Neil Gaiman needs a coffee.
So, as you all have heard over, and over, and over, I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I'd say Mr. Gaiman and Mr. Paul Auster are my two favorite writers ever. I can't place one in front of the other, because it really depends on what mood I'm in. Sulky introspective too smart for her own good college student with an amazing lack of social skills? Paul Auster. Happy, chipper, dye my hair pink and wear lime green rain boots even when there is no rain? Neil Gaiman.
I obsessively follow his blog and saw a post where he mentioned that there was a coffee named after him. Then began the discussion on his blog and twitter page about what Neil Gaiman coffee should be. I wrote him and said I would love for Strange Brew to make a Neil Gaiman coffee. Heck, we have Rage Against the Bean, Frank Sumatra, and I've done my Paul Auster Macchiato. I even used to make a Delirium late based on something K. said when she worked here. Mr. Gaiman, being awesome, wrote me back right away and said to whip something up and send him the pictures!
Here is the journey towards the Neil Gaiman Latte.
First, I thought a lot about it. With his books, I always seem to get totally lost in the story. When I first read Neverwhere there were times that I would look up and have to remember that I was not Richard, lost in a strange world in London with a girl named Door, but I was at home with a cat demanding my attention and a dog that had to go outside and pee. He has the ability to make you completely lose yourself in a story, which can be a little scary. What if you forget how to come back? Will you just wander the pages forever while your body just sits there with a little smile on its face staring at the pages? Have their been cases of people slipping into what were thought to be comas, but are really people who were in Neil Gaimans world and didn't want to leave?
Or would you disapear, leaving only a copy of Fragile Things on a park bench somewhere?
Right. Coffee. Sorry, distractions and sleep deprevation abound today. My point is, I wanted a coffee that made you forget your worries for a couple of minutes. Something warm and smoky, that would give you the urge to curl up with a good book.
Based on my Auster Macchiato, I decided to use Cacao Beans (raw chocolate). Not only is it a bit of an extra caffeine boost for the nocturnal writer, when ground and mixed with espresso, it adds a rich depth that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I poured that shot, and decided to mix it with chocolate, honey, and soy milk. Honey, because I believe I've seen mention on his blog about keeping bees. I used local honey, from the comb. Which for some reason, looked a bit cloudy in real life, compared to how clear it looks here.
My first attempt, was the cacao bean with espresso, poured with a really nice creama, in soy milk, honey, and chocolate.
It was really good, but almost too sweet. The chocolate, even though it was a very little bit, overpowered the other flavors. The soy milk took away from what I wanted as well. Once again, it was too much flavor, and took away from the honey, which, while I didn't want it to be a dominant flavor, I wanted to be aware that it was there while drinking.
Attempt number 2 was much closer to what I was going for. Again with the cacao and espresso, and I also tried a pinch of raw sugar in the grind as well. Whole milk this time, and honey of course, with a little hint of cinnamon.
Very, very close. The honey and cinnamon went very well together, but the raw sugar in the espresso didn't do what I wanted it to. After Dan took a couple of sips, he agreed with me, and suggested to use the raw sugar on the edge of the latte. He also suggested that I drizzle the honey on top, along with the raw sugar, instead of mixing it in with the actual milk.
Attempt number 3 was perfect! Cacao bean, espresso, cinnamon sprinkled on the inside of the cup, espresso poured on the bottom, then whole milk, honey and raw sugar on top!
With the first sip, you immediately get the hints of sweet. The honey mixes with the milk, sugar, and cinnamon. The espresso follows immediately after, giving a nice, rich smoky taste to balance out the sweet honey and sugar.
You can see the edges of the glass here, where the honey and raw sugar mixed and almost caramelized. Almost like cracking into a creme brule when you drink it!
The cinnamon sprinkled inside the glass ensures that it mixes, and doesn't just clump up on top of your drink.
I was very excited to sample! I think this may be my new daily drink!
Sergio, one of our regulars, gave it a try. He's from Italy, and he liked it. So if the Italian guy likes your coffee, you know it's good! In fact, Sergio liked it so much that he got a second one!
Dan of course got to drink it too!
One of our customers Amanda, gives it a try!
After all the caffeine, we were a bit hyper, and Dan attempted to make a Dream Helm latte. It didn't work out for him ;)
Everyone who tried it loved it, and we're going to put one on the menu. If you're not going to be near Greenwood, IN, anytime soon, let me recap how to make one at home. (for those of you who didn't keep up, and are just looking at the pretty pictures)
The Neil Gaiman Latte
Take 1 Cacao Bean per shot, grind with your espresso
Pull shot, should take between 18-22 seconds to pull.
While your shot is pulling, steam some whole milk to 140. Your milk should spin, leaving you with a nice, glassy sheen on top.
Sprinkle cinnamon into your cup, then pour your shot into cup.
Add milk, attempting a little leaf art if you're so inclined.
Drizzle about 1 tsp of honey around the edge of your latte, followed by a half packet of Raw Sugar.
Enjoy while curled up on the couch with a copy of The Graveyard Book, Sandman, or Anansi Boys. Once the caffeine kicks in, stay up all night writing or painting your house. Whichever.