Today's Special: The à la Mode

Today's Special: The à la Mode

No ice cream required.
by Brodie Lewis | November 24, 2020

Turns out, the drinks you enjoy at your local coffee shop are just as easy to make as the coffee you brew every day. So, we're asking our roasters to share their favorite café recipes that you can whip up from home! Today, we're stopping by Madcap Coffee Company in Grand Rapids for a sweet and seasonal treat.

For many Michiganders, the fall season includes a trip to the orchard, which results in a bounty of all things apple for the coming months. This drink is an attempt to capture the seasonal tradition by mimicking the flavors of a classic dessert: apple pie à la mode.

The perk of this recipe is that you don't need to bake pie crust. Although, two things most of us might miss from the traditional dessert are the warm apples and vanilla ice cream. But, trust us when we say this drink is sure to impress.

During the beginning stages of this recipe, I found it difficult to transfer the apple’s acidity to a syrup, and ultimately, the final drink. Rather than using apples to create this acidity, I substituted malic acid, the most prominent acid found in apples. For the syrup, grind the cardamom just before making the syrup. After that, add everything to a pot with water and simmer for three minutes

To help balance this acidity, I added molasses for a rich sweetness, and cardamom to provide a complementing spice. Oat milk provides a creamy texture and pastry like depth to the drink, while the sparkling water helps separate each flavor and give the drink a crisp finish. All of these components come together to mimic the taste of the most delicious apple pie dessert.


  • 6 g ground cardamom
  • 400 g hot water
  • 300 g cane sugar
  • 100 g molasses
  • 8 g malic acid*
  • 50 g oat milk of choice
  • 50 g sparkling water
  • 1 shot of Madcap’s Third Coast espresso
  • Ice
  • Dehydrated Granny Smith apples to garnish


  1. Grind the cardamom just before making the syrup
  2. Combine cardamom and next four ingredients in a pot with water and simmer for three minutes to make the apple molasses syrup
  3. Add 28 grams of apple molasses syrup, a shot of espresso, and oat milk into a shaker
  4. Add ice and shake
  5. Add sparkling water
  6. Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass
  7. Add dehydrated apple peel (or a fresh slice of apple) and two sprays of old fashioned bitters to garnish

Once you taste this creamy, delicious coffee beverage, you'll wonder how you didn't make it sooner. The combination of freshly sliced apple pieces and spice make for a unique experience for your tastebuds.

*Although most grocery stores don't carry malic acid, home brewing stores tend to carry it as a brewing ingredient for beer and wine. To replicate the recipe at home without malic acid, I would recommend simmering three Granny Smith apples (sliced) in the syrup. If this doesn't produce enough acidity, a small amount of lemon juice (one tablespoon) could be added to help provide balance.

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