The Un-Frappuccino

Discover the brave new world of iced coffee drinks

When it comes to cool, sweet caffeinated drinks, the big coffee chains have nothing on our indie coffeehouses. Leave the cloying syrups and chalky powders behind for these refreshing alternatives.

For something with Latin flair, get one of the iced mochas ($3.50) at Eagle Rock's new Cacao Mexicatessen. The earthy, sugar-tinged brew (pictured) is a mixture of Chiapas espresso, Oaxacan chocolate, vanilla, almonds and cinnamon. For more heat, get one spiced with chile de arbol and chipotle powders.

At Highland Park's Café de Leche, the noncaffeinated Iced Cacao ($2.50) is a slightly gritty concoction made with milk, freshly ground and toasted cacao pods, and agave nectar. In Nicaragua, it's served in a bag with a straw; here it comes in a glass over ice.

The drinks at L.A.'s gourmet coffeehouses can almost double as dessert. For LA Mill's Blanca y Negro ($6.50), shards of coffee ice (made from their house brew) are topped with a scoop of pastry chef Adrian Vasquez's lush Madagascar vanilla ice cream. It's a crunchy, creamy treat that gets even better as it melts.

Both Intelligentsia locations offer the Iced Angeleno ($5): four pulled shots of Black Cat espresso shaken with ice, agave nectar and rich Straus milk. Most iced lattes pale in comparison to this perfectly sweetened, frothy drink.