Chow Down Brown: Alternative Energy

Thanksgiving must be a cruel joke. Lavished with a few days off and preposterous amounts of home-cooked food, we start sliding into complacency only to plummet back into academia full-force. Where did all this work even COME from? And how is it already December?

Our last line of defense in this harsh climate is caffeine, the magical drug that provides energy boosts for all-nighters and socially acceptable drunkenness minus the hangover. When the coffeehouse became a ubiquitous part of American culture, it gave way to an endless brainstorm of avenues for this addictive compound. Why not use this finals period as an opportunity to explore them all? Some favorite alternatives to your standard cup of joe after the jump.

Caffè breve is an American answer to the latte, made with half-and-half instead of milk. Not for the faint of heart, this drink is as rich as it is absurdly delicious. It has more foam than coffee drinks made with regular steamed milk, which makes it taste faintly like toasted marshmallows and unicorn hugs.

For those of you who prefer not to send yourself into cardiac arrest in the form of a frothy coffee drink, the cortado might be in the cards. Neither as rich as a latte nor as bracing as a straight-up espresso shot, cortados are made with just a bit of warm milk to cut the espresso.

Now that we’re in December, it’s out with the pumpkin spice latte and in with the peppermint mocha. It’s like a York peppermint patty that’ll help you stay up all night.

A good friend once analogized chai to men: comforting yet spicy, consistent but with a subtly changing flavor “that keeps things fresh and new.” And if chai is the perfect man, chaider — chai steeped in apple cider — is his maverick cousin.

Let me count the ways in which I love affogato, a life-affirming combination of gelato (usually vanilla) and a hot shot of espresso (or, you know, four, if your workload calls for such extreme measures). At first it seems like a some cruel practical joke since the marriage of espresso and gelato is too good to be true, but believe it, order it, and never be the same.

Yes, it’s true that simpler methods of self-caffeination do exist, and perhaps you’re more about the end than the means. But save that awful library coffee for the spring, tear yourself away from your carrel, and nab one of these drinks instead to once again feel like the world is a better place. Merry studying, Brownfolk.

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