Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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Brown Cubes of Joy: Coffee Ice Cubes in New Mexico

Yo, dawg; I heard you like coffee in your coffee.
Even though I don't drink coffee, I guzzle tea and prefer local to corporate coffee shops for my caffeine fixes. This isn't strictly a buy-local sentiment (though that plays into it). Rather, I like the attention to details the small players often show. Something as simple as a bottle of simple syrup put out next to the granulated stuff lets me know there's an iced tea drinker in-house who dislikes gritty undissolved sugar as much as I do. Individual glasses of iced tea brewed to order are a nice touch. Then there's coffee ice cubes, something I'd never seen done at Starbucks.*

When we were in Santa Fe this weekend, the sidekicks and I stopped for our morning doses at Station Coffee & Tea in an old railyard now repurposed for restaurants and shopping. Station offers iced coffee. Nothing new there; nearly every American corporate shop does. The difference is that Station keeps two buckets of coffee ice cubes in its ice cream case. When an order for iced coffee comes in, barristas simply use these cubes rather than plain water iced cubes. The boys marveled at the goodness of the coffee and the fact that as the cube melted, their coffees stayed strong.

The recipe is simple; it's coffee. What? You...you need more? Ok. Freeze it in ice cube trays. Use those cubes rather than plain water ice cubes when making iced coffee or coffee cocktails. At home, you could store them in a sealed plastic bag or other container that won't pick up freezer odors (or impart their own to the freezer's contents; coffee-flavored butter, anyone?). My mom used to do the same thing with orange juice in the summer when I was a kid for my morning juice. Nice to see it back in play.

Station Fine Coffee and Tea
530 South Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

* I should say I've never seen coffee ice cubes done on purpose at Starbucks. There was always something vaguely unpleasant about their iced tea. I'd go, though, to visit with friends who liked the place. Not until I left a cup of iced tea sit untended for a long stretch and then reached to finish it did the unpleasantness hit me: the melted ice cubes taste of coffee. Maybe the ice absorbs ambient coffee molecules in the air. I don't know. That's my guess, anyway. This isn't a problem for — or even noticeable to — coffee drinkers, but for finicky-ass tea drinkers like me, it was a deal-killer. That was the last time I ever bought Starbucks iced tea.

Goes well with:
  • Ever wonder why some vessels dribble liquids more readily than others? The teapot effect comes into play. Whether you're pouring from teapots, cocktail shakers, French presses, or coffee cups, there's a reason you want to go with narrow lipped vessels. Read on to learn why.
  • Of course, I like hot tea, too. On chilly mornings I'll crank out a pot of masala chai — sweet hot tea spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and a few other odds and ends — to fuel the morning work.
  • Rip it. Dip it. Sip it. Are you man enough for tea?


joykeen said...

Brilliant. I've heard of this before but never done it. Freezer is too full of frozen water for cocktails. Your iced coffee gets stronger instead of weaker as it melts! BTW, I was also in Santa Fe this weekend. Would have been nice to see you! Were you there for the Indian Market?

Matthew Rowley said...

Our freezer, too, has its share of frozen water. Some goes into iced tea and lemonade, but the bulk is for whiskey and rum.

Ah, it would've been nice to catch up in person; we were there, but the Indian Market was coincidental. Spent a few hours wandering around the stalls and was taken for native a few times (I suppose the freckles, blue eyes, beard, and frosty pallor made me seem...what? Ojibwe? Kiowa Apache?

The eating in and around Santa Fe ranged from dishearteningly touristy (Rancho de Chimayo) to perfunctorily, soullessly prepared blandness (Cowgirl BBQ) to outstanding New Mexican food (Tia Sophia's and Maria's, for example). Ah, damn it. Now I've got a wicked craving for a basket of sopapillas...

Anonymous said...

Yo dawg... Someone is a redditor.

A Station Coffee Shop Barista

Matthew Rowley said...

Redditor? Well, that escalated quickly. Thanks for the great drinks while we were in town. I'll be back through en route to a distilling conference in the Spring and will be sure to drop by again.