REVIEW: Vice Cream’s Higher Grounds

We all like to get a little high. My favorite way to start the day is a nice caffeine buzz, and the best way to end that day is with a nice creamy scoop. While every day doesn’t end with ice cream, you betcha every morning breaks with a steaming cup of the blackest of the black, so it should be no surprise that fusing these two joys of life seems nearly as common as chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Fueling all of our favorite crutches, Vice have come through with Higher Grounds, which combines a dark roast coffee ice cream with a mocha fudge swirl, chocolate cookie crumbles, and espresso pillows.

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This is a really great coffee ice cream. It’s bursting with dark and bold coffee flavor and just enough sweetness to keep it in the realm of sugary desserts. The bittersweet intensity is rounded out beautifully by a perfectly smooth and dense creamy texture that finishes with pure lush dairy notes. It’s by far the best base I’ve had from Vice and one of the better coffee flavored ones I’ve had from the grocery store in general.

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The element of this flavor I was the most curious about are the “espresso pillows” and it turns out that’s just a really cute name for chocolate covered espresso beans. The pillows are bold and crunchy with a strong coffee bean flavor that cuts through the intense coffee presence of the ice cream for a real coffee lovers treat. The bittersweet chocolate coating adds a touch of sweetness to the dark party and I really love chomping on beans intermittently during this caffeine-fueled cream dream.

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It’s hard to tell how much coffee flavor is in the mocha swirl among all the other coffee-forward elements but it’s syrupy and adds a nice different texture to the overall experience. In an ideal world it might be a little thicker to live up to the “fudge” name, but as it stands with its Hershey’s syrup swagger it’s perfectly acceptable and does its job well.

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The cookie crumbles are the least interesting part of the mix, but also the only one without coffee so they’re a pretty necessary component. They’re little crunchy balls that remind me of a chocolate topping that would come with a cookie-themed yogurt, and I don’t dislike them but don’t really love them either. I would have really enjoyed some Oreo’s or more varied pieces of cookie, but the constant presence of the crunchy bits brings a nice toothiness to the pint that holds up.

Higher Grounds isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means but it’s a damn fine coffee ice cream for those who really like their flavors big and bold. Super creamy, super potent, this pint is a winner.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: Safeway ($4.99)

REVIEW: Vice Cream’s L’Orange A Trois

Outside of the beloved Creamsicle, citrus doesn’t get a whole lotta love in the dairy game. Sure, there are lemon sorbet’s for days, but that combination of sweet sweet dairy and acidic punch is far less common than it should be. None of the big players in the game like Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs ever toy with that pairing, and it’s kind of a shame. Even more uncommon is the magical combination of chocolate and citrus, which seems to be reserved for the holiday’s and those weird little jelly sticks you can buy at Trader Joe’s and other craft candy stores. It’s a combo that really works, pairing bitter and sweet and tart in a way that tickles every part of my tongue. When I came across a flavor from Vice that combines all of these elements into one during the peak of spring I couldn’t help but get pumped. L’Orange A Trois combines vanilla ice cream with an orange ripple and dark, milk, and white chocolate chunks.

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