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Iced Toddy, $3.50
Sometimes an especially acidic iced coffee gives its drinker a cramped stomach. Morning drinkers, you know what I’m talking about. But Liz Schwartz provides a remedy at her Kaimuki shop, Coffee Talk. Her iced Toddy is a cold, filtered coffee steeped in a bin of cold water overnight and chilled–never heated or touched by steam. “It’s almost like an extract,” she explains. Since the coffee never transitions from a hot brew to an iced pitcher, its acidity is almost nonexistent. “We sell out pretty much by noon and the Toddy drinkers do get upset,” Schwartz says. Come early and taste the difference.
Espresso Soda, $3
Syrupy Italian sodas, make way for something much more important: carbonated espresso. Eric Rose, proprietor of Morning Glass, crafted a drink based off memories of tasting other Italian espresso sodas. With Stumptown espresso shots, soda water and a bit of simple syrup, the cafe’s version of espresso soda is strong, hitting all the right taste buds in a frenzy. The espresso soda’s pleasantly acidic, fizzy water marries well with Stumptown’s bold espresso shots, sweetened by just the right amount of sugar.
Espresso Affogato, $3.75
Café Central’s take on the affogato–a coffee gelato float–is a tribute to the classic Italian dessert. Customers build theirs with a gelato base, locally churned by Il Gelato, and choose from flavors including Kona coffee, fior di latte (sweet cream), dark chocolate macadamia nut or others. The smooth and almost sweet espresso (unlike the bitter shots sometimes victimizing other affogatos) lathered on top is locally roasted at Kona Coffee Purveyors in Sand Island. Mixed together, the contrasts between hot espresso and cold gelato, acidic and creamy, make for a divine coffee break.
Kinako Latte, $3.95
Peace Cafe’s kinako (roasted soybean powder) latte is sans-caffeine and sans-coffee. Why include it? Because it’s healthy, earthy and robust. The loving hands at Peace Cafe grab their kinako powder from Don Quijote and serve it swelled up in soy milk–a beverage that goes down smooth, nutty and creamy. Kinako has been used in Japanese cuisine for centuries as a velvety companion to mochi, and is no stranger to being mixed with milk over ice–however, it’s a unique drink in Hawaii and rare to see in local shops.
Iced Coffee, $2.75
To make this potent iced coffee, the busy ladies at Thang Coffee brew gallons of Café du Monde New Orleans Coffee and Chicory every morning to have it ready to pour per order. The unique, earthy kick from chicory (the roots of this plant are often baked, cut up and used as a coffee substitute or additive) gives the brew a fuller body. With a touch of sweetened condensed milk and a lot of ice, Thang’s version is remarkably rich and cannot be recreated with any other espresso or drip–other coffee blends would produce a drink much weaker in comparison to the chicory-infused Cafe du Monde.
Ya Ya, $5.75
Despite the shameful trend of blended iced drinks–Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, we’re looking at you–and those who drink them with noses in the air, the Ya Ya at Ward Center’s Mocha Java Cafe is a beacon of light. Yes, it’s blended, but you can’t really go wrong mixing chocolate and peanut butter with espresso. The concoction is thicker than it is icy and the perfect balance of espresso and chocolate. The espresso is micro-roasted at Koko Crater Coffee Roasters, located right down the street on Auahi Street.