I Experimented With 10 Crazy Espresso Mixers So You Don’t Have To

Espresso Mixer - Champagne
(Jordan Stratton)

Discovering the perfect mixer for espresso is tricky; there’s a fine line between tasty and terrible. Sure, you can always go with the tried and true splash of milk, but where’s the fun in that? You’re not boring—you’re a dang latte pioneer like me!

So whether you’re a new parent fighting to stay awake after being up all night, or just looking for something to help you make it through your Wednesday afternoon staff meeting, it’s hard to go wrong with a quick shot of espresso: The magical brown liquid that somehow manages to bring everyone from dirty, judgmental hipsters to baby boomer Wall Street folk together. But why spend your hard-earned cash on a macchiato from Starbucks when your can make your own caffeinated concoctions at home (in this scenario, like me, you also have an overpriced espresso machine in your kitchen that you’re desperately trying to justify to your wife).

I spent the last week getting suggestions from some helpful—and somewhat sadistic—friends, and experimented with several alternative mixers to possibly discover the next new coffee craze. Could some of these combinations completely revolutionize the espresso industry? Possibly. Could some of them taste so terrible they make you want to stop drinking coffee forever? Very likely. But that’s why I do these things—so you don’t have to.

Orange Juice

Espresso Mixer - Orange Juice
(Jordan Stratton)

Probably the most popular non-coffee-based breakfast beverage, orange juice was an easy choice to try with espresso, if only for matters of convenience. Plus, the idea of getting my daily allotment of caffeine and vitamin C all in one sitting gets me all giddy just from an efficiency standpoint.

Good news: It actually works! The OJ is pretty overpowering, but it blends surprisingly well with the added shot of espresso. This drink is bright, energizing, and tastes how I feel when I watch golden retriever puppy videos.

Champagne

Espresso Mixer - Champagne
(Jordan Stratton)

Adding espresso to champagne seemed like an easy way to #MakeBrunchGreatAgain. A boozy breakfast cocktail with a caffeine kick—I was prepared to make a fortune with the Four Loco fan boys. Unfortunately, something about this combo just tastes off. The fermented sweetness of the wine with the earthy coffee flavors makes for an almost rancid beverage that I look forward to never drinking again. Also, disclaimer: Have extra paper towels handy if you decide to whip this one up.

Maple Syrup

Espresso Mixer - Maple Syrup
(Jordan Stratton)

While not a drink in itself, maple syrup is as much a staple of breakfast as bacon and eggs. Plus, it comes from trees. You know what else comes from trees? Coffee. This logic was bulletproof and I expected perfection.

 

Ok, so it wasn’t perfect. But it wasn’t bad either. The bitterness of the espresso and overt sweetness of the syrup were a little too intense on their own, but a little splash of milk totally transformed it into an adorable little iced maple latte… which I drank… like a man.

Iced Tea

Espresso Mixer - Iced Tea
(Jordan Stratton)

The heated battle between tea-sippers and coffee-guzzlers has gone on long enough. For one especially potent pick-me-up in the middle of the day, I tried combining a shot of espresso with a glass of unsweetened iced tea and was met with surprisingly pleasant results. Something about the earthy quality of both of the drinks turns it into something even better than the sum of its parts. It’s strong, yet refreshing—like a coy grin from John Cena.

Coca-Cola

Espresso Mixer - Coca-Cola
(Jordan Stratton)

This combo that, in theory, makes so much sense, it makes you wonder why Coca-Cola R&D isn’t bottling and selling it by the millions yet. Bitterness balanced by incredible sweetness. Roasted, earthy undertones matched with light, bubbly effervescence. It feels like it should just work, right? I don’t know why I’m drawing this out so much—it is good. Like, really good. I want to drink this every day, forever. I’m literally drinking another glass of it while I type this and, frankly, you should be too.

Lemonade

Espresso Mixer - Lemonade
(Jordan Stratton)

Nothing about this beverage sounded good when a friend, half jokingly, suggested I add it to the list. I could just imagine all the horrible ways the fruity tartness of the lemonade would wreck havoc on my taste buds as it blended with the savory, roasted traits of espresso.

 

Well, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. This is a weirdly wonderful drink that I anticipate will totally sweep across picnics and barbecues next summer. Lemonade does nothing but accentuate subtle citrus notes in the coffee to brighten up the beverage as a whole.

