10 top-quality ice-cold coffee concoctions served in Budapest
Photo : Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest
20/7/2016, 8:13 PM●8-minute article
During summertime in Budapest, you can always cool down over a glass of cold beer or luscious lemonade, but nowadays the Magyar metropolis also offers an impressive variety of chilled-coffee creations. As Hungary’s capital is quickly turning into a specialty-java superpower, the cold-coffee selection stretches way beyond an ordinary glass of latte with some ice cubes dropped inside – many of the city’s most creative cafés now offer diverse chilled concoctions for coffee connoisseurs. We present the city’s top-quality iced-coffee specialties of Budapest, served at ten different locales.
As a first stop while researching this roundup, we visited My Little Melbourne to get familiar with the ice-cold filtered coffee of this cultic café found on Madách Square. One peculiarity of filtered coffee is that warm water is poured on the freshly ground coffee beans that are placed in a paper filter (in our case the beans came from Kenya), which results in a refreshment that is softer and more rich than even the best machine-made beverages. The icy version is even more diluted, as the hot coffee is filtered directly onto the ice that immediately melts, cooling the coffee. The result is a light, cold, refreshment-like beverage that brings out all of the aromas in the chosen bean, and can be sipped immediately after it’s prepared.
Solinfo – classic ice-cream coffee
Many people think that it is only natural to enhance coffee with some ice cream, as without any it is just coffee without the warmth. These people will likely become regulars at Solinfo, where iced coffee is as classic as ever: it is an Italian coffee with a huge portion of homemade ice cream and whipped cream, topped with some hezelnut sauce instead of chocolate, that brings a twist to its taste. It is probably not the best choice for people with lactose intolerance, but the hearty creamy-foamy coffee is a perfect alternative for a dessert after lunch. The iced coffee comes in different flavors; for anyone looking for a buzz beyond the ordinary, we recommend the Bailey’s and chocolate-cookie versions.
Kontakt kicked off in 2014 with Roket, a cold, nitrogen-infused coffee poured directly from a tap. This truly was a specialty in 2014, but it still counts as novel because it is only available in a couple of cafés around Budapest. Roket (650 HUF/2dl) still provides an interesting experience for coffee lovers, especially since at first glance its looks and taste are truly incompatible. We got a dark-colored frothy drink that looks like brown beer, and tastes softer than espresso. After overcoming our initial awe, we realized that Roket basically provides the experience of binging on beer, just with a caffeinated concoction instead of alcohol. In the near future, Roket will not only be available from the tap, but also in bottles to go.
The idea of coffee with tonic is almost as difficult to imagine as coffee from the tap, but indeed this also exists, and it is becoming more and more popular. At Budapest Baristas on Museum Avenue, they mix a cold brew with tonic, and serve it with ice and orange to create something of a coffee cocktail. The result is a perfect summertime refreshment, as it is sweeter than regular coffee and tastes delicious when it’s cooled. The main ingredient of the cold-brew tonic (690 HUF) is coffee from Honduras, which bears a slightly orangey aroma in itself, which intensifies in this drink. No need to worry about the bitterness and fizziness of the tonic either, as in the very end the harmony of flavors is flawless.
True to a specialty café, Mantra – found on Veres Pálné Street – entices everyone with something extra. We tried their icy latte made with almond milk and 100% clean almond butter (840 HUF), and it proved to be a perfect choice. If you like drinks that are milky and creamy but not too sweet (or if you follow a special diet), this icy coffee blend is a perfect alternative. The black beans they used for our coffee came from Colombia, but no matter what kind of coffee they use, there surely won’t be any disappointment when it comes to quality.
For true coffee connoisseurs, we probably don’t have to introduce cascara, which is made by steeping the dried coffee cherry tea in hot water, resulting in a drink that is a blend of coffee and tea – it is a little bit of both but not exactly either one. For the sizzling hot summer days, they prepare an icy version of this at WarmCup. Similarly to the cold brew, cascara is soaked in water for about 12-18 hours so the aromas can perfectly come out, and afterwards it is poured on ice, and that’s how this summertime drink is made. Do not expect a coffee-like experience, as its taste is rather reminiscent of a coffee-flavored ice tea, but it is refreshing, cold, and caffeinated, so it does the job perfectly. (WarmCup also serves matchaládé, a must for matcha lovers, which is a lemonade made of matcha powder.)
EcoCafé – icy caramel latte
Andrássy Avenue’s EcoCafé differs from all other coffee shops in Budapest, because everything here is made of organic ingredients. They do not offer specialty filter coffees or beverages with exotic names, but a high-quality iced latte (850 HUF), prepared with fair-trade coffee beans and milk from a Hungarian organic dairy near LakeBalaton. Due to its origin, the milk used in the coffee is more delicious and creamy, but obviously more fatty, too. (Vegans, dieters, and people with lactose intolerance can also order their drinks with plant milk.) We tried the caramel latte, which was pretty much perfect, but besides that, this delicious drink is also available in vanilla, chocolate, and peanut versions – just to mention a few. They don’t use any ice cream for their coffees, only ice, and they make the coffee concoctions with or without whipped cream.
After trying the cold-brew tonic we felt like we had to taste the espresso tonic, too (600 HUF), promising an entirely different experience – and so it was. To devour this delicacy, we chose to visit Espresso Embassy, where there’s absolutely no lack of icy coffee treats. It is relatively easy to make espresso tonic, as they simply pour a cup of espresso into a glass of icy tonic; it looks exciting, but is a little sour. It is difficult to process that our fizzy drink is sweet at first, and then instead of the expected bitterness of the tonic the sour taste of coffee comes through. The flavors are a lot stronger than that of the cold brew. We recommend this drink for lovers of sour tastes and for experimental coffee enthusiasts.
The most popular summertime drink of Madal Cafe is the Blood Orange Ice Nirvana (890 HUF), which is a blood-orange flavored double espresso. This is also an unusual and exciting combination, as we really don’t know what to expect. When the coffee is poured on the cold and fizzy juice, the ingredients separate nicely in the glass. Some people start with a straw to drink from the bottom, while others just mix it all up; we tried the latter option, which turned our drink into a faded-brownish blend. The Ice Nirvana is a tasty and orangey coffee that is not too sweet nor too sour. We think that blood orange is a much better choice than regular orange, and the drink looks pretty cool in the glass (making it highly recommended for a sober date). If you get used to the taste, you might even become addicted.
Barako – Ice Drip
Barako awaits lovers of specialty coffee near the Buda side of Margaret Bridge in a small shop run by a Filipino owner. The café got its name from the type of coffee they use here, which is also used to make an Ice Drip (650 HUF) in a glass that is really reminiscent of the tools of a chemistry lab. It takes about eight hours to make this drink, as the ice needs a long time to drip into the bowl, and finishing touches have to be added. Thanks to this effort we felt as though we were sipping on some quality Scotch, which the owner says is the secret behind the success of this drink. The Ice Drip has a sweet taste, but mostly the aroma of dark chocolate comes through. As the quantity of this drink is pretty limited, it is recommended to drop them a message on Facebook and ask them to save you some.