barriques spicy canadian

What's in a Barriques Spicy Canadian? It takes one to know one.

Whether it’s the Smoked Butterscotch Latte at Starbucks or the White Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Latte at Cargo Coffee, there’s seemingly a new flavored coffee beverage on the chalkboard at your local coffee shop every day. And, usually, you can pretty much tell upfront what it's going to taste like. Or, at least, what it's going to try and taste like.

But Barriques has a limited-edition drink item on its spring menu that carries an air of exotic mystery about it.

The Spicy Canadian.

What could it mean? The name conjures up images of an amorous lumberjack, or Wayne Gretzky slathering himself in sriracha sauce. As a proud (and, I dare say, zesty) Canuck myself, I had to try it.

The Spicy Canadian is a latte, thick and creamy, with a shot of maple syrup. There’s your Canadian component. I did have hopes that my barista would do some maple leaf latte art, but oh well. The “spicy” part comes in the form of cayenne pepper seasoning.

Adding some heat to your coffee is not a new thing; Mexican mocha recipes include both cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Actually, given that it imports from both Mexico and Canada, the Spicy Canadian might more accurately be called a NAFTA Latte, although that name probably wouldn’t go over so hot in union-friendly Madison. (By the way, I'm told that a maple syrup/cayenne pepper combo is popular in a juice cleanse. I don't think this counts as a cleanse, though.)

Anyway, I thought the Spicy Canadian was pretty great, balancing its sweet and spicy components perfectly. Upon first sip, the sweetness of the syrup mingling with the rich, creamy latte hits the taste buds first. But it’s the cayenne pepper that lingers after, just spicy enough to provide a kick but not so much as to be off-putting.

It’s not a coffee drink to imbibe absent-mindedly while you’re noodling around on your smartphone, but one that demands attention, quietly. Like a Canadian does. The Spicy Canadian is only available for a limited time, and since the name is tantalizingly cryptic, not a lot of people may order it. My barista said it was the first time she had made one.

So please, show the Spicy Canadian — and all Canadians, spicy or bland — a little love while you can.

Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.