Citrus and coffee have a long history together. Whether it’s serving espresso with lemon peel like they do in Italy, or last year’s trend of mixing iced coffee with lemonade into an Arnold Palmer of sorts, there is something about the combination that works. The latest innovation in the coffee world? Keeping the citrus and upping the ante by adding carbonation. Four different companies have rolled out sparkling coffee (or coffee soda, depending on who you ask) with a citrus component this year. Whether you’re looking for an alternative to cold brew, energy drinks, or flavored seltzer, this new pick-me-up is something to consider.
Nashville sensation Matchless is the brainchild of longtime barista Nathanael Mehrens and the only one of the group without citrus juice in it. Coffee is first flash-chilled, which means it’s brewed hot then very quickly brought down to a colder temperature. It’s then carbonated and mixed with citric acid and demerara sugar. Mehrens says, "Carbonated coffee doesn't taste good on its own, and if you just add sugar, it's too sweet. You need the citric acid to balance out the bitterness from the coffee and the sweetness from the sugar. Coffee is like whiskey -- you can have a beautiful expression of it by itself, but you can also create something new with it, like a balanced cocktail, that's great in its own right."
Mehrens recommends serving the resulting concoction with citrus peel (he uses orange at his coffee shops) because “it builds on that refreshing quality. Having a garnish to finish the drink like you would with a cocktail makes it feel more complete.” After its introduction in 2012, the drink quickly gained a cult following in Nashville. While it’s currently only available on tap at local cafes and restaurants, Matchless is going national -- they recently launched a Kickstarter to get their coffee soda into cans. The campaign runs until the end of August, and the first cans should be available in December. matchlesscoffeesoda.com - By Frances Kim of Martha Stewart Living, Have You Tried Sparkling Coffee Yet? Here's Our Definitive Guide