With summer’s finest month upon us, it’s an ideal time to indulge in an entirely new cold brew coffee drink made decadent with scoops of ice cream. We’ve always featured an affogato in our cafes, but we’ve never offered its inverse, the ice cream float.
Until, that is, we were approached by the iconoclastic duo behind Humphry Slocombe, an ice cream parlor in San Francisco’s Mission District. We’ve been fans of owners Jake Godby and Sean Vahey for many years now. Their ice creams are masterful combinations of the unexpected. Take their Secret Breakfast, in which vanilla ice cream is laced with bourbon and speckled with cornflakes. Or, Elvis: The Fat Years, a hedonistic combination of bacon peanut brittle and banana ice cream.
Their Tahitian V*n!ll@ may appear plain in comparison, but the combination of hand-scraped vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and Bourbon vanilla is so good that it shocks. A floral aroma hits your nose a scant moment before overwhelming your palate, relying not on sweetness but on depth. It is this unspeakable flavor that Humphry Slocombe has decided to pair with our Cold Brew for an expletive-worthy drink, the Coffee Ice Cream Float.
Since opening their shop in 2008, Humphry Slocombe has had only four floats on their menu. The Coffee Ice Cream Float is their fifth and their very first one made from coffee. Just as we are self-professed Humphry Slocombe fans, they are, thankfully, admirers of Blue Bottle Coffee. While Godby and Vahey have often toyed with the idea of a coffee float, it was only when they tasted our Cold Brew that they found a worthy partner for their Tahitian V*n!ll@. Our Cold Brew has always been a fixture at our cafes. With new brewing and bottling techniques, we can now share it with a larger audience in delightful miniature cans.
The Coffee Ice Cream Float that Jake Godby has invented is a departure from the usual in that there is no sparkling element. It is an entirely adult drink: house-made dark chocolate syrup builds the foundation, a scoop or two of Tahitian V*n!lla gives substance, and a can of our Cold Brew provides the brisk, unsweetened foil—the very context in which the ice cream, well, floats.
Each component is an ideal version of itself, but together, a performance unfolds. At first, the ice cream remains on the bottom. Then, with the surprise of a chemistry experiment gone delightfully awry, the scoop ascends with force, perhaps spilling coffee over the rim of the glass along the way, eventually finding a new equilibrium at the top of the float.
A first sip delivers chocolate, coffee, and melting vanilla ice cream in succession. Before your eyes, distinct parts lose their identities. Each subsequent sip is different. Each is addictive. Like any performance worth repeating, a successful ice cream float is a union of opposites. Something altogether new forms, and like a masterful improvisation, it never stays the same.
The Coffee Ice Cream Float will be available at Humphry Slocombe, where you can spend a San Francisco summer day spinning in their vintage Woolworth lunch-counter chairs, enjoying the best coffee float imaginable. Perhaps by the time you've finished, the fog layer will have burned off, and the August sun will have revealed itself. Doubtless, with the buzz of coffee and ice cream and so much spinning, the mounted calf on Humphry Slocombe’s wall will appear to have two heads.
If you aren’t in the area, we’re delighted to share the recipe for the float below. Enjoy it with abandon. After all, summer lasts only so long.
Coffee Ice Cream Float
Recipe courtesy Humphry Slocombe
- Large scoop of Humphry Slocombe Tahitian V*n!lla ice cream
- 1/3 cup of your favorite chocolate sauce (try Guittard)
- 1 can of Blue Bottle Cold Brew
Pour 1/3 cup chocolate syrup in a tall glass. Top with one large scoop of Tahitian V*n!lla ice cream. Slowly pour a can of Cold Brew on top. Enjoy, preferably with a blue straw.