5.24.2006

trouble in paradise

Today I have a topic of great urgency and global importance, the kind guaranteed to draw a wide cross-section of passionate opinions.

Iced coffee.

When we landed in Canada on August 30, 2005, little did I know that a smooth, cold, delicious iced coffee, ice cubes rattling in a plastic cup, my summer safety valve, my five-month-a-year addiction, would become an elusive quest.

Where is iced coffee?? Not frozen cappuccinos, not "Coolattas" or "Icespressos" or Mochafrappuyaddayaddaccinos. Iced Coffee.

For those not familiar with the species, here is The Recipe.

1. Brew coffee extra-strong to withstand melting ice.
2. Put coffee in refrigerator.
3. When needed, scoop generous amounts of ice into cup.
4. Pour cold coffee over ice.
5. Add milk and/or sugar if needed. (For me, a little milk, no sugar.)
6. Add straw.
7. Slurp down with great happiness.

Last year I was shocked to find that this simple recipe was unobtainable from my local Second Cup. Tim Hortons was no better. But we were very busy - painting, unpacking, filling out forms, buying everything in Ontario - and I ignored the warning signs of growing dread.

Here we are eight months later, warm weather on the way, and not an iced coffee in sight.

The closest I can find is Starbucks' Iced Americano. This is bad on so many levels. First, must I order something called an Americano? Next, must I go to Starbucks? And lastly, must I go to Starbucks and order an Americano??

During baseball games, I'm seeing ads for a new iced coffee line at McDonald's, but I'd just as soon give up my habit than be forced into McDonald's. Even addicts have a bottom line.

I know I can make iced coffee at home, and I do, keeping a big batch of the decaf version in my fridge all summer. But what good does that do me when I'm out, having a caffeine craving, wanting to hang out in a cafe, or to wander around Toronto with a cold drink and a straw in my mouth?

What is wrong with this country? And why didn't any of you tell me about this before I moved??

37 comments:

Scott M. said...

I take it you've never look at our chocolate bar (make that candy bar) selection as well.

No Babe Ruth, no malomars, etc.

(In the states, I desperately miss Coffee Crisp despite the fact I don't eat it much here).

L-girl said...

I don't eat a lot of candy. If I eat one or two candy bars a year, that's about it. If there are Kit Kats and Snickers, I'm good.

That's Baby Ruth, by the way, not Babe Ruth - no relation between the man and the candy bar. I don't think I've ever had one of those myself.

James said...

Remember, we never kicked the English out, so we've got iced tea instead.

By the way, there's a similar headache for Canadians visiting the US. If you order "tea" in a restaurant, you are almost certain to get iced tea. Very often, you actually have to order hot tea, and deal with strange looks from the server.

For that matter, I remember having to explicitly ask for non-heated-up maple syrup at an IHOP. They couldn't provide it.

Scott M. said...

Good point on the tea issue. My wife and myself were baffled why we got an iced tea in northern New York when we went there and said "my apologies, we were looking for tea, not iced tea". We got back "Oh! You mean hot tea! I don't know if we have that!". Shocking, really.

L-girl said...

I also love iced tea, so that helps. Somewhat. Slightly.

However, the British occupation was a long time ago, and the presence of "frozen cappuccinos" means there has been some advancement since then. If Tim Hortons can make frozen cappuccinos, they can make iced coffee.

We learned about the iced tea / hot tea issue when we made our blues pilgrimage in Mississippi. Allan drinks tea with breakfast, and he had to order "hot tea", or else it would come iced.

That doesn't happen in NY or other northern states. It's a hot-weather phenomenon.

L-girl said...

Oh my! I just read Scott's post more carefully. Northern NY state?? That's really odd. I've spent a lot of time upstate New York, and I've never heard of that. Weird.

Scott M. said...

Ya, it was at a drive-thru in Tupper Lake (in the Adirondaks) IIRC. It took them some time, but they did find a tea bag (it looked like it was 10 years old though).

L-girl said...

