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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Baristas best creative coffee and seasonal specials

Baristas best creative coffee and seasonal specials

By ALICEN HACKNEY

Staff Writer

Most coffee shops have an array of potential drink combinations beyond their typical menu and Blackstone is no exception. When seeking a creative alternative to your regular order, it is always helpful to take some advice from the experts. While on the clock Blackstone, baristas make their own drinks, and with access to all of the drinks, syrups and add-ins they can perfect each drink to their particular taste. Three Blackstone baristas gave the scoop on their insider ideas, favorite monthly special and weird or interesting customer orders while working at UMW’s campus coffee shop.

Sophomore barista Carly Bishop’s favorite beverages are hot chocolate with coconut syrup and the almond joy chiller, which is a regular menu item with chocolate, coconut and almond syrup.

As for Sarah Scruggs, a junior barista, “I’m a big fan of African elixir with almond milk. We don’t get too many of those orders,” said Sarah. “I also really like making my own chai tea latte with more of the chai concentrate so there’s zero sweetness and extra spice–just like me.”

One of sophomore barista, Scott Freiwald’s favorite drinks to make for himself is an iced soy chai latte sweetened with honey. “Recently I’ve been trying to find ways to substitute the processed sugar in our drinks with honey. It’s something I always suggest to friends or customers who are having a hard time deciding.”

For the monthly specials Blackstone takes ideas from customers and baristas for creative festive flavors, like crisp peppermint in December and romantic strawberry in February.

“Some of the monthly specials that we have had were based on what a customer ordered that employees tried and loved,” said Bishop.

A group of employees also comes up with  the funny and creative names for the monthly drinks.  This month, Bishop’s favorites were the “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Sugar Daddy.”

Scruggs shared her favorite drink specials. “I really liked the peppernut one from Thanksgiving specials; it was a latte with toffee nut and peppermint syrup. The flavor was pretty strong, so I didn’t have it too often, but I was about it,” said Scruggs. “Some of my coworkers and I worked on the Christmas specials like ‘Home For the Holidays,’ and I helped come up with the idea for a ‘Drunk Uncle’ drink but the flavor combo wasn’t me.”

Customer orders can be really creative, blending syrups and toppings into a unique drink that others might not have considered. Sometimes they can mimic the feel of fresh garden smell or some food favorites like cinnamon rolls.

“None are necessarily weird,” said Bishop, “but someone used to put lavender in their peach tea.”

Scruggs said, “One customer ordered a latte with cinnamon syrup and cinnamon on top and it’s pretty dope. It’s an unexpected twist on a latte that works out surprisingly well.”

While the baristas may pick up some ideas from customers, they don’t all work out that way.

“A mocha with a pump of orange syrup. I know that chocolate and orange is a dessert combo flavoring sometimes but I don’t know man, I don’t trust it,” said Scruggs.

Blackstone offers around 22 syrups, and an array of drinks to combine them with. If you haven’t found a favorite you could try these or create something entirely new. There are endless possibilities, and if you come up with something spectacular you may end up finding it on the monthly special menu.

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