As I'm sure is the case with most of this city's caffeine-addled coffee addicts, I am a creature of habit. I frequent the same coffee shop, and I order the same thing. It's not without cause, as I've found what I believe to be the perfect coffee creation in the Cortado served at Catalina Coffee.
My wife, on the other hand, likes to shake things up a bit. It was at her pressing that we found ourselves driving deeper into the heights for a recent mid-day java fix. She'd heard through the grape-vine that Antidote was a great place to grab a quick cuppa, and had been pressing me for days to go there.
After going around the block in search of parking, we meandered into the smallish shop's ordering area and took a look at the offerings, pretty typical coffee selections. A wide assortment of pastries, cookies, and other edibles (including cupcakes from Sinfull Bakery, cookies from Michael's Cookie Jar, and sandwiches from Kraftsmen Baking), a surprisingly large and well thought out selection of bottled beer, and a brief wine list help round out the menu, making this an easy stop for a light lunch or snack to go with your joe, or a nice spot to relax over a few drinks.
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We picked up a handful of treats -- our four-year old was demanding her sugar fix -- and were just about to order a couple of simple lattes when our eyes lit on something special. Antidote serves a Cajeta Latte. Cajeta is a milk caramel, similar to dulce de lece. Cajeta is slowly cooked so that the sugars caramelize, and the mixture turns dark and viscous. It has a complex, nutty taste, with both caramelized sugars and milk solids contributing a depth of flavor unparalleled by other caramels.
While some versions rely on cow's milk, Cajeta is traditionally made from sweetened goat's milk. Goat's milk adds a subtle gaminess and extra lactic tang to the flavor profile of Cajeta, setting it apart from other milk-based caramels. In Antidote's Cajeta Latte, the caramel is nutty and subtly sweet, lacking the cloying taste of syrup-sweetened lattes. The goat quality comes through slyly, adding an intriguing twist rather than taking over the flavor. It was a delightful beverage.
Our one complaint was that the flavor of the espresso itself wasn't quite as rich as we prefer. In all honesty, the coffee taste was somewhat hidden in the drink, blending a little too seamlessly. While I don't want the flavors to be fighting each other, it is nice for a full-bodied espresso to assert itself a little more, acting as a bass-note on top of which the other flavors should harmonize.
Now, if I could only get someone to marry the heady, rich, full-bodied taste of a Catalina Cortado with the intoxicatingly deep sweetness of an Antidote Cajeta Latte. I don't care which shop makes it happen, I just want it done.