Some time ago, Progressive Conservative asked me about coffee house drinks sans coffee. I gave him a few suggestions, and I'd like to share them with you.
An Italian soda is a cold drink made from carbonated water and flavored syrup. If milk or cream (or whipped cream) is added to the top, it's called a cremosa. They can also be served frozen (like a slushie), and those are called Italian freezes. These non-coffee drinks are especially refreshing in the summer. The carbonated water adds the bubbly taste soda offers, but these drinks are much lighter (and with far less sugar). Usually they're served in flavors like raspberry, peach, strawberry, or even watermelon, but with the variety of syrups available for coffees, you can get just about anything you want. When I was a barista, there was a young man who came in and ordered a chocolate cherry cheesecake Italian soda. Yep. I never tried it myself, but if he liked it, I was happy.
When I was younger, tea was either regular or decaf, but now, when you order tea, you have to decide between black, green, herbal, regular, decaf, flavored, organic, and then decide whether you want to add sugar (and if so, what kind?) and/or cream. And once you've decided what you want the tea to taste like, you have to decide whether you want it hot or cold. For those who like things, simple, though regular black tea still exists, and is a relaxing alternative to coffee.
Chai (hot or iced)
Chai tea is a spiced tea that can be served hot or cold (over ice or blended ice). It's made by brewing tea with a combination of aromatic spices. In Iran, India, and other countries, "chai" is simply the word for "tea," but for most English-speakers, "chai" always referred to as the spiced tea known as malasa chai. Many coffee houses also offer chai lattes, which use spiced tea instead of espresso. Though malasa chai originated in the East, it's been Americanized and is now widely available in many flavors at coffee houses and grocery stores. Many grocery stores also offer premade malasa chai powdered mixes that can be added to tea that has already been brewed. Some people say malasa chai is an acquired taste, and you should know that some chai's spices make it taste a bit "clove-y," but for tea drinkers who want a little something extra in their drink, this is a great option.
Please don't think that if you don't like coffee then the coffee house experience is not for you. That's simply not true. There are many options for people who don't drink coffee, and I would hate for you to miss out on the coffee house experience simply because you aren't drawn to the rich aroma of brewed coffee as others are.
Next time a friend says, "Wanna get some coffee?," say yes! Then try a non-coffee coffee house drink. You may find a new favorite!