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Ice cold: A chilly coffee comparison.

Gimmee that BUZZ.

What’s more fitting on a Monday than a look at ALL of the iced coffee and cold brew I’ve been guzzling these past few months? Let me set the record straight though, before I get any further: I drink hot, black coffee every morning. Around three mugs of the stuff.

And I’m not looking to give it up any time soon. But, I started looking into cold coffee drinks (particularly ones that are low-calorie) to give me a boost in the afternoons – but only on days when I’m taking dance in the evenings. I already have enough trouble sleeping.

So, thus began my hunt for the perfect afternoon coffee cocktail, and might I add, I live in a pretty perfect place for this experiment? Besides Seattle, ok. So, here goes (in no particular order):

Starbucks Doubleshot Light Espresso Drink – Years ago, I started a personal boycott of Starbucks because they support Monsanto financially. At the time, I had books, mugs, a GOLD Starbucks card, and I tossed all of it. Since then, I think I’ve had two Starbucks drinks and then I bought a pack of these Light Doubleshots. Unfortunately for me, they are low-calorie (70 cals for 1 can, which is half the usual stuff) and they only have 5 grams of sugar. Plus… they’re delicious! Damn you Starbucks for your well-priced caffeine (it’s about $5 for a 4-pack), and shame on me for being non-stop basic.

Starbucks Doubleshot Protein Coffee – Please see above comments regarding Starbucks. I saw a commercial for the Protein Coffee and couldn’t wait to try it – I mean, how perfect! One can of this has 20 grams of protein, but it IS a bigger can (which means more sugar). I’ve tried the vanilla and the caramel flavors, and like the vanilla better, but it is definitely sweet.

Picnik Butter Coffee (Cappucino) – Picnik is a paleo restaurant in Austin, particularly known for their butter coffee. Butter coffee is made with grass-fed butter and MCT oil, which works to help the body burn fat, and release caffeine sloooowly for a longer buzz. Yes! While I could technically get butter coffee anytime, Picnik bottled the stuff and you can buy it locally or online. The cappucino flavor was probably one of my favorites out of this ENTIRE list.

Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee – Despite NOT having a location in NOLA, Blue Bottle makes chicory style iced coffee, and serves it up in tiny little milk cartons you can buy at Whole Foods. And I kind of freaked out when I saw it. So I got some, and it was quite delish.

Chameleon Cold Brew Organic Vanilla Coffee – This stuff is $3 for a single-serve bottle, buuut I’m going to say it’s worth it, especially if you really love good coffee. It’s quality stuff and there’s no added sugar, but it’s packed with flavor. If you’re not aware, cold brew is actually brewed with warm water instead of hot, which results in a beverage that’s actually higher in caffeine and has less acidity. That’s why everyone loves it so much!

High Brew (various flavors) – This is ready to drink cold brew right in a can, and aide from the Starbucks’ Doubleshots, this is the next-best affordable coffee at the grocery. Because of this, I’ve tried pretty much every flavor on the shelf: Creamy cappucino + protein (this is my favorite), Mexican vanilla, salted caramel, and black + bold (only 20 calories). All of these are fantastic!

Hey Day Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee – Another cold brew coffee, which is a little more expensive, but also comes in a bigger can. I’ve only tried the vanilla, but it was very yummy!

…What coffees are you guys drinking this summer? Although I’ve clearly picked a few favorites, I’m not afraid to venture out and keep this taste-test going! Cheers to your afternoon, office-appropriate buzz!

How Starbucks broke my heart.

Done with Starbucks.

Done with Starbucks.

This has nothing to do with cups. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what’s inside the cups.

Let me start by telling you just how much I used to love Starbucks.

It was a lot.

As I type this, I’m sipping coffee from a Starbucks mug. In fact, when I made my coffee this morning, and reached for a clean mug, I realized that more than half of the mugs I have in my apartment are from Starbucks. There are even tumblers and travel mugs, too.

Books from the Starbucks’ CEO are on my shelves. I have a Starbucks gold card with my name printed on it that I earned in 2010 after many years of soy lattes. It’s been a staple of my life for many, many years.

It’s not necessarily because of the delicious way they press a machiatto, or their addictive hot chocolate. It’s that, plus a lot of other things I once loved about the coffee giant. I loved the atmosphere. The culture.

