Barista blends

Two Biola baristas share their recommended brews and coffee shop drinks.

Jenna Kubiak, Writer

Do you love coffee but find yourself stumped when faced with a menu of countless options? Two Biola baristas with a passion for coffee recommend different types of brewed coffee and coffee shop drinks.

Sophomore business major Brody O’Brien’s love for coffee stemmed from a family vacation to a coffee plantation in Hawaii and his experience with coffee started in a farmer’s market. In addition, he owns a business that serves coffee at farmers markets, caters events and supplies cafes with coffee beans. O’Brien recommends his favorite drink, single origin light roast Yirgacheffe Ethiopian coffee.

“Single origin, because you get to taste the characteristics of the bean without hiding it by blending other characteristics of different regions. Ethiopia, because that is the origin of coffee — even if they are not organic certified, they practice the requirements of organic because that just means the coffee is washed carefully and how it’s processed. The Ethiopians make sure it’s handled properly and not mixed with other regions. Light roast, because you get to truly taste the characteristics without roasting it too dark,” O’Brien said.

Coffee can be brewed different ways, and different brewing methods can change the strength and taste of coffee, with different roasts allowing for different tastes.

“Normally, you’re going to find dark roasts. That’s just kind of what people are used to. Light-roasted coffee is more of a new thing, especially gourmet and specialty coffee, that’s become more and more popular,” O’Brien said.

Drip brewing is the most common way to brew coffee and the method used in household coffee makers. Other forms of brewing include French press and pour over, a method that allows for a strong and pure, but not bitter, coffee taste. To get that bitter flavor, O’Brien recommends using a French press. However, his preferred brewing method is pour over, since it allows for a fresh taste with every cup of coffee, and if brewed properly, is neither too bitter nor too sweet.

For those who prefer sweet coffees, O’Brien recommends a caramel macchiato or a vanilla latte. He recommends black coffee for those who prefer a bitter taste, and a latte for those accustomed to drinking coffee with milk or creamer.

Sophomore intercultural studies major Julia Gennaro previously worked as a Starbucks barista and also recommends a regular flavored latte for those who prefer their drinks neither too sweet nor too bitter. Gennaro’s favorite coffee drinks include an iced soy latte and an iced double shot latte with vanilla and hazelnut. As a barista, she received many orders for caramel frappuccinos and caramel macchiatos, both with extra caramel. Customers also liked to order frappuccino drinks such as a Snickers frappuccino — a mocha frappuccino with toffee nut syrup, caramel and java chips. She recommends an americano — espresso diluted with water — for a bitter taste, as well as a mocha coconut frappuccino for a sweet taste.

At many cafes and coffeehouses, customers can choose from different flavored syrups including toffee nut, coconut and vanilla, which can be mixed to create a variety of flavored drinks. For a French vanilla-flavored drink, for example, Gennaro recommends mixing vanilla and hazelnut.

Gennaro suggests a simple recipe for ordering drinks to make it easier for the barista to make your preferred drink.

“First, you would say hot or iced to specify the temperature of the drink. Next, you would specify the size. After stating the temperature and the size, you would order by the drink that you want that’s on the menu, and then you would specify what kind of add-ins you would want or whether or not you would want it decaf, or the kind of milk that you want,” Gennaro said.

O’Brien and Gennaro said coffee shops generally make lattes with whole milk, but customers can choose other types such as low-fat, almond or soy milk. People can also order extra pumps of syrup or extra shots of espresso.

For those who do not prefer the taste of coffee, teas are also an option. Popular tea drinks include the London Fog — a latte made with Earl Grey — a chai tea latte or a chai bomb. Frappuccinos have a low level of coffee or sometimes none at all, and can be flavored with a variety of syrups. Gennaro also recommends iced tea, specifically passion tea lemonade.

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