In the age of social media, restaurants and cafes have been tripping over themselves to create the most picture perfect entrees and drinks, and coffee shops aren’t immune to this new age competition either. Even before Starbucks came out with the impressively “Instagrammable” Unicorn Frappuccino, cafes all over the world were scrambling to come up with ways to one-up each other on social media in their never ending attempts to cash in on Millennials’ love of all things shareable. The latest is a cafe in Australia who recently came up with the “carrot-cino,” a cappuccino served in a carrot, which came just after they introduced the “avo-latte,” a latte served in an avocado skin. While fun to look at, the real question is, have these attempts gone too far? In a time of rainbow coffee, turmeric lattes, and deconstructed coffee, the carrot-cino is definitely the weirdest, but are there any trends worth even trying?
Locals Corner, a coffee house in Sydney, Australia, are the masterminds behind the carrot-cino, which is basically just coffee poured into a hollowed out carrot. They’d be the first ones to admit that their latest and greatest creation is more about the aesthetics than practicality. “We just like doing different things, we’ve being doing a few of these, one with an apple, one with an avocado,” owner Vanja told Daily Mail Australia. “This week was a carrot and next week we will do something different.” It’s a cool idea and it’s certainly unique, but there’s only one problem: “It would be very hard to drink out of because it doesn’t hold coffee well,” Vanja explained. The heat of the coffee makes the carrot break down, so you’d have to down it fast in order to keep your carrot-cino from becoming a soggy mess. Also, since the “cup” is so small, the coffee inside has to be much more potent than usual to make up for the size difference.
This isn’t Locals Corner’s first produce-related gimmick. They’re also the proud creators of the avo-latte and apple-latte. Both are nothing more than coffee poured into hollowed out avocados and apples respectively, but they represent a growing trend in coffee shops: a trend for the sake of being trendy. Sure, there are still baristas and coffee lovers out there trying new techniques and coming up with unique flavor combinations, but it seems like many of them are just trying things out just so they can be the first to serve the newest “it” drink.
Of course, there are some other, notable trends that have made headlines over the past year and there are some definite winners and some definite losers in the bunch. One clear winner was rainbow coffee, the colorful drink that made waves on Instagram. Even though it looks like something out of a magical fairytale, the only thing that separates rainbow coffee from regular, old brown coffee is just food coloring added to the milk. Still, though, these concoctions are totally gorgeous. Another trend that’s supposed to be taking off is turmeric lattes. Turmeric might be something you’re more familiar with as an exotic spice, but people have actually been adding it to their coffee for generations. In addition to giving your morning coffee an added kick of spice, it also gives your immune system a boost, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can even help improve your skin. People in India typically drink it before bed to help them sleep.
Now, it’s time for the losers. We have to admit, we hope these two trends never see the light of day again. Deconstruction is one of the newest buzzwords surrounding food these days, so of course, someone was going to try and apply it to coffee. Step into a Melbourne coffee house and ask for a deconstructed coffee and they’ll provide the ingredients, unmixed, served in beakers on top of a flat piece of wood. Yeah…if we wanted to make our own coffee, we’d have just done it at home, thanks. Another “Oh no, they didn’t” comes from a new craze: mixing espresso with tonic water. Espresso tonic, as it’s called, is exactly what it sounds like and results in a drink that looks pretty cool…but the taste is crazy bitter.
It’s important to keep pushing the envelope in order to make delicious discovery, but when this race of experimentation only results in creations that are only noteworthy because they are new, not because of the taste, everyone loses. The customer trying to drink hot coffee out of a disintegrating carrot loses, the cafe owner who made the gamble loses, and coffee, sweet sweet coffee, loses the most.