Coffee Wars: Holiday Edition Part 3 – Pumpkin Spice Latte

It feels like I’ve been neglecting my blog lately.  With juggling two jobs, getting prepared for a new school year in January, the impending doom that is Christmas shopping, starting a new relationship, and trying to see my friends and family, I haven’t been doing much for myself lately it feels like.  Between feeling fatigued all the time and getting over a cold that just won’t leave me the hell alone, my “me-time” consists mostly of me sleeping or vegging out for half an hour before sleeping.  I haven’t had time to write, and when I do it feels like a chore.  I haven’t had time to read, whether it be one of the many books I want to read (I’ve been itching to read We Need to Talk About Kevin before I see the film, as well as finish Under the Dome and read 11/22/63), as well as the many blogs I like to keep up with.  So now that I the house is empty, I have the day off, I am going to take some “me-time” and give some attention to my blog.  I got my home-made latte-esque coffee (I’ve perfected microfoam at home, yay me!), and my playlist blaring, and I’m ready to roll.  This has been a post I’ve been wanting to write since the beginning of October, and now that November is half over, I think it’s time to get it done before it’s rendered useless. 

What is that you may be asking?  Well for those of you didn’t read the title…it’s…

DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

It’s been a year since my previous installments of Coffee Wars, which was originally going to be a little series on my blog.  But due to laziness, and then being busy, it got pushed away and forgotten about for a little while.  But coffee is a huge part of my life, even more-so now that I work at a coffee shop, so Coffee Wars has never been too far from my mind.  During a short time around the fall, all of my favourite coffee shops enjoy a Fall themed holiday drink list.  What’s nice about it is that every shop tends to have a wide variety of drinks, and nothing is ever carbon copied from the other store.  There is one drink in particular that seems to make its way into every store though, and that is my favourite seasonal drink: The Pumpkin Spice latte.  I adore this latte, mostly because I love pumpkins.  I love seeing beautiful carved pumpkins, eating pumpkin seeds, The Great Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, just about everything pumpkin.  This is probably because pumpkins are associated with my favourite holiday: Hallowe’en.  I didn’t get to enjoy Hallowe’en this year, but alas, I did enjoy the lattes.  Now it is time to judge them, to find out who has the best Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Starbucks

First off, I apologize for the blurriness of the image – shaky hands comes with the caffeine lover territory. 

An issue I always encounter with Starbucks is the sweetness of their beverages.  They use a lot more sugar-syrup (used to give the drinks their distinct flavours) than most other coffee shops I find.  This can be really great if you really want something sweet, but if you aren’t a huge sweet-tooth, it can make the drinks a bit overbearing.  Despite this usual occurrence, I didn’t find this drink disgustingly sweet like a lot of their flavoured lattes can be.  It was sweet of course, but perhaps it was extra spice flavours of their pumpkin flavouring that distracted from the sweetness.

This drink to me did remind me of pumpkin pie, it had a nice balance of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  The whipped cream on top reminded me of pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner, so I think with that in mind, it gave the drink a nice edge compared to some other shops.  It was also the only latte that had an orange tinge to it (once you got passed the whipped cream that is).  That may be in part to how much sugar they add to it, but I thought it was night, it suited the “pumpkin spice” image.

Overall, I really enjoyed Starbucks latte.  It was presented nicely, and had a decent flavour.  Though if I had it on certain days were I just wanted a bit of sweetness, this one wouldn’t really “do it” for me.  I find I have to be in the right mood for a Starbucks drink, they just add too much stuff to their espresso and coffee.  That may be in part to a lot of people not liking the flavour of coffee, which is a shame, because that’s what it should be about.

Overall Score:
Appearance – 5/5
Flavour Balance – 4/5 
Overall Enjoyment – 4/5

Second Cup

Anyone who knows me knows that Second Cup is my favourite place to get coffee.  Mostly that’s because if I want a latte, I find even their sweetest lattes aren’t as sweet as Starbucks, and I prefer my lattes to have a nice balance between the sweetness and the coffee. 

One thing I noticed this year though, is that Second Cup is using a different type of flavouring for their pumpkin spice latte, it’s not much different, but there was just enough of a difference that I noticed it.  I found this flavouring to be a bit stronger in the nutmeg flavour, which isn’t a bad thing, but I found that it made the latte have a slightly earthy flavour.  I enjoyed this, but on occasion when I was in a different mood, it wasn’t giving me the dessert types of flavours that I usually associate with the a pumpkin pie.  It reminded me more of a pumpkin soup – which would have more of a nice balance between savoury and sweet.  Not to say I didn’t enjoy the latte, it was just…different. 

