Coffee Discussion Post: What’s Your Feeling on Pumpkin Spice, and Other Vital Questions?

Grumpy Monday! I got super fancy coffee delivered in an attempt to cheer myself up which made me start thinking about the whole coffee experience.

Questions!

Do you drink coffee? Why or why not?

I wasn’t a coffee drinker until just a few years ago. My morning caffeine (if I needed any) was a cup of tea with honey that I made at home. But then for a while with my job I was interacting with people over the phone only, from 9 to 5. So getting coffee from a coffee shop before work was a little transition moment from the crowded train to the empty office, and a little bit of human in person contact. And then we hired more people at the office and I started driving to work, and it became far less important as a ritual, but by then I was addicted to it as a mild caffeine source. I switched to making it at home or in the office and drinking it just to drink it, no ritual.

Cream and sugar, yes or no?

I cannot drink coffee without cream. Sugar I can probably skip, but coffee without cream makes my tummy hurt and my head hurt. It has to be cream too, not milk. I’ve been that person who tells the restaurant that their cream pitcher is empty and then stands there waiting while they fill it. Feels so picky, but I really need it! And then sugar is just to make it taste good.

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Flavored coffees, are you strong Pro or strongly Anti or strongly Neutral?

I am strongly Pro. Since coffee is largely ritual for me, getting to pick a totally different fancy flavor is part of it. And watching the person make my fancy coffee and write the name on it and then I get to eat the whipped cream with a spoon before drinking, it all adds to the experience. Also, I still don’t much like the taste of coffee, so a fancy flavor helps hide it for me. Pumpkin Spice, Peppermint Mocha, I love them all.

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Pumpkin spice!

In a perfect world, home or store coffee?

I will take store coffee over home in every situation. Again, it’s the ritual for me. I like getting dressed and getting out of the house, and then having my coffee in a sort of reward for getting out there. Occasionally I can enjoy coffee at home, watching the sunrise with my cup, petting the dog curled up next to me. But I would still rather have it outside.

Homemade coffee, drip or percolator or something else?

I think I already did a post about how I am STRONGLY percolator/anti-drip. The great great granddaughter of the guy who invented drip coffee was my big sister’s friend in kindergarten and was really mean to me. So obviously, drip coffee and I will never get along. Percolator I like, it tastes better and it makes the little “burble burble” sound. My Dad is committed to instant (because he hates dealing with coffee grounds), and I find I also kind of like that. But really, anything is better than drip.

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Iced or Hot or both depending on the time of year?

I am iced in the summer, hot in the winter, as part of my seasonal ritual. I switch to Iced as soon as the sun starts coming up before 7am and the weather climbs above 70 degrees. And then hot, once the sun starts coming up after 6:30am and the weather drops below 70. The Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint flavors are part of it of course, fall and then winter weather.

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Hot coffee, sweaters, coats, all part of the fall/winter experience

Is Chai Flavored Coffee an Abomination?

Even my accepting self finds it slightly odd that you can now get Chai espresso latte. I’ve done it a couple of times, but it feels very strange. Shouldn’t Chai be Chai and Coffee be Coffee?

If you had to choose, Oat Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, or Nothing?

Especially at the start of the lockdown, it was remarkably hard to get coffee with regular dairy cream. Must be something about buying the cream in bulk or expiration dates or something. Anyway, I was faced with the quandary of if I wanted a dairy substitute, and if so which one. I landed on Soy Milk for myself. Oat Milk makes my tummy hurt as much as if I had had nothing. Almond Milk is too strong and messes with the flavor. Soy Milk is the closest to actual dairy.

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What is your strongest held coffee belief?

I guess mine is related to the above. It’s not coffee if you don’t have cream! Coffee shops that are vegan are, in my mind, NOT COFFEE SHOPS! They are weird bitter brown liquid shops. And if you offer me coffee in your home and you don’t have cream, you aren’t really offering me “coffee” as society has defined it.

30 thoughts on “Coffee Discussion Post: What’s Your Feeling on Pumpkin Spice, and Other Vital Questions?

  1. My strongest coffee belief is that ‘Standard American Coffee (i.e. Starbucks, Dunkin) is terrible.’ It tastes burnt and foul and no wonder people have to add cream, syrups, flavorings to make it drinkable.

