I never really got coffee shops before living in Western Massachusetts, and all the fantastic places around the Five College Area. (I’m looking at you, Esselon Cafe, and the Book Mill, and Amherst Coffee, and Rao’s, oh, and Woodstar, and Haymarket, and…well, I’ll stop now. I’m getting nostalgic.) Good thing Philadelphia has a pretty awesome coffee scene. And I do mean scene, as in the particular places:
Plus the food’s pretty good too, my new favorite being the recent arrival of a Rival Bros. Coffee shop in Fitler Square. I posted about their toast awhile back, which is totally worth $3. But perhaps my favorite thing I’ve had was their buckwheat pecan shortbread. (I have a dupe recipe for it on the backburner, ready to make this weekend!)
There are others I haven’t mentioned here, including the new HubBub on campus, Ultimo and Chapterhouse Coffee in South Philly, plus good old Good Karma. You can always get your caffeine fix here in Philly. Easy.
Being more of a tea drinker (though recently it’s been all coffee, all the time) as well as somewhat lazy in this regard, I rarely make coffee at home. But there was a recent article in the NYTimes that inspired me to rethink that. The piece was titled the best iced lattes in America? (yes, with the question mark), and among other things, it taught me a) that “in the world of high-end coffee, lattes are for amateurs and soy or nut milks are for chumps” (UGH) and more (or less?) obnoxiously, b) that the “almost best, certainly” iced latte in America is the almond-macademia version at G&B Coffee in L.A. With the creamy nut milk made in house, shaken with espresso, then poured into a chilled Mason jar with ice cubes from a “Kold-Draft ice maker” (?!?! Is this a thing?), who was I to doubt? It certainly sounded appealing. Plus, the Times then offered readers the recipe for the drink, complete with the recipe for the almond-macademia nut milk so you could make it at home.
Needless to say, the idea of this drink stayed on my mind, floating in and out over the past few weeks. I’d been wanting to try making nut milk, especially as people promised it was worlds better than the commercial kind (which I dislike, preferring the body of soy milk). So I bought a nut milk bag, soaked the nuts and dates overnight, dropped into La Colombe to get a double shot of espresso, blended up the milk (which was messy. Note to self — don’t fill blender more than 1/2 or at most 2/3 the way full with liquid!), squeezed and squeezed the nut-date pulp, and–just as I was thinking this was way too much hassle (yet I’ll do anything for you, darling readers!)–finally mixed the drink. And took a sip. And another.
It was…good! Certainly not the best iced latte in America, at least to my taste. But really pretty darn good. If you like almond milk, I bet you’ll love this concoction. The macademia nuts gave the milk real body and silkiness, and the dates a touch of sweetness. And it was awfully satisfying to make this coffee drink (mostly) by myself. Would I do it again? Certainly, especially as I have leftover homemade nut milk! But with all the great coffeeshops out there in Philly, and given I work well in these places (Coffitivity.com doesn’t quite cut it for me!), it won’t be the only thing I’m drinking all summer.
Almond-Macadamia Latte, or, “The Best Iced Latte in America?” (from G&B Coffee in LA via the NYTimes)
- 1 generous cup/150 grams blanched almonds (I used regular, non-blanched almonds)
- 1/2 cup/50 grams macadamia nuts
- 1/3 cup/40 grams pitted dates (I used 2 Medjools)
- 1 liter filtered water (4 1/4 cups)
- 1. Combine almonds, macadamia nuts and dates in a large lidded plastic container. Add filtered water, cover, and let soak overnight at room temperature (or in the fridge), at least 12 hours.
- (Note: many nut milk recipes call for draining the soaking liquid and adding fresh water. I thought it was good without this step, but might be even better with it.)
- 2. Using a blender set to the highest speed, process mixture for 3 to 4 minutes or until finely puréed. Strain the mixture through a nut bag or jelly bag into a bowl, squeezing hard until only solids remain. (Or set a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and line with two layers of cheesecloth. Use a spatula to force the mixture through the lined sieve, then repeat the process using fresh cheesecloth.) The nut milk should be silky and creamy, not gritty. Milk will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Shake before using.
- YIELD: 1 quart
To make an iced almond-macadamia milk latte, combine 8 ounces of the chilled nut milk, a double shot of hot espresso and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for about 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled glass with fresh ice.