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Bay Books

1029 Orange Avenue, Coronado

Crista's sister was down from Montana. She too had been a barista here, at Café Madrid, and now she had something to teach her kid sibling.

"Bee Sting," she says to her. "You've got to try it." And by the time I stop for a cawfee, Crista is sold.

And by the time she tells me about it, heck, so am I. First new coffee idea in ages.

"This is how you make it," she says. She takes out a small cup, pours some honey in the bottom.

Then she takes it to the espresso machine and gives it a single shot. "Or you can have double," she says.

Then she pours in half-and-half till it's three-quarters full.

"And the pièce de résistance?" she says, as she brings out two big chunks of ice.

Huh. Splot! Splot! On the rocks. I hand over $2.50. You can't help thinking this should be happening at a rico-suave cocktail bar, not here at a streetside coffee cart (although this place is one of my all-time favorites).

The taste? It's like, well, coffee, milk and honey. Yes, refreshing, and I get the "bee" part — honey — but where's the sting?

Turns out there's another version, where you use heavy whipping cream, and you include in the mix three shakes of, uh, red cayenne pepper powder.

Dang. Gotta try this. I take one back to the ranch thinking surely the beautiful Carla will have some cayenne. The thought of heat with the cool has potential. But agh! No cayenne.

"Why thu heck would you want to ruin perfectly good coffee anyway?" says Carla.

Sigh. Have to leave that experiment for another day.

But meantime, something great happens. Carla's just mixed up some strawberries and raspberries. Now, suddenly, this coffee comes into its own as the perfect sweet counter-taste to the slightly tart rasp-and-strawb combo. It's not just the honey, but that espresso thing - different than the straight joe flavor, more toasty — that makes the magic with the fruit. Umami, perfect contrast, call it what you like, but man, you want it to go on forever.

Whatever, with summer coming, this sweet and maybe tangy joe could be the Next Big Sting...uh, Thing.

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