It’s officially iced coffee season and Portland cafes are making theirs snazzy, swirly, fizzy and above all tasty. A bunch of local cafes are experimenting with their own twists on cold coffee, drawing inspiration from beer, bees, soda-fountains and maybe astronauts.
Cold coffee on draft. Yeah, on draft. Go into Bard these days and you’ll see their new nitro set up. Basically, they’re pushing gas through the coffee, just like Guinness and nitro beers do. The result is the same iced coffee with a bit more body and a creamy texture (no bubbles or carbonation). Sometimes nitro coffee gets a bit of a head like a beer too. Bard is one of a few cafes in the country trying this method. To get the most of this texture, consider trying it with just a little ice and without the straw.
It will cost you $3 for a 12-ounce nitro coffee | 185 Middle St., Portland | Open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays | 899-4788
If you crushed malted milk balls into your milky coffee, this is what you’d get. Tandem is playing with malt in the ice coffee these days. The recipe is simple: Cold brew coffee, malt extract, milk over ice. The result is soda-fountain meets high-brow coffee. I don’t like malted milk balls — they were the candy I’d pluck out of my trick-or-treating pillowcase and throw to my dad in disgust (he loves them). The barista and I agreed on this, but we both enjoy this drink, which is perfect for summer because it’s cold and playful.
$4 for a 12-ounce malted iced coffee | 122 Anderson St., Portland | Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays | 899-0235
-Maine Cold Brewberry: A mix of cold-brew coffee and Maine Root Blueberry soda ($3-3.75)
-June Bug In July: Cold-brew mixed with lemonade ($3-3.75)
-Buy local Lavender Latte: A latter with vanilla syrup, local honey and lavender ($3.25-4.25)
Prices from $2.95 to $4.25 for the specials | Several locations with varying hours, see coffeebydesign.com for more information
Speckled Ax has a chocolatey, easy-to-drink cold-brew these days, but they’re also doing aeropress over ice. Aeropress looks like a big canister, where coffee steeps for two minutes or so and then is pushed out, through a filter. That condensed hot coffee is poured over ice, which melts and tones it down. Speckled Ax then adds more ice. The result is clear, bright flavors.
I ordered the Ethiopian (you can get any of their coffees brewed with this method) and found it extraordinarily fruity, light and acidic. Matt from Speckled Ax described it best, “Brandy-like, sips like a cocktail.”
$3.24 for a 16-ounce aeropress | 567 Congress St., Portland | Open 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Thurs, 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun | 660-3333