Today, I want to share my personal preferences with you and describe my favorite, most highly-recommended coffee shop drinks.
As I’ve previously described, americanos consist only of espresso (usually one shot more than other drinks in the same size contain) and hot water. I am a huge fan of black coffee, but I find that I don’t actually like the black coffee I’ve tried from many coffee shops; I find it too acidic-tasting. I know a lot of people like the acidic edge to their coffee, but I’m just not one those people. I like bold coffee, but I prefer a smoother flavor.
I’ve found that most coffee places have sub-par drip coffee, but absolutely amazing espresso. A straight-up espresso shot is too small a portion of coffee for me, and a little too intense-tasting for my liking, but I find americanos to be a great size and the perfect balance of strong, bold flavor and delightful smoothness. I very highly recommend americanos to my fellow black coffee enthusiasts.
Miel (or Miel Latte)
Miel means ‘honey’ in Spanish, and honey is a main ingredient in the drink that we call by that name: ‘miel’. The drink is also often called a ‘miel latte’, because its main ingredients are espresso and hot steamed milk, but it’s different than a typical latte in a couple of key ways.
Firstly, instead of using flavored syrup to sweeten and flavor the drink, a miel uses honey as its only sweetener.
Secondly, powdered cinnamon is added right into the milk before it’s heated or steamed, so the cinnamon actually gets mixed into the milk as it froths, which ends up an incredibly well-blended, cinnamon-y milk.
Miels are delicious, and my top choice when I’m in the mood for a hot, sweet, and creamy coffee drink. The taste of a miel is a reminiscent of the taste of Teddy Grahams and not overly sweet, so the drink is comforting, delicious, and – in my opinion – the perfect choice for a chilly day.
Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato
When I’m looking for something cold, refreshing, and highly caffeinated on a hot summer day, I usually go with the iced coconut milk mocha macchiato, if it’s sold at the coffee shop I’m at. If it’s not on the menu or the barista isn’t able to make it for me, I ask for modifications to get the closest I can to it.
The iced coconut milk mocha macchiato was a new Starbucks drink a few summers back. It’s name is long, but pretty much describes the drink to a tee – it’s kind of a cross between a mocha and a macchiato, and it’s wonderfully refreshing.
It’s made with half the amount of white chocolate that’s normally used in a white-chocolate mocha at the bottom, a large layer of coconut milk, espresso, and chocolate and caramel drizzle over the top. The drink is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and the coconut milk makes it so refreshing!
If I don’t see the exact drink listed on the menu of the shop I’m frequenting – which is common – I’ll usually order a half-sweet black and white mocha with coconut milk and caramel drizzle. It’s not layered like the original Starbucks version and has a mix of chocolate (rather than just white chocolate), but the taste is very similar, and it’s usually equally as delicious.
Horchata Frap w/ affogato shot
When I’m in the mood to treat myself with a sweet, ice-cream like blended coffee, I go with the horchata frap, and I get an extra shot of espresso poured over the top, or affogato style, added on.
Frappuccinos, if you recall from my previous post, are Starbuck’s version of blended coffees. The horchata frap is made with almond milk, so it’s more filling than a regular frappucino. It also contains Cinnamon Dolce syrup, ice, and the usual syrups that go into frappuccinos. The drink tastes good without the extra shot, but it doesn’t have as much caffeine as I like, and I find it to be quite sweet. I find that the extra sweetness balances out really well with an extra espresso shot. The shot would be good blended into the drink too; it’s just my preference to have it poured over the top to make it less ice-creamy and more beverage-y.
My Favorite Modifications
I love milk, but milk doesn’t always love me. I can handle a little creamer, but an entire latte full of regular dairy milk doesn’t always sit wonderfully well with me. I’m not a huge fan of soy milk, so I usually choose to go with almond or coconut milk instead of soy or regular dairy milk.
Neither are at all sweet, and both add a lot to the drink and make it extra-filling. I usually go with coconut milk for iced, milky drinks – like the mocha macchiato – because it gives it an extra-refreshing, lighter flavor. Almond milk adds a heavier, nuttier element to the beverage that is wonderful in hot drinks. Miels made with almond milk taste amazing.
The two other ways I often modify my coffee shop orders are by ordering extra espresso shots, and by ordering my specialty drink to be made half-sweet.
Hot large-size espresso drinks (with the exception of the americano, which usually contains an extra shot of espresso), especially hot ones, typically come with just two shots of espresso, and I prefer a higher espresso:milk ratio, especially with sweet drinks, as the strong coffee flavor also cuts excessive sweetness.
Get out there and find your own favorites!
Throughout my last three posts, I’ve given you a lot of information and now you probably find yourself with a myriad of beverage choices to try out. Believe it or not, there are still loads of drinks and variations of those drinks that I still haven’t gotten to!
I hope I’ve given you a solid starting point, but the only way to figure out what you like for sure is to get out there and start experimenting! Don’t be afraid to modify anything that you want or don’t want in your drink, and don’t hesitate to ask your barista questions.
I hope you try something new the next time you stop at your favorite coffee shop – and don’t forget to tip your barista!
What’s your favorite shop drink? Let me know in the comment box below!