Put that latte order on hold, coffee lover, for there’s a new brew in town. As of February, a coffee that goes by the name of Magic has made its debut at Marks & Spencer Cafes across the Middle East.
While M&S might not be the most obvious port of call for a caffeine refuel, there’s plenty to suggest that Magic Coffee has what it takes to become this year’s trendiest cup of joe, with the British retailer describing it as “the hottest new style of coffee since the flat white”.
An Australian original
The Magic, as it’s known in Australia, originated in Melbourne, a city known for its artisan roasts, bespoke blends and tech-savvy coffee preparation. The Magic has a reputation for being an off-menu, underground option — a barista’s choice, if you will.
Now, though, the insider secret is going global since M&S trademarked the drink before launching it in 330 cafes across the UK on January 11. The arrival on Middle Eastern shores followed this week, with the brand giving away free samples in select M&S Cafes and celebrating Magic’s entry to the market on social media.
But what exactly makes Magic Coffee so special? A taste test proves that it’s all about hitting the sweet spot with a milk-to-coffee ratio that produces a drink with a distinct lack of bitterness and a smooth, well-rounded flavour.
While similar to the flat white, a cup of Magic is made with a double (1oz; 29ml) ristretto base rather than a double (2oz; 59ml) espresso one. It is finished with 5oz (147ml) of steamed milk (a flat white uses 6oz; 177ml).
For context, while the 6oz (177ml) cup size is the same as the Magic, the cortado is made with a double espresso topped with 4oz (118ml) steamed milk, while a latte tends to be composed of 10oz (295ml) milk and 2oz (59ml) espresso, served in a 12oz (354ml) cup.
Without getting too technical, it’s the ristretto that makes all the difference here. As the coffee nerds in class will know, a ristretto (“restricted” or smaller espresso shot) has the same amount of coffee as an espresso, but less water is used to brew it. Alongside, the extraction time (time taken for the water to pass through the coffee grounds into the cup) is shorter. The result is a sweeter, brighter yet more concentrated flavour than an espresso, with minimal bitterness at the end.
After sampling the Magic, The National can report back that there’s no messing about with this coffee. Thanks to the shortness of the drink and the intensity of the double ristretto shot, the Magic delivers a bold, coffee-heavy flavour punch.
There’s also evidence of that much-talked-about ratio alchemy at work. While the coffee flavour is potent, it’s not at all dry or acidic-tasting, with the ristretto lending a rich note and the steamed milk a velvety sweetness. We can see why those coffee-loving Melbournites have been sagely sipping away on this one and largely keeping it to themselves.
Where to try it
You don’t just have to take our word for it, though. M&S Magic Coffee is available to drink in or take away at M&S Cafes across the Middle East (with the exception of Saudi Arabia). It costs Dh16 in the UAE.