If you’re a regular at small-batch, artisan coffeehouses, you may have noticed an unusual ingredient popping up in lattes and iced coffee all over town: fruit. Cafés are pairing freshly squeezed juice and housemade shrubs with cold brew and lattes to offer a new take on classic coffee drinks.
As we approach the warmer months, we leave behind our cozy mochas and caramel lattes in favor of lighter, fresher coffee – a prime opportunity for fresh fruit to showcase its flavor. At Hartford Coffee Co., you’ll find a shaken Lemon Drop Cold Brew. At first, the pairing of lemon and coffee may seem odd – and more appropriate for a cup of tea. When you take your first sip though, you’ll understand: The tartness of the lemon, combined with the sweetness of vanilla, the creaminess of the almond milk and the bitterness of cold brew, is wonderfully refreshing. If you love the caffeine jolt of cold brew but struggle with how acidic and intense the flavor can be, this is the drink for you.
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Fiddlehead Fern Café in the Shaw neighborhood is well-known for its inventive drinks; it was one of the first coffee shops in the area to embrace the fruit-coffee combo. On its spring menu, it offers a cranberry peach lime nitro cold brew and a lavender lime espresso tonic. According to owner Darcy Heine, the popular cranberry cold brew began as a way to embrace sustainability. “Our bakers were sugaring cranberries by soaking them in sugar water, and after a while, the sugar water became flavored by the cranberries just as much as the cranberries became sugary – and that’s what we use as our cranberry syrup,” Heine says. The drink has a subtle, underlying sweetness with enough cranberry and lime to make you pucker just a tad. Mud House offers a similar drink; the Dank + Stormy combines cold brew, ginger beer and lime for a zesty, bright beverage.
Orange is one of the most popular fruits to pair with coffee. At recently opened Omen Coffee Co., enjoy tonic soda, ice, fresh orange juice and a double shot of espresso for a drink that combines two classic morning beverages in one. Living Room Coffee and Kitchen’s Latte Maria has been on the menu for years. “With the addition of orange, vanilla and cinnamon, our Latte Maria adds a sweet citrus that blends with the spiced cinnamon that can appeal to almost anyone looking for something different,” Living Room’s front-of-house manager Aaron Buchanan says.
Coffee and fruit may be growing in popularity, but it’s a pairing that’s as natural as coffee and milk. “Since coffee comes from the fruit of a coffee plant, the sweetness and acidity of other fruits bring out really vibrant flavors,” Heine says. Compared to the bitterness of straight black coffee or the heaviness of a milk-based coffee drink, she adds that “pairing coffee or espresso with fruit is a really refreshing and unique experience.” As we approach peak fruit and berry season, we can’t wait to see what STL’s inventive baristas brew up next.