Denton Coffee Presents: Elderberry Spring Tonic at West Oak Coffee Bar

 Photo by Anthony Najera

Photo by Anthony Najera

To eat the flower, or not to eat the flower: that is the question you have to ask yourself today. With Springtime upon us (even though we aren’t quite sure that winter happened) comes a new selection of seasonal beverages at the local coffee shops. West Oak Coffee Bar unveiled their spring menu last week, and we went out to try one of their newest creations, the Elderberry Spring Tonic.

West Oak Coffee Bar opened on Denton’s downtown Square a little over a year ago. In that short time, the town’s newest coffee joint established itself as a cool, comfy, and hospitable place to hang out. The wooden tables along the West wall afford plenty of space for studying or conversing. Opposite those tables, the bartop offers a clear view of West Oak’s beer tap offerings and eternally happy baristas. Art pieces from this month’s featured local artist, Dan Black, adorn the exposed-brick walls at the back of the shop.

Nick Stevens, West Oak Coffee Bar’s Green Coffee Buyer and Director of Coffee greeted us and lit up at the mention of the barista specials. “You can eat the flower on it,” Stevens made sure to point out about the Elderberry Spring Tonic drink.

A refreshing beverage with a built-in snack? Consider us sold.

The Elderberry Spring Tonic consists of only two ingredients, but judging by the care and precision the barista put into making this drink, we’d swear it belonged in a national cocktail competition. As the barista pulled the espresso shot, he was carefully weighing, measuring, and timing the coffee every step of the way. Using a spoon to layer the espresso on top of the tonic and ice, the beverage was then garnished with a brilliant magenta bloom.

Fawning over the beautiful concoction, the pungent scent of berries and flowers quickly filled the air. The espresso, an Ethiopian coffee roasted by local favorite Novel Coffee Roasters, had a naturally fragrant aroma of fruit and flowers. It was evident this single origin espresso was deliberately chosen to take this drink to another level.

 Pre-stir. Photo by Anthony Najera

Pre-stir. Photo by Anthony Najera

Another question that had to be answered before imbibing: to stir or not to stir? The coffee experts at West Oak Coffee bar suggested doing it either way, so we went for both.

Before stirring, the first sip was mostly the espresso, with sweet, tart notes of blueberries and jam providing a pleasant pop of flavor. After a longer draw, the tonic washed away the taste of coffee with tangy citrus burst and a hint of bitter quinine. It perfectly encapsulated a spring day in North Texas: a bright, sweet afternoon that transitions into the slightly bitter (yet still pleasant) cool of the evening.

And then we stirred.

 Stirred. Photo by Anthony Najera

Stirred. Photo by Anthony Najera

Pro tip: stir gently, lest you lose half your beverage to a bubbly reaction. This method allowed much more of the aromatics in the elderflower tonic to shine through. It also created a nifty head on the beverage akin to a root beer float.

While drinking through the layers was fun, mixing the separate components into one uniform drink made for a balanced experience on the palate. It also made for a drink that was consumed in about three more seconds without realizing what had happened. No regrets.

The garnish, as the excited Stevens previously mentioned, is a flower. It tastes very plant-y. We suggest stick with eating the petals; it’s probably not an excellent idea to eat the stem. But hey, we aren’t botanists, and we certainly are not here to tell you how to live your life. You do you.

Next time you head to West Oak Coffee Bar, make sure you take a photo of your fancy beverage and use the hashtag #thedentonite on Instagram so we can keep up with all your tasty beverages!