In another post, we covered the different kinds of espresso drinks that are common to any specialty coffee shop. If you haven’t read it, you should check it out here. Not that you need to read it in order to understand this post. It’s just that I wrote it, and knowing that people read it is what makes it all worthwhile, you know? That, and the money. But I digress. The point is that the possibilities for making different kinds of coffee drinks is practically limitless—though, to be fair, the number of those that are actually tasty is probably fairly limited. It’s those tasty ones we’re focusing on here—the lesser known drinks particular to a culture, region, or even a single coffee shop. If you’re getting bored with the same old same-old (though looking at real-time sales of these drinks suggests otherwise) have a look at these drinks for something new.
- Bulletproof Coffee is the name of the cafe and the drink. I don’t know what they put in the water there in Santa Monica, CA, but whatever it is seems to give people great ideas about what to put in coffee. The drink is a mix of coffee, grass-fed butter, and something called Brain Octane, which is essentially coconut and palm kernel oil mixed with some kind of supplement. They’re thrown in a blender until a delicious frothy elixir appears; the cafe makes all kinds of claims as to the boundless energy and focus you get from the drink. It’s also good for weight loss, they say, as the drink has enough protein and healthy fats to replace your breakfast. I’ve never been to their shop, but I make my own at home with just butter and coconut oil and I can vouch for the effects. Also, it’s delicious.
- The Business & Pleasure is less a coffee drink and more of a beverage experience. Served at G&B Coffee in Los Angeles, The Business & Pleasure is actually three drinks. First, down to business: you start with a sparkling tea, a blend of oolong and beer hops that’s G&B’s own creation. The tea is followed by a shot of espresso. Business then turns to pleasure, and you finish off with a macademia-almond milk latte.
- The Tim Tam Slam is familiar to Australians, but for the rest of the world, read on: your life is about to get a little better. Again, this isn’t so much a drink as a ritual, one that requires finesse and timing. You start with a Tim Tam, a rectangular chocolate wafer biscuit covered in chocolate. Bite off two corners that are diagonally across from each other to create a little portal to the biscuits wafer-y interior. Dunk one corner in your coffee, put your mouth on the other corner, and then suck the coffee into the biscuit. You stop when the entire thing is filled and have only a few seconds to chuck the entire thing into your mouth. The coffee breaks down the structural integrity of the wafer, which is unpleasant if it’s still in your hand, but is a multi-sensory explosion of happiness on your tongue. For those of you learn better by watching Natalie Imbruglia demonstrate things, this video ought to be helpful.
- Cà Phê Trứng: the Vietnamese drink for people who think cream doesn’t make their coffee thick enough. Egg yolk and sweetened condensed milk are whipped together in a cup, and then black coffee is poured over the top of the mixture. Once the coffee hits the bottom, with a coffee infused egg/milk mixture floating on top, it’s ready to drink. The taste is described as a liquid coffee custard, which makes sense this is essentially a cup of unbaked coffee custard.
- Koffie van Brunt proves there are better ways to booze up your coffee than with Bailey’s or Kahlua. An original creation of the Brooklyn cafe Fort Defiance, the van Brunt is a mix of rum, cherry liqueur, a shot of espresso, and chilled cream that’s garnished with cinnamon and orange zest. I could say something more about this drink, but we both know that neither of us paying attention right now—all we can think is how much we want it to drink this thing.
- Nitrogenated Iced Coffee finally helps us answer the age old question, “Would adding tiny bubbles to my iced coffee make it better?” Whether the answer to the question is yes or no is up to the drinker, but the consensus of opinion over Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR is a resounding yes. Nate Armbrust is Stumptown’s food scientist who one day looked at a container of nitrogen gas and then over at his iced coffee and thought, “I’ll try it.” He spent months tinkering and tasting to get it just right, and it was an instant hit when it debuted.
- The Pistachio Rose Latte served up at Demitasse in Los Angeles may sound good to you just by the name. If so, it’ll sound even better when you hear how they do it. The drink is built on a foundation of pistachio butter. That’s not butter with pistachios in it, that’s pistachio butter—like almond butter or peanut butter. Then they add rose water and honey syrup, and I’m not sure if that’s something different than honey, which is essentially syrup. That’s all topped with steamed milk and espresso and then served to a customer whose life will become a series of disappointments after the drink is gone.
Espresso or Macchiato in an Alfred Cone is the not-so-secret off menu specialty of Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in Los Angeles. Also, what’s up with Los Angeles and all its amazing coffee drinks? This one is a straight up espresso or macchiato, but it’s served in a chocolate lined, edible waffle cone/cup. It is, as you’d expect, enormously popular. Alfred Coffee sold 50 – 70 of them a day on word of mouth, back in 2014 before people started writing news stories about it. Now that the word is out, I’m surprised everyone’s not doing it. Wait—not surprised: disappointed.