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Friday, September 3, 2010

Three Iced Coffees with Asian Roots

Posted By on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 7:31 AM

click to enlarge Hooker's spiced iced coffee, $2.50. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Hooker's spiced iced coffee, $2.50.
Spiced Iced Coffee

Hooker's Sweet Treats: 442 Hyde (at O'Farrell).

In the Tenderloin, source of the city's best Vietnamese and Thai eateries, Hooker's Sweet Treats serves up an iced coffee steeped in the aromatics of the neighborhood's dominant cuisines. There's ginger, star anise, and clove, to name only the three we could make out, over a needle prick of cayenne. The coffee: Sightglass, French-pressed and chilled, sweetened with simple syrup made from unrefined sugar. The counter guy pours it over ice, hits it with a plug of Straus half-and-half, and you're ready for the streets.

click to enlarge Vega at Langton's Macau iced coffee, $3.50. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Vega at Langton's Macau iced coffee, $3.50.
Macau Iced Coffee

Vega at Langton: 1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), 260-1262; available also at Special Xtra: 46 Minna (at First St.)

Sure, the cold-steeped New Orleans iced coffee Blue Bottle's James Freeman taught John Quintos to make at SOMA's Cento/Vega/Special Xtra coffee kiosks is delicious (only difference with Blue Bottle: Quintos doesn't believe in pre-sweetening). But when the temperature spikes much above marine-layer frigid, it's Quintos' Macau we seek out. The Macau's not available at Cento on Ritch Street. But at Vega and Special Xtra, baristas scoop up a cup of ice, add whole milk and a shot of simple syrup made from organic sugar, then pour over a double shot of Blue Bottle espresso, depth-charge-style, its ripply fingers drifting gracefully to the bottom. Why Macau? It's where Quintos' business partner, Kirk Harper, has family roots. "They do this style of coffee there that's pretty similar to Vietnamese iced coffee," Quintos explains.

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