This year they added a caramel topping, which I didn’t enjoy as much.  Usually I wouldn’t get it with it on it, instead opting for a sprinkling of cinnamon, but for the sake of this post I got the caramel.  It did add a very nice appearance to the drink though, and for those hoping for a bit more sweetness, it does add a nice richness to the drink.  It’s just not something I was particular fond of.

Overall Score:
Appearance – 4/5
Flavour Balance – 4/5
Overall Enjoyment – 4/5

Williams Fresh Cafe (Formerly Williams Coffee Pub)

I have a love/hate relationship with Williams.  I don’t generally like their coffee, at least when compared to other places.  However I will admit, it does depend on the time of day – they don’t use carafes like Starbucks of Second Cup, so their coffee tends to get a burnt flavour as the day goes on.  Because they serve food and lots of other products, it does take them a while make drinks and bring them out, and it can be a little annoying if you just want it to go.  But despite that, I keep going back.  Mostly because once in a while I’m very pleasantly surprised.

I ordered their pumpkin spice latte and was very surprised.  Their latte had a really nice balance between sweetness and the savoury flavours of pumpkin pie and the spices attributed with that.  I didn’t find that it was overpowering with one spice or another, but everything was married together very nicely.  It was just sweet enough, but not too sweet that I couldn’t enjoy it. 

Appearance wise, I was also impressed.  Often the latte is rushed over, and is spilling half down my cup.  But on this particular time it looked perfect, or at the very least almost perfect.  The whipped cream was a nice finish, and the light dusting of cinnamon completed the drink.  Now, some may say it may have just been that I was having a good day, or was in a  good mood.  But after looking at this picture, I can recall when I ordered this – it was on a first date.  I remember that day I had a headache, I was nervous, and when I got there I wasn’t in the best mood.  So if I can enjoy a drink when I’m in a bad mood, and distracted by trying to impress someone, then that speaks a lot for the drink. 

Overall Score:
Appearance – 5/5
Flavour Balance – 5/5
Overall Enjoyment – 5/5

So, judging by the scores, Williams Fresh Cafe is the victor for this edition of Coffee Wars.  To be honest, I’m a little surprised.  Williams tends to disappoint me, but judging by their Pumpkin Spice Latte, they obviously still have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

Original photo curtousy of the blog “Foodie, Eh?”

 Before I end this post, I wanted to mention that on December 11th I will be participating in the Second Annual Community Networking Meme.  For rules of participation, check out the original post here.  To see my entry for last year’s post, click here.

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A Look Back at 2010

This won’t be an extremely long “Looking Back” post, partially because I’m writing in this immediately before I post it, and because of that, I have limited time to write.  Another reason it won’t be too long is because this year was a blur to me.  I will be doing a “looking back” sort of post when my 1 year anniversary for my blog, so I don’t want to take too much away from that.  Also, I almost didn’t post this because Saber “stole” my idea on her blog here.  I suppose by stole I mean used an idea that I had, in which she didn’t actually know I had the same idea.  And considering its such a broad idea, it was never really “mine” to begin with.  Yeah.  Thievery afoot up in here.  But I decided I wouldn’t let that stop me, so here are some of my favourite (and least favourite) moments in 2010.

The Best and Worst Films I Paid to See in 2010:
The best is hands down Inception.  This movie blew my mind away, I think my head exploded when I was at the theatre.  I’ve seen some crappy movies throughout the years, and this is one of the few that I’m very happy I paid to see it in the big screen.  This is totally the type of movie that just gets me excited – it makes you think, it’s got loads of action, and an amazing cast.  This film was amazing in my opinion, and I definitely need to buy it soon.

The worst that I paid to see in theatres I have to say was Alice in Wonderland.  I know, I know, some people are probably asking “whaaaaattt?”.  I love Tim Burton, and I love Johnny Depp, but I have to be honest, I’m really getting tired of them working together.  It’s just boring me.  It’s not like it’s Edward Scissorhands where they were still learning to work together, it was fresh, it was new.  This film felt stale and boring to me.  I also had to the unfortunate experience of having to pay to see it in 3D, which did absolutely nothing for the film.  So that extra few dollars still makes me a little bitter.  I don’t remember the whole film, I was bored for the first half, and I remember throwing M&Ms at some rude teenager who was using their phone for the first half of the movie with the stranger sitting next to me who was also bored.  Though it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever paid to see in theatres (definitely nowhere near close), it was the worst for this year.  Maybe that’s because I didn’t see much in theatres this year, I’ve been very picky with what I’ll actually pay to see.

