Phoenix Public Market Cafe serves coffee roasted by Cartel, and the roastery’s light-roasted, fruity, acid-forward roast style is wholly reliant on good execution. There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to getting a good cup. Cold-brewed coffee is no exception to the rule: Without a lot of quality control to ensure good balance, a great coffee can quickly move into the “battery acid” end of the flavor spectrum. Luckily, the crew at Phoenix Public Market Cafe has ensured that each of the featured cold-brewed coffees are well-balanced.
It also has made some great flavor pairings. We tried three of the cafe’s five offerings and found that each of them pulled a unique set of flavors from the coffee and did a great job of pairing those flavors with complementary (and creative) ingredients.
The first drink we dried was perhaps the most standard. Called the “Code Blue,” this drink comprises only three ingredients: cold brew, sweetened condensed milk, and ice. The cold brew used is rich and chocolatey, and it holds its own despite the sweetness of the beverage. The sweetened condensed milk, in turn, takes on a less sugary, more buttery/caramel-like quality in the presence of the coffee. The drink is shaken with ice, so it is slightly frothy and perfectly incorporated. While this drink is certainly nothing innovative, it is a quality take on a classic combination.
The next drink we tried, the “Shaken Shiver,” highlights iced coffee’s propensity toward vegetal and herbaceous flavors. Made from cold brew, espresso, and habanero simple syrup, the drink is a little spicy, a little sweet, but also a lot more than that. The Shaken Shiver is unexpectedly complex; we caught hints of dark chocolate, fresh herbs, and just a touch of smokiness that ties together all the flavors. Though we can’t say this drink is something we’d like to chug down first thing in the morning, we certainly appreciate its depth of flavor and creative composition.
The third drink we tried was perhaps the weirdest — but also maybe the best. A subtler take on the espresso and orange juice combination (Jobot Coffee calls this a “Sunrise”), the “Desert Dawn” features cold brew, lemon, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The drink is served layered, and we were thankful that our barista gave us instructions on how to drink it (big slurps; don’t stir.) We were frightened at first, but we had nothing to fear. The cold brew’s fruity qualities shone through in this drink, which is decidedly acidic in a pleasant way. When the cold brew meets the orange juice, the flavors meld together seamlessly. This is a drink that can go very, very badly — but thanks to great execution by our barista, it really is enjoyable.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe is offering two other cocktails from their coffee bar: the “Frigid Irishman” (cold brew, whiskey, cream, and simple syrup) and the “Tidy” (a non-caffeinated take on thai iced tea, featuring Prickly Pear iced tea and sweetened condensed milk). We didn’t have a chance to try them, but if they’re anything like the rest of the menu, their thoughtfulness and simplicity are sure to impress.