Norski Milk


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[W]hen I first set out to open the newest Dogwood Coffee location in watch and bicycle maker Shinola’s North Loop store, the task that to me seemed so daunting was that of creating a menu.

I wanted it to have the feeling of a Dogwood for obvious reasons, but I wanted it to compromise a bit with the branding and customer base of Shinola and the neighborhood. That’s not to say bad things about their customer base by any means, but rather that their attention span is taken up by the potential purchase of a high-end watch. They’re focused. I didn’t want to distract from that.

On the other hand I still wanted the menu to look unique and please the out-of-town customer that comes in. Keeping in mind that the everyday customer is still most important.

So here are a few little things we did:

Listed espresso as double (which gets rid of the immediate questions about it).
Offered fast and slow coffee, fast says batch brewed and ready to order, slow says brewed to order in a Chemex.

At the bottom of the menu I put a set of pairings: Shot and a coffee, shot and a cap, macchiato and a cap, cap and a latte.

This menu was in many ways for an out-of-town customer. That’s kind of what we all want, to be able to have a milk drink and an espresso. But it was also for the daily guest.

The other and most daunting task for me was to come up with signature drinks.

This neighborhood hasn’t yet had any third-wave coffee. Sure some of the locals know it and love it and are excited to see us, but some just really want a pumpkin spice latte. Let’s face it: it’s Minneapolis. It’s cold out there and they want that warm spice.

This neighborhood (the North Loop) is really lucky to have some excellent restaurants. One of them, an original that got the neighborhood going, is The Bachelor Farmer. When The Bachelor Farmer opened it was coined “Nordic-inspired cuisine.” They’ve shifted their position to “North- inspired” cuisine, which I greatly appreciate. We in the North have a different mindset. We’re quiet, understanding, and I think very aware of relationships.

This neighborhood is huge about relationships.

I wanted to use that. I also wanted to connect the menu to my heritage, I’m Scandinavian, and use a small restaurant in my hometown called the Norske Nook as the basis for one of the signature drinks. It’s not a great restaurant, but they have amazing pie and it’s one of those small town Wisconsin things where you go because that’s what you do. It’s cute. It’s quaint.

So my idea was to make a syrup base with warm spice (cinnamon, nutmeg) and give it something Scandinavian (lingonberry). I needed to sweeten it a bit so I used Ames Farms honey. I also diluted it to bring the consistency to a more usable level. The result is a people pleaser, a nod to my roots, and similarly cute.

Norski Milk Latte

I start by simmering the lingonberry juice, which I found online. I can’t seem to find one that isn’t fortified with grape juice or apple juice, but either works fine.

Simmer 500 milliliters lingonberry juice, then add the cinnamon and nutmeg, five grams of each. Then add 300 grams honey (we uses Ames Farms unfiltered) once it’s all warm. Then stir in 300 milliliters water.

I filter it all through a Chemex with an Able metal filter, to get rid of most of the spice remnants.

Then, the funny thing that I’ve found, is that if you add it to the espresso (like we do with most every other flavored latte) the first amount of milk that hits the espresso and lingonberry mixture curdles. I assumed that was because of the acidity of the grape juice paired with everything else. I tried acidity reducers and they just made it funny. So we decided to add the base to the milk, steaming the two together and pouring that over the shots. That way it doesn’t shock the ecosystem of the beverage.

What we end up with is a really cute pink-ish milk latte. And who doesn’t love a pink latte?

—Keith Mrotek is the manager at Dogwood Coffee’s Shinola location in Minneapolis. Check out the rest of the café in our February issue.  

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