There was a time, working in an office, where I’d be the first to arrive each morning and put on a pot of coffee…drinking most of it before anyone else would arrive. I loaded my coffee with cream and sugar…and eventually came to the realization that I was so hopped up on sugar everyday that I switched to tea (as I’m not a fan of sugar in tea and it seemed easier than quitting caffeine altogether!)
By the time the “fancy” coffee shops began to arrive a number of years ago…I was a full-fledged tea drinker and would place my order…often feeling a bit out-of-place with my plain old orange pekoe tea bag!
The fact of the matter is, I wouldn’t even begin to know how to order a cup of coffee! The longer I let it go on…the fancier coffees got…to the point that I realized I’d probably never drink a cup of coffee in public again!
Folks order drinks in front of me while I’m still trying to figure out cup sizes not to mention words like “skinny,” “whip,” “blonde,” “half caf” and “red-eye.” It’s absolutely fascinating and completely daunting to this tea drinker!
Last week, I was invited by McDonalds to learn about their McCafe Espresso Blends at the lovely East of Grafton…and after a little education and a whole lot of coffee…I’m back to not feeling so overwhelmed and thinking I’ll add coffee back into my routine again!
McDonalds and it’s franchisees have invested $17 million dollars in state-of-the-art Swiss equipment in order to bring European-inspired espresso beverages to their restaurants. Their coffees have been developed and tested by a team of “espresso experts” who judge coffee on its aroma, flavour, body and taste. McCafe uses 100% Arabica beans that are grown sustainably on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Central and South America…and they’ve just added coffee beans from Indonesia to the mix.
We began with an Espresso…which is brewed by forcing a small amount of pressured (almost boiling) water through the ground coffee beans. It creates a thicker beverage than coffee brewed by other methods and has a smooth, golden brown crema on top that is similar to a foam with a creamy consistency but created as part of the brewing process. Espresso is very concentrated and has more caffeine than most coffee beverages so the serving size is much smaller. This “shot” of espresso is also the base of the two other coffees we tried and often, folks order a “shot” of espresso as an addition to a beverage they’re ordering to increase their caffeine consumption.
My thoughts…hmmm…for someone who enjoys coffee with a whole lot of sweetness added…this wasn’t really my cup of tea! I can’t see me ordering an espresso on its own any time soon though I was happy to learn what all of the fuss was about!
Along with the Espresso, we tried McCafe’s fabulous all butter croissants that come straight from France and are baked daily in store. They are absolutely fabulous…rich, flaky…perfect with a hot beverage or bring them home and add a little homemade jam like I did!!
Following the Espresso, we gave the Cappuccino a try. A cappuccino is made from one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk and one-third milk foam.
This was much more to my liking as I’m a “milk in your coffee” kind of girl though I found there was a bit too much foam to try to work around and with every sip, wondered if I’d gotten any on my lip or nose!
McCafe served this with their fabulous Maple Mini Pastries made with Canadian maple syrup and butter…baked fresh daily.
And my favourite…the Latte. Beginning again with the espresso, with more steamed milk than a Cappuccino and a little less foam! The coffee taste still comes through the milk, just not as much as it does with the Cappuccino. Honestly, I liked both the Cappuccino and the Latte…but simply preferred having a little less foam.
McCafe paired their Latte with the absolutely fantastic gluten-free brownie that comes from the fabulous Dufflet Bakery in Toronto.
McCafe is currently serving their Pumpkin Spice Latte with hints of pumpkin and cinnamon flavours. And before long, the Festive Flavours will be available including their ever-popular Peppermint Mocha made with Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce, espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream and peppermint flavours!
I start each and every day with a tea but suddenly, with a little knowledge and a fabulous taste-testing, I’m thinking it’s time to add coffee back into my life!
What’s your drink of choice?
Disclosure: I received compensation from McDonalds Canada for this post. Opinions, as always, are my own.
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Great post colleen! The best way I learned about espresso was when we went to Italy for our honeymoon. There they drink espresso after meals and as a quick shot in the morning. It was so strong tasting at first, but now I miss it and think I’ll have to get one soon. The only down side (for me anyways) it that it is so small and that it goes so quickly!
Sounds like you’ll have to get two! 🙂 Also, I think I could get used to anything in Italy!!!