No. 75: Macau Iced Coffee from Vega/Special Xtra

SFoodie's countdown of the 92 best things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

We love the cold-steeped, chicory-rounded New Orleans iced coffee that Blue Bottle's James Freeman bequeathed to John Quintos, after Quintos and business partner Kirk Harper launched SOMA's Cento and Vega at Langton kiosks (the only difference with Blue Bottle Quintos and Harper eschew sweetening). But Cento and Vega's Macau iced coffee is a proprietary work of local genius. The idea came from Harper, a San Francisco kid whose mom is Portuguese and Malaysian, originally from Macau. On family visits to the former Portuguese colony in South China, Harper tasted the local iced coffee (a cognate of Vietnam's cà phê sữa đá ) and loved it. “I decided to flip it a little,” he says. At Vega, the barista scoops up a cup of ice, adds whole milk and a shot of organic simple syrup, then pours over a double shot of Blue Bottle espresso, depth-charge-style, its ripply fingers drifting gracefully to the bottom. It's refreshing enough for days when the temperature slips above 70, but with enough weight to insulate against foggy mornings on Folsom like a cardigan.

Vega at Langton: 1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), 260-1262

Special Xtra: 46 Minna (at First St.)

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