Coffee + Caffeine / The Real Deal

I know that this statement probably means nothing to you guys at this point, after me abandoning you and coming back multiple times sine mid-November, but I promise it’s true this time. I am back to blogging for good! I explained why I wasn’t posting much over winter break – between work and soaking up every minute of being at home, I just wasn’t interested being behind the computer.

And now, on my third day back at school, I can hardly believe it. On one hand it seems impossible that the entire month I had off has passed, and it feels like it did not even happen. On the other hand, though, first semester feels like it was a different life, so long ago, and now everything has changed. However, not everything is different.

I am atrociously addicted to caffeine

It’s not what you think, though. I don’t need coffee to feel “awake” – I drink it because I am in love with the taste, and savouring the different flavours is an art form to me. I just recently started drinking espresso – my taste buds finally adapted enough to get past the bitterness and appreciate the taste – and so the whole “coffee experience” is what I am in love with.


My body, however, seems to have other ideas. I didn’t even realize that I consumed no coffee on Monday. I obviously didn’t get to continue my habit of going to Credo (my cafe), and so I simply woke up, went to class, and continued on with my day.

Annnnnd, then I had to skip the two hour screening of my film studies class because I had such an awful migraine I was on the verge of vomiting.

1160857-voldemortWorld’s most appropriate picture. 

This continued all afternoon and evening, leading me to take my last tylenol 3 from one year ago when I got my wisdom teeth out. T3s, you have served me well.

The headache actually continued this morning, until I finally got a coffee, and then it miraculously disappeared. Coincidence? Don’t joke with me. IT did get me thinking, though – I started to feel sick about four hours after waking up with no coffee. When I’m at home (I experienced this at Thanksgiving too) I can go all day with no coffee and feel 100% fine. At school, though, the moment I stray I am literally incapacitated by pain.

I think it’s an incredibly interesting situation and balancing act. There are two camps with opposite viewpoints – one recommends coffee and touts its health benefits, and the other trashes it, calls it “unnatural” and proclaims tea to be the be all and end all. I think it’s pretty clear which camp I’m in – I will never give up coffee. I am far too in love with it and the entire cafe culture (did I mention I want to drop out of school and become a barista?) to even consider that option. BUT it is incredibly annoying to have to force a Starbucks down because my only other option is collapsing on the frozen sidewalk in agony.


I don’t think there is anything wrong with drinking coffee regularly – it improves athletic performance, contains antioxidants, and is seriously  comforting. A cup of warm, delicious liquid on a cold morning to start the day? It can do wonders for my mood, and for others too.

Yes, it is habit-forming, and a lot of people will shy away from that. I think the name of the game in this situation is to be aware of said habit, and sip smartly. <- yup, I just created my own tagline for coffee. Went. There.

Tips for being a healthy coffee drinker


  1. Drink in moderation. During the computer science days (oh, how we miss those…) I was downing upwards of 400mg of caffeine per day. The chemical boost wasn’t necessary for my sanity, but the comfort aspect was, and for that reason I have no regrets. The same goes for drinking while I was at home. That coffee (Intelligentsia) is the nectar of the gods and no way was I not savouring every single bit I could get. Again, I wasn’t drinking it for a boost, it was purely pleasure. No. Regrets. But I’m confident I reached 600mg of caffeine a few days, which is sort of the opposite of this tip.
  2. Consume quality. I’m going to be a Starbucks hypocrite. I hate the taste and the company BUT I will drink it in desperate situations (such as being about to vomit in class). However, organic, humanely sourced coffee is the ONLY way to go. We see everyone, including healthy living bloggers, all about the organic fruits / vegetables to avoid pesticides and antibiotics, but ignoring the label when it comes to coffee. Pesticides are a real thing in coffee, not to mention growers being treated like vermin. I personally recommend Intelligentsia. 🙂
  3. Keep yourself balanced. You could do what I did on Monday: become incredibly exhausted, eat no real meals throughout the day, drink zero water AND stop drinking coffee cold turkey. OR, you could maintain organ function and remember to treat yourself extra well if you are drinking the back stuff regularly.

I leave you with my smurf-spresso, folks. Sip smartly.

I call it smurf-spresso.  Adventures in latte art - I'm just a wannabe .

Coffee: GOOD or BAD? Honest opinions! No judging here.


Coming Home from University / Identity Crisis

Hey, guys.

So much for coming back right after my final exams, hey? I was a combination of energized and exhausted the day I got home, hence last Friday’s post. And then:

working every single day + writing a 2000 page essay due yesterday + readjusting to living at home = zero blogging capability

So now that I’ve had the entire weekend off, and more than enough sleepless nights listening to Ed Sheeran with my mind absolutely racing, I’m blogging. Because we all know I’m hopelessly awkward in conversation but as soon as my voice turns into visible words everything seems to make sense.

I talked about how much I loved my job a lot last year, and I blogged all the time about how incredibly sad I was to leave it. It was heartbreaking, but I was able to do it because I knew moving to Vancouver was the right thing for me. I still 100% believe that to be true – I am so much more confident and happy now that I’ve ever been. And yet, being home, there is nothing that makes me more happy than working again. My wonderful boss scheduled me for the entire month of December, and all my coworkers have hugged me and made me feel right at home.

