It's not the silt-rich cup of mud that is real Turkish coffee, brought to a simmer several times in a traditional ibrik. Kéan Coffee's twist on caffè latte is nonetheless my favorite OC coffee drink of the moment.
Real Turkish coffee is a thick, sedimented slurry sipped from small cups, much like the super-sugared Cuban cafecito. Both of those are the black tar heroin of the coffee world, and hard to find prepared by OC coffee shops. Kéan's addictive interpretation of Turkish coffee is far more refined, and refers to the sweet aromatic spice cardamom, whose pods are brewed into coffee and black tea across the Middle East.
The baristas pull espresso shots using the Special House Blend beans, roasted fresh in the store. According to Newport Beach General Manager Paul Valdez, Kéan uses more espresso shots in their drinks than Starbucks, for roughly the same price. The 12-ounce latte gets two shots, the 16-ounce gets three shots, and the 20-ounce gets four shots.
Cardamom and some cane syrup are added to the espresso and steamed milk. The foamed milk floated on top always showcases the baristas' signature latte art. The art skills vary from person to person, but they always take time to do it. When's the last time anyone at Starbucks brightened your day with pretty foam?
Lastly, cardamom is dusted on top. You get a twofold hit of this spice reminiscent of holiday baking. The dusting on top is warmed by the coffee, and as its sweet aroma wafts up, it bolsters its more complex flavors brewed into your coffee. The cane syrup adds a restrained sweetness – sip before you reach for more sugar!
Kéan Coffee, 2043 Westcliff Dr., Ste. 100, Newport Beach, (949) 642-5326; also at 13681 Newport Ave., Ste. 14, Tustin; (714) 838-5326