Cafe: 85°C Bakery Cafe
City: Newark, CA

Summer is a month away, but we’ve got another heat wave here! It’s 90-100°F at most Bay Area cities this week. I slept late and woke up early today due to the heat…so I grabbed a refreshing iced coffee on my way to work this morning! :D

sea salt coffee

Here’s an excerpt about the drink, from TIME:

Chinese people like to eat foods that Westerners consider unusual, things like pig-blood cake and chicken-butt kebab, to name just a few popular snacks. So the introduction of salty coffee shouldn’t be such a shocker. What difference, after all, can a few sprinkles of salt make to your morning cup of joe? The chefs at Taiwan’s top coffeehouse, 85C Bakery Cafe, pondered that question for six months before they started serving sea-salt coffee, which became their best-selling drink following its [December 2008] debut.

What inspired those chefs to come up with sea-salt coffee? According to spokeswoman Kathy Chung, it was the Taiwanese habit of sprinkling salt on fruits like pineapple and watermelon to bring out their sweetness. Salty coffee also makes sense in a place where shaved-ice desserts are topped with corn kernels and breads get slathered with sugary frosting and bits of pork. “Taiwanese are greedy,” explains graphic designer Xena Wang, one of six friends who recently tried the drink for the first time. “We like to get all the tastes we can in one bite.”

Salty coffee may sound strange, but it isn’t so much an acquired taste as it is sequential tasting. You’re supposed to lick the salty foam to arouse your senses, then savor the sweet, creamy coffee. “Through the contrast of textures, you experience the saltiness and coffee at different times,” says architect Jeff Lu of his first encounter with the drink. “It’s a multisensual experience that works.”

If you’re interested in making it on your own, here’s a recipe that my friend JoEllen at Cuppacocoa concocted!