Lattes in the library

I love books, but I hate the library. Maybe it’s because it’s too quiet for me, or because I can’t eat in there, or because it’s simply too depressing that I’m there when it’s 83 degrees outside. I’m obviously a total nerd, but for some reason I haven’t ever been able to vibe with the lib.

Lately though, I’ve been under a ton of stress with grad school being grad school, and sometimes I just can’t get anything done unless I’m in a Place Where You’re Supposed To Get Things Done. So I got my butt over to Ellis Library, a beautiful but crowded library on campus that I typically avoid like the plague.

PLOT TWIST: To my utter shock and relief, the library has an awesome coffee shop in it.

I mean, I kind of always knew it was there, but never actually thought it was a thing. And I remembered Rule #1 of Caffeinated Californian: You never know where your next source of inspiration (caffeine) will be. Repeating for emphasis:

Rule #1 of Caffeinated Californian: You never know where your next source of inspiration (caffeine) will be.

That said, you should definitely try your local library if you haven’t already, because you never know what hidden gem you’ll find. At my library, it’s called Bookmark Cafe, and it’s the most perfect new study spot I have ever discovered.

I stumbled upon it by getting lost in the stacks, and then seeing a sign for pumpkin spice lattes. They really knew how to get me.

Game-changer.

Is their PSL better than the Starbucks PSL? That will be a later post for colder weather. This time I went with an iced latte, because again, 83 degrees outside.

The menu isn’t bad, though, and I’m not sure who is in charge of a student-staffed coffee place in the basement of a school library, but props to them.

Okay, here we go with the usual list.

Perks of perking up at the library:

  • You are in the mindset of being the kind of person that actually goes to the library, and you can trick yourself into possibly getting work done
  • It’s open late, so you have an excuse to get your coffee fix at a ridiculous hour, and then when you’re pulling a caffeine-induced all-nighter you can still be productive
  • Peer pressure from the people having marathon study sessions around you. It’s like being at the gym
  • Once you’re there, it’s easier to stay there and finish what you started (again, the library shares some odd similarities with going to the gym)
  • It’s the one place you can eat food at the library! Game-changer!
  • You feel slightly less basic than if you’d gotten Starbucks
  • You can count this as a cultural activity since there may be artwork on the walls
  • Reliable wifi is always a plus for me and my spotty service at home
  • You might actually be happy to be at the library for once!

Will I be a library regular now? Who knows. At least they make a decent latte, and that’s all it takes to make me happy where I am!

XO,

CC

How I Became a Morning Person

Most articles will tell you that one of the most common habits of CEOs and successful people is that they start their day early. What the article doesn’t tell you is that successful people pretty much have no choice.

Or rather, they did have a choice at some point– back when they were an intern, maybe, and they could either go the extra mile or not.

I have this theory that being good at your job is not as much about talent as it is about time management. And mornings are the ultimate time for time management. It sucks at first, but getting up just an hour earlier puts an extra hour of time back in your day. It’s like a freebie.

No one is bugging you.

The time from around 5-8a.m. is all yours. You can do whatever you need to do– work out, grab coffee, get a project done, or God forbid, eat a healthy breakfast for once. All without a single text or email.

Mornings don’t sound all that bad when I put it that way, do they?

But it’s not easy getting yourself in the habit, which is why not everyone does mornings. Everyone can do mornings, though. It just takes a few tricks.

Turn down the AC.

When you wake up and it’s freezing outside your bed, that does not make you want to get out of bed.

Turn up the coffee.

I mean, you probably knew this tip was coming. You can’t exactly wake up and smell the coffee unless there’s like, actually coffee. Coffee is a morning drink (for most people that aren’t me and only drink coffee once a day) for a reason- it motivates you to get your butt out of bed and at least a few steps into your kitchen. Or Starbucks. Whatever it takes.

Make it easier on yourself to get ready.

Figure out your outfit the night before. If you’re going to the gym, set out your clothes and shoes in advance. It sounds dumb, but

Eat a good breakfast (or at least a passable one).

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Were those stock photos enough for you?

No?

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Still not convinced?

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Aha. Thought so.

One of the perks of perking up in the early AM is having time to get yourself a decent breakfast. Food is an excellent motivator for just about anything.

Go to bed early.

I am a bit hypocritical in this advice. Sleep is not my strong suit. But it’s super important to get yourself in bed at least by 11 to be able to wake up early. Common sense, yeah, but suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and you have no idea why you’re still up writing a blog post. Whoops.

Lose the alarm.

Seriously, it sucks. Use a song instead. A song you like but are okay with not liking, since you’ll hear the sound of an alarm every time you hear it. I used to use “Amber” by 311, but it was so relaxing I sometimes slept through it. So. Don’t do that.

Make it a habit.

