Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Continued on page 20 PHOTO BY ALICIA ADAMS Charcoal: Activated! Don't worry: You're not imagining things, it's just the activated- charcoal-latte trend playing tricks on your eyes. That's the only trick to it, though, the rest is all treat: Activated charcoal made from fuel sources like wood or coal, treated at super-high temperatures to increase their absorption capacity, has historically been used to treat poisoning or when toxins have entered the body, and now it's made its way into the specialty-coffee environment as a health-boosting beverage that can make mouths and bodies happy. (In other words, it's supposedly a wicked hangover cure.) Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, Calif., has been leading the charcoal charge, and activated-charcoal lattes have been a hit on the company's menu for over two years. Alicia Adams, Red Bay's director of coffee, says that the drink's conception "is in line with Red Bay's inclusive hiring practices and business model as more of a visual representation and expression of the #blacklivesmatter movement and conversations. The drink itself is delicious—strikingly black and white and super delicious." According to Alicia, other companies have taken the idea and made it their own as well: "Some are adding rose or lavender to give it more flavor," since the charcoal itself has a relatively neutral taste. "The most notable difference is the texture," Alicia explains. "The charcoal adds body and depth to the latte with a uniquely smooth mouthfeel." The charcoal used at Red Bay is coconut-shell-based, and Alicia says that such a small amount of the powder is used that it's safe, similar to a charcoal-based water filter. Mohammad Haadee of Red Bay Coff ee in Oakland, Calif. 18 barista magazine

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