Cafe Sessions with Steve: September 2022

Is it seriously already the end of September!? This month has flown by! Granted, I have been keeping pretty busy. Dominating in my Fantasy Leagues and watching as much Football as possible tends to make time fly by (you know, that plus work, life, etc.). It’s true what they say – the older you get; the faster time seems to go). Anyway, the end of September means Fall is officially here, which also means the typical rush for consumption of all things pumpkin is also back in full force. Pumpkin Spice, despite its complete popularity, is not everyone’s favorite fall drink – as evidenced by our first question of this session. So if this sounds like you (or even if you’re looking to add more drinks to your fall coffee raptor), keep reading for the other ways you can get your seasonal drink fix, without having to succumb to the pumpkin spice craze.

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It's Pumpkin Spice Latté Season...but I hate pumpkin and anything spicy. What are some other Fall beverages I can order?

Before we begin, please ask what seasonal drinks are available before you order. Sure, lots of coffee houses keep pumpkin spice year-round, (yet no one seems to order it until Starbucks puts it back on the seasonal menu). But you never know and you don’t want to have your heart set on ordering something that ends up being unavailable. So, the first thing to do is to ask, use your words or phone if you don't feel like talking, but everything is so much easier when you communicate with your favorite barista!

My favorite go to beverage for the Fall guessed it! Tequila! But sometimes I like to mix it up in between those sweet agave nectar drinks. When this happens, I find myself with a nice hot Chai Tea Latté for the Fall. 

Also as the Holidays approach, be on the lookout for your local coffee shop (like Rise!), stocking up on apple cider. Since I never grew out of the sweet coffee beverages, I even like to add some caramel to my cider, making a caramel spiced cider that tastes just like a caramel apple! You could also put a shot of chocolate and/or caramel in your coffee as well. It’s not “season specific” per say, but it will make your coffee taste extra special!

I don’t want to sound like a dummy ordering coffee in Europe, what’s the big difference?

The coffee culture in Europe is much different from here in the United States of America. Europe has been well established for centuries, while the good old US of A is only 246 years old, and still a baby in the eyes of Europe. Here in America, we have become accustomed to picking up our coffee in the little time we have between tasks or on the way to work to guzzle down our cup of caffeine. Across the pond, coffee in the morning is meant to be consumed at a more leisurely pace to allow your body and mind to fully wake up, all while having a light pastry or bread to get the day started. So, it makes sense that ordering coffee differs also.

 Coffee drinks are typically 8oz or less, mostly less, and are always a shot of espresso to start, or one café. You may order cappuccinos or lattés but do so only in the morning as milk is not so readily available as we have here. If you need your afternoon pick-me-up, they’ll likely serve you a shot of espresso with some (or a lot) of sugar. Just a quick little jolt to let you keep the day going. If you must have your milky and frothy coffee, they will make an exception after morning time, using a little dollop of foam with milk to tone down the strong coffee for you throughout the day. This is where the traditional macchiato comes from and not the sugary caramel macchiato from Starbucks.

Additionally, if you don’t want to sound like a total “yank”, never ask for a coffee with cream. Half-and-half doesn’t really exist out there, so you will likely just get a confused stare back at you if you do. And on that note, don’t look around for a side bar with milk and sugar to add in yourself either. In Europe it's typically custom for the barista to mix in any milks or sugars you request for you. Really your best bet is to either drink your coffee black or ask for a flat white if looking for the closest alternative to American coffee and cream. Also, remember that filtered coffee isn’t really a thing out there either; coffee = espresso. So, for a “normal” cup of black coffee, ask for an American (e.g., espresso diluted with hot water). For a more detailed breakdown of how to order coffee in different countries in Europe, check out this article by DU Abroad “How To Order Coffee Abroad!”

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to tackle next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email required.