Monday, 20 December 2010

Coffee Shop Series - Starbucks Coffee (+ Hamra Christmas Street Festival)

I really like Starbucks Hamra because of their new balcony. If you're a smoker you can smoke up there, you get a great view of pedestrians on Hamra, and when the weather's good it's the best place to sit. Of course Starbucks is a non-smoking coffee shop, so other than the balcony, you have the outdoor seating. The only problem with the outdoor seating is that they haven't taken rain into consideration. I was sitting out there on Friday and it rained on me! Thankfully it wasn't pouring.

The Drinks

I used to love their Frappuccinos, but recently I've stayed well away from them. They taste different now for some reason, maybe it's just me. Anyway, my new obsession at Starbucks is the Caramel Macchiatto. It's perfect if you want to warm up with a cup of coffee and are in the mood for a slight sweet taste.

Other Pluses?

They have Wi-Fi, but it's not free. That's actually the first coffee shop I've written about so far that doesn't provide free internet. I believe it costs $5 for 1 hour, and 10,000LL for 2 hours. The connection is decent.
I don't like the service at all. They got my drink wrong twice, they always add whipped cream to my drinks even when I specifically ask for my drinks without it. They're very impatient at the cash register, they always tell me what I owe before I'm even done ordering. Finally, they are very slow when making their drinks. The last time I asked for a sleeve because my drink was too hot to carry, the man told me that they didn't have any and walked away. I had to ask again for a second cup just to be able to carry my drink.
As you can see, I have some serious issues with the staff at Starbucks Hamra!

Hamra Christmas Street Festival

I walked around Friday afternoon, and then came back in the evening, at around 6. They had some really funky jewelry on sale, I bought a really nice ring! But what impressed me the most was the entertainment which was organized by the AUB Music Club. I only saw 4 performances, and they were all pretty good, I saw:
  1. Hiba Kadri and Sarah Aridi
  2. Jean Pierre Abou Jaoude 
  3. Jamil Jabbour
  4. Tina and Julien 

In all honesty, they were all good, but two of them blew me away. The first was Jean Pierre, wow. Amazing voice. And also Tina and Julien, Tina had a beautiful voice, loved the performances!

Tina and Julien

Jean Pierre

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Coffee Shop Series - Lina's

Before I start, this post might sound slightly negative because on the day I happened to be there, the whole place was completely unorganized. However, other comments are out of pure honesty :) Let's begin, shall we?

It's a very cozy place, and their seating is really comfortable. They have a study room in the back, which to my knowledge is a non-smoking area, but again when I was there people were smoking. I love sitting by the window because you can just sit and watch people as they pass by.

The Drinks

I am honestly not too fond of Lina's coffee. I never found an iced drink that I really liked. I do like one drink though (which is perfect for the winter!) which I think is called Cinnamon Cappuccino (the reason I'm not sure is that when I was there, they had renewed their menus and all they had was the French version, I literally had to play a guessing game with the waiter to get my drink!). The drink tastes like Christmas in a cup! They add some caramel syrup to the blend making it just perfect.

Other Pluses?

Although their coffee isn't anything out of the ordinary, their food definitely is. I guess that's their specialty, but their sandwiches are really good. I especially loved the crab sandwich with avocado.
They have Wi-Fi, but I couldn't find out more about it since when I was there they apparently didn't have any usernames and passwords to give out.
Despite the fact that I could barely read the menu, and the Wi-Fi was there yet not quite there, they did have good service. The waiter were friendly, which made the experience slightly better.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Coffee Shop Series - Cafe Younes Gourmet

I know that it's Saturday and I'm a day late, but it completely slipped my mind yesterday and well, better late than never right?

The thing that I love about Cafe Younes is the outdoors seating area. I think it has one of the nicest ones out of all the coffee shops around the area. When the weather is just right, there's no where better to sit and enjoy your coffee. The only problem is that there is rarely an empty seat outside, which is why I don't get to sit there much! To my knowledge, the downstairs indoors area is supposed to be a non-smoking area, but recently I've seen a lot of people sitting there and smoking. The upstairs area is also non-smoking, and is perfect if you're looking for a place to work or study with your laptop. Literally, if you look up, all you see are people and their laptops lined up side by side.

The Drinks

As usual, my preferred drink has something to do with Caramel! The Caramelized Coffee is by far the best caramel coffee I've had. It's very sweet though, so if you're not a big fan of sugar I don't recommend that you try it. The French-Press is also really good. Their American Coffee is alright, it's not the best but it's good enough if you get to sit outside!

Other Pluses?

