29 simple ways to stay creative.
13 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You
Gourmet coffee and skilled baristas may raise coffee prices but we still need them for the perfect cup. Here are some of your baristas’ secrets.
1. Drinking two quad-shot, 22oz, vanilla lattes every day is bad for you.
Very, very bad for you.
2. Sometimes the owners of independent coffee/espresso carts buy cheap coffee and sell it as a respected brand.
Not that any of our customers noticed.
3. Please believe me.
If you asked for decaf, I gave you decaf. You don’t need to ask me repeatedly. I am not out to get you.
4. If you’re not at Starbucks, don’t order like you are.
If you want a Venti Caramel Frappuccino, you’re in the wrong place. Order from our menu.
5. You are the reason for the wait.
When there’s a line to the door, I hate it when customers spend the whole time talking on the phone and only think about what they want when they get to the register. They are the reason the line takes forever.
6. Be nice.
No matter how tired you are, it’s nice to say PLEASE when you’re ordering your first coffee of the day. “I’ll take a…” or “Give me a…” is NOT “please” in anyone’s language.
7. Just because they’re vegan doesn’t mean our cakes are good for you.
They are LOADED with white sugar.
8. Yes, I went to school for this.
Starbucks sends employees to barista school for two weeks, where they study the history of coffee, the entire coffee menu, and how to turn milk into velvety foam.
9. There is an art to pulling a perfect shot of espresso.
The ideal shot takes 18 to 22 seconds to pull. I have to make sure that the espresso grounds are packed to just the right firmness, that the right amount of water filters through, and control the temperature. If a shot isn’t perfect, I won’t serve it.
I know your coffee is already overpriced, but a dollar bill in a tip jar earns you infinite goodwill. I’ll carry that happy feeling over to my interaction with my next customer. Karma works, and it only costs you a buck.
11. A bigger cup doesn’t mean more coffee
Starbucks’ Venti (20 oz) and Grande (16 oz) each contain two shots of espresso. The Venti just has more milk. So if it’s caffeine you’re after, size doesn’t matter.
12. Latte art isn’t merely decorative.
If a heart or a pinwheel design holds in the milk it means that the consistency of the foam is good and the shot was pulled well. If you’re at a place that does foam artwork, and you don’t get a good picture, that means your drink is not well made.
13. A real macchiato has just a stain of milk foam and no sugar.
Because Starbucks uses the names of authentic espresso beverages for sugary, milky confections that bear no resemblance to the real thing, they confuse people. I’ll make someone an authentic drink and they’ll say, where’s the milk? Where’s the syrup?
Sources: Baristas from Starbucks and independent cafes and coffee carts in Seattle, New York, Pennsylvania, and London, England.
10 New Uses for Salt
Think twice before you toss that spilled salt over your shoulder―the flavor enhancer is incredibly useful. “Salt has an affinity to water and can draw moisture out of many foods,” says Wolke. “Grains of table salt are also very hard, which is why they act as a handy abrasive.”
Use Salt to:
1. Make eggs or cream whip up faster and higher. Add a pinch of salt before beating.
2. De-ice sidewalks. In a pinch, it can be used as a substitute for rock salt.
3. Keep chicken or turkey moist. Rub salt in the cavity of the bird before cooking.
4. Prevent sautés made with eggplant or zucchini from getting watery. Sprinkle salt on these vegetables before cooking.
5. Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.
6. Clean drains. Pour a hot, strong solution (1/2 cup salt for every quart of water) down the drain.
7. Remove dirt from leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Wash the vegetables in a bath of salt water.
8. Prevent frost from accumulating inside car windows. Rub the glass with a solution of 2 teaspoons of salt in 1 gallon of hot water. Wipe dry.
9. Remove sangria and red-wine stains from your washables. Stretch the fabric over a bowl, cover the stain with salt, and carefully pour boiling water over it.
10. Keep shells from cracking when boiling eggs. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.
11. Chill a bottle of bubbly―fast. Place ice around its base in an ice bucket; sprinkle with a few tablespoons of salt. Layer salt and ice until they reach the neck. Fill with water. Wait 10 minutes; serve.
Use Salt to:
1. Make eggs or cream whip up faster and higher. Add a pinch of salt before beating.
2. Keep chicken or turkey moist. Rub salt in the cavity of the bird before cooking.
3. Prevent sautés made with eggplant or zucchini from getting watery. Sprinkle salt on these vegetables before cooking.
4. Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.
5. Clean drains. Pour a hot, strong solution (1/2 cup salt for every quart of water) down the drain.
6. Remove dirt from leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Wash the vegetables in a bath of salt water.
7. Prevent frost from accumulating inside car windows. Rub the glass with a solution of 2 teaspoons of salt in 1 gallon of hot water. Wipe dry.
8. Remove sangria and red-wine stains from your washables. Stretch the fabric over a bowl, cover the stain with salt, and carefully pour boiling water over it.
