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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Munching with Max: Coffee

column graphic for Max Druckman's "Munching with Max" column
Graphic by Rachel Wong

Something terrible happened over spring break. No, I didn’t fall off a zipline exploring the jungles of Costa Rica. I — it’s embarrassing for me to say this — had a latte. Twice (insert shocked emoji). To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi’s words, I’d become the very thing I swore to destroy. After years of decrying those highfalutin beverages with endless varieties of milk and flavored syrup, I not only tried but enjoyed two swanky coffees. So, in breaking with my usual hot coffee and hazelnut creamer, I thought I’d take my primed palate back to Medford and sample Tufts’ coolest caffeinated creations.

First, an iced caramel macchiato from Kindlevan Café. I had no idea what a macchiato is, but it sounded fancy. Clueless as to the ‘right’ milk to add, I went with classic whole milk. I selected caramel sauce for extra flavor. Upon first sip, I was pleasantly surprised. Sweet, strong and flavorful, the bitterness of the coffee was still prominent and provided an extra kick. The ice was perfectly balanced, not diluting the drink. The best sips were those with the caramel sauce, which sublimely balanced the bitter coffee with sugary delight. Overall, this will not be the last time I order a cup o’ joe at Kindlevan.

Next, a trip to The Fletcher School’s Mugar Café. Aiming to diversify, I chose a hot caffè latte. Again, I had no idea what a latte is (“coffee-ese” should be offered as a language for students). The contrast with the macchiato was immediately apparent, as the latte was much thicker and foam dominated the drink. The temperature was warm and perfect. There was a blandness due to the lack of syrup, and I think this drink was the closest I came to pure hot coffee. My issue, though, was that there was more foam than coffee. While not my favorite drink, it got the job done. A solid cup of hot foam.

Lastly, I ventured to Tufts’ student-run café, The Sink. I was overwhelmed by the lengthy chalkboard menu. Intrigued by the catchy name, I chose the “Bee Sting,” an iced cinnamon latte with honey. Unfortunately, the drink failed to live up to its name. There was no sting or killer flavor, but only minimal hints of cinnamon and no traces of honey. However, it was a smooth concoction with sufficient foam, providing a nice pick-me-up in the middle of the morning. I will be returning to The Sink, but not for the “Bee Sting.”

As always, my gut reactions:

Kindlevan Iced Caramel Macchiato: My favorite of the three. I’ll be back.

Mugar Hot Caffè Latte: Meh. It was fine, I guess.

The Sink “Bee Sting”: Didn’t meet expectations, but was refreshing.

So, while I’m not an artisanal coffee convert, I enjoyed traversing Tufts’ caffeinated canon. I don’t foresee a Starbucks-toting future for myself (famous last words), but I’ll try to limit my judgments of those who live by the green mermaid. In any case, feel free to reach out late tonight because I will certainly not be sleeping.