Early in the morning, before I’ve had coffee, is not usually the time of day when I feel most adventurous. I cannot even begin to relate to the sort of people who pop out of bed, bright-eyed and ready to take on the world without even so much as needing a cup of coffee. I do not trust those people. Hell, before 10 a.m., I generally don’t trust anything.
But on a recent groggy morning, waiting for an almond milk matcha latte from Local Press + Brew, owner Ben Johnson slid an unfamiliar drink across the counter in my direction, and my vanity prevented me from admitting my hesitation.
The Sunrise, an iced drink with espresso layered overtop orange juice, was a curious ombre of brown fading into sunshine-bright orange, an uncannily stark contrast of color and substance.
“Just trust me,” Johnson said. “It does a thing.”
After one sip, I felt it — or rather, I felt ... something. It certainly wasn’t disgust. Despite the parts of my brain pointing out that espresso and orange juice should not taste good when mixed, this drink was bright, happy and refreshing. The espresso in tandem with Local’s fresh, organic, cold-pressed orange juice made for a flavor profile that swirled between so many different experiences: sharp, sweet, bitter, creamy, tart, chocolate.
I could feel Johnson watching my face, waiting for me to confirm what he already knew: Despite the odds, the Sunshine is awesome.
The city of Phoenix, as it turns out, has known this for quite some time. As Dallas writer Alyson Sheppard recently pointed out in Extra Crispy, this unlikely combo is a popular drink in a city that also, for several months out of the year, gets approximately as hot as the deepest depths of hell.
Johnson, who was born and raised in Phoenix, came across the drink while visiting family back home.
“We describe the Sunrise as having a tootsie roll/dark chocolate and orange flavor profile,” he says. “I thought it was perfect for us since we are a juice and coffee bar. Of course, we use our organic, raw and cold-pressed orange juice with our custom espresso blend from Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters.”
This isn’t the first drink that dips into Local’s dual personality as a juice bar and coffee shop. They also serve a coconut Americano and coconut nitro cold-brew made with their house-made juice.
“We of course embrace the traditional aspects of coffee, but we really love our coffee with a twist vibe,” he says.
Most customers are a bit hesitant, Johnson admits, but when they try it, he says, they tend to see the light.
“I keep telling people to just trust me,” he says.
Local Press + Brew, 1605 N. Beckley Ave.
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