Cherry Kool-Aid Mix

Espresso Mixer - Cherry Kool-Aid Mix
(Jordan Stratton)

Sprinkling sugar into espresso is a common practice, and Kool-Aid mix is basically just flavored sugar, right? Immediately upon mixing this concoction, I could smell it. It’s dead-on cherry Tootsie Pop scented, which got me really excited to jump in. Big mistake.  This is beyond terrible. It tastes like an ingredient scientists would add to something toxic to make sure children don’t drink it. I think I need to go get my stomach pumped.

Beer

Espresso Mixer - Beer
(Jordan Stratton)

Since using coffee in beer isn’t exactly revolutionary when it comes to stouts and porters, I decided to grab a pumpkin ale from one of my local breweries and plop in a shot. Newsflash: It’s hard for a drink that is 90% beer to be bad. I actually had to try the original sans-coffee version along with it in order to notice the differences because it just kinda works. The espresso cuts some of the spicy sweetness, but adds an additional layer of complexity that sets it apart for a pleasant experience. Oh, and serious foam warning for anyone combining espresso and beer.

Red Wine

Espresso Mixer - Red Wine
(Jordan Stratton)

For those who are far too sophisticated for the frat-tastic beer latte experience, adding a bit of java to your devil’s grape juice seems like a worthy alternative, right? Wrong. Really, you couldn’t be more wrong. If I hadn’t made it myself, I would have assumed someone had blended a cabernet with a healthy tablespoon of dirt. This tastes like mud and sadness and I don’t like any of it. Combining coffee and fermented fruit is a lost cause, people.

Bourbon

Espresso Mixer - Bourbon
(Jordan Stratton)

Ah, yes. Coffee and whiskey: The choice cocktail of beat cops and office alcoholics everywhere. Initially, the strong alcohol flavor simply overpowered any hint of coffee. However, much like a typical bourbon on the rocks, as the ice melted and diluted the drink, the flavors became much more mellow and nuanced. It’s different, but I found myself enjoying it more and more as I continued to sip it. Of course, that could just be the bourbon and unhealthy amount of caffeine talking.

Pee-Wee Football Player Gets Pumped Up on the Sidelines

Jim Gaffigan Has Something to Say About Beer

(Getty/master1305/Tom Briglia)

A general rule of thumb when making small talk: Don’t talk about religion, politics, or beer preferences.

All three are bound to erupt into heated debates. In the dad community beer in particular tends to be an extremely touchy subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes a beer amazing or downright sacrilegious, and comedian Jim Gaffigan is no different.

You’re either in full agreement with Jim’s purist perspective or cracking your knuckles to write a scathing comment touting your superior craft beer palate.

But that’s the great thing about beer, nay… America. We all have individual tastes. Just because some guy doesn’t share your affinity for a specific brew, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong (even though he is!) It just means you get to connect with someone with a differing perspective, while drinking beer!

So, if you see Jim in a bar, don’t make fun of him for his taste in beer. Instead, buy him a round, and make fun of his age – like an adult.

Cheers, Jim!

Back To School Photo Fails

(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)

Parents love to capture the moment on the first day back to school, but sometimes that moment isn’t what we envisioned. Check out these hilarious back to school photo fails from The Dad community.

(Instagram.com/cheeksmagee)
(Facebook.com/KellySmith)
(Instagram.com/abbyjmccoy)
(Instagram.com/instagramycohen)
(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)
(Instagram.com/JoyScribner)
(Instagram.com/bullitt.with.a.name)
(Facebook.com/KristenMadral)
(Instagram.com/heatherdtomlinson)

Dad Grades – Hal from Malcolm in the Middle

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Years before his dark turn as meth kingpin Heisenberg, Bryan Cranston starred as Hal on the criminally under-appreciated sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. While his sadistically overbearing wife, Lois, was perpetually at wits end with their four mischievous sons, the much more care-free Hal happily took the passenger seat in their parenting roles.

DAD STRENGTHS

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Hal is a loving husband and father. He shows Lois affection through raw animalistic passion and utter dependence. He even admits to it, once telling Lois that he and their boys are not smart enough to function without her, and in return can only offer his total obedience.

He takes a much calmer, more sympathetic approach to parenting than Lois. She has a short fuse, at the end of which is a barrel of dynamite eager to ground someone for the rest of their life. Hal, conversely, seizes any opportunity to bond with his boys by having a sit-down and doling out fatherly words of wisdom.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

He’s far more lenient, but will raise his voice and put his foot down when necessary. He’s often creative in his punishments. For example, when Malcolm told him “[bleep] you,” Hal sat him down in the backyard and forced him to look him in the eyes and read aloud a comprehensive list of every vile swear words, teaching him their power.