    I am a tea drinker and have a morning ritual around making my cup of chai the traditional way with milk, ginger, and cardamom. I do like the occasional cup of coffee, but real coffee, the way it’s drunk in the rest of the world by respecting the flavor of coffee (light roasts, minimal fuss, no fake syrups). I’ll take coffee anywhere else in the world – an espresso in Europe with a dab of foam and little cookie to dip is heavenly…or coffee in middle-east with the light spices…or filter coffee in South India…or actually the best coffee I ever tried was in Colombia…I know it sounds a little pretentious to say that…but really the coffee there was a revelation…

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    • NO!!! As an American, I refuse to believe it! But at the same time, you have me curious to compare and contrast. There’s an authentic Turkish coffee place near me, and there used to be an Ethiopian place nearby. I need to travel the world by traveling the city, clearly. Oh, and I have noticed that there is no real taste difference between basically all coffee I drink, from 7/11 to Starbucks. So I will agree all Standard American Coffee tastes the same, I just refuse to believe it is not the way coffee should taste. Also, everyone should drive on the right side of the road.

      Is your chai heavy on the caffeine? Or is it more about the combination of the hot temperature and spice that starts your day off correctly?

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      • Yes…please do travel the city and experience coffee beyond “American dishwater”… try the Turkish place…if you have a La Colombe store in your area then that is a Colombian brand (though they have Americanized their coffee… it’s still got some authenticity)….and I am sure you can find good french/Italian coffee as well…I know Eataly and Ily have good coffee…or find one of those artsy European cafes near you…

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/24/its-true-americans-like-to-drink-bad-coffee/

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        • There’s a famous German cafe I’ve gone to a lot, but I always get hot chocolate with whipped cream, because real chocolate and real fresh whipped cream is DEVINE. But I suppose I could get coffee with whipped cream instead.

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          • Well, Germany isn’t really all that famous for its coffee. Traditionally, it’s just drip coffee with optional cream and sugar. Everything else is imported.

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          • Okay, I’m sticking with hot chocolate that’s real melted chocolate and real fresh made whipped cream on top as my default German cafe food.

            On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 1:15 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I have always been tea drinker, and even after 12 years in Italy I still prefer tea over coffee. It would be so much easier to just start drinking coffee because I have espresso machine and my husband makes the best coffee , but tea is my comfort drink and happy place and I don’t want to quit 🙂

    I agree with Shreyans about american coffee. I had Sturbucks only once when I was in London and I was so disappointed! It cost a lot and had no taste.

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    • Oh oh! I am going to ask you Dumb American questions about Europe!

      Do people have espresso machines and make really good coffee at home in Europe? In America, it seems like the whole culture has been converted to the “coffee as a morning treat” kind of world. Even if you have a really good coffee machine, the joke is how you still buy coffee outside because it’s the whole experience. But do people actually use their fancy coffee machines in Europe? And buy fancy coffee beans and all the rest of it that everyone says they should but then they just go to Starbucks on the way to work instead??

      On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 3:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Sturbucks made his first shops in Italy only recently and only in Milan and Turin. We don’t have it here in deep south when I live. I’m not sure what cool young people do, but older folks always have at home a moka pot and / or espresso machine. They drink coffee or capuccino for breakfast and many other small espressos during at day at bar, at work etc. When you meet sombody on the street and talk a little, most probably he/she will offer you an espresso at bar. If you visit someone’s home he/she will offer you an espresso. They can’t live without it.
        Last year my husband suffered a lot in Poland because he couldn’t find a good espresso. I lost count how many coffee shops we visited, he was always disappointed. This year he brought a brand new espresso machine with him (we neded a separate suitcase just for the machine and all the coffee pods he had).

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        • It’s so sad, you can’t get tea in Italy and he can’t get espresso in Poland! I wonder what your son will drink when he grows up?

          On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 5:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • So far he drinks neither tea nor coffee. Like really, in his almost 10 years long life he tasted (not drink just tasted a little) tea like 2 times and only because he had tummy ache and I told him the tea will help him.

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          • I think I had tea lots of times when I was little, but fruity flavored tea like raspberry. I liked having it with cream and sugar in the fancy cups and watching the cream mix in. Also, dipping in cookies. Have you tried giving him tea and letting him dip in cookies? Or at least graham crackers? they get so delightfully mushy in the hot water.

