With summer on the doorstep Australians are about to be hit by a deluge of cold coffee, but the most unusual will be a brew called Elixir.
Elixir comes in pretty glass vials in a rainbow of colours and is brewed using coffee from some of Sydney’s best specialty roasters, but the real secret of this cold coffee beverage is sound waves.
In a process that Elixir’s creator, Lee Safar, says is secret, coffee and filtered water are subjected to sound waves that she says affect how the coffee is extracted.
The idea behind this is cymatics, a tool for visualising the patterns that sound waves make when passing through a medium.
Why cymatics? “My background is science, particularly in genetics, but I personally have got a deep interest in sacred geometry and consciousness,” says Safar. “There’s a lot of science evolving about the effect of sound on different mediums, whether it be on concrete or air or on fluids.
“So let’s say somebody was extracting a pourover coffee: if we were to infuse that water with particular sounds, would it affect the way the water was processing through the ground coffee?” she asks.
The resulting drink is an attenuated version of more usual cold-drip coffee: a nine-hour Elixir extraction of Ethiopia Duromina beans from Edition Coffee Roasters in Darlinghurst is a pale golden colour with a whiskey-like cold brew coffee aroma. The flavours are very subtle – a bit coffee-ish, a bit liquor-ish, with maybe a hint of fruit, while an 11-hour brew of the same beans is a darker amber colour and has a more boozy bitterness to the flavours.
Elixir is more a coffee-based drink than a substitute for coffee made by more conventional means.
“What you will have noticed is that it looks like diluted cold brew. It’s not diluted anything. The full concentrate is what you’re drinking there,” Safar says.
“But what you get are those nuances that we go looking for in coffee. People say, ‘I can taste the raisins’ or ‘I can taste the mandarin’ or ‘I can taste green apple’ – they’re much more apparent in Elixir than they are in a cup of brewed coffee.”
Safar is very coy about the process – she offers no details like the dose, for example – only that the beans are “Elixirfied” for between one and 24 hours, which produces what she calls the “Elixir rainbow” – a range of colours from pale golden to deep amber, with a corresponding increase in the intensity of flavour.
One thing Elixir has going for it is a reduced caffeine content – no surprise given the flavour profile. “We’ve had the caffeine content tested in labs,” she says. “It evolves as you go through the hours, but in general it’s between a cup of tea and a cup of filtered coffee.”
Elixir is available in Sydney cafes including Edition Coffee Roasters (Darlinghurst), Harrys Bondi (Bondi Beach), Almond Bar (Darlinghurst), Maslows (Naremburn), Just Organics (Bondi Junction), The Wedge Espresso (Glebe), Reformatory Caffeine Lab (Surry Hills) and Apex Espresso (Gymea).
What about Melbourne? “At the moment we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to go into Melbourne. It will have to be at a time that makes sense to go to Melbourne, from our business model perspective, and if we can’t afford to go in there this summer we’ll go in next summer,” she says. “But we won’t go in there in winter; it doesn’t make sense in winter.”