The current list of caffeinated winter drink specials at Cafe Grumpy are as follows:
+Cookie Butter Latte
+Candy Cane Mocha
+Maple Spice Latte
+Grumpy Nog (cold brew + egg nog)
As I surveyed this menu the other day, I didn’t bat an eyelash. A few hours later, I was sitting at my desk reading a story in which The Cut writer Edith Zimmermann slices unmelted cheese cubes into the bottom of a mug and pours coffee on top, when I had a chilling flashback: I didn’t…bat…an eyelash…?!?!?! I then promptly flashed forward to a hypothetical conversation with my hypothetical 16-year-old granddaughter circa 2070 wherein I lean forward in my rocking chair and croak, “When I was your age, the only thing we put in our coffee was milk and sugar!” To which she says, “Beep boop di doop deep” because she’s part robot, and we cheers each other with mugs of steaming broccoli latte.
View this post on Instagram
Broccoli lattes — I’m sorry, I mean broccolattes — are not a satirical thing I invented to make you laugh. They are a real beverage sold at Commonfolk, a cafe in Melbourne, and consist of what is essentially a regular latte mixed with broccoli powder formulated by Australian scientists. In a news item on the drink’s debut, Mashable wrote: “Although weird with coffee, the powder might be better off used for smoothies, dips, soups and baking, and researchers have also used it to make extruded, cheese puff-like snacks that have apparently been a hit with kids.”
And therein lies the rub, the revelation, the thought that has begun to rocketeer around the insides of my brain like a chaga mushroom-infused espresso shot: Nothing is actually “weird with coffee” anymore because coffee is no longer just coffee. It’s a milkshake. It’s an enema. It’s a well-rounded breakfast. It’s an art project. It’s an Instagram trend. It’s a kick to your sex drive. It’s an anti-anxiety supplement. It’s a fashion statement. It’s a protein-rich afternoon pick-me-up.
High on my spiral, I took to Instagram and asked my followers to tell me the most unusual things they’ve put into their coffee over the past year. Responses included: cayenne pepper, ghee, lemon, protein powder, peanut butter, lucky charms, blended-up cashews, ashwagandha, collagen peptides, salt, CBD, M&Ms and fun-sized Twix bars. It didn’t take more than a combination of mental inventory and light Googling to conclude that more than half of these ingredients are not simply examples of rogue humans going rogue, but rather components of legitimate beverages sold at legitimate coffee shops for mass consumption.
Take, for example, the “Chill Me Out Latte” at Chillhouse (a mixture of ashwagandha, reishi, mucuna pruriens, lavandin, lavender, butterfly pea and vanilla). Or the “Golden Turmeric CBD Latte” at Oliver’s Coffee. Or the “Lucky Charms Latte” at Melbourne Cafe. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!!!!! And is it wonderful or wackadoodle or maybe both? Are we putting too much pressure on coffee to be everything? Is it going to crack like a straight-A student who took on too many extracurriculars too fast? Are people who drink coffee with milk and sugar or even — gasp — plain black coffee a dying breed? Was 2018 the year in which coffee culture officially peaked?
Meet me down below to discuss any or all of these questions. I’m cracked out on caffeine (spiked with you don’t even want to know), ready and waiting.
Photos by Heidi’s Bridge.