Heavy Table’s Summer Cold Press Lab

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

This story is underwritten by Peace Coffee.

In the last couple of years, baristas in these parts have been getting crazy with the Cheez Whiz. OK, maybe not Cheez Whiz, but in the Twin Cities’ best coffee shops, you can find drinks with additions like fresh herbs, horchata, root beer extract, sriracha, and gin bitters. These unconventional and (generally) tasty concoctions highlight coffee’s versatility — the brewed bean plays surprisingly well with ingredients that seemingly have no business in a cuppa Joe.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

This spirit of experimentation inspired us to organize a cold press lab with the generous underwriting of Peace Coffee. We spent an evening at their roastery unscientifically testing recipes — with the grilling season upon us and the sweltering days of summer just ahead, we decided to focus our energies on the cold stuff.

peace coffee yeti banner

Along with several of our writers and a couple of photographers, our crew included two highly skilled coffee chemists: Jackson O’Brien, head barista at Peace Coffee’s Wonderland location, and Andy Johnson, Peace alum and current barista at Five Watt.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

At the appointed hour, we gathered at Peace Coffee’s new tasting and cupping lab and training room, loaded down with enough ingredients to fill a modestly sized wheelbarrow. Our bounty included everything from marshmallow fluff, savory and sweet herbs, liquid smoke, and sodas from around the world to mango chutney, maple syrup, spicy peppers, an assortment of bitters, and fruit. Yes, it included a durian — a large, roundish, thorny fruit that’s so pungent that at least one country (Singapore) bans it on buses and in public buildings. We procured this wide range of mix-ins because we wanted to explore new (at least to us) flavor and texture combinations — and who doesn’t like slamming a durian on the concrete and stepping on it until the yellowy custard seeps from its thick skin? Great for caffeine-induced aggression!

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We had but one rule: the drinks had to taste like coffee. This rule was rather easy to follow because we used Peace’s bottled cold press made from a rich, bold blend aptly named yeti. Given our funky ingredients and free-flowing process, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we produced many, many duds … and a very full dump bucket. On the other hand, we really did think pennywort soda (which tastes of freshly mowed lawn and dirt) would blend well with cold press concentrate. We were wrong.

Through trial, a great deal of error, and even more laughter, we developed a solid lineup of drinks. Without further delay, here are the recipes (aka estimations scribbled with shaky hands after consuming way too much caffeine). We very much encourage readers to add in the comments section recipes for their own refreshing summer coffee creations. Each recipe makes one drink.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Huma Cereza
Andy Johnson

This dairy-free concoction tastes of vanilla ice cream, smoked hickory, and chocolate cherries. It brings out the wow!

4 ounces cold press concentrate
2 ounces water
½ ounce vanilla simple syrup
2 drops liquid smoke
2 full droppers cherry-bark bitters
5 drops xocolatl mole bitters
Halved cherries
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Combine ingredients (except mole bitters and cherries) in shaker. Shake and pour into glass.

2. Place 5 drops of mole bitters on top.

3. Garnish drink with halved cherries, and swirl in froth for added color and flavor.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Firewalker
Joshua Page

A refreshing, subtly sweet drink with creeping heat. Molasses brings out the tamarind flavor without overpowering the cold press. Orange juice and peel add brightness.

3 ounces cold press concentrate
⅓ fresh habanero pepper
½ bottle Jarritos tamarind soda
1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon orange juice
Orange peel
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Chop habanero and mix with 3 ounces Jarritos. Let sit for 7 to 10 minutes. Strain out peppers.

2. Mix molasses with 1 ounce Jarritos. Set aside.

3. Combine pepper and molasses mixtures with cold press and orange juice. Pour over ice.

4. Rub orange peel on rim of glass, and add peel to the drink.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Java Nut
James Norton

The mellow, earthy flavors of roasted coconut and cold press coffee join forces to create a mellow, nutty base. Cardamom-coriander bitters provide pizzazz.

3 ounces roasted coconut juice (available at United Noodles)
3 ounces cold press concentrate
2 ounces half-and-half
3 drops cardamom-coriander bitters
Ice

1. Combine ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Nashville Slammer
Jackson O’Brien

Basil gives a light and fresh tone to the cold press (they play off each other in much the same way chocolate and mint do). Lime and sparkling water add brightness.

4 ounces cold press concentrate
4 ounces sparkling water
1 tablespoon simple syrup
4 large basil leaves
1 lime wedge
Ice

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

1. Tear basil leaves and muddle with simple syrup until leaves are wilted.

2. Add cold press and sparkling water.

3. Pour mixture over ice; squeeze in lime wedge and stir.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Holy Hand Grenade
Ted Held

Sweet basil gives the cold press a light, herbal aroma, and the pineapple adds fruitiness and tartness.

3 ounces cold press concentrate
1 tablespoon simple syrup
2 cubes pineapple
2 basil leaves plus 1 sprig
Ice

1. Tear basil leaves, and muddle pineapple with simple syrup.

2. Add cold press and ice.

3. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Durian Shake
Becca Dilley

The durian and coffee support each other with their earthy notes. Horchata’s dusty-but-sweet flavor melds with and moderates the funky kick of the durian, giving the drink a pleasantly sweet edge. The mint garnish masks the smell of the durian.

2 tablespoons durian (available frozen at United Noodles)
1 ounce cold press concentrate
1 ounce milk
1 tablespoon Klass horchata drink mix
Sprig of mint
Ice

1. Combine ingredients (except mint) in shaker. Shake, and pour into glass.

2. Garnish with mint.

Peace Coffee for Sweaters and March 20 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @Peace_Coffee is offering drinks in exchange for sweaters to celebrate Mr. Rogers’ birthday, @gaigaithai suggests pairing durian with mango coconut sticky rice, @tastebudtart devours the relish tray @Butcherandboar, and @northern_brewer’s sale on beer kits ends tonight.