I hated it when people would bash Starbucks for selling CDs or having special terms for their sizes — all of that boiled down to the culture of Starbucks. The fact that it was based on that feeling you get when you’re in a fine coffee house in Europe and all the little things add up to this one, giant feeling of pure perfection.

And there was this other thing about the culture; the fact that the money I spent on delicious coffee was going to other good things like great benefits for the employees, and fair wages for the farmers who nurtured the beloved coffee beans from around the globe (Starbucks is 100% ethically sourced).

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Blake MyCoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, speak on how he created his business. He said when Toms Shoes began, he realized just how much people love to buy something if they know that their purchase makes them a part of something great.

That’s how I felt about Starbucks. It really pissed me off when people would bitch about the price of coffee at Starbucks — we weren’t paying for just the brand, we were paying for those benefits, fair wages, and that moment you get when you get that first sip of the peppermint mocha.

After all, I can chose to spend my money on whatever I please. And the same people complaining about overpriced coffee and anti-Christmas cups are the same people who shop at Wal-Mart (known for its low wages and poor working conditions) and eat at Chik-fil-a (right-winged, anti-gay). Two companies I gave up years ago.

Even Toms Shoes is aligned with right-wing activist groups (although MyCoskie has issued an apology for it), and even Starbucks has it’s problems.

Last week, a friend told me Starbucks’ products were full of GMOs, and not only that, but they donated $70 million to fight GMO-labeling laws.

Umm, what?

My quest to be healthier started about four years ago, with regular fitness, detox, and healthy eating. I’ll admit, I haven’t always bought the organic craze, and I understand how difficult it is for companies to migrate from using GMOs — they are everywhere. Thanks, Monsanto.

Not familiar with GMOs? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and they are created when the DNA from other plants, animals, and bacteria are injected into cells of another group, say, a plant seed. That seed then can grow despite being sprayed with pesticide, poison, or whatever. GMOs weren’t around at the dawn of time, so it adversely affects those who eat them — humans and animals alike. Here’s a good article on the basics of GMOs.

So, Starbucks is a part of the Grocer’s Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), along with several other giants like Coca-Cola, Clorox, Proctor & Gamble, etc. And the GMA is supporting anti-GMO-labeling laws. These laws make it okay for companies to NOT mention that their products are chock-full of GMOs.

Starbucks claims that forcing a company to put something on their label affects their first amendment to free speech.

Oh, Starbucks, you sneaky little bitch! You KNOW how much free speech means to me! But I also believe I have a right to know what’s in the food I eat. And the latter of those beliefs has an effect on my health, and perhaps, on my life.

There are two main things that bother me about Starbucks going arm-in-arm with Monsanto (home of GMO pesticide, complete with government ties):

  1. I was tricked. This entire time, I thought Starbucks was a GREAT company. And to make matters worse, even Starbucks is saying all of these GMO-labeling accusations are false, that it’s the GMA fighting the fight. No, Starbucks, no. You don’t get to play that game. If you’re guilty, fess up.
  2. I have no control where my money goes. For years, I thought my money was supporting the causes I care about, only to find out that it’s been going to support Monsanto.

When the Chik-fil-a fiasco happened, a former coworker told me that she would never boycott a company just because of the founder’s beliefs or what they supported — “There’d be nowhere to go,” she said.

I disagree. There ARE companies out there that do good; that believe the same things I believe. And it’s my right to spend my money where I choose. If we don’t stand for something, what are we living for? Honestly.

And if I’m being honest, I will say that the whole part of using GMO milk and selling baked goods sprinkled with poison, bothers me LESS than the whole $70 million to support anti-GMO-labeling.

When I go into a store, I can make a choice as to buy an organic chicken that’s eaten a GMO-free diet. Or, I can get the cheap shit. That is my choice. I can even still go to Starbucks and get a plain coffee with a splash of coconut milk and I can walk out GMO-free. But that sale goes to support something terrible. And I just cannot live with that.

So, I’m in the process of finding a new coffee shop to love. One that serves delicious drinks, and doesn’t support GMOs.

It’s minimal, but in addition to boycotting Starbucks, I’ve signed a petition in hopes that one day, Starbucks can make the switch and support GMO-labeling. You can sign it, too!

Want more info on Monsanto, GMOs, the GMA, and where to find a decent coffee shop? Here you go: