In the mushy-yet-magical coulee that is my imagination, Pumpkin Spice exists as a rejected sixth Spice Girl. Yoga-pantsed, Ugg-booted, and sexy-baby-voiced, poor P.S. just literally can't even function as a flavor.
Pumpkins are a thing. Pumpkin Pie Spice is a thing. But "Pumpkin Spice" is a myth that we seem to have collectively accepted as fact. What defines this imaginary Spice of Pumpkin that has infiltrated my Facebook feed? Aside from being a sensationalized marketing scheme for something that is realistically an amalgamation of artificial flavors, colors, and additives, what actually is it? And more importantly, why do we continue to care about it when there are so many other very real things going on in the world (and in Phoenix!)
I am willing to accept the PSL as a bizarre cultural totem and harbinger of fall festivities, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Here is a list of five things that I do like, that are happening soon, and that support our great local food and coffee folk.
Crepe Bar Is Doing Awesome Stuff. Again.
Is it possible to have a crush on a restaurant? Because I definitely have a crush on Crepe Bar. In October, they're giving us two new reasons to love their coffee program.
Reason one: their Crudo Mystery Menu dinner will feature coffee as a *primary* component of an otherwise top-secret menu. I can't tell you any more than that - but if you love great food and amazing coffee, or if you're just looking for an amazing culinary experience, be sure to buy your ticket ASAP.
Reason two: Crepe Bar's fall menu will feature a coffee drink that involves the use of heritage grains. The beverage is the brainchild of Shelby Moore. Aside from the coffee itself, the drink is entirely comprised of locally produced ingredients via Agritopia Urban Farm in Gilbert.
Allow me to paint you a word picture. It starts with gently aerated raw milk and Heart Roasters' Cold Brewed coffee. A touch of date sugar syrup adds sweetness and depth. Toasted ground farro and wheatberries are rich, earthy, and provide a soft textural component to the drink. It may sound strange, but let me assure you: this drink is 100% perfect in every way. Please try it.
While you are there, taste one of Chef Jeff Kraus's rosewater marshmallows. They are delicious, and will make your burps smell like a sexy French lady.
'Tis the Season, For Barista Competition
There is no good way to describe barista competition to a layperson, but I will try. It's sort of like Iron Chef meets Project Runway meets the Hunger Games, but with more suspenders and well-groomed moustaches. A barista prepares a fifteen-minute routine, during which time he or she must prepare a cappucino, shot of espresso, and signature drink for a panel of judges. These judges critique each and every aspect of the barista's service, from the accuracy of their flavor descriptors to their dress and demeanor to whether or not they left visible fingerprints on their glassware.
While my friends and family gather to watch Sportsball, I will be huddled over my laptop livestreaming the Big Western Regional Barista Competition from October 7th to 10th. Why should you care? Because three of Phoenix's finest baristas will be competing is why!
Harlin Glovacki of Nom de Plume roasters, Michelle Johnson of Cartel Coffee Lab, and Perry Czopp of The Coffee Chop will be in Rancho Mirage, California vying for the chance to bring fortune and glory to our sweet lil' town. Expect a full Chow Bella exclusive on these folks and a rundown of their routines next Monday.
Liege Waffles Have Arrived at Songbird Coffee
My BFF Leslie Knope once said, "We need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter, but work is third."
I would argue that coffee is third, but what's really important is that Songbird Coffee now offers waffles on weekends. And they aren't just any waffles, they're Liege waffles, lovingly ironed by Songbird Waffle Wizard Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer and her sweetheart Dustin Chaffin.
What is a "liege waffle," you ask? Well. A liege waffle is an extra rich, brioche-like waffle with the addition of pearl sugar. The sugar forms a caramelized, slightly crunchy "crust" on the waffle.
Elizabeth and Dustin will be serving up these beauties at Songbird every Saturday and Sunday. They will be starting at 9 a.m. and stopping when they run out.
Cartel Coffee Lab Will Release a Guide for At-Home Coffee Brewers
Cartel Coffee has recently announced that they will be releasing detailed brew guides. The booklet will feature step-by-step instructions for how to brew their beans on different devices. Adorable illustrations spell out each step of the process so fans of Cartel will be able to easily replicate the cafe experience without ever changing out of their jammies.
Included in the guide will be a basic manifesto on how to read and interpret specialty coffee labels. It will explain why variables such as elevation, processing method, and farm location are so important to the finished cup. The guides will be beautiful as well as educational, so be sure to stop by one of Cartel's six Arizona locations to retrieve your copy.
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Press Coffee is Releasing Fancy Cold Brew in a Fancy Flask
Let's not delude ourselves: sweater weather won't be coming to Phoenix anytime soon. Press Coffee Roasters intend to take full advantage of this fact by releasing their signature iced coffee in bottles that Nucky Thompson would surely approve of. The drink will come in a roughly 13-ounce vessel that bears an uncanny resemblance to Grampa's special "medicine" bottle.
An official release date for the Cold Brew Flask has yet to be determined, but look out for this furtively fun treat sometime in mid-October.