While on a recent trip to Woodstock, NY, I had the pleasure of eating lunch at Sunfrost Farms, a greenhouse/market/café hybrid managed by Dr. Know of ‘70s hardcore punk band Bad Brains, which is irrelevant to the story but slightly interesting enough for inclusion here. The fish tacos were excellent and there was an adorable child selling lemonade along with the most superb collection of Anne Klein shift dresses and silk blouses at a yard sale 20 feet away, but I didn’t let either distract me from staying put at our garden table and ordering what was essentially the only reason I made the 2.5 hour trip out of the city that weekend: The Caribe.
“It’s life-changing,” said Friend, who’d had one a few weeks prior and wouldn’t shut up about it. “It’s, like, a banana blended with coffee and some other stuff that I don’t even know. I can’t stop thinking about it! LET’S BUY THAT PLACE ON THE CORNER AND OPEN A CARIBE SHOP—WE’LL MAKE SO MUCH MONEY.”
Half-and-half, maple syrup, and ice were the other three ingredients, and it was delicious indeed. The banana-coffee combo had me skeptical at first, but then I realized that it’s also what I have for breakfast several days a week—depending on the ripeness of Starbucks’ banana basket—just mixed prior to consumption. Think of the bananas as a natural sweetener for the coffee, substituting for the sugar substitutes.
I’d always felt an undeniable kinship to the Bluth family, and the Caribe Corner could very well be my frozen banana stand. Just rather than a morning treat on par with something from Dunkin's frozen beverage menu, I wanted a drink with substance—caffeine and vitamins, omegas, etc. I began making my own version of a Caribe in my slightly nerdy but convenient NutriBullet:
-sliced frozen bananas (Anyone who’s used a NutriBullet knows that there’s no room for filler ingredients like ice under that MAX capacity line.)
-a handful of raw spinach (I thought that Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food was patronizing, and as a former child myself, I found the idea of having to “hide” vegetables a bit insulting. Until I started doing it to my own food. You can put spinach in burgers, tacos, cinnamon rolls, sandwiched between s’mores, and in your toothpaste and not taste it.)
-a shot of coffee concentrate (I like Cool Brew’s Vanilla flavor, which comes in a convenient plastic container that allows you to measure out one serving per pour.)
-a spoonful of cacao powder (The chocolate plays off the coffee flavor, making the whole thing taste like an adult chocolate milkshake. Full disclosure: I’m just using Hershey’s basic cocoa powder, which doesn’t have all the same brain-boosting ingredients as raw cacao, but the spinach…)
-some sort of milk—hemp, quinoa, cow, soy, goat—pick your non-poison. I’m partial to unsweetened versions of the first two.
The recipe isn’t an exact science, I just eyeball everything into the cup of my dorky infomercial blender and cover with a pour of milk so that it blends into something liquid-y and slurp-able. You could add things like blueberries, or use fresh bananas and frozen cubes of strong coffee; you could lose the cacao if chocolate’s not your thing. Just don’t ask the barista to put a grande iced coffee into a blender with one of the basket bananas “like a Frappuccino, you know?”—there’ll be a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth before she ultimately tells you “no.” Then she’ll spell your name wrong on your cup just to spite you. Until the Caribe Corner comes to fruition, this is a fully DIY operation.