By Nicole Bayne
In today’s craft coffeehouse culture of sourcing single-origin roasts and taking many dedicated minutes to pour one serving of coffee, these delicate flavors extracted with the help from trained baristas don’t require enhancements. But that purity is over once fall hits and pumpkin spice syrup takes over the world.
If you like to know where your coffee is sourced, where it’s roasted and exactly how, and for how long, the grinds interact with water, but still want a little sugar in your life, these NoVA coffee shops make their own syrups—none of which mimic the scents of a particular seasonal pie—and combine them with bean blends for personalized, but still pure, combinations.
Owner Rob Shelton says Killer E.S.P. is a “pumpkin–free zone” and uses certified organic vanilla beans in the vanilla syrup. A pastry chef makes the raspberry sauce-like syrup. “We’ve all just been trained to go and drink chemically induced potions,” says Shelton. “You can tell the difference immediately between chemicals and real vanilla.”
Bonus: no-syrup-added Nutella Latte. Made with a teaspoon of Nutella it’s then followed by about 2 inches of hot milk before letting the concoction rest for a minute. Espresso is added after so it won’t sour. The rest of the milk is poured in last. / 1012 King Street, Alexandria
Made with real vanilla beans, owner Amir Khalil says his syrup has a natural vanilla taste. / 10160 Fairfax Blvd. #116, Fairfax
Housemade Syrups: Vanilla, Caramel and Mocha
From: Northside Social Coffee & Wine
Order: Vanilla Latte, made with Counter Culture‘s Toscano (recently renamed Big Trouble) with beans from Guatemala and Honduras
Coffee Director and Head Barista Seth Cook picks espresso blends specifically for a balance of vanilla, caramel and mocha—three naturally occurring flavors in coffee beans brought out during longer roasting processes. “You can experience how the flavors in the coffee change based on the way it is filtered,” says Cook. “Our three syrups are designed in such a way that they enhance these natural flavors.” / 3211 Wilson Blvd., Arlington