I know, that headline is a bit harsh, but seriously. If you can hold your head up high holding a dulce triple caramel frappucino with whip and chocolate sprinkles, you're stronger stock than I. However, I'll readily admit a love of flavor when it isn't just a bunch of syrup. Thankfully, there are several coffee shops around town that make flavorful drinks with legit ingredients. Here are five of my favorites.
Dirty Chai from Jobot Coffee Usually chai lattes are either that thick, dark brown Monin syrup mixed with milk or Pacific's pre-mixed chai-milk blend. Not so at Jobot--the café brews chai tea concentrate and then combines a bit of honey and a splash (just a splash, really) of vanilla syrup. Add milk, ice, and espresso, and you have one serious dirty chai. The final touch is a dash of Jobot's special house blend of chai spices, including cinnamon and black pepper, which adds an intense, almost savory kick.
Honey Vanilla Latte from Giant Coffee Building any latte on the base of Four Barrel espresso and creamy, delicious Strauss milk is definitely a solid place to start. However, when Giant's baristas add McClendon's Select local honey in the mix, it makes this drink a knockout. Just lightly sweet, it doesn't seem as naughty as other flavored lattes. Chances are, this one's already a favorite of yours, or will be soon if it isn't.
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Espresso Excellente from Cartel Coffee Lab If there was an official iced coffee drink of the Valley, Cartel's espresso excellente would surely be a front-runner. This drink is the only one that's vegan as a matter of course. The in-house made horchata can be a little gritty, but it is packed with cinnamon. Plus, without heavy cow's milk, it's a nice way to opt for a latte, without completely masking the espresso flavor.
Espresso Martini from Sip Coffee and Beer House While you can't take Sip's espresso martini to go and it's probably not the best thing to order on your way to work, if you're looking for an after work pick-me-up, this is the way to go. Hangar One vodka, a shot of espresso, and cream liqueur make up this simple, coffee-forward cocktail. While it's typically served up, you can order it on the rocks as well, so it counts, and, since it has booze in it, it double counts.
Rose Cognac Latte from Shine Coffee Shine's rose cognac latte definitely wins points for most unique latte flavor on the list. Brewed with La Belle Terre's rose cognac artisan sugar, it is both floral and robust, pulling out notes from the rose and cognac oils it is made with. While that's definitely the flavor element of the drink, Press Coffee's roast, is nothing to sneer at either. This drink is a great alternative for someone looking for the richness of a mocha without the chocolate syrup.