His biggest strength, however, is his laid-back, often immature attitude. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for Lois’ incessant shouting. He is truly the yin to her yang.

DAD WEAKNESSES

He’s more permissive than his wife. In one episode, Hal surprises the boys by letting them skip school to accompany him at some stock car races.

Hal’s lax approach to parenting is, regrettably, his biggest weakness. His spontaneity and often childish behavior sets a bad example for his sons. Case in point: the steamroller. After winning some money on a scratch-off, Hal secretly rents a steamroller.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Dewey catches him, Hal agrees to let him steamroll over Reese’s bike. Ultimately, Hal goes mad with power and Dewey must talk him down from steamrolling a row of cars. Surely this gave Dewey license to misbehave in the future. His impulsive nature is typically harmless, but still sets precedent for the delinquency of his kids.

VERDICT

Despite shortcomings at the cost of his need to be the parent his sons actually like, Hal is a great father. Sure, all four of his sons are rambunctious hellions, disobedient and destructive at every turn, but that’s predominantly the result of their stubborn, temperamental mother. He’s a big-hearted working stiff, determined to provide for his family however dysfunctional they may be.

FINAL DAD GRADE: A-

Dancing Dad Embarrasses Daughter at Baseball Game [VIDEO]

Being a dad involves a lot of anxiety, drudgery, and stress. Sometimes you get to enjoy the perks of parenting, like embarrassing your children on television. Or in the stands at a Cubs game.

Or both!

This dad knows what’s up. He ignores his daughter’s attempts to get him to stop dancing and then doubles down on the silly moves.

Father Figures: Be Positive

“My twin girls (Faye and Felicia) are both autistic.

Felicia was diagnosed before she was three; she’s non verbal and loves life in her own wee bubble. Once she lets you in, it’s amazing. That’s her circle of trust.

Faye is her total opposite, always singing and chatting up a storm. Once they started preschool, we found out that Faye was showing signs of autism that we perhaps overlooked because she was so advanced.

My wife and I, with the assistance of Faye’s teachers, pushed hard to get her assessed, reassessed and diagnosed. Faye is very smart and fooled the specialist in the first assessment regarding extra help in school. We were very lucky when she was diagnosed, because the specialist ASD doctors could still recognize her traits.

It’s been a long journey and no two days are alike. Through it all we’ve learned that Faye is just a younger, female version of her older brother. From her diagnosis, we were able to recognize the ASD traits in Jordan. He is now beginning the diagnostic process.

But long story short, both our girls now attend an autism unit in a special school. It’s a God send and they are both doing great! They turned 6 in August and Jordan will be 11 this December.

Be positive and always make sure your child gets all they need. Raising a child with special needs definitely puts into perspective what’s important in life!

Everything for the kids!”

– Nic Young

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

8-Year-Old Girl Stuns Crowd at Harlem Globetrotters Game [VIDEO]

(YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters)

When the Harlem Globetrotters called Samaya Clark-Gabriel onto the court at halftime of their game, the crowd at Madison Square Garden wasn’t sure what to expect. But at this stage in a Globetrotters game it would certainly take a lot to impress them.

First she just started dribbling.

But then she started dribbling two basketballs at once. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold and DOING A SPLIT.

Wow. Did they sign her yet?

Big Dad Rides Small Bike as a Tribute to Late Daughter

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

Peter Williams of Penzance, England is showing incredible strength after the loss of his daughter. On Friday at 10am, he began a 211-mile ride to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

In 2015, Peter lost his 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, to a rare form of brain cancer, only six months after she was diagnosed.

To honor his daughter he decided to begin his ride at Bristol Children’s Hospital where Ellie was treated. He’s also making the entire trip on her little pink bike, which is only 20″ high. Given Peter is 6 feet tall, that’s going to make for an additional challenge, but he’s up for it.

Aside from a small modification to the bike’s seat, he’ll be riding the bike as-is. “My knees clear the handlebars by about half an inch so it’s going to be really tight, but it’s a great bike,” he told the BBC. When he factors in his unique mode of transportation Peter estimates the ride from Bristol to Land’s End will take him a week to complete.

Ellie loved cycling and impressed her dad at age three, when she was able to ride without training wheels.

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

The bike he’ll be riding was her pride and joy – a present she received for her last Christmas.

So far Peter has raised £23,349 (roughly $30K US) through his JustGiving campaign, already doubling his £10,000 target.

What a guy! What a dad! Go, Peter, go!

If you’d like donate to Peter’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.

If you want to learn more about where the money is going, check out The Brain Tumour Charity.