Summer is my favorite season, and that’s mostly because of the food. My favorite fruits, melons and plums, are in season. My favorite vegetables, zucchini and yellow squash, are also in peak season. It’s finally warm enough to stroll through the streets of NYC sipping on iced coffee.
My love for coffee materialized gradually. I used it to stay awake in college because I couldn’t stand the sugary taste in energy drinks. When I decided to stop pulling all-nighters and sleeping more, I couldn’t kick my coffee habit; I had learned to enjoy the flavor!
This is the first summer in a few years that I’ve spent more than a week away from the city. And I have to say, I miss it! Despite all the MTA delays and constant cat-calling in the streets, I miss the city that has become home to me and has impeccable iced coffee.
I recently wrapped up two weeks in Germany, and every day, I tried to find a refreshing cold summer beverage that wasn’t full of sugar.
Aside from iced coffee and cold brew, I also love iced matcha with a touch of coconut milk! Finding traditional iced matcha in Germany was hopeless. I went from cafe to cafe, discovering that most of the matcha powders were actually matcha mixes that included dairy, sugar, or both. None would suffice.
Finding iced coffee and cold brew was a bit simpler. I found that many coffee shops prominently displayed English menus, which really had me wondering how far from home I actually was.
The first coffee shop I tried had something on the menu titled iced cafe creme. Seeing the word “creme”, my mind immediately went to dairy. Since I only know how to say hello, goodbye, and thank you in German, two baristas and I tried to decipher the menu together in a mix of both German and English. Once they confirmed the iced cafe creme was indeed dairy-free, I decided to order it!
Instead of making my drink in front of me, I saw the barista go into a back room with a cup of ice. I tried to keep an open mind because, you know, I’m on vacation in a new country and all that.
Finally, my drink comes out in that same plastic cup, which is now lukewarm and the ice cubes are melting fast. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the barista definitely poured hot coffee over ice and handed it to me in a plastic cup. Needless to say, my journey continued.
I spent the next few days walking up and down streets, popping my head in cafes to look at the menus. I saw one cafe that offered a cold drip americano and a cold drip on the rocks. It looked promising. I sat down and ordered the cold drip americano. When the waiter brought the drink to my table, he brought me a carafe of cold brew, a carafe of cold water, and a cup of ice. I guess it was make your own americano day. I didn’t end up making my americano because this cold brew was actually pretty good! The ice cubes were a bit too large and threatened to dilute the cold brew flavor, but overall, I was pleased!
The last place I visited had an iced americano and cold brew on the menu. I visited on separate days so I could sample both. The iced americano was decent, but the flavor of the beans wasn’t noteworthy. I was really looking forward to their cold brew since they actually called in cold brew. After ordering my drink, the barista reached into the refrigerator and poured the cold brew into a cup with ice. It was also decent, but nothing worth having again.
After trying these three places, my only other options were Starbuck’s or McDonald’s. Though I knew they would have what I was searching for, I wanted to get to know the local coffee scene. Or at least I thought I did.
Either I spent my vacation under a rock or people really drink hot coffee in 80 degree weather. I also noticed that iced coffee was used to describe a dessert sold at many cafes that consisted of two scoops of vanilla ice cream with coffee poured over it. While that sounded delicious, it wasn’t what I was searching for.
I never did find iced coffee or cold brew that took my breath away, and that’s ok. This search was more about the journey than the destinations.