got til its gone
In theory and perhaps in practice, a coffee drinker who enjoys specialty coffee drinks something special most of the time. I am a specialty coffee drinker and I enjoy drinking something special all of the time.
Because of this preference there are moments when drinking something special becomes even more special – yes that’s possible. The culture of coffee provides numerous occasions to experience an upper echelon of coffee. There are limited edition coffees. There are high scoring Cup of Excellence coffees. There are limited quantity coffees. There are especially processed coffees. And then, there are coffees that may be in the canon of standards, that are pimped to become something especially beautiful when paired with elements of drink design, like herbs, spices, cream, and even sugar.
On Thanksgiving Day 2021, I attended Go Get Em Tiger’s annual drink event. This day is a passport into seasonal holiday drinks but with a fresh take using known ingredients to create something classic. This triumphant in-person return was welcomed after its absence from the effects of a global pandemic; I attended at the Culver City location.
This location’s open bar, a signature style of its many coffee shops, is designed to welcome you to come on up as soon as you enter. The invitation feels like you’re drinking coffee with neighborhood friends and that we’re all in this coffee ordering ritual together. I enjoy that being served here is a choice of communal and solitary imbibing, catering to a customers’ preference for either, according to their wish.
To be honest, I did have some trepidation about going to this event because of its popularity, which I knew would bring the crowds. I even saw my good coffee friend Joe Pak who travels for the good stuff like I do. We last saw each other at a coffee event pre-pandemic. Our nearly two-year, in-person reunion was worth this adventure. As I’m still easing out of doors and monitoring my proximity to people and groups, I wanted to drink with social caution. If you navigating the same social state of affairs, the outdoor patio space and rear seating area towards the back of the complex, facilitates this nicely.
Go Get Em Tiger advertised this event as a triumphant return of an annual celebration and it was clear that if one doesn’t observe Thanksgiving or Christmas, which the shop was wholly decorated with regalia of the latter, one could also be here for the celebration of coffee. That was me! This kind of event is where being a coffee drinker feels especially special. Space is created to put coffee on a platform. So, what were the mechanics of delivery?
I started with options from the Vegan Drink Passport. It included Hot Apple Cider, Eggnog Trio, Pumpkin Spice Latte ,and the Gingerbread Latte. I tried the latter two.
Lattes are ultimate comfort in my opinion so the Pumpkin Spice Latte was quite nice – it was approachable, familiar and brought on all the cozy feels. The construction was beautiful. You got to see this irregular disc that sat on top of the glass which was lined with espresso caramel. The instruction was to take your straw and break the spiced panna cotta which rested inside the dome of the drink. Then once the top broke, it fell into a base of espresso with almond macadamia nut milk. The juxtaposition of spice, silky panna cotta and mildly sharp tart, felt like I was given a legal license to play with my food. I played alright!
The Gingerbread Latte was pure decadence. It was a two cookie sandwich that was ginger on parade. There was ginger in the sandwich of course; t ginger that was in the cinnamon buttercreme in the middle of the sandwich, ginger infused into the oat milk, and a ginger syrup for the drink. You see why I called said ‘ginger on parade?’
There was no escaping the ginger(s), nor was I trying to. Experiencing this root forward drink was more than just a pump of flavored syrup. It was a take on ginger expressed four ways, providing me a flight into just how beautiful espresso and milk could play with ginger. So when I progressively dipped the sandwich into the creamy substance that was the perfect temperature of warm, it was playtime again for my inner child. I had two of these!
There was one more drink that I tried that I’m saving for last, the Chestnut Praline Latte. Picture soft serve ice cream, as this was the main context of the drink. Calling it a latte might seem confusing at first, as it was served in a dessert glass where the swirls of roasted chestnut and espresso climbed to heights one doesn’t see with standard coffee drinks. However, you couldn’t linger in its visual awe, as it soon began to dissolve into a mini pool of cream, thus your latte. A couple scoops and I demolished it, enjoying the chill of the cream eating through the luxe-looking toppings. This wasn’t just a sprinkle of spice and a placing of a praline, it was edible still life.
Coffee shops that create space to make room for coffee by design, elevate our experience with the elements of espresso, water, and milk. They push our sensory buttons and take our palates all the way up.
These are the times when coffee can be celebrated beyond its normal edifice of lifestyle beliefs. These are the times when ideas provoke good coffee trouble inciting us to taste beyond our comfort zone. These are the times when baristas use what we know to introduce us to a variation of what we can experience. Coffee happenings open new pathways for us to understand that coffee, while a beverage, can be so much more than that, it can be an event.