Confessions of a Caffeine Connoisseur
Yep, that’s me.
I’ve just returned from a Dunkin run, so I feel especially prepared to write this love letter to caffeine. This is such a clichéd phrase, but I truly feel like it gets me through my day. Whenever I drink coffee, I go from sluggish to bright and energetic. There’s a big iced coffee craze now, but let me be clear – I do not discriminate caffeine sources whatsoever. I love hot coffee in the morning, especially when I wake up missing my warm blankets. Tea is a great option for when you just need a little somethin-somethin – I like it both hot and iced as well. Although I know it’s not the best stuff for me, I’ve grown up on diet soda and it’s a staple. Diet Coke from a fountain pairs great with any lunch. If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of caffeine or you’re a veteran who wants to explore your options, look no further for my recommendations at two popular coffee chains.
- If you need a blast of energy – I’m talking wired-to-where-you’re-talking-fast-and-possibly-shaking – I highly recommend the Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream. This is not for the faint of heart, or stomach, but it’s delicious and full of what you need to get through your midterms.
- For somebody who wants some sweetness and a little boost of energy, a Nonfat Grande Vanilla Latte is my go-to. It’s delicious in hot or iced format, and the simple goodness of the vanilla flavor is exquisite. You just can’t go wrong with it.
- For those who don’t like coffee or don’t need a ton of caffeine to have a solid energy level: first, I’m jealous of you. Second, I highly recommend the Iced Blueberry Black Tea. Pardon my Generation Z language, but this drink slaps. You can get it with or without lemonade for a cool, citrusy flavor addition.
I’m certainly not a Starbucks snob. I like my coffee however I can get it, and Dunkin is no exception to the rule. One positive attribute separating Dunkin from its green mermaid competitor is the price point. The large coffee pictured above only cost $3 after tax. At Starbucks, this could easily cost $5.50 or more. Although I can taste the difference in quality (examples of which I’ve noted below), that won’t stop me.
- I like Dunkin’s Vanilla Iced Coffee, but here’s a quick PSA. If you’re ordering an iced coffee at Dunkin, ask for half the normal amount of cream, sugar and syrup. You’ll thank me later. This concoction is far too sickly sweet with the full amounts of sweet stuff. Even with half the normal sweetness, to say it still tastes like coffee would be an overstatement. Additionally, you need to ask for liquid sugar. From my understanding, Starbucks always uses liquid sugar. At Dunkin, they’ll give you the granulated stuff unless you ask otherwise. It’s not fun to punch a straw through your iced coffee and get a mouthful of gritty Splenda. Been there, done that.
- What could be better than coffee and chocolate? Mochas are a decadent way to ease yourself into coffee drinking, and they’re a great treat. Dunkin’ makes a great mocha, and I highly recommend drinking it hot to avoid any granulated sugar fiascos. It’s a nice pick-me-up when you need the warmth and comfort of hot chocolate but the zing of coffee.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m ripping into Dunkin too, too much. I really enjoy their coffee and appreciate the more affordable price point. Sure, it’s no Starbucks in my opinion, but it has its time and place.
Although I mentioned drinks from two popular coffee spots in this post, I highly recommend looking locally for the highest quality product possible. The Meantime is an excellent, student-run option for coffee and tea lovers on UNC’s campus. Supporting local businesses is always a great idea, especially when they provide something as universally great as caffeine. I implore you to look around your city for small coffee shops and try it out. You may find your new holy grail.