Ya, it was at a drive-thru in Tupper Lake (in the Adirondaks) IIRC. It took them some time, but they did find a tea bag (it looked like it was 10 years old though).

Too funny!! Even though I've never seen the iced/hot tea thing in NY State, I can relate. One of our funniest travel-food stories ever happened upstate New York. I'll save that for another post.

Alex Elliott said...

Having moved from New England (where iced coffee is the default summer beverage) to Toronto, I feel your pain.

The best substitute I've found is Second Cup's iced latte, but it's still not the same.

L-girl said...

The best substitute I've found is Second Cup's iced latte, but it's still not the same.

Thank you, Alex. Practical advice is most welcome, even if it's a sad confirmation of reality.

Are you a Red Sox fan?

Kate said...

Last summer (my first in Canada - I moved here in July), I resorted to ordering a medium coffee from Tim Horton's and then asking for a large cup of ice, so I could pour the coffee over the ice and be on my way. (I tried the frozen cappichino at Tim Horton's once, and thought it was awful.) I too, love iced coffee in the summer and was amazed that it's not available (at least that I have seen) in the GTA.

L-girl said...

The hot-coffee-over-ice solution. An act of desperation. So sad for us.

I agree w/ you about Tim's frozen cap. Yuck.

Kate, I see you are anonymous online, but I wanted to mention, if you'd like an invitation to our June open-house, email me. We'd love to meet as many wmtc readers as possible, plus it's fun to meet former US-ers.

M@ said...

"You don't have ice cubes? You mean I gotta drink this coffee hot!?

-- Customer in Clerks

I sympathise but personally I hate coffee that isn't screaming hot. Iced frappacappastuffinos, ice cube coffee... not to my taste.

And comparing Tim's Ice Capp to anything with actual coffee in it is just unfair. It's like comparing apples to some kind of fruit no one has ever encountered in nature.

L-girl said...

I love hot coffee, too. I love coffee. No ccinos for me, hot or cold.

That Tim's frozen ccino, whatever you want to call it, apples or unnatural fruit, it's icky.

Kate said...

It's not that I am anonymous online, I just happen to look EXACTLY like Gary Coleman. Kidding, kidding, kidding. I will email you later today in more detail (I am on my way out the door right now), but in short, I'd love to come to your June open-house. I followed the infamous shoes-off/shoes-on debate closely, I can't WAIT to see how it works out at your party.

L-girl said...

yay!

Lorna said...

Darnit, I gave up coffee about 5 weeks ago and all this talk of coffees of all kinds is giving me a terrible craving. I guess I'll make myself another cup of decaf green tea. :-( Once I'm back on coffee after Primal Quest I'm going to give your iced coffee recipe a try.

L-girl said...

Oops, sorry Lorna - I remember you mentioned quitting caffeine when I was complaining about altitude sickness. Having quit caffeine on three separate and awful occasions, I know those cravings well. Good luck with your training!

James said...

That doesn't happen in NY or other northern states. It's a hot-weather phenomenon.

We've never been further south than Washington, D.C., but we've run into it all the time.

I too, love iced coffee in the summer and was amazed that it's not available (at least that I have seen) in the GTA.

There's obviously room for a highly profitable business venture here: iced coffee for US expats!

Speaking of leaving the US, one of my favourite bands, They Might Be Giants, just released a free song for use as a ring-tone, called Call Connected Through The NSA

Jacob said...

Hmmm... some of the vietnamese places downtown serve a form of iced coffee. Pho Hung on spadina near dundas serves a delicious "vietnamese" iced coffee.

L-girl said...

We've never been further south than Washington, D.C., but we've run into it all the time.

Yeah, Scott M also said it happened in the north, too. That's so bizarre to me!

There's obviously room for a highly profitable business venture here: iced coffee for US expats!

Lifelong Canadians might enjoy it too...

Speaking of leaving the US, one of my favourite bands, They Might Be Giants

I'm a TMBG fan, too, at least of much of their stuff.

L-girl said...

Pho Hung on spadina near dundas serves a delicious "vietnamese" iced coffee.

