Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: Phin & Phebes Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Considering the fact that I’ve tried literally dozens of different versions from different companies, I’m no amateur when it comes to coffee ice creams. Most creameries tend to go for the straightforward, sweet style when making theirs and some even throw in mix-ins to enhance the beloved caffeine-filled beverage. Every once in a while, a company will stray from the norm and take a slightly different approach. Phin & Phebes Vietnamese Iced Coffee is an excellent example of this. They say, “What’s better than coffee ice cream? Vietnamese Coffee ice cream! We took one of our favorite summertime treats and turned it into an ice cream flavor so you can enjoy it all year round. We make this flavor with a blend of regular coffee and chicory coffee and a hint of cardamom to make your mouth sing.” I haven’t yet had the opportunity to partake in an actual Vietnamese Iced Coffee, so first I thought I should find out exactly what Phin & Phebes had modeled their version after. The best definition I could find online stated that Vietnamese iced coffee is made with finely ground Vietnamese-grown dark, roast coffee brewed with a small metal French drip filter into a cup of full of sweetened condensed milk, stirred and poured over ice. This sounds like the ideal way to start a scorching day in Southeast Asia.

Image found on FlickR, courtesy of todd*
According to a few different sources, Vietnamese Americans introduced the practice of adding chicory to impersonate the taste of Vietnamese-grown coffee, but this addition isn’t found in the authentic version. Phin & Phebes opt for taste over tradition and decide to not only include chicory, but also cardamom for a little extra zing. After tweaking the formula to their liking, the end result is a super-premium ice cream that contains 240 calories per serving and 14% butterfat. This base-only ice cream has the same fluffy, yet substantial consistency that their other offerings have had, but is still plenty dense enough to show off all the complex flavors involved.

Although I’ve had both chicory and cardamom infused ice creams in the past, I’ve never experienced the two strong spices working in unison inside a singular pint. My first bite started off with the sweet taste of cream and sugar you’d expect from your standard coffee ice cream, but that’s where the similarities stop. As the ice cream begins to break down, the flavors of the dark roasted coffee beans, bitterness of the chicory and unique characteristics of the cardamom come through in just right the proportions to give Phin & Phebes coffee ice cream the one of a kind feel they were looking for.

Where I Found It: Phin & Phebes Shipment (also available here)
Grade: B

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