iced coffeeSeconds after giving a long hello hug to my dear mother I raced to the Chelsea location of Blue Bottle Coffee, under the High Line at West 15th Street, to try my first zinger.

Such are my priorities when back home in New York: Family first, coffee close behind.

The story behind the zinger was the third big coffee exclusive entrusted to me by James Freeman, a coffee lunatic from Oakland, California who’s progressed from disaffected freelance musician to bi-coastal super-roaster of international renown. I don’t know what it is. I’ve never met Freeman face-to-face. I call him and he tells me things: The origin of the Gibraltar, San Francisco’s cult coffee. The inspiration behind the SG-120, a coffee in a glass of its own. The what, how and why of the zinger.

I raced up to the bar at Blue Bottle and asked the New York barista to make me a zinger. I don’t recall being smug about it.

– A zinger?

– Yes, a zinger. Ever made one?

– Never heard of it.

The zinger, I explained, was an insider’s iced coffee created by his Blue Bottle counterparts in San Francisco to achieve the effect of melted coffee ice cream in a small glass. They made their zingers by filling a Gibraltar glass halfway with cold-brewed, chicory-flavoured New Orleans ice coffee (see Blue Bottle’s recipe) and topping it with half and half (“half cream” in the UK) and a single ice cube. I boasted that I had learned of the zinger from none other Freeman, the boss of his boss.

James Freeman?

The increasingly skeptical barista made eye contact with a colleague to check my story. The second barista made a face. It wasn’t a sympathetic face. He too knew nothing of the mysterious iced coffee.

iced coffeeAt first they refused to make me a zinger for fear of the naughty things I might do with my photos and my suspect claims. But soon they relented if only to shut me up, half-filling a Gibraltar glass with New Orleans iced coffee and a single ice cube and leaving the rest to me. I slowly poured in the half-and-half but unfortunately there was no swirly effect, as there is when milk is added to Blue Bottle’s regular New Orleans ice coffee.

If somehow I hadn’t got the drink right I wasn’t going to let on. I took 73 photos of my zinger from several angles and then savoured the drink in a prolonged series of increasingly noisy sips. I needn’t have bothered. The baristas didn’t so much as look my way. By then they were 100 percent sure I hadn’t even met  Freeman and, maddeningly, they were 100 percent right. If they had no quick response to my zinger I had none to theirs.