One hot-and-cold relationship

A billow of liquid nitrogen smoke and the pungent smell of fresh-roasted coffee is what guests can expect to find at Claremont’s new two-in-one coffee/ice cream shop.

Augie’s Coffee Roasters and à la minute have teamed up to enliven the Claremont Packing House, opening their doors on December 9, 2014. With their shared passion for organic products and unique ideology about thoughtful creation, their store is causing a culinary revolution in the City of Trees.

This new partnership is a veritable match made in heaven. Augie’s owner Austin Amento and à la minute owners Ryan and Cassie Berk have a history of working together and were glad to seize the opportunity to join forces on a more permanent basis.

“It’s a fun little collaboration that we have been wanting to do for a long time. We finally found the space where both of us can do our own thing but under one roof,” Mr. Amento says.

Á la minute boasts three locations in southern California, all of which serve up their crafty liquid nitrogen concoctions. It all starts with 100 percent organic ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible. Next comes the cold stuff. As they describe it on their website, “Liquid nitrogen is simply nitrogen (which make up 78 percent of our atmosphere) in a liquid state. It is -321 degrees and is obviously very cold.”

When applied to the ice cream ingredients, the liquid nitrogen produces a magical outcome. “Using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream minimizes the size of the ice crystals and results in a much creamier ice cream,” the company explains.  With a relatively small menu, à la minute is able to produce some intriguing flavor combinations while still keeping the integrity of the ingredients. Some of their unique mixtures include chocolate lavender, olive oil vanilla bean and strawberry balsamic. Each creation is topped off with some ingenious ingredients. The chocolate lavender in particular is coated with cocoa nibs and honey, so ice cream eaters are actually creating chocolate in their mouths.

This new cold fusion trend is gaining fans among foodies everywhere, including Veronica Sepulveda, who works in Claremont. “The unique flavors blend well and the fact that they make it fresh in front of you enhances the experience,” she says. 

A little too cold out for ice cream? Guests need only slide to the left side of the counter to indulge in one of Augie’s coffee creations.

If you are looking for a Starbuck’s-style coffee, you have come to the wrong place. Augie’s Coffee Roasters is all about bringing a new level of excellence to all facets of coffee production. Their commitment to this cause extends beyond the coffee shop to the farms where the beans are grown.

“We want to encourage good growing and farming techniques by purchasing only the highest grades of coffee and by supporting importers that offer fair and/or direct trade to hardworking farmers,” notes Augie’s website.

Each of Augie’s three locations serve a wide selection of coffee drinks whose beans have gone through an intense and loving roasting process. This includes a turn through their roasting machine followed by a round in the agitator. Beans are then inspected and sampled to make sure they meet the Augie’s high standards. Once they are deemed worthy, the baristas get to work using a variety of techniques to create their artisan coffee creations.

“I like the cinnamon-honey-soy, and my husband Brian is absolutely obsessed with their lavender latte! The place itself has a cool vibe—lots of young people hanging out,” says Iris Marquardt Johnson, co-owner of Claremont’s Ilo Collective.

While both establishments have thrived individually, it is the creative combination that is thrilling visitors.

“Everyone loves coffee and ice cream. It is a fun dynamic playing off each other’s energy,” says Mr. Amento.

This symbiotic relationship goes as far as offering a show-stopping coffee ice cream float, a local favorite.

So whether you are in the mood for a warm drink or a frosty treat, this dynamic duo has you covered. To find out more, visit www.augiescoffeehouse.com and www.alaminuteicecream.com or come in for a taste at their newest location in the Claremont Packing House, located at 532 W. First St., Claremont.

—Jessica Gustin Pfahler

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