November 30 Morning Roundup

Thanksgiving over at Martha and Tom’s and at Les Petites Images (plus the Thanksgiving camel tradition at South 12th), Kieran’s Irish pub is relocating to the former Bellanotte space, a verdict on durian fruit (and thoughts about Zimmern and Bourdain), a video featuring the packing of PastureLand butter, a Chowhound supposition: our local Whole Foods are sub-par, Rachel’s wide-ranging piece on anonymous online reviews, a beautiful photo of vanilla beans, and a look into the sordid world of North Country bacon cheeseburger pizzas. Man, it’s good to be back.

Learning to Love Moon Cakes

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

My first taste of moon cake was at a hole-in-the-wall Chinese bakery during San Francisco’s Chinatown’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese harvest festival celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest (October 3, for 2009). It was the nineties and I was fresh out college, living on my own in the Big City. I loved everything about city life: the way buses would gasp and lurch from stop to stop, the brisk and important way office workers rushed to their sky-rise offices every morning, and the way the bike messengers fearlessly jutted into, then zig-zagged through traffic. But I especially loved the little ethnic restaurants, with their unfamiliar aromas and menus written in incomprehensible script.

Chinatown, with its Pagoda gates, guarded by dragons of stone, and ornate street-lamps in the shape of Chinese lanterns, had always intrigued me. In a mere hour, one could drive from where I’d grown up in the suburbs — land of fast-food chain outlets and sprawling shopping malls –and be immersed in this other culture. I didn’t know what a Moon Festival was, but I was determined to find out. I pushed through the throng on Grant Street, which was closed to traffic, to watch the lion dancers bob and weave their giant paper maché heads to the crashing and clanging of drums and cymbals. I peered into all of the herbal shops wondering which ailments all of those musty herbs and fungi cured.

Every little bakery had a handwritten sign in the window advertising moon cakes. These bakeries were packed with customers, chattering and gesticulating wildly like traders on the floor of a commodities exchange, but they were aged Chinese women in silk jackets instead of men in wool suits. Each customer would eventually emerge, smiling, with pink boxes tied with white string, and scurry off, bumping into me without evening noticing as they exited.

Unable to contain my curiosity, I mustered the courage to enter one shop. I stared into the baked goods case. There were at least a dozen varieties, all about the size and shape of hockey pucks, but golden and pastry-crusted. Like Chinese pie. Having no idea which filling I might prefer, sweet lotus paste or duck egg or mung bean, I pointed at the one that looked the prettiest, stamped with ornate Chinese characters. “How many? she asked. “One,” I replied. “Just one?” she lifted an eyebrow, then retrieved my moon cake, slid it into a white paper bag, and handed to me.

Outside the shop, I pressed my back against the brick wall so that passersby could avoid me, then peeked in the bag. I examined my treasure, heavy for its size, admired the beautiful markings molded into the top, then gingerly bit into it. The cake did not yield. A strain of Chinese music, a violin, screeched and wailed in the distance. A trio of women in silk jackets brushed past me.  I bit hard and got a mouthful of dense, chalky dough and a smidgen of a vaguely-sweet paste. It wasn’t pie at all! More like Chinese fruitcake. I adjusted my expectations and took another bite. Still desert-dry. Disappointment overtook my frugal self, and I threw the rest away. I thought about those smiling women and their string-wrapped pink boxes and wondered who they were serving those moon cakes to, and what terrible things those people had done to deserve them.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

It would be a decade before I would try moon cake again.

On a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I met up with friends at a cafe for brunch to celebrate a friend’s birthday. When I arrived, my Vietnamese friends were already hunched over cups of tea –some steaming, some iced — or squat individual-serving sized Vietnamese coffee pots. While we contemplated the brunch menu, our host, the birthday celebrant, passed a parcel resembling a small hat box to our waiter, who disappeared into the kitchen with it. A table of twenty across the dining room had a hat box at their table, as well as numerous gifts wrapped in pink. A young girl at that table was wearing glittery butterfly wings, she would periodically show off, climbing down from her chair and twirling for all to admire. Near the end of their meal, the waiter removed the lid of the hat-box to reveal a three-layer cake, iced in white and decorated with exquisite frosting butterflies. French pastry culture is alive and well in Saigon. I couldn’t wait to see what was in our hat box.

Amazing Thailand in Uptown, Minneapolis

Easily one of the most unusual Thai restaurants in the Twin Cities, Amazing Thailand marries an extremely lush and aggressively chic decor to Thai food with a surprising amount of funk and bite. While quality ranges from dish to dish, most of the entrees on offer are sophisticated and relatively soulful executions of American Thai favorites, with a few ringers (durian on sticky rice, haw moak kai steamed in a banana leaf) thrown in that will surprise even relatively jaded diners.

Although its decor is painstakingly calculated and ambitious, the flavors on the menu at Amazing Thailand are most directly comparable to True Thai and Ruam Mit Thai of St. Paul — earthy, jungle notes creep into the menu, in contrast to more thoroughly tamed eateries such as Roat Osha and Tum Rup Thai.

BEST BET: Duck Curry ($13.50) is a harmonious mix of roast duck, grapes, pineapple, sweet peas, Thai “holy” basil, and coconut milk. The brightness of the fruit plays well with the silky coocnut milk and earthy duck.

Amazing Thailand
Thai in Uptown, Minneapolis
3024 Hennepin Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612.822.5588
OWNER/CHEF: TK
HOURS:
Sun-Wed 11am-10pm
Thu-Sat 11am-11pm
BAR:
Yes
RESERVATIONS/RECOMMENDED?:
Yes and No
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN:
Yes and Yes
ENTREE RANGE:
($10-17)