Happiness in a Cup: Recommendations from a Coffee Lover

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I first tried coffee in high school, but it wasn't until I started going to university that I became an addict. In love with the great taste and of course the caffeine boost, I realized it was more than a hot drink - it was a necessity for success in life. Well, perhaps not that extreme, but as a university student, caffeine-filled beverages are definitely a key for survival when you're buried in books and paper deadlines.

Receiving a Keurig machine for my 19th birthday was a step further into my coffee obsession. Before, I had been filling thermoses from the university cafeteria and constantly buying large cups of it from one of the cafes on campus. Then, all of a sudden, I didn't have to leave my room for it. It brewed my coffee in under a minute - and there were so many flavors to try!

I went a little bit crazy, as there are endless flavors of K-kups, and after a couple years I've tried probably most of them. Here's a few favorite blends that I've discovered - and I'm not partial to a specific roast, either, so I have preferences for a little bit of everything.

Light Roasts

Starbucks Veranda Blend This is my number one go-to as far as light roasts are concerned. It has a wonderful taste for a light blend and gives me an excellent boost of energy due to the extra caffeine found in light roasts.

Van Houtte Costa Rica Fair Trade Due to the price of Starbucks, the Costa Rica blend by Van Houtte is my cheaper second choice. It has a subtle honey taste, and is a great coffee for any time of the day that gives you a good jolt of energy.

Timothy's Breakfast Blend Also a tie for a cheaper light roast blend of coffee. Described as a combination between sweet and smoky, this is an easy coffee for the morning, hence the name and gives you a good boost of energy to start your day.

Medium Roasts

Starbucks Pike Place Blend Another Starbucks blend, this medium roast has a wonderful taste and body with hints of cocoa and roasted nuts. It is one of my favorite coffees of all time, and is my go-to for a simple medium-roast coffee.

Timothy's Pacific Island Blend Made with beans from the South Pacific, the coffee has a lively taste with hints of chocolate and macadamia nut, and is a great coffee for any time of the day. My cheaper preference as far as medium roasts are concerned.

Van Houtte Columbian If you are a fan of Columbian roasts, this is an excellent one, with a sweet but tart flavor with hints of citrus and berry. A great cup of coffee with ample fullness. They also have a Columbian Dark if dark roasts are more your preference.

Dark Roasts

Starbucks French Roast Blend Out of all the dark roasts, French Roast is one of my favorites, and Starbucks makes an excellent version. It is bold with a smoky flavour, and is enjoyable with every sip. Highly recommended if you like bolder coffees.

Green Mountain Coffee Dark Magic Extra Bold Described as "deep, dark and intense", Dark Magic is exactly that. It's got a wonderful bold flavour but not as intense as a French Roast. Great alternative if you find a French Roast to be a little extreme.

Barista Prima Coffeehouse Italian Roast Bold and smoky with hints of fruits and berry, the Italian Roast is a very flavorful dark roast blend that doesn't leave you disappointed.

Flavored Coffee

Timothy's Cinnamon Pastry This is my favorite flavored coffee for the mornings. Has a wonderful cinnamon taste that is not too sweet or not too strong and it smells amazing. I'd take it to class with me and everyone would always be asking what I was drinking. Love it.

Van Houtte Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Most people either like this or they don't, but it is worth giving a try. Personally I find the raspberry and chocolate combination is lovely, with raspberry being the dominant flavor. Also smells delicious.

Van Houtte Vanilla Hazelnut The vanilla flavor mixed with the hazelnut makes for a wonderful blend that is not too sweet but just right. Also smells amazing when you're brewing. One of my favorites, regardless of the time of day.

Green Mountain Coffee Caramel Vanilla Cream If you want a sweeter coffee and you like caramel and vanilla, this coffee is wonderfully delicious (and smells it). I was surprised how great it tastes,usually flavored coffees are a hit or miss, especially with K-cups they can be a little watery, but I love this blend, and usually have it as a treat.

Green Mountain Coffee Fairtrade Mountain Blueberry Initially, I thought: blueberries and coffee? What a strange combination! However, I gave it a try to was wonderfully surprised. The taste of blueberries adds a nice sweetness to the coffee and is one of my favorite flavored coffee blends.

What's your favorite roast?

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My favorite coffee shop / bakery in Berlin!
My favorite coffee shop / bakery in Berlin!

At the Coffee Shop

Of course, there's a different coffee world altogether when you venture out into coffee shops. Whether it's a privately owned one on the corner or a big brand name like Starbucks, there's something nice about being able to go in and buy a coffee and sit down to meet a friend or read a book.

At Starbucks

I have to go to my city to find a Starbucks coffee shop, but when I do, one of my favorite hot drinks I choose is the Cinnamon Dolce Latte. It's a creamy cinnamon flavored latte, which can be ordered with or without a whipped topping. Although it's pricy, with a Venti coming to $5, it's my little treat that I absolutely love. It may not always be listed on the menu but it's a popular latte that all baristas I've dealt with knew how to make, so don't be afraid to ask for it.

At Tim Hortons

I'm Canadian, so Tim Hortons is our main coffee-chain. While I'm not a huge fan of their normal coffee, it gets me through the day if there's nothing else available and I need a caffeine boost. However one of my favorite things to order, mainly in the summer months, are their Iced Cappucinos or "Iced Capps". I add a shot of vanilla to mine and it's scrumptious. They run from the $2.50 - $4.00 range.

Most recently, Tim Hortons came out with a dark roast coffee, which is great and now all that I order when I get hot coffee. It is nice to see that they're trying to branch out and offer different blends like the larger chains like Starbucks. Also, there is this new iced drink, the Creamy Chocolate Chill. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have any coffee in it - but I'm recommending it because it's so damn good. More like a dessert than a drink. Think towards milkshakes.

Abroad

I'm an avid traveller as well as a coffee drinker, so it's only natural that I'll want to try coffee of the different countries I visit. One particular favorite coffee shop/bakery chain I love is Backer Wiedemann, which can be found in Berlin, Germany. They have wonderful coffees, lattes, cappucinos, hot chocolate, and so on. If you're ever in Berlin, it won't be hard to find this bakery/cafe... they're on almost every corner. Definitely give them a try.

Explore the Coffee World!

If you're an avid coffee lover, one thing you should always do is be sure to explore different kinds! Sure we may have that one favorite, but when given an opportunity to try a different blend, roast or flavour, take it. I've tried so many kinds of coffee, no two blends taste the same, and you never know, you may find a new favorite.

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