One of life’s great, rare pleasures is the kind that comes from changing your mind for the better. That feeling when you hear a song you were too cool for in high school, and suddenly realize it’s a banger. That recognition when you see that the present you’d never have picked out for yourself has grown on you. That epiphany that if you just roast that vegetable instead of boiling it, it’s delicious. That experience when you try something just to be polite and wind up loving it.
I hate fizzy drinks 98% of the time (Passover Coke tho) and I loathe the flavor of oranges. So when, a few years back, I was in Nashville and found myself in the company a beverage that was both fizzy and orange, I was not pleased.
I was at Steadfast Coffee in Germantown, hanging out with a friend who worked in the neighborhood. She told me they had a coffee drink that would blow my mind, and then proceeded to order their famous coffee soda. As we sat together at the bar, I watched in gastronomic horror as the man behind the counter whipped up something that was both carbonated and involved a giant orange peel.
Then I tasted it. I don’t what kind of sorcery was going on here, but DAMN, it was phenomenal. I had to stop myself from ordering a second one so I wouldn’t be fighting heart palpitations at the Ryman later on. I’ve seen the flavor combination described as “Tootsie Roll-like,” which is somehow weirdly right and weirdly good. There is something about the sweetness, the bitterness, the bubbliness, that all comes together here.
Because I have no travel plans, I can’t experience Steadfast’s magical coffee soda in person any time soon. You can, if you are curious, order cans of Matchless Coffee directly and even get a Matchless subscription. But if you want to test the flavor waters here, try a low effort knockoff.
You could make a simple syrup here. You could cold brew your own coffee. Or you could be like me and just open up a few cans. Coffee soda makes an insanely refreshing summer drink, one that slides easily from morning pick-me-up to happy hour mocktail. And if you imbibe, who’s to stop you from adding a shot of Cointreau here? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. You might just open your mind.
Recipe: Orange Coffee Soda
Inspired by Steadfast Coffee
- 1 bottle of cold brew coffee
- 1 can of Orangina, orange San Pellegrino or similar effervescent citrus beverage
- 1 orange
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
- With a good vegetable peeler, peel off long strips of the orange skin, taking care not to get too much of the white pith.
- Pour ice cubes into two tall glasses, about halfway up each.
- Pour equal portions of your orange drink, followed by the coffee, into each glass, leaving room at the top. (About 1 cup each)
- Twist your orange peels to release their oils, then add to the glass. Stir well.
- If you like, add a few mint sprigs. Enjoy immediately.
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