Ice Cream Artisans
A Q&A with Salt & Straw’s Co-Founder and Head of Innovation Tyler Malek
Q- Miami is clearly very different to Portland; how did you translate the Salt & Straw brand to fit Miami and Coconut Grove?
A- Coming into Miami, we did not realize how epic this project would be. We just had this feeling when we were walking around in Coconut Grove that it felt like home in Portland or Venice Beach.
For us, our thought process for how we create flavors is critical, we work with an artisan culture – jam makers, chocolatiers, etc. If you compare a Salt & Straw menu in Seattle vs. one in Miami, it will feel drastically different. There are the obvious points, the menu in Miami is fruitier, lighter, but there are even more nuanced points like the coffee. We worked closely with Panther Coffee to learn and lean into the coffee industry in Miami. Mike Van Tuyl, the head roaster at Panther Coffee, was interesting; he had roasted coffee in Portland for many years and shared with us his struggle when first opening in Miami – something we may have gone through ourselves if it weren’t for him. Every city has different expectations, different flavor profiles – you can’t learn that unless you soak it in, and we are grateful for our collaborators for helping us learn the ins and outs of Miami.
Q- Can you talk a little bit more about the creation of the Miami-specific menu?
A- Our goal was to pull together our new partnerships in Miami and allow them to build upon our menu: Panther Coffee, Wynwood Brewery, The Salty Donut, Coconut Cartel, Exquisito Chocolate – the flavors that have become the groundswell of the food community in Miami. We really leaned into them to learn about the city and coattail on their greatness to create our Miami-specific flavors.
As an example, the coffee ice cream in Portland vs. Miami is so drastically different that you would never guess that the same ice cream maker was behind both flavors. That is the epitome of what local partnerships do for us when we enter a new city – they help us properly position ourselves.
Q-Talk to us about the flavors unique to Miami and how they evolved
A- Panther Coffee Chocolate Tres Leches: When working with Panther Coffee, we realized a darker roast was essential, but that the way we infused the coffee into the cream was equally important. Usually, we use a cold brew coffee, but in Miami we use a hot infusion in cream – this way, the fat soaks up all of the dark oils and gives a really rich, slightly bitter, intense coffee-based cream. Then, we doubled down on the coffee flavor to create the chocolate tres leches swirl, which folds its way into the ice cream and is all done by hand. We incorporated more traditional spices like cinnamon and added a healthy dose of coconut-infused añejo rum using Miami’s Coconut Cartel, it’s truly epic.
The Salty Guava and Cheese: The Salty clearly makes a work of art out of their fried dough, something we paid homage to when creating the guava and cheese flavor which includes glazed brioche donut chunks, rich Florida guava curd, and puffed pastry streusel.
Wynwood Brewing Mango Habanero IPA Sorbet: This is definitely a flavor you will not find on the West Coast. We took the hop-heavy IPA from Wynwood Brewery, Miami’s first craft brewery, and added a load of fresh habaneros, cooling it off with Florida mangoes and citrus. You can taste the tropical fruit flowing from the hops – it’s designed to be as refreshingly quenchable as their beer.
Exquisito Chocolates Hazelnut Cookies & Cream: For this flavor, we worked with Little Havana’s Exquisito Chocolates, Miami’s first chocolate factory, using their chocolate Stracciatella and homemade Oreo cookie crumbs. The flavor is ultra-creamy and completely plant based.