In an age when coffee is discussed as if it were wine, there’s very little room to talk about the pleasures of an Israeli ice cafe, which seems to be a pretty unique Israeli invention (as some Haaretz users have kindly pointed out to us!). This blended iced coffee is kind of like a Starbucks Frappuccino, but without all the extras. After much debate, for the sake of this article we are calling it a frozen coffee drink – that cruel, icy, rebellious sibling of cold coffee.
A frozen coffee may not be the first choice of those sophisticated types who seek out single-variety organic coffee or want a specific terroir or a particular light roast, or even those simply looking to maintain their figure.
If we’re honest, though, especially in these sweltering days when it’s hot and suffocating outside, a frozen coffee is exactly what we need. Moreover, if calories and our conscience didn’t exist, we’d probably drink a lot more of it.
In honor of summer, which is drawing close, we’ve decided to come out of the closet and make an emotional confession: We love frozen coffee. We love it so much that we’ve tasted and rated every type offered by the various coffee shop chains – from the superb to the terrible, from the best to the worst.
The factors in our ranking were the coffee’s taste, sweetness, consistency, size and price. Now, you too will be able to make an educated decision, go out and enjoy a refreshing frozen coffee from a chain near you.
The Loveat chain claims that it was the one to brought organic coffee to Israel. Moreover, it says, aside from being 100 percent organic, its coffee is 100 percent from Arabica beans and it is a fair trade product.
In addition to the excellent coffee brews and blends – and with apologies to their reputation – the frozen coffee here is also excellent. The chain’s employees say they prepare it on site twice a day, from brewed coffee.
It is sweet but strong, and the bitter taste of the coffee is properly and harmoniously balanced with the sweetness. It maintains its uniform (and proper) consistency to the very end – well ground, not too thick and not too thin, and it therefore feels as if it were lightly whipped. In short, it’s tasty, balanced, indulgent and precise.
Price: 20 shekels ($5.60)
Upgrades: A “Ice Loveat” in which bitter Belgian chocolate is added to the standard Frappuccino (25 shekels)
At the moment, there’s only one flagship store in Tel Aviv (at the Tel Aviv Port), so this isn’t exactly a chain. Nevertheless, you can find also Caffe Diemme’s espresso at restaurants such as Shila and Yaffo Tel-Aviv.
Anyway, Caffe Diemme’s frozen coffee is sufficiently excellent to be worth noting. Like its regular coffee, its frozen coffee is made from 100 percent pure Arabica, taken from nine different varieties, which produce the Italian chain’s unique blend. This coffee is later made into an essence from which the frozen coffee is made. Consequently, it never feels artificial, but it does feel full of caffeine.
Rather like at a small stand or narrow bar in Italy, the drinking experience itself is meant to be something like drinking coffee (rapidly). But whether or not you drink it in a single sip like espresso, the frozen coffee here is pure pleasure. The taste of the coffee, which is unique to this place, is what makes all the difference. And the price is a bonus.
Price: 12 shekels
Upgrades: Try the affogato – soft vanilla ice cream being drowned in an espresso shot (15 shekels)
At Cafe Louise, many kinds of coffee seem to pride themselves on their health qualities. Astoundingly, even the frozen coffee falls in line with this agenda.
First, it isn’t prepared from instant coffee, but only from pure organic coffee. Second, it’s not sweetened in advance (in tiny lettering, the menu says you can sweeten it with agave nectar, honey or date honey). Third, you can substitute soy or almond milk for regular milk at no extra cost.
And the taste? Wow, it’s tasty. In fact, this is the frozen coffee whose taste most closely approaches the original taste of the coffee, and it comes with a cheeky bonus – a small heap of roasted beans on top. In short, it’s a great pleasure for people who love caffeine and bitter tastes in general, but who nevertheless want to indulge themselves with a chilled coffee.
Price: 18 shekels
Upgrades: What more do you need than frozen coffee with almond milk and date honey? Perhaps a shot of wheatgrass and soda on the side.
We admit that we didn’t expect to find tasty frozen coffee at Café Joe. And certainly not at a store which looks like it hasn’t been visited in several decades (and was actually located in a gas station convenience store).
The frozen coffee here comes in two sizes – small and large; and two versions – regular and light. The light has half the calories of the regular. It’s important to note that the light isn’t sugar-free, but is merely made with half the quantity of both sugar and milk (and therefore more water).
We tried both drinks and, to our great surprise, actually liked the light version better. In fact, the light frozen coffee is a delicate, well-balanced coffee in which, because it is less sweet, you taste the bitter flavor of the coffee more, along with a hint of floral vanilla in the background.
Price: 17/20 shekels for a small or large frozen coffee
Upgrades: At some stores, you can add pecan or milk chocolate shavings (23 shekels)
Another surprising addition to the excellent section was the light frozen coffee at Ilan’s. In fact, the only frozen coffee they offer here is the light one (a rather daring step, we must admit). Not only that, it’s also made entirely of natural ingredients. In other words, milk, sugar, espresso ... and that’s it. No added flavors, heaven forbid.
And if that weren’t enough to impress us, the waiter at the cafe (or at least the one who served us at the Seven Stars Mall in Herzliya) was even able to explain that for every 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of milk, they put in 900 milliliters of espresso on average (which is a relatively large amount) and 120 grams of sugar (which is relatively little). That’s also how they explain why the drink costs so much.
But the taste? This is a perfect frozen coffee: sweet but not too sweet, thick but not too thick. In short, it’s icy coffee the way icy coffee ought to be.
Price: 17/21 shekels for a medium/large frozen coffee
Upgrade: A frozen coffee with a scoop of ice cream (26 shekels)