From turmeric to blue algae, Daniel Thompson talks us through the alt coffees that put Unicorn Frappuccinos to shame
As Soho House’s global head of coffee development I’ll be honest: I default to a single-origin black filter coffee most mornings. That said, like a growing number our members and guests I’ve become partial to a health-boosting alternative later in the day.
Superfood lattes made with nutrient-rich ingredients like matcha and turmeric have been around for a while, popularised in body-beautiful cities from Sydney to Santa Monica. But since Starbucks released its limited-edition Unicorn Frappucino, swirled with pink, blue and purple, interest has hit a peak.
Famously spat out by Katy Perry, this colourful drink wasn’t actually a superfood latte, with ingredients including Frappucino syrup and “pink powder”. But it helped to kickstart the trend for coffee alternatives, with a flood of eyecatching, health-boosting drinks popping up on Instagram and driving awareness of natural products like dragon fruit, charcoal, beetroot, lavender and blue algae.
Now, while the people who spend time in our Houses still overwhelmingly prefer their lattes with a caffeine hit (and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that coffee is good for you too), we are getting more and more requests for what I think of as “alt coffees”. If you’re yet to try them, here are my top four to work into your repertoire.
And remember, whether you’re having a turmeric latte or your favourite coffee, cow’s milk is standard but all Soho Houses also serve oat, almond and soy milks. If you’re into health I highly recommend trying a non-dairy alternative, my personal preference being oat milk.
What is it? What’s in a turmeric latte varies across the board. Soho House’s mix uses cold-pressed turmeric, cold-pressed ginger, black pepper oil and honey. The black pepper oil helps the body absorb curcumin, the key compound in turmeric, and comes with its own health benefits besides.
Why drink it? Turmeric is a wonder spice with a delicious earthy taste. It’s also anti-inflammatory, reducing joint pains and muscle aches; balances blood sugar; can aid weight loss; supports heart, liver and brain function; improves skin health and even promotes mood balance.
Find it at… All Houses and The Ned. Made with our own in-house recipe by our House Press partners.
What is it? Japanese ceremonial green tea powder. Traditionally mixed only with water, it’s delicious in a latte. Our baristas use high-grade Taiki Tea, a 100 per cent organic matcha green tea grown in Uji, Japan, where it’s only harvested once a year.
Why drink it? Bright green matcha is full of antioxidants like the cancer and heart-disease fighting epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG): some studies show the highest grades contain three times more EGCG than in regular green tea (be wary of lower grades that don’t pack the same antioxidant punch). The caffeine also helps to boost metabolism and aid concentration.
Find it at… The Ned, all Houses and UK Hoxton properties.
Beetroot and dragon fruit lattes
What is it? A hot-pink drink made by mixing high-quality dried fruit or vegetable powders with milk.
Why drink it? Let’s be honest, they’re very pretty. And while the benefits of beetroot and dragon fruit lattes aren’t as far-reaching or scientifically proven as the rest of the pack, they’re still full of vitamins and goodness. Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants; vitamin C; polyunsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins. Meanwhile beetroot is rich in calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, folic acid and potassium – all great for your bones, liver and kidneys.
Find it at… The Ned. Beetroot is available at Malibu Kitchen and dragon fruit is on offer at Kaia.
What is it? Originating from China, this raw fermented tea is a blend of tea, water, sugar, bacteria and yeast cultures and has been around for over two millennia – seriously old news to most of Asia and Eastern Europe.
Why drink it? Nutrient-dense kombucha is filled with naturally occurring probiotics, which are good for your gut. Low in sugar and filled with antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids, it’s also said to improve digestion, aid weight loss, increase energy; cleanse and detox.
Find it at… Select Houses across the UK, select restaurants at The Ned, and UK Hoxton properties. We use Jarr Kombucha, Europe’s first kombucha tap room, which is based in Hackney Wick, East London.