For those tired of the glut of rainbows and unicorn-themed dishes, the latest Instagram trend is a breath of fresh air. We reported recently on the beautiful and monochromatic black ice cream, which gets its colour from activated charcoal. Now, unicorn haters have a new option: black lattes.
Popular in the UK and Australia, these lattes are coloured using activated charcoal, though some versions also involve black sesame seeds and almond, soy or coconut milk. Activated charcoal is used as a treatment for poisoning, and, more benignly, as a means of reducing bloating and flatulence, but if you ask us, the popularity of activated-charcoal dishes is most likely down to their elegant appearance.
Some doctors, however, have come out in protest against the trend, saying it could do more harm than good. Speaking to Women’s Health, gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond cautioned that thanks to its powers of asbsorption, it can also absorb medication – such as birth control pills – making the drugs ineffective. It’s also associated with Coal Miner’s Lung and inflamation of the colon. So perhaps ordinary coloured coffee ain’t so bad, after all?
But what do they taste like? Instagram is strangely mum on this small detail, possibly because users post a picture before tasting the thing.
According to Eater, various scientific studies have suggested that bright colours help stave off boredom while eating, and that brightly coloured foods are perceived as more flavourful than their plain counterparts. So maybe there was something in those rainbow colours after all? That said, nothing tastes as good as Instagram likes.
We’ve yet to find a coffee shop offering black lattes in South Africa, but Sea Point vegetarian restaurant Scheckters Raw does offer a black activated-charcoal juice with apple, lemon and alkaline water, as well as activated charcoal buns for burgers and hot dogs.
And at Bootlegger, you can find pink, yellow and green superfood lattes made with beetroot and ginger; turmeric, spice and coconut oil; and matcha, respectively.
*29 May 2017: This article was updated to include concerns voiced by members of the medical fraternity.