It’s comforting to have a go-to coffee order in the morning. What’s familiar means you’ll know exactly what to expect—but what if there’s more out there for your mug? For anyone wondering “what if,” here’s the good news: It doesn’t take much to step out of your coffee comfort zone. Things like a dash of cinnamon (gasp!) or a pump of mocha (whoa!) can offer a fresh take on your usual morning cup. Some upgrades are so easy, in fact, that even creatures of habit might be persuaded to try them. Here are ten coffee hacks to elevate your next order, as approved by an experienced barista.
Add mocha syrup to cold brew
This is a small but mighty move for elevating your cold brew in the morning. Since chocolate is known to enhance the flavor of coffee, it’s no wonder that the strong, concentrated coffee flavor in cold brew lends itself so well to this combination. Simply ask your barista to add some mocha syrup in your cold brew while mixing for a couple seconds. You’ll feel like you’re meeting your favorite drink all over again, and this hack is suitable for those who drink cold brew black or with milk.
Enjoy an Arnold Palmer
If you’re more of a tea drinker, how about switching it up? Your favorite part of the drink will still be the star of the show. An Arnold Palmer is traditionally equal parts iced black tea and lemonade, and if your local coffee shop carries lemonade this will be an easy modification for your barista to make. It’s a refreshing way to change up your routine, and because of the slight caffeine reduction from halving the black tea, it serves as a nice afternoon pick-me-up, too.
Try a London Fog
While we’re on the tea train, here’s a fun drink to try: the London Fog. Though mysterious in name, the London Fog consists of black tea combined with steamed milk and a pump of vanilla and lavender syrup. Typically, this drink is served hot, though enjoying it iced is an option, too. Slight variations include honey and lavender, or honey and vanilla. No matter which you choose, it gives your typical black tea a nice makeover.
Have your milk steamed
This is a minor adjustment, but having your milk steamed can be a lifesaver during cold weather. While it may be second nature to throw a splash of cold milk into your drip coffee, switching to hot milk can keep your drink warmer for longer. All you have to do is politely ask your barista to steam some milk of your choice, and voilà! Not only will the milk blend in seamlessly with hot coffee, it will also give it a foamy texture that makes the drink feel a little more luxurious.
Use a dash of spice
Incorporating a dash of spice into your drink is an easy way to boost flavor: Cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne each have a home in their respective drinks. Though it depends on personal preference, cinnamon tends to lift the flavor of a matcha latte when sprinkled on top. Cocoa powder pairs well on top of hot drip coffee. Nutmeg and cinnamon are frequently merged with seasonal drinks like those containing pumpkin or caramel syrups. And some enjoy the kick of cayenne powder with hot chocolate or a latte.
Mix sweetener directly into hot espresso
Ever sip a drink sweetened with cane sugar or honey and realize it’s not properly mixed in? That’s because those sweeteners tend to clump up when mixed directly into a liquid, especially a cold drink. The solution? If enjoying an espresso beverage, ask your barista to mix in your chosen sweetener directly into the hot espresso before blending it in with the milk. This will allow for a more consistently sweet taste throughout and prevent you from suddenly gulping down a clump of sugar.
Add simple syrup to foamed milk
If you can add sweetener directly to espresso while it’s still pouring, you can certainly add a sweetener to foamed milk. Ask if your barista can add a sweetener like simple syrup and then foam the milk of your choice. Sweeteners like simple syrup, condensed milk, or vanilla syrup are best in this scenario, since they are already liquid and will seamlessly blend in with milk before it’s heated. If you’d prefer a cold drink, cold milk can be sweetened and mixed with a handheld frother. This cloud of sweetness can top a cold brew or anything iced.
Keep whipped cream in mind
Here’s another option for plain old espresso: a little whipped cream on top. If you’re at a coffee shop that carries whipped cream, add a little to your order; it’ll cut through the bitterness of the drink and will also provide a slightly thicker, creamier texture than regular half and half would. This is especially useful if you’re not the type to slurp down a shot of espresso in one go.
Order chai with vanilla syrup
Chai is already tasty on its own. While some varieties might be heavier on the spices, others might feature more ginger. Regardless of the spice blend, with its base as a black tea drink chai pairs especially well with a touch of vanilla. If you’re drinking a chai that is spice-heavy, a couple drops of vanilla syrup will add a little sweetness to balance it out. Other syrups that work well with black tea include toffee and caramel.
Pair your beverage with supplements
It may seem a little odd to put something like collagen in a cup of coffee, but if you’re having both on the same day anyway, what’s stopping you? Masking them with your morning coffee can make them barely noticeable. This works best with hot drinks like drip coffee and lattes, for melting purposes. If taking collagen or another supplement in powder form, it will blend best with heat.