours, it’s a great idea to bring a small snack with you.

Even if you’re not on a budget, coffee shop costs can add up quickly.

Bonus: if you’re in Madison or Milwaukee check out Stone Creek Coffee or Indie Coffee House. Both of these coffee shops have great studying environments and fantastic food.

You’re not at home or in your dorm room

When you’re studying for hours on end, a change of scenery can be essential to keeping focused.

Being in close proximity to where you sleep or near your TV can lead to a short break that leads into a longer break and then eventually you just call it a day.

Being in a location surrounded by other people and natural light can give you the extra push you need to keep on studying.

An extra bonus to studying outside of your home is that you don’t have any house clutter or mess around you.

According to a UCAS blog post, a cleaner environment leads to a clean brain which in turn, leads to a more productive study session.

You can create your own perfect study environment

Between the free wi-fi and comfortable chairs, you can create a great study environment in a cafe.

Comfort is incredibly important when it comes to studying. I mean, no one has ever focused on physics when their leg is cramping.

This is the time to choose a larger table (if it’s not too busy) and spread out.

Having a comfortable and clean space to study will help you keep organized and motivated during long hours of studying.

While you should arrive with a plan to get the most out of your study session, using extra study materials like binders can:

reduce student frustration, increase time spent on learning, and raise grades.

There’s A Good Amount Of Movement Around You

This one may be controversial as many people like dead silence when they study but for some reason, I need music or movement when I study.

There are numerous benefits to studying in an environment that has background noise and a lot of people.

It has been found that a moderate level of noise

increases processing difficulty, which in turn promotes abstract processing

This abstract processing means that our brains tend to find more creative solutions to problems when surrounded by low level distractions.

Between employees talking and the whir of a coffee machine, there will usually be a good amount of ambient sound.

​Keep in mind, if it’s too loud in your local coffee shop, the noise may become an unhelpful distraction, so try to avoid studying during peak hours.

It is also recommended that when taking study breaks to get up and move when possible.

An open area or outdoor seating in a cafe can be the perfect place to stretch, walk around, or even take place in “micro-movements”.

Micro-movements are small actions such as moving your weight around while sitting or standing, or even stretching your legs when sitting.

Any movement helps you stay more alert when studying and improves:

focus, retention, memory consolidation, creativity and mood

It is also recommended to set a time limit of how long you want to study so you can incorporate movement breaks frequently.

 

Coffee shops are a perfect place for group studying

Last but not least, coffee shops have the perfect environment for a study group.

Having the noisy environment we talked about earlier, coffee shops are extremely easy to talk and exchange ideas in. 

The campus libraries can be great, but in reality, it can be hard to find a study spot where you don’t feel you’re interrupting someone else’s studying with your group conversations.

It is expected to have conversations at coffee shops, so you have no reason to worry about ruining anyone else’s experience when studying at a cafe.

Some cafes even have separate areas for people who are there to work on group projects.

Tip: If you have a large group, be sure to call ahead and see if you can reserve a table to make life easier

Conclusion: Why You Should Study At A Cafe

Coffee shops have so much to offer from a morning cup of coffee to a great study environment.

You can increase focus and creative thinking with the white noise and constant movement in the area, while the caffeine will keep your brain alert for hours.

Additionally, the fast wi-fi and clean environment can help keep you alert and prevent you taking longer breaks than needed like you may do at home.

All-in-all I can confidently recommend grabbing your favorite study materials and spending some quality time studying in your nearest coffee shop.

I hope that you find the environment to be as helpful and beneficial as I did!

Have you found a great place to study? Let us know in the comments!

BONUS: Here are some great resources for finding a coffee shop to study at if you’re in Madison or Milwaukee!

  • If you’re studying in Madison: click here
  • If you’re studying in Milwaukee: click here
  • Are you looking for some great places to study for a middle schooler? Check out this post for some great suggestions!