I’m starting to learn how to steam milk / pour latte art and am fired up about it. I know – Emma, it’s milk! Get over it. But it really is more than that. It’s the whole coffee / barista world that I am becoming more and more passionate about and want it to consume my life.


I really could see myself working in a cafe for the rest of my life and being totally happy. Which is something that makes no sense to me – on one hand, I want to go to university, get a degree, a successful job in writing / health / fitness and all of that. But on the other hand…I just don’t really care about it anymore. I feel like I’ve lost my passion for my current program and don’t know what to do.

I can’t drop out of university to be a barista. I can’t move back to Edmonton and abandon the great life I’ve started to create. I can’t get a job at a cafe in Vancouver and pretend like it’s the same as the one I feel totally at home at, where I would 110% pull a mattress over and move in if I could.

I am excited to go back to school. I want to see my friends, and I really do enjoy my classes. But am I seriously going to spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars on something that is just “kind of interesting”? Just wait it out until I can travel to France and then move back home and do what I wanted to do four years ago?

Judge me and tell me all your philosophical opinions on life. I’ll just be over here practicing latte art with my trusty 4L milk jugs. (<– I just wrote “milk hugs”. Coincidence? I think not.)

How To: Order Coffee Like A Whiz

OR, how to order coffee that is NOT from Starbucks.

I know a ton of people in the blog world are partial to Starbucks. And I understand that! They have locations nearly everywhere, are highly customizable, and have nearly anything you could wish for on the menu.

HOWEVER, are you aware of the fact that many chain coffee shops pre-make their foam, and scoop it out of a canister when making your drink?

What about the fact that their baked goods are frozen and shipped to your location from who knows where and were made who knows when?

Needless to say, I’m a little over Starbucks.

DSCN0146Cute Italian cafes FTW.

I am now a 110% proponent of locally owned coffee shops. Until I started working at one though, I’ll be honest, some of the smaller, more “high end” coffee shops intimidated me. Intimidated? By a cafe?! Yep. I felt like only the hipster, ‘elite’, ‘coffee-people’ (for lack of a better word) went there.  I  did not know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte and had never heard of an americano. But since I began working at a cafe, I have learned SO MUCH! Not only do they (well, at least at mine) have NO problem explaining anything you are confused about, they love to! It’s fun for me to talk to someone about the varying acidity in our different coffees and help them find a drink that they will truly enjoy.

italian coffee guy This is essentially what I thought of the baristas. 

SO, if you are in a similar situation, these are my tips on how to order your (local, high quality) coffee like a PRO! Note: I may be recommending steering away from Starbucks, but that is my personal opinon. I don’t mean to bash any Starbucks-lovers and I will adore you just the same if your grande cappuccino completes you.

*disclaimer*: I have literally worked at this job for five months. I know a fraction of what some people do and I am okay with that! All i want to do is share what I have learned, not sound pretentious nor make anyone feel bad.

If you are unsure as to which type of coffee you want, don’t just ask “Which one is stronger?” If you are unaccustomed to coffee, and usually drink lattes/cappuccinos/mochas/hot chocolate, request a sweeter variety. These usually have citrus and/or floral notes, and lack the bitterness that some people associate with coffee. But if you are an aficionado and are looking for something seemingly dark, ask for a more full-bodied, robust, and/or acidic type.

DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, ASK FOR TALL/GRANDE/VENTI/DOPIO. That is Starbucks language, friends, and it is rather insulting. It doesn’t take much to simply read the menu, but it’s also a safe bet to use normal people language such as “regular” or “large”.

Please refrain from adding the term “skinny” to your order. It makes you sound like you’re too concerned with weight to actually enjoy your drink. Again, read the menu and go with what is there – for example, my cafe uses 1% milk. People may request a 1% latte. If sugar-free is mentioned, ask for that. You get the idea.

coffeeThis is how it actually comes across and it’s not attractive. [source.]

Dark roast does not equal caffeine. Dark roast simply refers to coffee beans that have been roasted for a longer period of time and brew a slightly sweeter, more full-bodied coffee. However, dark roast actually destroys some of the natural flavourings in beans. Medium roast coffees can still be very full-bodied and robust, but still retain all the layerings of flavours. <– so go for that!

And now, for all those drinks that you see on the menu but have no idea what they are!

A london fog is not a tea latte. It is a small amount of concentrated earl grey or rooibos tea, steamed milk, and vanilla. I have EPIC plans for a homemade recipe coming your way soon. 🙂

Americano: Shot of espresso dropped in water. If the espresso is pulled properly, it will have different shades of brown, representing the different layers of espresso. If it’s a low-quality americano, it will be watery, all one colour, and extremely bitter. You can also look for a “crema” on top of an american or shot of espresso that slightly resembles latte art. That is the mark of an excellent one.

espressoPerfect example! [source.]

Macchiato: Comes from the Italian word “mark”, and therefore refers to a drink that has simply been “marked” by milk. So you know those “caramel macchiatos” you get on your way home every day in the summer? Not a macchiato, not even a little bit. At our shop, we do 2oz espresso and 2oz steamed milk, but it varies slightly.

I hope that this was helpful/informative! I would love to do more of these as I learn more about the coffee industry. Let me know what you think!

Favourite hot beverage?

Starbucks: Yay or nay?