Once you’re consistent, your body will get adjusted to the rhythm and it’ll be second nature to be one step ahead of the world. Grab yourself a coffee for being so damn on top of it.

Does anyone else have pointers for becoming a morning person?

XO,

CC

 

 

A Dollop a day keeps the doctor away

A coffee a day keeps the doctor away…I mean, not really, but I like to let myself think that. Even after getting quite the caff boost yesterday at Goddess and the Baker, I was ready to try another dose of cold brew today.

Dollop Coffee is another coffee business that’s well known in the Chicago area. Since I only have two more weeks left living in Chicago, I’ve made it my mission to hit every Chicago coffee establishment there is in the general vicinity. Which means no Starbucks or Dunkin’ for the time being. That can wait until I’m back in Columbia, Missouri, where the coffee options are admittedly more limited.

But that will be a problem for Future Caffeinated Californian. Today I’m in Chicago, and today I get to go to Dollop!


Dollop has several locations in the Chicago area, but I went to the one in the Loop near my apartment. I was feeling a lazy Sunday coming on and knew I had to get coffee and get it fast.

I loved that the place was designed for busy commuters. There was an Express menu and separate window, and this pick-up station to skip the line (something that I don’t see often at indie coffee places). Today being Sunday, it wasn’t crowded, but I have a feeling I’d get the same quick service any day.

I didn’t stick around, since it’s my roommate’s last day in Chicago (wah) but the place had free wifi and lots of space for hanging out. I grabbed a cold brew to go and came back to my apartment to pair the bitter taste with Honey Nut Cheerios.

I’m a slight sugar addict in addition to the caffeine.

The cold brew was good, on par with any good coffee place. It was nice and strong, brewed from Metropolis beans.

Cold brew with a view!

I am going to miss this apartment.

Sorry for the short but sweet post– girl’s gotta run! Leave a comment if you’ve got any suggestions for my next coffee visit. Don’t forget, I plan to hit every possible place selling coffee for my last two weeks in Chicago.

Enjoy the rest of this lovely weekend, and stay caffeinated (hydrated, I think, is the correct word here, but caffeinated is so much more fun).

XO,

CC

Goddess and the Baker: A bolt from the blue

What to do on a Saturday when you have to be productive? Go to a fancy coffee shop and pretend you’re being productive. Honestly, good coffee makes me feel like slightly less bummed to be working on a weekend (it makes me feel slightly less bummed to be working on a weekday too, but whatever).

Living in the Loop in downtown Chicago this summer has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants. A curse, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants without the budget to go to said bars and restaurants. I make it work, though, and a really damn good coffee is one way to get the experience.

The Goddess and the Baker had been on my to-do list for a while. I’d been eyeing it every day on my commute to and from work, and I decided today was the day to see what the hype was all about.

It’s actually a recent spinoff from the Goddess and the Grocer, a famous cafe in the Chicago area. The founder, Debra, creates incredibly cool menus, and she even caters backstage for big music names (Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, and Jay-Z are among her clientele). If it’s good enough for Jay-Z, it’s good enough for me.

For starters, inside it has this gorgeously Snapchattable neon sign that gives the ultimate pro tip:

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People were actually walking in, Snapchatting the sign, then walking out without even bothering to get a coffee. I mean, lame. At least listen to the sign and caffeinate while you’re there.

When I first walked in, I was surprised at how huge the menu actually was. The name “Goddess and the Baker” should’ve been a hint, but still– they do not joke around with the baked goods. Their case features macarons, rainbow cake, salted caramel tarts, and plenty of other things that I did not know existed. I felt very inexperienced in this area, and moved on from the bakery case to the coffee.

Beyond the bakery, they have a coffee menu with a range of Goddess specialties, including both hot and iced coffee. Given my weakness for iced coffee, I had to try their cold brew on Nitro tap– the Goddess Sweet Cream Cold Brew, which is nothing like the sweet cream cold brew at Starbucks (sorry Starbucks).

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They call it “shockingly good coffee” for a reason. It was like literally getting zapped. I almost want to come back at 6 a.m. on a weekday just to get zapped in the morning so I can zoom into work at 8 and have everything already done.

Plus the atmosphere is clearly better than a cube:

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Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, even while working. I might’ve even enjoyed myself. And that’s what good coffee is all about.

XO,

CC

Stan’s Donuts: Go for the donuts, stay for the booths

It was a beautiful 77 degrees out in Chicago today, making it super worth the walk to try the famed Stan’s Donuts.

And it was, as predicted, super worth it.

Stan’s Donuts started in California, and it’s now a Chicago staple. I’m a sucker for sprinkles, but Stan’s has a ton of different flavors, from Coconut Cake to Lemon Pistachio.

Of course, I couldn’t just get a donut. I am Caffeinated Californian, after all.

