Ever heard of Moon Milk? I’m here to put it on your radar. Moon milks are brightly colored, over-the-top, frothy unicorn-esque drinks that have their basis in ayurvedic medicine. You’re probably familiar with one of the most famous—golden milk, made with turmeric and black pepper.
The only place doing a full menu of moon milk in Salt Lake City is Kahve Cafe in Downtown Salt Lake City. Elif Ekin is the owner of this Victorian House/community co-working space/healing center/Turkish coffee shop. With oversized poofy cushions, a sprinkling of tarot cards, Arabic art, and knick-knacks from around the world. This place feels like you wandered into your favorite quirky aunt’s comfortable living room that happens to have your favorite Middle Eastern treats. Also, it is worth mentioning, the name “Kahve” (kahˈve) literally means coffee in Arabic.
Elif, who is all about decidedly non-traditional “punked-out” baklava, and very traditional Turkish mezze and savory baked goods, opened Kahve Cafe in 2021. It has been a dream for a long time to open an Arabic-style coffee shop. Finally, it all came together after years of searching for the perfect spot. It turns out that the pandemic was actually instrumental in the timing.
“During the pandemic, I was looking at things as far as different drinks that I could do to be able to offer the same sort of experience to the non-caffeinated demographic in Salt Lake City,” said Elif. “The moon milks just popped up, and it just caught my eye because all of the colors and the texture of the way that they decorated everything. And so, during the pandemic, I really went down that rabbit hole of all the different moon milks, all the different plant colors. The colors were the first thing with the purple and the blues and the bright pinks and all of that other stuff and then the pretty flowers with having our teas.”
Moon Milk is made with natural colors, flavors, and sweeteners and is almost always vegan. Moon Milk at Kahve Cafe is made with one of several alternative milks: coconut, oat, soy, or almond milk. The milk is heated slowly in a Turkish coffee pot over traditional sand warmer. It’s worth a visit just to watch this. Natural spices, plant extracts, flowers, or tea might be added. It’s always sweetened with honey, agave, or maple syrup.
The bright colors come from freeze-dried plant extracts. For example, butterfly flower creates a stunning, bright blue moon milk. Sweet potato flower make a beautiful purple color. Matcha is used for green, and of course, turmeric creates a bright orange while imparting a peppery flavor. For an insta-worthy finish, they might add edible glitter, dried flowers, a grate of fresh spices, freeze-dried fruit, or a type of Turkish meringue, called a beze, that sits on top of the foam.
Kahve Cafe makes over 30 varieties of Moon Milk. One of my favorites is the Cardamom and Rose Honey Moon Milk. It’s made by simmering fresh ground cardamom with rose petals and a bit of honey for sweetness. Next, they add a bit of cinnamon and fluff it up until a layer of foam appears at the top. Finally, they top it with pink rose petals, a dash of cardamom, and a pink heart meringue.
They have seasonal features as well. For example, they have a Mexican Chocolate Moon Milk this month. They use the famous Abuela chocolate, which they mix with cardamom, cinnamon, and almond milk with a little almond extract. And, of course, some of their extra hot red pepper flakes. Elif says they always try to incorporate their fresh spices whenever possible.
Since October is right around the corner, they created a Pumpkin Chocolate Moon Milk. Made with pumpkin puree, raw cacao, cinnamon, and maple syrup, topped with mini marshmallows and a cinnamon beze. Sounds like the best alternative to a pumpkin spice latte ever, right?
Elif told me that traditionally, Moon Milk will calm your body and bring it into balance. It is often drunk late in the day to help calm the mind and lower your stress levels. She also said that most of them can be either hot or cold, depending on your mood and the season.
What do customers think? “They love it! They absolutely love it,” said Elif. “We have over 30 different flavors. They love that it’s warm, it’s comforting. That they can give their kids this drink, and it’s colorful. It’s something that people had been asking for. Something to sip and have a little bit more substantial. Because Turkish coffee is nice, but sometimes you just want to hold something and sip it.”
If you’re getting moon milk, you might as well pair it with one of the Kahve Cafe desserts. They also use floral extracts to create their delicious Turkish tea cake glazes.
“I think the cakes pair really well, especially if you want to match the colors,” said Elif. “You can match the color of a moon milk to the cake. So if you wanted to do a whole blue thing, you could do the blue butterfly and get a slice of tea cake because we use it in that glaze too. If you wanted to match the Cardamom Rose Moon Milk, you could match it with the Persian Love Cake. So they’re nice, especially when you bring kids, because you can match your drink to your dessert. Which is always fun.”
Where to find Kahve Cafe and get your hands on some moon milk:
57 S. 600 East, SLC, 801-674-7047
- Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 6 pm
- Sunday: 10 am – 3 pm
- Closed Monday
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