They do have free Wi-Fi, but the connection is not that great. If you're a patient person, you'll be fine using it. If you're there to do hardcore research, I wouldn't advise using the Wi-Fi.
Their food is good, as well as their desserts. The chocolate spoons are my favorite.
The service is great, I've never had any problems with wrong orders, late orders or even missing orders.

For everyone who enjoys something sweet once in a while, make it Cafe Younes' Caramelized Coffee, you won't regret it.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Coffee Shop Series - Gloria Jean's Coffees

Gloria Jean's is just off of Hamra Street. It has, by far, the best study/work atmosphere. Everyone has his or her nose buried into a book or laptop. Sometimes it feels like you're walking into a library, and when you speak people actually look up at you with a look that says "how inconsiderate". So if you're looking for a place to concentrate without any major distractions, my recommendation is Gloria Jean's!

The Drinks!

The coffee itself is not bad. I like the Creme Brulee drink, which is ice blended, it really does taste like Creme Brulee. I also like their Caramellate if you're looking for a cold drink. Theis Espresso is not bad for a quick caffeine fix. I honestly haven't explored their drinks any more than that, because a lot of their forzen drinks were too fruity for me (I can't stand fruit tastes in my drinks) so that would be interesting for fruit lovers, and their hot drinks are very standard.

They have quite a big seating area indoors, and it's a non-smoking area. They do have a smoking area outdoors, but it consists of about 7 tables and they're usually full, so it's a hassle getting a table outdoors.

Other Pluses?

They do have free Wi-Fi, but I suggest you use it on your phones, because it works a lot faster. Once, it took about 17 minutes just to load Wordpress. This is probably because 99% of the people at Gloria Jean's are using the internet. If you're patient, go ahead and use you're laptops, but if you're like me, use your phones!

Also, the service there is great. The people that work there are very friendly, they actually make you want to come back.

They also offer a Gloria Jean's card, where you get a hole punched into your card every time you buy a drink, and after buying 10 drinks you get a free one.

Last, but definitely not least, the desserts. To all those Sugar Daddy's fans out there who can't be bothered to drive to the bakery, just take a walk down to Gloria Jean's. They get their desserts from Sugar Daddy's, and even have my favorite: Red Velvet Cake... yum.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Coffee Shop Series - Caribou Coffee

After being extremely active on Foursqaure, I've gotten a lot of comments on the amount of tie I spend in coffee shops. I was told that the little "shouts" I send with my location made people want to go out and try the drinks I was talking about. So in order to ensure that I'm more active on here, I've decided to start a new series on my blog: Coffee Shops. Starting today, I will be posting a sort of "review" of coffee shops around Hamra. I will be posting them every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you like the coffee shop scene, stay tuned! If you know any good coffee shops in Hamra, let me know about them in the comment section. Now on to our first coffee shop of the series.

If you want to find me on Hamra, 5 out of 7 days a week you'd probably find me at Caribou Coffee. I like the outdoor seating they have, along with the corner couches upstairs that face the windows. There are 2 things that I don't particularly like about Caribou:

1. The bottom floor is a non-smoking area, the outdoor area and the top floor are smoking areas. This means that when the weather gets colder, it's going to be hard trying to find somewhere to sit upstairs, as it's not a big area.

2. It is always full!! If I found a place to sit at Caribou every time I went there, I would probably be there 7 out of 7 days a week. I guess that's a good sign though if everyone likes it. It's just irritating when I'm craving their coffee and find that there's not one empty seat for me to take.

On to the drinks!

The first drink I was obsessed with was the Cold Caramel High Rise. I literally could not get enough, I would be there every day just because I was craving it badly. The obsession shifted once I tried the Hot Caramel High Rise, which is even better.

The Turtle Mocha is pretty good too. I've tried the cold one and it's quite similar to the Caramel High Rise, except it has bits of Snickers chocolate on the top. I've heard that the Hot Turtle Mocha is pretty good too.

For the straight forward coffee lovers, they have a great American coffee. Perfect to start your morning with.

Now, for the drink I have fallen in love with (for now). The Caramel Espresso Shaker. Why do I love this drink? I'm a huge fan of caramel, I like iced coffees, and I don't like huge mugs.. this drink has caramel in it, is iced, and is in a mini cup, which is perfect for me! I can actually finish this drink.

Other pluses?

You get an hour of free wi-fi while there. Also, their mugs, cups and napkins are very entertaining and motivational (I actually took one of the napkins home and stuck it up on my board). Next time you're at Caribou Coffee, take the time to read your cup and see if anything motivates you!