What makes a New Orleans-style cup of coffee unique? It's the chicory root.
A strong, bold flavor derived from the root of a blue-flowered perennial plant, chicory is usually ground into herbal tea mixtures. In New Orleans, however, baristas have been mixing it into coffee since the Civil War era, when coffee supply from France and England was limited.
Chicory coffee became a tradition, and now iconic cafés like Café du Monde include the root in their specialty drinks. You can also find chicory coffee in bags at grocery stores.
Chicory has a bold, strong flavor, much like dark roast coffee, with tones of chocolate and warm spice. For new Sarasotans Patrick Robinson and Gabrielle Banik, it makes for the perfect cup, which is why they sell it at their new coffee shop called Coast to Coast.
Robinson and Banik grew up in New Jersey, where they met skateboarding (hence the shop's logo) and drinking New Orleans cold brew from their favorite shop. After a stint in California, they decided to give the Gulf Coast a try since Banik's family had moved to Sarasota a few years back.
Coast To Coast, located on S. Tamiami Trail, opened on March 25 after a few months of the renovations.
"We renovated it ourselves," Robinson says. "It wasn't easy, but fortunately I know about plumbing, electricity and HV/AC and Gabrielle paints and planned the interior's design." Banik's dad installed the countertops and, after a few months, Coast To Coast was ready for business.
The menu is simple. There are light, medium and dark roasts named after the country from which the beans came from. Coast To Coast purchases the single-origin beans from farms and roasts them at its satellite roastery back in Jersey.
What you should really stop in for, though, is the cold brew.
"We begin by grinding the chicory root and mixing it into our Sumatra blend coffee grounds," says Robinson. "Then we let the mixture steep in water for 19 hours. This provides a bold, smooth flavor with those slightly chocolate, spicy notes. It tastes different than typical cold brew, but it's a tradition we love."
You can also get the hot version of the New-Orleans style coffee, or a latte version of the cold brew with your choice of milk. The shop also has delicious Stroopwafels—thin, round cookies with caramel centers—shipped fresh from a small bakery in New Jersey. The pour over coffee is worth mention, too.
"Most places in Florida are focused on espresso, but where we're from, pour over coffee is everywhere," says Robinson. "The process involves getting the amount and temperature of water just right and using the right basin and equipment."
If you want to try Coast To Coast's blends at home, you can purchase their beans ground or whole by the bag. Robinson said they are also working toward bottling their cold brew.
Coast To Coast is working toward accepting cryptocurrency as payment. Both Robinson and Banik are into the virtual form of currency that has risen in global popularity, and are even planning to run their own coffee booth at an upcoming bitcoin convention in Miami.
"We want this to be a place that is known for its in-house cold brew; a place where you can stop for a cold, refreshing drink before heading to the beach," says Robinson. "We hope to also host events like live music, but sticking with the coffee is key."
"We believe once you get a taste of this cold brew, you are never going back to the regular stuff," he adds with a chuckle.
Follow @c2ccoffee on Instagram for updates on menu items and special discounts.
Coast To Coast Coffee is located at 7650 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 3, Sarasota. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.