“They have the most decadent drink there — iced espresso lattes.” Upon hearing this, my eyes instantly light up. She elaborates at my prompting: “these espresso ice-cubes come in a glass, and you pour ice-cold milk over them. It is divine.”
Over breakfast, my friend Shelley was enthusiastically describing her recent experience at a trendy coffee shop in Bangkok called Roast. Shelley has pretty discerning taste when it comes to food and drink, so I generally trust the casual culinary reviews she deigns to share. By the time she was finished reliving her iced espresso experience in deliciously graphic detail, we were both practically drooling.
Are you a coffee lover? I’ve been known to get out of bed purely for the enjoyment of drinking a hot cup of coffee.
I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
This is why I became unnaturally excited at the prospect of espresso ice cubes. Since I’m not going to be hitting up BKK anytime soon, I started thinking about ways to adopt Roast’s ingenious, jitter-inducing beverage at home. Low and behold, the drink is deceptively easy: all we need is an ice cube tray, some simple ingredients, and a coffee maker (or drip filter) to use with an espresso blend of our choice.
How to make espresso ice cubes
1. Make a pot of espresso blend using fresh filtered water, and let it cool for a bit
2. Pour it into an ice cube tray in the freezer; wait until they’re frozen
3. Pop a few cubes into a beautiful, tall glass; pour cold milk over top (see dairy alternatives below)
Tips for making the most of this decadent coffee drink
Get fancy: Try adding cinnamon, or other warm spices to add flavor to the cubes themselves; or sprinkle cinnamon on top of the milk at the end, with a cinnamon stick for garnish. Drizzling a bit of Kahlua on top would also add an element of luxury to it. This is a great drink to serve at a dinner party, especially if you want your guests to have energy for dancing long into the night, or for a different after-party later on.
Sweeten mindfully: If you have a sweet-tooth, try adding a bit of organic honey. Or, add some all natural raw cacao powder to give the drink superfood nutrients, as well as a tasty chocolate boost.
Make it sustainable: For a more sustainable ice cube tray than our usual plastic ones, consider one made from stainless steel. To have fresh, filtered water without harming the environment, try the all natural Soma water filter.
Mix it up: Think outside the box for ice cube options. Green tea ice cubes will add some zip to a cold glass of green tea, while fruit-filled ice cubes will bring color to a beautiful glass pitcher of water. Playing with these ideas is a great way to get kids more excited about eating fruit, or drinking tea, since children find ice cubes endlessly amusing. (I speak from personal experience on this one — years of babysitting taught me a few tricks!) If you’re not into caffeine, you can always try the original recipe using decaf.
Extra buzz: If we need a major pick-me-up, popping a few espresso ice cubes into our regular iced coffee will definitely do the trick. This can actually help decrease daily spending at pricey coffee shops. Keeping a cold pitcher of coffee in the fridge and espresso ice cubes in the freezer is a cost-effective way to create refreshing drinks at home, without buying expensive coffees at shops.
You get the health benefits of coffee up through about the first twenty-four ounces. It’s the biggest source of antioxidants for Americans, and we think it helps prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well.
– Mehmet Oz
Healthy dairy alternatives
I personally veer away from both dairy milk and soy milk, since learning their connections with numerous health and environmental issues. In their place, I use rice milk, almond milk, or decadent coconut milk. The latter is my preferred way to turn this drink into a delicious, creamy dessert. Plus, coconut milk contains healthy fats, and a slew of vitamins that benefit our health. When consumed in moderation, this is a great option. Rice milk has lots of antioxidants, though not very much protein. Almond milk is another healthy alternative:
“Compared to cow’s milk, almond milk is the much healthier choice. Almond milk contains a wide variety of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function. Almond milk also contains high levels of antioxidants, so it can help prevent many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.”
Interchanging these three alternatives to mainstream dairy products offers us a balanced range of health benefits.
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean abandoning everything decadent — or even foods and drinks that aren’t 100% nutritious; rather, it’s about finding a happy medium and practicing balance. Making mindful choices will naturally lead us to a place where we can easily adapt dishes to meet our nutritional needs and our desire for a delicious experience.
No matter what historians claimed, BC really stood for Before Coffee.
― Cherise Sinclair