The Best Book I read in 2010:
I’m going to have to say Fool by Christopher Moore.  Now, granted, I didn’t read that much this year, I was very busy reading school notes and blogs and stuff that aren’t “novels” per se.  However, I am happy to have read this book.  It’s a hilarious take on King Lear, through the eyes of the Fool (the Jesters are always the best characters by far).  I love the way he changes the story a bit, it made it felt new and unique, but still familiar.  I love the raunchy humour, it sounds like the stuff my friends and I say to each other.  This book is hilarious, if you have a good sense of humour I’d really recommend this book.

The Best Moment in Television in 2010:
Now, keep in mind, I don’t watch a lot of TV shows anymore.  This year I only really kept up with one show, and that was 24.  So by the powers of elimination, yeah, it’s going to be from 24.  Not to say there weren’t other amazing moments in TV this year, like the LOST finale – which I’ve heard mixed things about.  If I watched LOST it may be up here.  But I didn’t, I watched the amazing show 24, so yeah…  Anyways, this season was awesome in my opinion.  My favourite moment though came from the episode “11:00am – 12:00pm”.  Now for anyone worried about spoilers…skip ahead to the next bolded section.  Jack is chasing Dana Walsh, whom he holds partially responsible for killing Renee.  There is a lot more leading up to this point, but to save time and space, I’ll leave it at that.  The moment that I freaking loved this season though, is when he’s got her cornered, and he has a gun pointed to his face.  She looks at him and asks “What can I do?” in attempt to prevent him from shooting her.  He looks at her, and says “Nothing…nothing”, and then BAM!  Shoots her in the face!  I was very excited, I hated her character (such an awesome performance though!). 

The Best CD I bought in 2010:
Brentalfloss.  He’s from youtube, and makes songs about video games using their music.  Sounds cheesy, and it kind of is, but I love it.  Here’s a link to my favourite song of his from his CD.  On another note, my favourite CD I got as a gift was the Josh Groban cd Illuminations.  Thanks Ryan! 🙂

The Best Hangout Spot in 2010:
I’m gonna say Second Cup.  I didn’t start going here until the summer after I moved home.  Then Ryan and I decided to pretty much move in, we were there so much anyways.  I just really like the people who work there, every single person I’ve met that works there is really nice, super friendly and easy to talk to.  Plus they’re all really interesting, so it’s been nice to talk to them.  Also, I’ve had a lot of fun moments with my friends in Second Cup, so yeah, I likes it there. 

The Craziest Person I Met in 2010:
The Russian Spy Lady from work.  She thought she was being cyberstalked, so she refused to give us her information when she wanted to order something from our kiosk – which is impossible.  Yeah, she was messed.  Oh, and there was also the drunk guy on the bus from London who was yelling at everyone and rubbing up against me.  Yeah, he’s up there in the crazy factor.

Now, there are lots of things from the last year that I adore.  Like the youtube videos I watch.  But since I’ve been doing top 10 lists of those (found here, and here), I think I’ll save the videos for those lists.  Also, I have tons of favourite blog posts from the past year, but I think I’ll also save those for my 1 year anniversary post.  I like things to be organized and flow nicely.  Yay for anal retentiveness!

2010 has been an interesting year.  There have been both amazing things, and terrible things.  It was in this year that a member of my family passed away, it was in this year that a number of influential people passed away.  The BP oil spill happened this year, numerous natural disasters, suicides, war.  It makes it hard to remember the good things.  And though I’m very happy this year is over, I am  happy that I graduated my program, have met a number of amazing people from school, work, on the internet, and around my neighbourhood.  This year brought me some very happy moments and for those I am thankful.

I hope everyone has an amazing New Years, don’t celebrate too hard ;).  Happy New Years!

Poetry Thursday #19

Two new poems this week, huzzah!  I somehow found the time and motivation to get out off my ass and write something.  These past few weeks I have been extremely lazy, I’m thinking I should probably go find a job soon or else my couch will have a permanent perfect ass groove that only I can fill.  Anyways, hope you enjoy!     

By the way, the last poem I wrote for my friend Ryan; lets just say we both go to Second Cup on a regular basis for the same reason.  Enjoy!    

So Long, Farewell
A mistake I cannot fix,
now I sit and wait for death.
Time itself is slowing,
more moments between each breath.    

Each gasp is harder to take,
and I find I’m barely coping.
As life begins to fade I wonder
what’s the point in hoping.    

The light begins to fade,
and darkness fills my eyes.
I stutter helplessly,
trying to say my goodbyes.    

"My Last Breath" by IwaKinga on deviantart.com

 

Simply Delicious
I come here for that thing I need –
So very tall, and quite robust;
The sight of it fills me with lust.
A delicious specimen indeed.    

I come here for that thing I adore:
Coffee, served by a man so fine –
whom are just both simply divine;
I find that I come for either or.    

"Second Cup" by Dependency on deviantart.com