What do you get when you mix soda and espresso? You don’t want to know — trust us, you really don’t want to know. Which is why we tried the Phat Americano at Greater Than Coffee, so that you’ll never have to.
Greater Than Coffee is less than perfect, though they do some things pretty well. A cafe attached to co-working space Co+Hoots is bound to be thoughtfully designed and generally kinda fun to be in. The shop's hot drinks are served at a drinkable temperature, and the milk is well-aerated. The staff is kind and thoughtful, and the food selection features a few intriguing items. Tamales and waffle empanadas at a coffeeshop? Yes, please.
But most every rose has a big, disgusting thorn. And Greater Than Coffee’s greatest downfall is, sadly, their coffee. Their beans are roasted by Espressions. And with a name like “Espressions,” it has to be bad.
The Rule of Syrups has, once again, proven itself an infallible measure of shop quality. In case you’ve forgotten, the Rule of Syrups states that as the number of flavored syrup bottles on display in a cafe increases, the likelihood that the shop’s coffee will totally blow also increases, perhaps even exponentially. Greater Than features many flavored syrups, and, through little fault of their own, their coffee is pretty abysmal.
Espressions’ espresso has a distinctly phenolic quality about it. It tastes like dirt and rotten peanuts. It’s fair to assume that this blend probably hasn’t been QC’d since the days when calling something “Phat” was a thing that people did, so maybe it makes sense that the “Phat Americano” features this outdated and unpleasant blend as a primary ingredient.
The drink’s other ingredient, Coca Cola Classic, is pretty damn difficult to mess up. Poured straight from a glass bottle, it was sweet, complex, and refreshing on its own. Duh.
We’ve seen the "espresso + soda" thing work in the past. But it’s tricky, and it’s wholly dependent on having a coffee and a soda that actually complement one another. When soda water reacts with espresso it can produce some pretty icky, bitter results. Maybe the soda can mask this on its own — but it helps if the espresso will play nicely, and not bring too much additional bitterness to the table.
In the case of the Phat Americano, this is, sadly, not the case. The espresso itself was notably over-extracted, which likely made it taste more bitter than it might have had the shot been properly monitored. When added to the Coke, it produced a concoction that tasted like soda served out of a dirty ashtray. Not pleasant, and definitely not Phat.
At least we can check that one off our bucket list.