As a former barista, little strikes me as more wasteful than the gigantic piles of coffee straws, stir sticks, and spoons that reliably accompany every warm beverage display. Many coffee and tea drinkers don’t realize that by simply rearranging the order in which one mixes a drink, it’s possible to never need a stirrer and still enjoy a perfectly mixed cup o’ whatever. It’s all in the swirl!
Whether adding sugar, flavored syrup, or even honey to your beverage, you only need to put it in the bottom of your cup first, then and add a bit of hot coffee (or water, or espresso, depending on what you’re making) with which to swirl it around. Swirling will dissolve granulated sweeteners as well as thicker syrups such as honey or chocolate; bigger granules such as Sugar in the Raw may take a few shakes, but dissolve it will (provided that the liquid you add is hot; tepid coffee/water doesn’t work so well, but there’s a whole other list of reasons why that would be unappetizing).
After dissolving or dispersing your sweetener, pour cream or milk directly into the cup. Additives are more viscous than the beverage base (e.g. coffee or water) so, if you add it at the top of the coffee, it will sink straight to the bottom and the drink will require stirring. You’ll notice by pouring in this order that the additive/s are stirred together and mixed in through the simple motion of pouring coffee or water into the cup so, when you fill it up, you’ll have a mixed cup without ever having to use a stirrer.
If you’re extremely particular about how well you perceive your drink to be mixed, you can continue filling your cup and swirling to your heart’s content. Just keep in mind that, while the first bit of warm liquid helps warm your cup (and therefore helps to keep your beverage warm), too much swirling may make your finished product a bit cooler than you’d like.
The biggest adjustment to this method is learning how much additive/s you like in your beverages, but even that only takes a short while to grow accustomed to. As long as you’ve got hot liquid to work with, (I feel like this could be headed in many directions but stay with me) this is the easiest way to make a perfectly mixed cup o’ whatever!
And the best part is, you don’t have to take my word for it. Just watch baristas make your flavored drink the next time you’re in a shop and watch what they do. Unless you’re one of those individuals who orders a half cup of thick, flavored syrup with a splash of coffee on top, they’re probably employing some pretty sweet spoonless skills that you can have, too. Cheers!