​Do you love cafes? Check out the Procaffinator Instagram to see cafes from all over the world!


3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Pass On McDonalds Coffee

Anyone who has been to McDonalds knows, it can be a hit and a miss.

That's just the reality of ordering fast food, sometimes it's suspiciously fantastic and sometimes you wait 20 minutes for absolute garbage (ugh)

But, one item I have found consistently great, especially since being in Australia, is the McDonalds coffee. I mainly drink flat whites, (if you aren't familiar with this coffee term check out my coffee guide here) and find Macca's coffee provides the perfect balance of smooth & flavorful coffee.

I have yet to have a drink that is bitter or acidic, two of my main pet peeves when it comes to coffee.

If you haven't experienced some great McCafe coffee yet, here are three reasons why you shouldn't pass on grabbing a cup of joe during your next trip to Mickey D's!

Updated: August 26, 2023

Reason #1: McDonald's sources from gourmet coffee roaster, Gavina

Good coffee comes from good coffee beans. There's no two ways about it!

McDonalds actually sources their 100% arabica coffee beans from Gavina Gourmet Coffee Roasters, based out of California, USA.

These beans are sourced from some of the best places in world, like Brazil, and other countries in the iconic coffee belt.

As I mentioned before, I have yet to have a coffee from McDonalds that is bitter or acidic tasting. This is because they use 100% arabica coffee beans. These beans specifically provide a smooth delicious coffee finish to the drink opposed to robusta beans which can have a more bitter taste to them.

If you want to learn more about Gavina Gourmet Roasters & the McCafe story, check out my other in-depth post!

Reason #2: It's affordable (P.S. you could get it for free!)

I will always recommend signing up for a restaurant's or cafe's loyalty program, even if you don't visit that much. This is because, even if you only visit once a week or even once a month, those visits add up!

McDonalds has their infamous rewards program via the McDonald's app that allows you to stockpile points from each item you order. You can redeem these points for a number of menu items including their delicious McCafe coffees!

The rule of thumb is that you will receive 100 Macca's points for every $1 you spend!

If you're not one to sign up for restaurant apps, the drinks are still very affordable with their drip coffee costing only $1.19 (USD) for a small and $1.39 (USD) for a large!

Espresso based coffees cost a bit extra, as expected, but still should be under $3 (USD) depending on which state or country you're located in.

Bonus Deals:

  • Drip & other coffees are known to grace the McDonald's dollar menu on promotion saving you even more money!
  • If you are 55+ years old, you are able to receive a senior discount on a small cup of coffee at participating locations

Reason #3: You Get a Massive Amount of Variety

Since McDonald's is a massive company that has been around for decades, they continuously have promotional or themed coffees. A good example of this is when they celebrated the 30th Anniversary of McCafe.

They released an exclusive limited time birthday cake latte. that was available iced, hot, or as a deluxe drink.

They also launched a caramel popcorn syrup, back in 2022, that could also be made into a float, latte, or iced coffee as well.

If I am being honest, my only experience with their promotional drinks was not the best (R.I.P the birthday cake latte), so I'm not sure how I would feel about a caramel popcorn latte but to each their own!

Even beyond the promotional drinks, you can find a wide range of iced coffees, lattes, and more both in their restaurants or in stores that carry the McCafe brand.

 

So now....let's be honest... do you actually have a reason to pass on a cup of McDonalds coffee? No!

Obviously, the decision is up to you, but I do highly recommend giving a cup of McCafe coffee a try. You might just find your new favorite inexpensive coffee stop!

If you're already a McCafe lover, comment below with your go-to drink!

 

 

 


The 8 Most Commonly Ordered Coffees and What They Are

Today there are so many different kinds of coffee you can order, some depending on the ingredients or even the location you’re in.

If you’re a new coffee drinker or are starting to stay away from your typical order, it can be confusing actually figuring out what kind of coffee you want.

