The "Nik" in question is Nik Krankl, who finished second at last year's U.S. Barista Championship and now heads Single Origin Coffee at the Original Farmers Market. His eponymous cold brew is similar to the one served at San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee, which itself is based on the chicory-laced coffee for which the Crescent City is famous. Rather than using a dark roasted coffee blended with chicory, like New Orleans coffees Cafe du Monde or French Market, Krankl uses Verve Coffee Roasters coffee and brews the grinds and fresh roasted chicory together in water over a full 24-hour period.
As he explained to us recently, the resulting intensely flavored coffee concentrate is cut with milk, then a touch of simple syrup is added before the whole drink is thrown over ice. The chicory flavor in the final product is distinct; it infuses the coffee with a licorice taste that would pack a punch if the sweetness from the syrup didn't mellow it all out to a playful jab.
The jab, actually, feels vaguely familiar, as if you've been hit by that flavor before. And, if you've grown accustomed to drinking coffee at Vietnamese restaurants and eateries in the San Gabriel Valley or almost anywhere else Stateside, you probably have. Nik's Cold Brew is reminiscent of iced Vietnamese coffee, only without the thickness or heavy sweetness from the condensed milk that is swirled into the coffee after it drips through the phin filter. And this makes sense: Walk into any almost any Vietnamese eatery, and there's a good chance you'll find pallets of Cafe du Monde stacked near the kitchen, or see its distinctly yellow-orange tin repurposed as a tip jar.
Back at Third and Fairfax, you can take Nik's Cold Brew and complete your spiritual jaunt to New Orleans over at Bob's Coffee and Donuts at the opposite end of the market, which, if you're lucky, will still have a beignet or two available just for you. If you're unlucky, as we were, there are worse things than having to settle for a simple glazed donut to eat alongside Nik's Cold Brew. Rain or shine.