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An attempt to replicate Jo's Iced Turbo, the coffee drink that tames the Texas heat

Photo: Jimmy Hasse
Photo: Jimmy Hasse

On my one trip to Austin, Texas, I stuffed an unholy quantity of food and drink inside my body. But what stuck with me (psychically)—even more so than Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue, Micklethwaith, Qui, Uchi, the half dozen migas tacos, and the blur of food trailers—was an avocado-green coffee stand on South Congress called Jo’s. A trusted friend said a trip to Austin must include Jo’s Iced Turbo drink. This is the coffee stand with “I love you so much” scrawled on the side of the building and Instagrammed the world over.

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Jo’s describes its Iced Turbo as such: “Our signature sweet, creamy, cold coffee drink! Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee, and cream mixed together served over crushed ice.” The setting was ideal: a humid spring Texas day, so I opted for the large, 16-ounce cup for $4.50. This legendary beverage turned out to be a drinkable version of Nutella with the smoothness of cold-brewed coffee and the dairy richness of fresh cream.

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So I’ve had Jo’s Iced Turbo exactly once in my life, during this one trip to Austin two years ago, and that memory has seared into the taste receptors of my brain. I daydream about it often.

Last week, I decided to devote two hours of my life trying to replicate this drink. There was scant available information online on how to recreate Jo’s Iced Turbo, but I began with this one blog post. The writer claims that a Jo’s employee revealed the drink contained whole milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, coffee, espresso, chocolate, and hazelnut. That’s where I began, testing out varying ratios and combinations.

On batch number seven, something clicked. It triggered the same pleasurable memories from that spring Texas day two years ago. Also, my heart was palpitating from the flood of caffeine coursing through my bloodstream. But I think I nailed it, or at the least, something close. Enjoy, until your next trip to Austin.

Photo: Kevin Pang
Photo: Kevin Pang
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Homage to Jo’s Iced Turbo

1. In a large measuring cup, mix espresso, coffee, hazelnut syrup, and whole and chocolate milk. Separately, in a small cup, add a splash of hot water to a generously heaping tablespoon of condensed milk, and stir until it’s liquid. Add condensed milk to the other ingredients.

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2. Whisk the concoction for 30 seconds. It will feel slightly thicker, but not frothy. Alternatively, add to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.

3. Pour into a glass filled with crushed ice, stir, and let dilute for a minute before you enjoy this god of iced coffee drinks.

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DISCUSSION

presidentzod
President Zod

Calorie bomb, yikes!

Kevin, I cooked sous vide last night for the first time. I bought the unit via the AVClub link, hopefully you get your kickback!

Of course, I went a little nuts on Amazon, as I am wont to do. Bought a vacuum food saver among other things. My wife is getting pissed. "So, I assume this goes with the induction cook top, wok, and all the other cooking crap YOU KEEP BUYING?".

Meh. She has an expensive cat.

First thoughts- pretty cool process, using simple science. I had my 12 year old help me. We did chicken. We sealed up chicken breasts, olive oil, thyme, salt. The vacuum sealer was very cool. Going to start sealing all sorts of stuff, for shits and giggles.

The app from Chefsteps (Joule) is pretty good. Has videos with each recipe that show doneness. That was huge for us. My family likes things overcooked. I do not.

At any rate, we pounded out the breasts to make them uniform thickness, and sealed them up. The app asked thickness and level of doneness desired. We selected after watching the handy videos, and the unit fired up (wifi!). Once it got to temp (149), unit chimed, app chimed, and we put the bags in.

55 minutes later, it was done. I actually was in the middle of something, so it went an additional 30 minutes before I pulled them out. According to the app, you have about 3 hours. So no problem.

We heated up a non-stick skillet, and seared off each finished breast.

The meat was cooked through, and super-moist. Almost too moist. I am not sure if it was the cooking temperature (chicken is usually higher than 149). I went a bit less than I might have, due to thinking that the post-soak sear would cook some more. Or, it may have been due to the olive oil. Or maybe a combination of both. I plan to revisit of course.

Overall- pretty neat. The thinking was: both the wife and I work, and we have 3 active kids. Weekday mealtimes are hit and miss, chaos, or lousy. We use a crockpot sometimes, but that is an all-in way of cooking, and the kids don't always like it. Plus, if you are running late, its like you cooked the sahara dessert.

With the sous vide, my hope is that we can prep a protein in the morning, seal it, dump it in the bath, and then connect via app to start the cooking process later in the day, to be ready for quick finishing when we get home. Simple meals. So, we will see.

Next: I need a kitchen torch!! Will take recommendations- ease of replacement fuel a consideration for sure!