Espresso Jell-O Shots? hmm….

Yesterday, following an hour at Boyd Coffee (still a family-owned company after 112 years), I decided to take the scenic route back into the city. Instead of taking I-84, I drove west along Sandy Boulevard through Parkrose toward the Hollywood district. Not quite coincidentally, I ended up at Case Study, a café that keeps pulling me in, partly because I never know what new beverage might be available to try. The last time I stopped in, I tried the shakerato. Yesterday, I was planning to just have a glass of ice-brewed Geisha (from Panama), but Ricky, the barista always creating new things, insisted I try the Jell-O shot too.

It was, in a word, interesting.

The concoction was a small cup of espresso-flavored gelatin (slightly larger than a shot glass) with whipped cream on top. Case Study makes the base with unflavored gelatin, espresso and a little sugar. Each of the cups contains approximately the equivalent of a shot of espresso (in this case, a single-origin from Guatemala). To serve it, they add the whipped cream and create a confection that is somewhere between a chilled vanilla latte and a coffee aspic.

The thing that stood out most about the Jell-O shot was the texture. The gelatin was chewy and buttery. Normally when I think of Jell-O, I imagine something light, but the shot was rich and heavy. You could split one with a friend and be satisfied.

If you are a big fan of Jell-O, the espresso Jell-O shot is worth a try. I recommend you don’t wash it down with iced coffee, though—especially if you have a relatively empty stomach. The caffeine/sugar combination of the two together packs nearly as much punch as Marlen Esparza. 

Coffee alchemy – the shakerato

Today, after a quick lunch at Pizza Nostra (Northeast 48th and Fremont – I highly recommend the pepperoni), I pedaled down through the morass of construction on Sandy Boulevard and stopped in at Case Study.

Unsure of what to order and feeling adventurous, I asked Ricky, the barista, for a recommendation. Case Study always has lots of interesting things going on – they bring in a wide variety of different coffees, some of which are very high-end. They like to experiment with different beverages and presentations too. One time they served me an espresso paired with slices of green apple and a small vial of honey. As a barista competition judge, I appreciate the creativity.

For this visit, Ricky recommended a “shakerato.”

“A what?” I asked.

“A shakerato. It’s espresso and a little bit of sugar, shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker. The result is…magical,” he assured me.

Espresso on ice? Not something I would normally order, but why not? It is summer after all (though it has often felt like Junuary) and I’ve had plenty of cold-brew lately.

The shakerato had several characteristics of a quality beverage. First, it was visually interesting. In the clear glass, I could see a thick caramel foam resting heavily on the  espresso beneath. It looked like a sampler of freshly-poured Guinness, though the taste was nothing like the famous Irish stout. The beverage was sweet and fruity, reminding me of white grape juice. The coffee flavor was fairly muted and the foam’s texture was light and silky. Overall, the beverage was very unique.  There is also a latte version of the shakerato that sounds interesting, but that will have to wait for another day.


Shake it...In addition to the shakerato, this summer Case Study is also cold-brewing a Geisha varietal from Colombia that is tasty. Like I said, they are always trying out new beverages, in addition to their traditional coffee lineup. When construction on Sandy ends, which should be soon, you will be able to roll in on the smooth new street and indulge your inner coffee adventurer.