Lattes at Sir Walter Coffee have taken a dark turn.
The downtown Raleigh coffee shop has started serving the latest Instagrammable drinks: blackout lattes and blackout lemonade, which have a teaspoon of activated charcoal added for its detoxifying effects.
They’re known as charcoal lattes in the United Kingdom, where they’ve been a hit at coffee shops there.
Frances Myers, training director at Sir Walter Coffee, thought Triangle customers would like them, too. The shop started serving them earlier this month.
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“I think Raleigh is very much about all the health benefits of things,” she said. “Charcoal has a lot of health benefits to it, and no one here has done it yet, so I thought it would be a pretty cool, interesting thing.”
Myers said the health benefits of activated charcoal include whitening teeth, lowering cholesterol, alleviating bloating, removing toxins and contributing to better skin health. She adds that charcoal is the “ultimate hangover cure,” but there’s no conclusive scientific research to back that up.
Jamie Brieger, a barista and bartender at Sir Walter Coffee, said they never use more than a teaspoon of the activated charcoal in the drinks, for taste and health reasons. Because while the charcoal is detoxifying, it can make medications less potent, Myers said.
“So if you’re taking any kind of medication or birth control, for example, it will actually weaken that a little bit,” Myers said. “So we wanted to do it very carefully, be smart about it, but also provide something really fun and different for everyone.”
Despite their slightly off-putting hue, both the blackout latte and the blackout lemonade have appealing tastes. The taste of charcoal in both drinks isn’t obvious until the very bottom, and even then it is more of a sandy texture than a taste.
In the blackout latte, the coffee itself is slightly smoky with a pleasant hint of vanilla. The latte is served in a black and white mug, which complements the colors of the latte it contains.
The blackout lemonade, a dark liquid, still has the taste of high-quality lemonade. It’s not too sweet, landing slightly on the sour side. With a cute sprig of rosemary as a garnish, it looks cool, too.
A blackout latte is $4.50, and a blackout lemonade costs $4.
Sir Walter Coffee opened in the base of the Edison Loft apartments on East Davie Street earlier this spring.
Leah Moore: 919-829-4671. Twitter: @leah_moore1