            On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 4:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. 1. Our best friend owns a coffee shop. Black Sheep Coffee Roasters, anyone driving through Bishop on their way to Mammoth Mountain in CA should stop in for some of the best coffee ever. And if you aren’t a climber you’ll only be a little bit ignored.
    2. When I was single and teaching/tour guiding in Berlin I met another teacher, who talked about how his husband brought him a cup of coffee each morning. And right then and there I decided that was love and everything I wanted in a relationship. My husband makes the coffee in the morning 95% of the time, and he’ll bring me a cup if it is ready while I am still in bed.
    3. Sometimes I feel like cream or whole milk, but never sugar, but usually I like it black. I try to not eat for 14 hour stretches because I’ve heard it is good for you and I need to loose 50 lbs, so some morning I want cream but take it black anyway because it hasn’t been 14 hours yet.
    4. I think flavored coffee is an abomination.
    5. We drink drip at home. It is easier, takes less coffee grinds and less time than the percolator we use for camping (or for when our drip coffee maker breaks). Even drinking coffee at home we spend $100 dollars on coffee at month. So going to coffee shops (like our friend’s) daily is not in our budget. (We do buy his beans though, which is perhaps why we spend $100 a month). In a perfect world I would go out to get coffee every day. I can’t make a cap and I quite like them. Coffee shops can be second homes.
    6. I like warm coffee, hot coffee, iced coffee, and I’ll even drink room temp coffee that has been left out for half the day. I don’t have it often, but coffee with whisky is divine.

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    • 1. Ooo, local coffee shops! Someday I can go there again. With the pick up options around me, the chains just make it so much easier to do curbside and other things, so the poor local shops don’t get my business. Back in The Past when I was still going to the office, there were 4 different coffee shops within a block of us (college town) and we could try a different one every day. There was the weird one with counter service, the really good bakery with bad coffee, the one that took an eternity and was terribly organized by great coffee, and of course the one with the Shockingly Jawdroppingly Attractive barista. And now I just pull up in the parking lot at Panera and people run out with stuff, not the same.

      2. That is what I actually have now! Sort of. When my foot was bad, my Dad started bringing me coffee in bed every morning. But it wasn’t “in bed” kind of in bed, I was up and dressed and working, just couldn’t leave the bed to get my own coffee.

      3. My Dad has done the 12-14 hour fast for years now and is a total convert. He also claims it helps him sleep better if he stops eating well before bed. I am realizing that I also like doing it, only I go the other way. So I will have a bowl of cereal at 11pm and then not really be hungry for anything until noon the next day, while my Dad stops eating at 8pm and then makes a massive breakfast for all of us, which I’m not always ready to eat because I’m not hungry yet. Anyway, I don’t count cream in my coffee for the fast and that’s probably another reason I am so committed to it, coffee on a totally empty stomach is rough on me, I could probably skip the cream if I ate something else.

      4. Clearly we differ on this topic. If you don’t have flavored coffee, how do you know what time of year it is?

      5. I think buying beans might explain why you spend $100, and also might explain why you don’t mind drinking at home coffee as much as I do 🙂 I tend to get random gross pre-ground coffee that is on sale and use the same kind for a year as it (presumably) loses flavor and goes stale. On the other hand, getting coffee out of the house costs me $8 a month, so I think it’s fine. Panera just set up a subscription service, one monthly payment and you get one coffee for free every day. Still not as fun as going to a local place, but more fun than sadly drinking at home.

      6. Doesn’t coffee with whisky cause a conflicting reaction? Do you feel sleepy or hyper afterwards?

      On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 9:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • You get daily coffee for $8 a month! That’s a good deal. If I have a whisky in my coffee at say, 4PM. Then I stay awake and alert but relaxed until 10:30 PM. With nothing, I often fall asleep at 9:15. So if I’ve invited people over for dinner (oh those pre-corona days) a whisky coffee at 4 PM would be a good call.

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        • Panera! They have a subscription deal, pay $8 and you get one free coffee every day. It’s a genius business plan, they just have carafes of coffee out on the counter so I am sure the individual coffees cost them almost nothing. And since I am there anyway, I will get a cookie or a breakfast sandwich or at least give the staff a tip. Probably not very good coffee (not that I can tell, since I like American coffee and I have just been told it is all dishwater), but free!