9. Keep shells from cracking when boiling eggs. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.
10. Chill a bottle of bubbly―fast. Place ice around its base in an ice bucket; sprinkle with a few tablespoons of salt. Layer salt and ice until they reach the neck. Fill with water. Wait 10 minutes; serve.
10 New Uses for Baking Soda
“Not only does baking soda neutralize odiferous fatty acids but it also attacks grease by turning it into―believe it or not―soap,” says the University of Pittsburgh’s Wolke. Fact: More than 100 tons of the refrigerator staple were used to clean the Statue of Liberty’s inner copper walls during its 1986 restoration.
Use Baking Soda to:
1. Exfoliate skin. Wash your face, then apply a soft paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Massage gently with a circular motion, avoiding the eye area; rinse clean.
2. Erase crayon, pencil, ink, and furniture scuffs from painted surfaces. Sprinkle soda on a damp sponge, rub clean, and rinse.
3. Unclog a drain. Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar after it. Let sit for five minutes (covered, if possible). Follow with a gallon of boiling water.
4. Remove tough stains from enameled cast iron and stainless steel. Scrub enameled cast iron with a soft nylon brush and a thick paste of baking soda and water. Clean stainless steel with a soft cloth and 4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of water. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
5. Scrub pans. Sprinkle soda on crusted casseroles and roasting pans and let sit for five minutes. Lightly scrub and rinse.
6. Brush teeth. Use a paste of baking soda and water. Additionally, sprinkle some baking soda to your usual toothpaste. It’ll help whiten your teeth.
7. Fight class-B fires (flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and grease). Baking soda can be used to smother only a small flame.
8. Deodorize. Dust baking soda under your arms to absorb body odor.
9. Clean up minor oil and grease spills on a garage floor or driveway. Sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush.
10. Settle a stomach during occasional indigestion. Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1/2 cup of water and drink for a safe and effective antacid.
10 New Uses for Vinegar
“Vinegar is a strong preservative because its acetic acid kills the microbes and bacteria that could cause food to spoil,” says Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, in Griffin. “It’s also a good deodorizer―the acid neutralizes basic compounds, such as those found in degrading meat, that can be volatile and unpleasant.”
Use White Vinegar to:
1. Pinch-hit for lemon in a savory recipe. Use 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar in place of 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
2. Remove coffee or tea stains from the bottom of a cup. Swish 2 tablespoons of vinegar around in the cup, then wash as usual.
3. Treat oily hair. Vinegar is a good degreaser for oily hair because it helps adjust pH levels. Shampoo your hair as usual, rinse, then pour 1/4 cup over it and rinse again.
4. Wipe salt stains off boots. Dip a cloth or an old T-shirt into vinegar, then wipe away the white residue.
5. Make wool sweaters fluffier. Drop in a couple of capfuls of vinegar during the rinse cycle for an extra-soft feel.
6. Deodorize a garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through the drain.
7. Clean a teakettle or a coffeemaker. Boil a mixture of water and vinegar in a teakettle, then wipe away the grime. Fill the reservoir of a coffeemaker with a mixture of vinegar and water and run it through a brewing cycle. Follow this with several cycles of water to rinse thoroughly.
8. Clean a dishwasher. Once a month, with the machine empty, run a cup of vinegar through an entire cycle to reduce soap buildup on the inner mechanisms and glassware.
9. Remove stubborn price tags or stickers. Paint them with several coats of vinegar, let the liquid soak in for five minutes, then wipe away the residue.
10. Kill weeds between cracks in paving stones and sidewalks. Fill a spray bottle with straight vinegar and spray multiple times. (Be careful not to get any on the surrounding grass, as it will kill that too.)
10 New Uses for Lemon
“Lemon juice is the strongest food acid in our kitchens, strong enough to make life unbearable for most bacteria,” says Robert Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel, Further Adventures in Kitchen Science (W. W. Norton, $26).
Use Lemon to:
1. Sanitize a chopping block. Run a slice of lemon over the surface to disinfect.
2. Eliminate the browning that occurs when food sits out too long. Sprinkle apple or pear slices with lemon juice before serving, or squeeze a bit into guacamole and give it a stir.
3. Remove tough food stains from plastic and light-colored wooden cutting boards. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.
4. Fade tea stains on cloth. Dilute lemon juice with an equal amount of water. Use an eyedropper or a Q-tip to make sure the juice targets the stain. Thoroughly flush with cool water.
5. Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.
6. Relieve a sore throat. Cut a lemon in half. Skewer one half over a medium flame on a gas stove or an electric burner set on high and roast until the peel turns golden brown. Let cool slightly, then mix the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow the mixture.
7. Whiten fingernails. Rub a wedge on the surface of your nails.
8. Shine the interior of copper cookware. Sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub.
9. Brighten laundry whites. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash cycle of a normal-size load.
10. Remove soft cheese or other sticky foods from a grater. Rub both sides of the grater with the pulp side of a cut lemon.