So today, we’re going to do a break down the 8 most commonly ordered coffees and any other helpful key terms that’ll help prevent you from ordering a drink you don’t like.

 

Flat White & Latte

Think of lattes and flat whites as paternal twins, they have the same base but come out slightly different. In my opinion, they are essentially the same thing, although a seasoned coffee expert may say differently.

A flat white, a drink I haven’t come across in the states really, only when I got to Australia, has a very VERY minimal amount of foam on top, this drink has what is considered micro foam that comes from barely frothing milk. I drink these the most since I’m not the biggest foam/froth fan.

With a latte you can get more of the thicker milk foam on top by slightly frothing it. This can create somewhat of a dome on top if it is thick enough but it is dependent on the barista.

Additionally, while doing some more in-depth research beyond making these drinks myself, some websites or blogs show that a latte might also be weaker than a flat white, but I think this is more dependent on the café or shop you’re ordering from. In my experience, the major differences have come down to the amount of foam placed on top and the size of the cup used.

If you’re ordering a flavored version of one of these, expect the same just with some flavor added to the espresso shot, or added into the milk before it’s steamed/frothed.

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is for a someone who enjoys a bit more of the taste of espresso in their drink and who definitely wants foam.

This one is typically equal parts espresso and milk with a large portion of drier foam on top. So if you’re someone who is looking for that stronger coffee taste and love foam in your drink, this is for you.

Additionally, depending on where you are; you might have chocolate powder added on top, this was my experience again in Australia. This would be an optional addition so if you are in a region that does this, feel free to ask for no chocolate.

Americano/Long black

This drink is essentially a diluted espresso. You’ll be getting double espresso shot, mixed with a large potion of hot water.

The difference between an Americano and Long black essentially comes down to which is poured into the glass first, the espresso or hot water.

According to Hoxton Coffee Co., a long black has a more rounded taste since espresso is added to the hot water, while the americano has a bolder flavor as the espresso is added first.

If you’re used to having a coffee from a pot, or making a pour over at home, this would be a similar order if you’re in a place that doesn’t have those options.

Espresso/Short Black (single or double)

An espresso, the base of most drinks, is produced by running hot water through the finely grind espresso beans. You will receive about 30ml (60mL if it’s a double shot) of espresso served in a small cup.

Note: if you order a short black, it will be a single shot unless specified.

This is for someone who loves the flavor, richness, and kick from the coffee beans without anything added. If you’re in a time crunch and don’t want a whole 12oz drink to sip on, this is for you.

Also note even though it is the most basic coffee drink, the taste and quality can vary the most without the ingredients changing.

The espresso you receive can be influenced by the flow rate, how finely ground the coffee beans were, how long it sat in the cup before it was served and more. Since this post isn’t on those specifics, I will go into more detail in another post for those interested!

Café Mocha

A delicious variation of the latte. A café mocha or just mocha, is essentially a latte with chocolate added into the espresso or the milk before being steamed.

I exclusively drank these for the first year of college until my wallet could only handle the most basic of coffee orders aka the long black.

This is going to be a sweeter drink depending on where you go, but if you want a hot coffee without a lot of the taste of the espresso this would be a great option.

Short/Long Macchiato:

If you order these two drinks, you will receive an espresso shot that’s been “stained”. This means a bit of perfectly steamed milk has been added to the espresso shot, slightly diluting the intense flavor.

If you want an espresso sized drink just a bit less of the bold flavor of espresso- this is a great option. The only difference between the two drinks is a short macchiato will consist of one espresso shot while the long macchiato will consist of two.

Key Word Breakdowns/ Summary

Short: one espresso shot (30 mL)
Long: two espresso shots (60 mL)

Microfoam: the foam that you see in latte art and on flat whites. Created when the milk is frothed just slightly when being steamed.

Dry foam: thicker foam that can be found on top of a cappuccino that comes from frothing the milk a lot more.

Stained: when just enough milk is added to an espresso shot to change the color