          On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 9:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I remember the first time I had coffee at my grandparents’, I hated it. Of course they’d put in way too much cream and sugar, to make it palatable for the kid. I still can’t stand cream in my coffee. And in my experience, people from my generation, who drink it at work instead of with cake in the afternoon, tend towards milk anyways.

    After my taste buds had degraded a bit more, I came to actually like bitter flavors. So now I usually take my coffee “black, like my soul”. We have a drip machine at home, that we use for our extended breakfast on weekends. On weekdays I would usually get two to three cups from the machine in our office. Only now I’ve recently started to notice the effect of the caffeine and may have to cut down on my consumption.

    If I want to splurge, I go to the organic grocery and café next door from my office, which has one of my favorite cappuccinos. Cappuccino is my fancy coffee – still without flavors, though. I’ve put in syrup once or twice at the cheaper joints, but then it becomes just about the sugar. A colleague of mine adds a sprinkle of ground cardamom to her coffee. That actually complements the taste instead of drowning it out. I’ve just done that too, in honor of this discussion.

    During summer, I might go for the slightly different splurge of an Eiskaffee: As in, you put a scoop of vanilla ice cream into the coffee. It’s more of a dessert, really.

    My perfect coffee experience is probably at my parents, though. They have one of those fancy fully automated machines that doesn’t make perfect cappuccino, but a good enough cappuccino and just about everything else. So we’ll all stand in line for our fill with china mugs, even the kids get some foamed milk, and then we discuss everything and nothing over rolls and bacon. Heaven.

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    • I just had this flash of my older German-heritage relatives and coffee cake in the afternoon. That’s right! It was a thing! Something sweet with the coffee while you sat around and talked. I hadn’t thought about that in years. Now I only think of coffee as a first thing in the morning experience with itself, not with anything else.

      Ground cardamom sounds interesting. I don’t know if I am brave enough to try it though, I still have the taste buds you had as a little girl, I only like the cream and sugar part and not so much the bitterness of the actual coffee.

      On the other hand, Eiskaffee sounds devine. And it’s summer now! I could try it!

      Your perfect coffee experience sounds pretty perfect. I don’t think I have anything to compare. My perfect coffee experience is more along the lines of sitting in a cafe reading a good book and drinking coffee while I hear the general noise around me.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 1:13 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • So did any of your relatives ever make Frankfurter Kranz?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurter_Kranz

        Because that is the most “German Grandma” kind of cake on earth, if you ask me. It’s a ridiculously complex concoction of several layers stacked with butter cream and jam in between and topped with hacked nuts. And it’s almost pure calories. My grandma used to make it every time we visited, and it was so heavy no one could eat more than a single thin slice. It’s something you can grow very, very tired of, but still a fond memory.

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        • Oh, yes! I didn’t recognize the name or description, but once I saw the picture, I could taste it.

          My Grandma didn’t make it, but she and Grandpa would take us to a German cafe/bakery as a special treat, and they had it. They called it just “cake with buttercream frosting”, but it was like that, where the frosting was as thick as the cake slices. My sister ordered a strawberry/lime version from the same bakery for her wedding.

          On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 8:56 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s so nice to know. Now it actually means something to me that you’re *German* American. 🙂

            Funny how that’s sometimes about customs like afternoon coffee and buttercream cakes more than anything else. See, the thing is: A brother of my granddad’s emigrated to the US when he was young. I’ve met a few second cousins from that branch of the family tree, and they all pretty much come across as American through and through. This means there might be hope for them yet. 😉

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          • Yep, heavy sweets and making a big BIG deal about Christmas, that’s our German-ness.

            On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 1:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I drink coffee but I don’t consider myself a “coffee drinker” if you know what I’m saying. I hated coffee for the longest time after consistently trying it from my parents who take it with cream and sugar and consistently hating it, so I never felt the need to go to Dunkin or Starbucks or anything like that. I only started getting from Starbucks in recent years because I would get so many gift cards from students around the holidays which gave me an excuse to try their fancy drinks without spending real money. And I found some I like, but they’re so loaded with the flavor syrups that they probably don’t actually taste like real coffee. And I only get occasionally anyway, I really don’t want to develop a need for a morning coffee because it’s probably super unhealthy on multiple levels and considering the only coffee I like is fancy Starbucks coffee that costs $5 for a small size, it’s money that I don’t have.

