by Tim Tran

“Assume Nothing!” A mantra for The Crown as we worked towards opening our doors in March of 2019, the phrase became a Menu section, encouraging our visitors to drop their preconceptions and be open to new and delicious experiences. And now it’s the title of a recipe series, for you to recreate at home. Here’s to a year of assuming nothing!

Tabula Rasa

To approach something without preconceived ideas, as a blank slate, or to adopt tabula rasa. That is the mindset we encourage when trying this beverage that is simple, unassuming, almost pedestrian in presentation, but complex and densely packed with flavor. A drink that subverts expectations for the aptly named Assume Nothing menu. 

The craft cocktail/mixology world has always piqued my gastronomical interest in terms of how flavor-dense some of these small unassuming beverages can be. An exploration in depth of bitterness, highlighted with nutty florals, this signature beverage takes the surging popularity of milk-washing in the cocktail world and applies it to coffee. In the ever-advancing world of beverages and specialty drinks, I loved the idea of a return to a modest drink belying its flavor complexity, showcasing a textural richness, and leaving a sense of curiosity on the tongue for the next sip. 

With these ideas in mind, I am happy to present Tabula Rasa, a milk-washed coffee beverage that combines filter coffee, espresso, pistachio, lavender, bitters, and citrus in a clean iced-coffee presentation. For the unfamiliar, milk-washing is a process where an acidic solution with a sufficiently low pH is added to a concoction that contains milk (in this case, filtered coffee, espresso, syrup, and whole milk). The curds are then strained from the beverage, resulting in a clarified liquid that serves as the base for this Assume Nothing drink. Tabula Rasa utilizes a pistachio-lavender syrup to complement the milk-washed flavors of our drip coffee and espresso. We hope you enjoy this fun drink that we feel is best approached with an open mind and that truly asks you to assume nothing. 

Pistachio-Lavender Syrup 

  • 100g water 
  • 50g sugar 
  • 40g pistachios, roughly chopped 
  • 2.5g lavender flowers 
  • 1g salt 

Add pistachios to a pan and toast for 5 minutes, ensuring the pistachios do not burn. Reduce heat and add water, sugar, salt, and lavender. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, ensuring syrup does not boil. Strain out pistachios and lavender. 

Drink Specs (About 6 servings) 

  • 324g light roasted coffee 
  • 76g espresso (2 double shots) 
  • 100g pistachio-lavender syrup 
  • 1g citric acid 
  • 200g whole milk 
  • 2 dashes of walnut bitters 

Combine coffee, syrup, espresso, and citric acid. Put milk into a large vessel and slowly add the coffee combination to the milk while stirring. Refrigerate for 3 hours to 12 hours. After curds have formed and separated, strain curds initially through cheesecloth and then secondly through a coffee filter. Serve 4oz chilled over ice with 2 dashes of walnut bitters and an orange peel expressed over top. 

Check out the Assume Nothing series, and if you are in the Bay Area, stop by The Crown to taste the seasonal signature beverage.