You want to know what the secret to the best iced coffee in the world is?
It’s quite simple, really.
Take two different roasts, with different flavor profiles, make cold brew from both of them, and then combine them into a single drink.
The result is… perfection.
At least, that’s what I thought.
I learned all of this the other week as I was drinking coffee over at Four Barrel, which I consider the best purveyor of java in SF.
I must admit that I’m a bit luke-warm on the whole cold-brew thing. Coffee is meant to be hot.
But on a warm day, a glass of iced happy-juice can do the trick.
One of the guys from the shop told me a long story about the entire creation process. Here’s the gist of it: The roasting team over in Oakland had been experimenting with different methods of creating cold brew, and different blends, for the last 12 months.
After dozens and dozens of rounds of experimentation, they had stumbled upon perfection.
To make sure that their cold brew is as good as possible, they place it inside of air-tight kegs—to preserve the stuff at the moment of coffee conception.
I was told all of this before I drank my first glass, and I must admit I was sold.
And, yes, it tasted really really good. I noticed the two different layers of flavor that I would expect from a two-coffee blend. They perfectly harmonized, vibrating like two well-plucked guitar strings.
To spread the joy, I brought a friend of mine to the same place yesterday. Earlier, we had grabbed a glass of cold-brew from Blue Bottle (another one of the top spots here in SF), so we had a good point of comparison.
We sat down at our table with our two cups of keg-poured coffee and dove in. I hadn’t told her about the onerous process that went into producing the secret recipe.
She took a sip. “Mmm, this is good.”
Good. Not mind-blowing.
“I’m not sure which one I like more. This one or Blue Bottle.”
In my mind, there was no comparison.
How could she not taste the magical coffee fairy that graced her glass?!
I smiled. “Yeah, they’re both solid.”
I was holding back. I wasn’t going to go into coffee-nerd mode and tell her the story of the coffee Manhattan Project over in Oakland that had spent months inventing the world’s most devastating weapon of mass caffeination.
But, in that moment, I was reminded of the power of storytelling and conspicuous effort. You see, there’s a ton of research showing how we value things much more when we see (or hear about) the massive amounts of effort that went into them. This is why open kitchens are such a good idea—you see the chefs toiling away on YOUR dish. This is also why we love Kayak.com so much. It shows us all of the work it’s doing fetching our results for us (“Searching American Airlines… Searching United… Searching Virgin…”).
In the case of my favorite iced coffee, the guy at the store told me about all the effort they put into the 12 ounce beverage I was consuming. When put in that light, five bucks for a cup of coffee seems like a bargain. It was the result of hundreds of hours of coffee wizard time, after all…
Which reminds me. Have I told you guys about all the time I put into these emails? And all of the labor… the typing… the clicking… the…