    But I’m with you on the “hot coffee in the winter, iced coffee in the summer” thing. That’s the only seasonal food I’m about. My mom won’t eat soup in the summer and maybe ice cream in the winter, that I’m not sure. I don’t really care, but coffee can’t be iced in winter and vice versa.

    I wouldn’t say this is my strongest belief, but I have some Opinions, specifically about Starbucks because that’s where I frequent the most.

    Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino > Pumpkin Spice Latte

    and

    Smores Frappuccino >>> anything pumpkin spice

    So mad it’s seasonal

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    • Okay, where you are now is where I was at your age. I had coffee very rarely and for special occasions and only the super flavored fancy stuff. So, like, if I was at the airport for a morning flight, I would get a frappucino with whipped cream and fancy flavors and stuff as a treat and to give me energy. I never thought I would have a regular coffee routine. But just you wait! You are going to hit a long boring routine part of your life and suddenly coffee will become a ritual you need to make the day go right.

      I have never had a smores flavored coffee, but it sounds like I should!

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 8:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. 1. I am a native New Orleanian and, along with absinthe I guess, very strong coffee with chicory is pretty much our local drink. I’ve been drinking it since I was in high school. I bring chicory coffee back from the States when I go (Vietnamese coffee will do for times, like now, when I can’t get it).
    2. Just sugar, unless I’m having cafe au lait (see below).
    3. Flavored coffees are wrong and you’re going to hell.
    4. In a perfect world, my Grandma’s. Or, Cafe du Monde back home, where you can get cafe au lait as it was intended–no sweetener, no foam, no (shudder) whipped cream, just a really good cup of coffee and hot milk.
    5. I had a French press and got sick of cleaning it out and now I’ve got a drip coffee maker.
    6. Iced in the summer.
    7. Chai flavored coffee? I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds insulting to both chai and coffee. Incidentally the only time I don’t have coffee in the morning is in Bangladesh, because the tea is so fantastic. I am, oddly, not physically addicted to caffeine and switch delivery systems without getting a headache.
    9. One of my sister’s old boyfriends used to say decaffeinated coffee is like dehydrated water, and I’ll go with that.

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    • 1. I could totally try Vietnamese coffee! “little Chinatown” (really, “area of Vietnamese and Cambodian and so on refugees who arrived in the late 70s versus the older established Chinese population that is in “Big Chinatown””) is right near me. Is it worth trying? And do I need to say anything special, or just go to a Vietnamese restaurant and get coffee there?

      2. What is your feeling on honey instead of sugar? I like it because it melts and disperses better

      3. And in Hell, I will be cool and comfortable sipping my iced mocha with raspberry syrup added

      4. I love whipped cream on coffee!!!! You can push it down with your spoon and watch it melt.

      5. Drip coffee maker, giving money to my nemesis family

      6. Thank goodness, at least your rules allow for iced

      7. I am the opposite of you, extremely sensitive to caffeine. It keeps me up all night and I am very aware of having more than usual, but at the same time once my body is used to a certain dose it is just murder to try to cut back. But I also know there are rare people where it really has almost no effect. I wonder if it is because you grew up drinking good strong coffee and your body chemistry shifted or if you were just born that way?

      8. I feel the same way. Largely because I don’t like the taste of coffee that much (here is where you explain that what I am drinking is not really “coffee” and that’s why it tastes gross), so if I didn’t want the caffeine, I wouldn’t be drinking it.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 10:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • About Vietnamese coffee: it’s very good but very strong. If you’re super sensitive to caffeine you’ll want to have it early. At most Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to they list “Vietnamese coffee” and “coffee” separately on the menu. It comes with a little drip thingy at the table and you wait for it to drip and then drink it.

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        • Oh, I don’t drink caffeine after 9am anyway, so that’s fine. I just have to find a Vietnamese bakery or something that is open super super early. A fun project!

          On Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 4:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Such a kind of FUN read 🙂

    I think, being so much interested in ShahRukh as I am, I don’t need coffee…he is drinking it and I profit for my energy level…
    Whenever I really need energy (doing 600 km from my German home to my Geneva rented appartment, I take Coke (not Pepsi, I’ve to admit…). I definitely don’t need any coffee in my life although I drink it in social gatherings…with milk (preference for Latte Macchiato 😉 ), so it’s just a pretence.
    If I need something HOT, it would be either a ShahRukh pic or a tea 🙂

    Like

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