On-campus speciality drinks worth their shots of caffeine and sugar
At the beginning of this term, I made it a personal goal to try all the specialty drinks at all the cafés on camps, just for kicks and giggles. I haven’t gotten through all of them yet, but below are my opinions on the beverages I have sampled so far from the Rez in the campus center, the RezQuad Café uphill behind Miller Hall, and the Brown and Brew under Curtis Hall near the gym. I haven’t been able to spend much time at the Hotung yet, and I admit I’m a little biased against the Starbucks coffee they serve. Some of these drinks were wonderful, some merely good, some confusing, and some dreadfully disappointing, but they’ve all been holes in my punch cards, and I’m counting down until I finally earn a free drink.
A note on prices: At the Rez and RezQuad Cafés, all specialty drinks cost $3.00 for a small, $3.50 for a medium, and $4.00 for a large, although at the RezQuad you have an option of ordering any drink in an enormous “for here” mug that only costs the price of a small. At the Brown and Brew, the specialty drinks come in a large size for $3.59 and “Jumbo” for $3.97. All three establishments take both real-world money and JumboCash.
Soylent Green ( ½ Oregon Chai, ½ green tea) – For the record, Oregon Chai makes the best chai latte mix out of all the options out there. I say this not because I am from Oregon and biased, but because it is the irrefutable truth. When I discovered that the Rez Café uses Oregon Chai in their drinks, I got excited. When I tried the Soylent Green—which, for the record, tastes nothing like people, as far as I can gather—I rejoiced. The green tea cuts the sweetness of the chai and lends the drink a subtle, refreshing earthiness. If you don’t like coffee, want something soothing for a day when you’re feeling under the weather, or just feel like enjoying a tasty drink, I highly recommend this.
Rating: A (found at the Rez Café)
Clockwork Orange (Mocha infused with orange peel and orgeat syrup and topped with whipped cream) – First of all, some background information: orgeat is a French concoction of sweet almond syrup flavored with orange-flower water, and is an essential component of a traditional Mai Tai cocktail. The sweet nuttiness of the orgeat pairs well with the tang of orange, and, of course, it’s hard to go wrong when you add chocolate. This makes a better dessert drink than a morning pick-me-up, especially since the fine folks at the Brown & Brew load enough whipped cream on top of it to fill another cup or two. I enjoyed this and will definitely drink it again. My only complaint is that for some reason you can’t order this drink as a small, making it a less than frugal option. ‘
Rating: A– (found at the Brown & Brew)
Hot Karl (“Nutella” latte—in other words, a hazelnut mocha) – Despite its description on the menu (“Nutella latte?”), the Hot Karl does not contain any actual Nutella. Rather, it’s flavored with chocolate and hazelnut syrups, thus intended to give the same flavor profile as Nutella, but my tastebuds did not sense much similarity. I found my drink too sweet and overpowered by the slightly artificial taste of hazelnut Torani. That said, I think an actual Nutella latte would be a really awesome idea.
Rating: C (found at the Rez Café)
Chocolate Corduroy (Mocha with Irish cream and Oregon Chai) – There were a lot of flavors going on in this drink and my tastebuds got kind of confused. I eventually decided it tasted basically like a spiced hot chocolate, which was not what I had ordered. In addition, it was almost overpoweringly sweet. The idea sounded good on the blackboard, but the end result was too confusing and disappointing for me to feel much urge to order it again.
Rating: C+ (found at the Brown and Brew)
Larry Bacow (Peppermint hot chocolate) – The Larry Bacow is both one of the simplest and most popular drinks at the RezQuad Café. I enjoyed my first taste of this drink in the company of President Larry Bacow himself, which added a dimension of pride and excitement to the experience. The beverage itself was a little bland, though—too much milk for too little chocolate. The refreshing hint of peppermint saved it from total disappointment, and it was still sweet, warming, and redolent of childhood winters. Whipped cream seems like a highly appropriate addition to request here. I would like to see some more bang for my chocolatey buck, though, before I order this again.
Rating: B (found at the RezQuad Café)
Voldemort (espresso, coffee, and chocolate) – The unique and intensely caffeinated Voldemort is basically a mocha filled with drip coffee in place of steamed milk. The drink is far less sweet than a traditional mocha, but the chocolate still cuts the intense bitterness that comes from so much coffee in a single cup. The baristas let you choose which of the available roasts you want to accompany your espresso, and they will also leave you room for milk if you haven’t delved deeply enough into the Dark Arts to tolerate your coffee black. This is straightforward in flavor, neither too sweet nor too busy. I recommend it to anyone looking chemical assistance with a long night of work, because it’s guaranteed to keep you up for a while.
Rating: B+ (found at the Rez Café)
Mr. Mint (Iced peppermint mocha) – This has to be the most refreshing coffee drink I have ever had the pleasure of imbibing. It’s perfect for easing the struggle of those hot, muggy days we suffered so many of at the beginning of this semester and will probably not see again for a long time. You could still huddle with it in a particularly warm corner of the café and pretend that summer has returned. The flavors of chocolate, mint, and espresso harmonize beautifully, with no single element overpowering the drink. I found this immensely satisfying and recommend it to anyone who enjoys life and coffee.
Rating: A (found at the RezQuad Café)
Little Foot ( ½ Oregon Chai, ½ hot chocolate) – This drink had all the fulfilling chocolatiness that the Larry Bacow lacked, which married beautifully with the warming spices of Oregon Chai. The Little Foot is a delightful option for anyone seeking a non-coffee drink who wants something a little more adventurous than regular hot chocolate or plain old chai.
Rating: B+ (found at the RezQuad Café)
Winnie the Pooh (Chocolate, cinnamon, and honey latte) – Order this in a “for here” mug, because its presentation is beautiful: a layer of creamy foam sprinkled artfully with cinnamon. It would be a shame to hide this under a plastic lid and let that foam bubble away into nothing. The flavor of cinnamon came through strongest here, with the chocolate and honey adding only subtle notes of sweetness. It’s mild and comforting and warm and tastes like something the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood might have appreciated if they drank coffee, which I can’t imagine they ever did.
Rating: A- (found at the RezQuad Café)
Lucy in the Chai ( ½ Oregon Chai, ½ espresso) – Oregon Chai appears again in what I have to say is my favorite beverage on this list. Like the Soylent Green, it’s not as sweet as a regular chai latte, thanks here to the addition of espresso. The flavor of sweet, spicy chai combined with the earthy buzz of coffee make this a perfect drink for a dreary autumn or winter afternoon—or any time, really. It’s delicious. The only way I could improve this would be to add some foam on the top.
Rating: A (found at the Rez AND the RezQuad Café)
While Lucy was my favorite for its straightforwardness and its delicious marriage of some of my favorite flavors—chai and coffee—I have met very few drinks at Tufts that I did not enjoy. And, of course, I haven’t had every café drink served on this campus, yet, so I invite you to explore the menus yourselves.
– Devyn Powell