We are at the beginning of Spring quarter here at UCR. The orange blossoms are in full bloom, the trees are lightly fruiting along Aberdeen, and our mornings consist of ghostly mists as some of us wake up early for those 8am classes. On every checklist is a class we want to add, a textbook we need to buy, and a string of miscellaneous tasks to get ready for another quarter. On that already heavy checklist, I recommend adding another reminder of the Spring season, drinks. While that may not be the first thing that comes to mind when gathering up plans for campus; it is, in my opinion, a necessary incentive for getting through the day. Every campus sports a different class of caffeine, but if that’s not your thing, sweet or refreshing beverages are also available. I made a point of going to the three most visited, beverage supplying, commercial areas on campus. Considering coffee and its importance to the college ecosystem I venture to mainly ascertain who makes what, and is it worth it? I rank each of these drinks relative from best to worst with a brief description of each.
#1 The Cardamom Cold brew with a Cream Cap
Beyond The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf counter sits all the ingredients for a potentially great drink, as per the rules of spring at this establishment I ordered one of their specials. The Cardamom cold brew with a cream cap. I paid $5.75 and you have to order a regular size or bigger in order to make room for that white cap. Upon picking it up I first noticed how beautiful the drink itself was. There is nothing more satisfying than a swirling milky haze in a cold brew; it’s one of those simple pleasures that makes you feel put together and ready for the day ahead. After all, if the drink is fancy then you’re fancy. I wanted to take a moment as well to really appreciate the cream cap on a foggy Tuesday morning. It feels cyclical and in sync with how spring manifests here on campus. The cold brew itself held the cardamom flavor advertised. It was a warm taste, which is saying something, considering it’s a cold drink. As these cold embers settled in my mouth, the taste of the cream cap started coming through. It gave the drink a softness that rounded out the cold spice and bitterness of coffee. If you are partial to that bitterness then I would forgo the cap and drink the cold brew straight. Now I ask, is the cardamom cold brew worth it? I’d like to think so, but having to pay almost $6 dollars for a drink is steep for a college student with limited income.
#2 The Honey Cinnamon latte
This drink had such a nostalgic taste and texture, especially for those that celebrate the cold weather with abuelita hot chocolate or champurrado. It’s not as thick in texture, but the soft kick of cinnamon and the sweet taste of honey is enough to kiss an old heart wound if you’re homesick for something familiar and warming. Some of my only complaints in regards to the look of the drink are the cups. On first impression, I was a bit disappointed in the Christmas cup with the coffee conglomerate mermaid plastered on the front. I longed for something reminiscent of their brand; however, from an ecological standpoint, it only makes sense they’d use up cups that are not otherwise usable. The drink comes to about $5.35, somewhat cheaper than the Cardamom cold brew.
#3 The Brown Sugar Oat Milk shaken Espresso
Think honey cinnamon latte, but cold. The description is very similar if not a bit watered down in its cold rendition. I enjoyed this drink and as the warmer months begin to loom over campus; this drink will be a much more welcome addition to my weekly purchases. Similar to #1, this drink comes to $5.75.
#4 The Mango Ice Blended
I found the choice of mango interesting, considering its tropical base. This sweet drink was $5.25. In a small survey among some students on campus I found that, out of all the seasonal drinks I cover in this article, the mango Ice blend was the most popular. It’s a white drink with a deep orange syrup that lines the cup and whipped cream. The closest thing I could relate this to was probably a mangonada with lechera, or for those less familiar with Mexican desserts, imagine a piña colada but with mango instead of pineapple. The creamy texture with the tropical fruit reminded me more of summer than what I would have expected to find in Spring. Overall, it was a deliciously sweet drink, however in the future, to subside the sweetness I will leave out the whipped cream. Like the previous drinks this one comes out to $5.75 as well.