Australia has always been at the cutting edge of coffee. From collectively hating Starbucks to postmodern, deconstructed flat whites to boxed cold brew, the land down under seems to be constantly asking itself, "What is coffee, mate?"
Well, the latest development in this apparent line of questioning comes via Melbourne's Matcha Mylkbar, and is blurring the line between warm smoothie and latte. What they propose is a bright blue coffee drink made from ginger, lemon, agave, blue algae powder, and coconut "mylk." That would make it vegan, caffeine-free, sugar-free, and thus void of any psychoactive properties—sounds like fuuuuun.
Deemed the "Smurf" by its creators, the latte-esque beverage costs AUD $8 (USD $6.10) and is part of Matcha Mylkbar's attempt to offer products that correspond with every colour of the rainbow; it also gets a lot of likes on Instagram. The hefty price tag certainly isn't in line with your run-of-the-mill morning drip, but there is a good reason for that, according to Mylkbar co-owner Mark Filippelli.
READ MORE: The Deconstructed Coffee That Has Australians in an Uproar
"[Algae] is such a powerful antioxidant that one gram of it every day has a huge [health] benefit," Filippelli told News Corp Australia. "The average daily cost of one gram is over $3, so that's why we're charging $8." And while the Smurf coffee is certainly a healthy drink, it also begs a larger question. Namely, how can something that has no coffee in it qualify as coffee?
The answer, apparently, is to let go of our oppressive preconceived notions that keep us shackled to old, irrelevant concepts of coffee. Filippelli told News Corp that he'd sold "at least" 100 Smurf lattes in four days, suggesting that the latte, and how it's supposed to taste, is in the mouth of the beholder.
"It tastes like a warm lemon, ginger, and honey tonic. We don't use honey, as it's not vegan, so we use agave instead," Filippelli said, adding that the Smurf has "quite a tart aftertaste."
While that doesn't taste like any latte we've ever had, kudos to forward-looking Aussies for continuing to push the boundaries of what coffee is. It's already destined for hipsters on other shores.
Time to ponder these questions over a hot, black bodega brew.