3001 University Avenue, North Park
(No longer in business.)
I'm not often a dessert guy, and will often walk right past Heaven Sent without a second thought about what kind of cakes might be on display within. However, I am a coffee guy, and will usually fall for a simple bait and switch. So, "meet for coffee" becomes "meet for coffee at a pure butter bakery." At which point, resistance is futile, and I'm getting a cupcake.
Many are familiar with the cakes, tarts, bread puddings, éclairs and other sugary delights of this shop on the southeast corner or North Park's liveliest intersection. Looking inside one of its counter cases will shake anyone's resolve, and even the most determined "no dessert for me" will turn into "let's just keep it to one if we can, then maybe take a couple home for later."
I managed to keep it to a Boston Cream cupcake, this time, lured in part by its ornamental chocolate crown and low price.
Less well known may be how good the coffee is at Heaven Sent, and one brew in particular: the Kyoto Cold Drip. At $3.50, it cost more than my cupcake, and I regret none of it.
Whereas my cupcake was presented on a refined ceramic plate with an attractive dusting of powdered chocolate and a caramel swoosh to match that chocolate crown, the $3.50 iced coffee came out in a cheap plastic disposable cup, with a straw.
But that's okay, all the fancy stuff took place behind the scenes. The so-called Kyoto cold drip process involves the type of equipment you might expect to see in a chemistry lab. Water slowly drips through tubes onto a bed of coarsely ground beans. A filter even spreads the drip out so it doesn't so much as trickle through the grounds as it does moisten them. The coffee is drawn down through more tubes into perfection.
It's incredibly slow — 8 hours or more — and yields a richly flavorful, brew with very low acidity. It's ideal for iced coffee, even in a plastic cup. In fact, this Fair Trade-certified coffee tasted good enough, black, to stand up to the extraordinary sweetness of my dessert.
No complaints about the Boston Cream, but butter and sugar don't leave a lot of room to appreciate the sort of nuance good coffee beans can deliver.
It's a pretty phenomenal iced coffee, and potent, so next time I probably won't order it at 8 p.m. on a weeknight. Instead, I'll embrace some sunny afternoon when caffeine sounds like the perfect excuse to allow a little sugar into my life.