Somewhere around the time when Caramel Cocoa Cluster Dolce White Chocolate Cupcake Vanilla Bean Frappuccinos became a thing, we lost track of what's going on with the beverage R&D over at Starbucks. Seems like things are pretty inventive over there.
We did take note, however, when Starbucks started serving alcohol at 70 of its locations in 2015, with many more adopting "Starbucks Evenings" since. And now, we're witnessing the natural progression of this marriage of mass-marketed espresso drinks and booze.
The coffee megachain's wild 'n' crazy new creation is called the Espresso Cloud IPA, a "handcrafted beverage made with the unexpected combination of espresso and craft beer." (Nevermind all of the coffee stouts that are currently on the market.)
The drink consists of an IPA served with an espresso shot—which has been shaken with ice, orange, and vanilla, producing "a rich cloud of microfoam"—on the side. When you pour the shot over the beer, it creates a frothy head of foam and an ombré gradient of coffee-beer.
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The creator was Justin Burns-Beach, a coffee crafter who works on the development team at the company's Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle. Prior to that, he was a barista at a Starbucks in Phoenix, Arizona for eight years, so he surely knows his way around the flavor preferences of the typical Starbucks customer.
Frankly, it sounds kind of good. You can order it at any of the Starbucks locations that currently do Starbucks Evenings (i.e., serve booze), and if you're feeling timid, you can always knock back the espresso shot separately.
Soon, "microfoam" might be as ubiquitous in our cultural vernacular as "Venti," "java chip," "skinny latte," and "Seriously, how did they butcher the spelling of my name this badly?"
And sorry—there's no pumpkin spice version. Yet.