Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth.” That’s the second line in the Alabama hit “Song of the South” – and it’s a telling one. While coffee shops around the country celebrate the oncoming pie season with pumpkin spice latte, there’s a true regional favorite being overlooked.
Not at Alta Bakery + Cafe, however. Their sweet potato pie latte is the essence of a homespun dessert cooling on the windowsill. There’s a friendly, earthy and nutty sweetness – rich and natural. As a wedge of merengue floating on top melts into the latte, a familiar pie crust sensation develops. Baking spices lend a comforting warmth. It is like something grandma whipped up. A few slices of candied ginger at the bottom of the cup give a piquant and cleansing finish. “It’s a little treat,” says Helen Rosen, a manager at Alta.
The baristas start by toasting pie spices and pureeing these with sweet potatoes, so the latte has a heftier texture. They blend this with oat milk and pour. There’s no coffee, no bitter edge, just something that speaks to home and hearth.
ALTA BAKERY + CAFE, 502 Munras Ave., Monterey. 920-1018, altamonterey.com