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Tired of Cold Brew? Start Treating Your Coffee Like a Cocktail

DrinkTired of Cold Brew? Start Treating Your Coffee Like a Cocktail

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“Coffee soda” takes the best of coffee and brings sweetness and acidity to your favorite iced and caffeinated beverage.

Are we reaching a state of cold brew fatigue? In the last five years, it seems like every coffee shop on the planet has stationed a homey chalkboard sign on the sidewalk to advertise their house cold brew, knowing that consumers will no longer settle for the watery iced lattes of yesteryear. Bottles of cold brew like Chameleon and Grady’s line the refrigerators of bagel places and bodegas, and startups are installing cold brew taps in their office pantries. Chains like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have started serving cold brew year-round, and smaller outlets are already working their way through the iced coffee variations. Spots like Bien Cuit in Brooklyn have started serving shots of espresso over iced soda water. The Swedish trend of adding espresso or a bit of cold brew to tonic has spread far and wide to Saint Frank in San Francisco, Slate Coffee in Seattle, and Konditori in New York.

But according to Stumptown, the best trick to fighting cold brew fatigue is to treat your coffee like a cocktail. Much like alcohol, a good coffee balances sweetness, bitterness, and acidity; you might taste notes of chocolate or caramel or unripe strawberries or orange peel. And like a good liquor, these attributes can be coaxed out with the help of bitters, syrups, fruits, or herbs. Stumptown is starting to explore some of these combinations with a rotating selection of seasonal coffee sodas on tap at all of their locations. The Endless Summer is sort of a non-alcoholic, caffeinated mint julep. The Duane Sorenson, named after Stumptown’s founder, is a take on the Arnold Palmer; cold brew, soda, and a light touch of citrus from Oleo Saccharum, a popular lemon syrup used in cocktails and punches. Matt Lounsbury, Stumptown’s VP of Retail and Business Development, says, “If you have a high quality coffee, you should have a clean, balanced flavor profile that includes acids, sweetness and clarity. Adding lemon to the mix can help highlight that acidity.”

If you’ve ever been served an espresso garnished with a bit of lemon peel on the side, this is why. Give that hot espresso a little stir with the lemon peel, and the coffee will draw out some of the fragrant oils from the lemon peel, which will round out the coffee’s bitterness. The combination has been an Italian staple for decades, and trendy coffee shops everywhere from Gothenburg to New York have been putting it to use in cold drinks. New York spots like Everyman Espresso and Smith Canteen have each made their own version of a coffee lemonade, and Supercrown Coffee serves what they call the “Laura Palmer” (a reference to the Twin Peaks character).

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In the Duane Sorenson, Stumptown uses their signature “Cold Shot”—a nitrogenated shot of very concentrated cold brew, but you can substitute with a strong homemade cold brew or a bottled concentrate. Oleo Saccharum can be ordered online or made at home, and it’s great to have around for more layered Old Fashioneds or citrusy punches (just use it in place of simple syrup in cocktail recipes). To turn the Duane Sorenson into an evening drink (or for a boozy brunch), try it with a little bit of bourbon or rye, or a rum like Smith & Cross.

Once you start turning your cold brew into sodas, it will open up a whole realm of possibilities for tempering and sweetening your coffee, and you can taste elements of the coffee that may have been obscured by milk and sugar. Try a bit of ginger syrup or a couple Luxardo cherries or a splash of your favorite bitters. And if you need some alternative ideas to pumpkin spice, Stumptown’s fall sodas will debut in stores at the beginning of October.

The Duane Sorenson
Makes one 12-ounce drink

2 oz. Cold brew coffee concentrate
1 oz. Oleo Saccharum
Soda
Ice

Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the cold brew and Oleo Saccharum, and top with soda.

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