It won't work for the everyday craving, but it sounds yummy for a treat. Thanks. :)

andrea said...

Now I *really* want iced coffee after reading this. Why DON'T we have it here?!

As the sometimes lone voice from the west, at least in Washington state if you ask for tea they will ask if you want hot tea or iced tea in most places within spitting distance of the border, but iced tea is the default in the American northwest as well. But why is there no sugar in American iced tea? Is it so you can add it according to taste? Is iced tea without sugar popular?

David Cho said...

I smell a business adventure..

L-girl said...

But why is there no sugar in American iced tea? Is it so you can add it according to taste? Is iced tea without sugar popular?

It's so you can add sugar according to taste. People who don't like sweet drinks - like me - can't stand pre-sweetened iced tea. In Canada, I always have to ask, is it sweetened? And when they say yes, I drink water.

Many places in the US serve pre-sweetened iced tea, too. Annoying to me.

orc said...

«By the way, there's a similar headache for Canadians visiting the US. If you order "tea" in a restaurant, you are almost certain to get iced tea. Very often, you actually have to order hot tea, and deal with strange looks from the server.»

That's funny. I was about to get all indignant and say "of course that's not true!", but for the life of me I can't remember if I ask for "hot tea" or "tea" when I go to a restaurant. Occasionally I'm asked if I want hot or iced tea, but I don't know if it's because I leave out the important qualifier or if my order is parsed as "blah blah blah /tea/ blah blah blah"

The thing wrong with ice tea in (most of) the United States is that they (a) don't put any sugar in it and (b) put lemon in it. Ack, phfft!

Rabes said...

Several years ago (it has to be about 6 now) I was living and working in Toronto for the summer and frequented the Second Cup on Bloor near Spadina. They had iced coffee then - not lattes, not cappacinos - iced coffee. Their brewed coffee pour over ice. You added what you wanted. it was great. I wonder if you tried another location they would do it??

L-girl said...

The thing wrong with ice tea in (most of) the United States is that they (a) don't put any sugar in it and (b) put lemon in it. Ack, phfft!

I drink iced tea with lots of lemon and no sugar. :)

Can't you just add sugar and order it with no lemon?

I wonder if you tried another location they would do it??

Oh Rabes, you tease me with what might have been. Second Cups don't offer this anymore. When I try to order an iced coffee, they ask me if I want a frozen cappuccino or a this or a that, but no iced coffees... :<(

Alex said...

Iced coffee? Meaningless - it's iced tea that I miss. Real, sugary, diabetes inducing sweet tea. Also, you're not missing out on the McDonald's iced coffee - I had one two weeks ago while driving through New York. It was awful.

L-girl said...

Also, you're not missing out on the McDonald's iced coffee - I had one two weeks ago while driving through New York. It was awful.

Now there's a surprise. /sarcasm

Don't they make sweet iced tea in Canada?

James said...

Lori, who is more caffine-knowledgable than I am, says that Timothy's or Starbucks should have them. They may be seasonal, though. Now that May 2-4 is past us, it might be showing up on menus...

James said...

Lori also says she's sure that the Starbucks in the basement of BCE Place (Front & Yonge) has "iced shaken coffee", if that helps. :)

Alex said...

they have some kind of tea, nestea stuff, but it's not right. You're from the north, so you might not understand - there is no iced tea anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line or west of Louisiana. It's the only good thing to come out of the south - that and Guthrie's Golden Fried Chicken Fingers.

L-girl said...

Aw, I don't know about that. I may be from a non-slave state, but I think I know iced tea when I drink it. Not nasty Nestea stuff, freshly brewed, strong tea over ice. We drank it in copious quantities in New York City. Even my friend from Alabama drinks it.

James, tell Lori I said thanks. I'm on the trail. :)

Alex said...

you gotta say "non-slave" state? i'm not even from the south and i'm kind of offended by that. :)

L-girl said...

hee hee :)

Wrye said...

I miss Japanese canned coffee. designed to be served hot or cold, stright from the vending machine, sweetened and milked just right. Ah, bliss.