We have arrived. Coffee ice cream, at one time an afterthought in the ice cream making business, is rapidly approaching a frozen perfection. With the help of boutique ice creameries, forward thinking coffee roasters, and the quality-focused consumers that demand it, we are entering a 21st Century gilded age of coffee ice cream renaissance.
Throughout Summer 2013, we had an opportunity to bench test the Breville Smart Scoop line of home ice cream makers here at Sprudge.com Portland Global HQ, searching for the perfect in-house coffee ice cream recipe. Our bench testing – rigorous and fattening- concluded that The Smart Scoop is a brilliant ice cream maker, with “smart” technology that allows the user to set the desired consistency. Are you a gelato fan or more of a soft serve girl? We prefer the hardest setting – it's better for a waffle cone vessel. The machine automatically detects the consistency and ring-a-lings an ice cream bell.
Furthering our hunt for the perfect recipe, we teamed up with our friends and partners at Tim Wendelboe to create the perfect ice cream at home. We used Tim's Panama Esmeralda Geisha coffee for the espresso and what resulted was pure, unadulterated magic.
450g espresso (preferably made with a fruity coffee)
2.5 sheets of Gelatin
120g Sugar (or to taste.)
Some sifted fines from the espresso grounds.
Here is how you do it:
1. Soak the gelatine in cold water
2. Make the espressos and stir in the sugar.
3. Remove water from gelatine and add gelatine to espresso and stir until disolved. Strain in to cream.
4. Add liquid in to an ice cream maker and sift in fines from about 30g of espresso ground coffee while the machine is stirring.
Let the machine work it's magic and enjoy.
Making ice cream at home is great, but sometimes you want the experts to delight your senses and deliver a product that's delicious, sensibly sourced, and ready to eat. To that end, we just love Santa Barbara's very own McConnell's Ice Cream. They are leading the pack with their unique line of coffee ice creams – available up and down the West Coast at fine grocery stores (and online).
McConnell's most famous coffee flavor, the “Turkish Coffee”, is a blend of espresso and cold-brewed coffees. According to their copy online, one customer wrote in with a death threat, stating: “If ever you stop churning out the Turkish Coffee, I will hunt you down and kill you.”
We had a full on ice cream party during our last visit to Los Angeles, where we sampled their new “Coffee & Cream” flavor, along with their Black Coffee Chip, which adds a bit of Guittard chocolate to the mix. Black Coffee Chip and Turkish Coffee are both available at Whole Foods in California, New Seasons Market in Oregon, and Metropolitan Market in Washington. For a full list of McC's locations and wholesale partners, please see here.
When asked what roasters they use, McConnell's tells us they live a quality-focused poly-roaster lifestyle. “It varies,” Michael Palmer of McConnell's told Sprudge. “We're going for a very specific flavor profile with our coffee ice creams, which are generally made up of a cold-processed coffee, an in-house extract and, sometimes, the use of coffee fines. Each of these processes brings out a specific character we're looking to feature in the ice creams, be it a fruitiness, a bass note, whatever. The key is consistency.”
“Since ice cream is a frozen delivery system,” Mr. Palmer added, “bringing out nuance and subtlety in flavor is paramount. So we tend to stick with a profile rather than a particular roaster over time.”
Aside from their coffee offerings, they also make a “sweet cream” variety – which is like a vanilla ice cream without the vanilla – used as the key ingredient for the coffee milkshake currently being offered at Glanville & Babinski, a notable new cafe in Downtown Los Angeles.
One thing is for certain: In 2014, coffee milkshakes are hot, and blended coffee drinks are not. Case and point is that Glanville & Babinski milkshake in Los Angeles we just mentioned. Using only McConnell's Sweet Cream and 49th Parallel's Epic Espresso, they've created a milkshake with the perfect consistency.
“Customers are grateful we offer this milkshake,” Charles Babinski told Sprudge in his first-ever exclusive milkshake-related interview. When asked about the $7.50 price tag for the 14oz beverage, Babinski commented, “In the rare occasion anyone says anything, we simply remind them they're getting four shots of espresso and about a half pound of ice cream.”
Meanwhile, out in Chicago, the brand new Logan Square Intelligentsia whips up not one, not two, but three signature milkshakes. Using Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams as a base, they whip up some truly delightful flavors. “The key is density,” says Intelligentsia's Director of Communications, Stephen Morrissey. “The denser the ice cream, the better for the milkshake.”
Here's a shot of their Black Cat Espresso shake, which is honestly just completely #deloshes and makes for quite a treat:
Are you interested in learning more about fine coffee ice cream and delicious specialty coffee milkshakes? Join us at Barista Nation in Kansas City on Novebmer 4th, where Sprudge.com co-founder and editor Zachary Carlsen will be taking guests on a journey of the milkshake, from its humble beginnings to its new place on high-end, high-quality boutique menus around the world. This is no coy bid at situational irony. We genuinely love these kinds of drinks, and believe they belong as a delicious option for consideration at quality-focused coffee bars.