With some incredibly muddy Converse.

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But the best part of Stan’s? Not the donuts, or even the coffee.

The BOOTHS.

The outside is pretty cool, too.

But I just wanted to stay in my booth forever.

I may be loyal to Dunkin’s 99 cent coffees after 2 p.m., but I won’t be in Chicago forever, and I need to get all the Stan’s I can. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Chicago area, you won’t want to miss it– if not for the donuts, or even the coffee, go for the booths.

You just might never want to leave.

XO,

A

Dunkin’ Love

Ah, Dunkin’. What can I say? It’s been a year now since our relationship began, and my life has changed ever since.

Yes, you read that right– the first time I began drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee was a year ago, when I had an internship in Bolingbrook, Illinois (Chicago area). Having grown up in California, I never tried Dunkin’. I don’t even remember it being in San Diego, although my memory could be overshadowed by Starbucks.

Which is why, when I started grabbing Dunkin’ on my way to work last summer, I was blown away by what I’d been missing out on.

I mean, really– Dunkin’ isn’t great coffee, but at the same time, it’s great coffee. I can grab a latte at Dunkin’ that tastes similar to a Starbucks latte, for half the price. And it’s fast. In my line of work, speed counts for a lot. At Dunkin’, I’ve never once waited more than 2 minutes for a drink. It usually arrives within 30 seconds. And then I’m on my way, with my giant cup of happiness.


 

Here’s the thing about Dunkin’, though: You have to be careful what you wish for. In other words, if you don’t like sugary coffee, you better make sure you say unsweet when you order, or that drink will be straight Splenda. If you don’t want a ton of cream in your coffee, ask for 1 cream (the default is 3). 

These were lessons I learned the hard way. Learn from me, people. Don’t repeat my mistakes. I made them so you don’t have to. 


A few other reasons Dunkin’ has positively impacted me life:

  • In the summer, a medium iced coffee is 99 cents from 2-6 p.m.. 99 FREAKING CENTS. For a MEDIUM. And I can drink coffee all day, so the time window is nothing.
  • Dunkin’ sizes are realistic sizes. A small is a small. A Tall at Starbucks is like the kid’s meal version of coffee: Tiny and unsatisfying. You gotta go for the Grande, and by then you’re like seven bucks in the hole.
  • There’s never a line. And when there is, it’s like, 3 people. This is true of every location I’ve seen, and I’ve seen many, many Dunkins.
  • Not to state the obvious, but they have donuts.
  • Did I mention donuts?
  • There’s a Dunkin’ near every tourist area, so you can grab a coffee AND see a few walls.

 

Dunkin’, thanks for a wonderfully caffeinated year. 

XO,

A

 

Pickwick Coffee: A sign from above

I was on my way to work one rainy morning, when I walked past an alley and a floating apparition appeared before my eyes: A giant neon sign that said COFFEE.


This sign, to be exact.

I thought I was imagining it. I thought I was that sleep deprived. But when you see a sign from above, and it’s literally a neon sign above you telling you to get coffee, you don’t question it.

So I Googled it later that day and saw that it was, in fact, real, and it was a fabulous hole in the wall coffee shop hidden in an alley (well, not so hidden, given the neon sign). Yet no one I knew had heard of it. 

I had to go again and get a coffee for myself to really know it was real.

So I went with my roommates after church, and there it was:


I was not making it up! My roommates realized my sanity!

I got a cold brew, black, and it was delicious. My roommates got lattes with classic latte art.


Well, if you call an eerie resemblance to the Build-A-Bear logo classic. 

In any case, it was every bit as magical as it was when it first appeared to me in my vision, and I know I’ll be making it a stop on my commute more often. 


Well, except for this week, because this week is MY BIRTHDAY and I will absolutely be claiming my free birthday lattes from both Starbucks and Dunkin’. I have no loyalty, especially when it comes to receiving birthday presents. 

‘Til next cold brew,

A

Caffeinate

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As the name of this blog would suggest, caffeine is a huge part of what makes me, me. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not, because that basically means I’m part human, part coffee.

It is what it is. I’ve accepted it.

Besides, caffeine makes me awesome.

When I created this blog, I knew I wanted caffeine to be an important aspect, since coffee is such an important aspect of my identity and also culture. It means something different to everyone– whether it be a morning ritual, a social activity, a pick-me-up, or an addiction. For me, it’s all of those things, and I’m excited to share them all with you as I post about my coffee-related shenanigans. Topics will include:

  • Coffee shops I find on accident
  • Thoughts on my love-hate relationship with K-cups
  • Starbucks and Dunkin: Pros and cons
  • Pro tips for making iced coffee at home

And that’s all I have planned so far. We’ll see how this goes. Join me and caffeinate!

XO,

A

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