Move over Matcha Latte, it’s time for the latest trendy drink: the Charcoal Latte. To be honest, I didn’t know it existed until recently… because it’s a recent craze! To me, the visual aspect of a drink is almost as important as the taste. I am a bit thrown off by the tar-like blackness and the glitter – I’m not sure I can stomach it! Let’s just say it’s no black coffee. People swear that drinks made with this amazing charcoal powder have health benefits and are good for your stomach, but I am a bit skeptical on that too. Search “activated charcoal and constipation” on the internet and you’ll see why.
A dash of glitter and an abyss of smoky black froth swirls around in a glossy white mug, accompanied by a delicate golden teaspoon. The fresh vanilla scent and the laughter of other customers creates a homey feeling and the desire for much needed human time.
Glitter and smoke aren’t the first things that come to mind when drinking coffee. For many, however, this is the cup of Joe that customers can’t stop coming in for every day.
Detox charcoal-based products of all types are becoming popular everywhere, from charcoal toothpaste, to face-masks, and now decorative latte art. Most people like to take pictures of the frothy beverage and put them on social media. Many cafes around the country have jumped on the bandwagon and have started making activated charcoal beverages. Instead of being deterred by the unusually pretty color and design, customers and coffee fanatics keep getting drawn in. Along with the visual appeal, there are also some health benefits of detox charcoal.
According to WebMd, it can be used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas, prevent hangovers, and lower cholesterol levels. It’s also used for healing wounds.
Amanda Kaplan, marketing manager at Limitless Tea & Coffee, said there are many benefits of charcoal in a latte recipe.
“Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan also said the texture is porous, so it’s good for cleaning and whitening teeth. This explains why charcoal toothpaste has become a thing.
“It is our No. 1 Instagrammed drink, and people show the barista our Instagram when ordering,” Kaplan said.
When it comes to food allergies, there are no concerns here because charcoal is a healthy drink and a natural product. For those interested in grabbing this smoky black latte, your milk of choice could alter the design of the latte.
“Any milk tastes amazing with it,” Kaplan said. “But the easiest drink to do latte art with is whole milk.” Whole milk is denser than non-fat, almond, or soy milk. The denser the milk, the better the latte art will turn out.
Kaplan couldn’t answer some questions, to do with the recipe and so on, due to the company’s privacy policies, but the mystery behind it stirs up more excitement for customers.
For the lactose-intolerant and vegans among us, don’t fret; charcoal drinks can be made vegan with oat milk or almond milk. Ana Diaz is a customer who stopped into a cafe for a charcoal latte experience and some time with people. Diaz didn’t know what to expect because this was her first time ordering one.
“I’m almost scared to drink it,” Diaz said. “I know it’s not bad for me or anything, but I’ve never had one before and didn’t even know you could ingest detox charcoal like this.” “Of course I took a hundred pictures of it already, my cousin and I came here because we’ve been seeing a lot of pictures of these pretty lattes on the Instagram explore page and noticed that a lot of cafes sell them, so we found this one and wanted to give it a try,” Diaz said.
Diaz took a few sips of her black charcoal latte. “I keep checking my teeth,” she said. “I feel like my lips and teeth are going to be glittery and black after this so next time I’ll bring a little toothbrush”. Jenn Nowak has been to several cafes that serve detox charcoal and glitter lattes.
“I can see why the color and even the glitter is off-putting for some people, it’s like a visual thing and it makes them hesitant to drink it,” Nowak said.
“For first-timers, they might think, ‘Why am I eating art supplies?’ when they see the glitter”, Nowak said.
Nowak remembers she was hesitant the first time she had one.
“The first time I tried one I kept making my friends reassure me that they were safe to drink, not that they would know, it’s not like they’re baristas or anything but I won’t lie, I was thrown off at first”, Nowak said.
The latte itself doesn’t have an unusual taste like most would expect.
“I think the thing people don’t get is that it just tastes like vanilla,” Nowak said. “It doesn’t taste funny and I’m willing to spend like $7 for a latte every now and then just because it’s fun and much prettier than an average old latte at Starbucks or Peets.”
Health Benefits and Concerns of Activated Charcoal
Charcoal has traditionally been used in modern medicine to treat poisoning or a drug overdose. However, there is limited evidence to back up the other claims of amazing health benefits. What is more, regularly drinking charcoal can cause various side effects, such as:
- Black Tongue
- Black stools
For this reason, it is not recommended to regularly have charcoal lattes, but as an occasional treat it is fine.