I'm almost always a purist when it comes to coffee, which I drink mostly black, and with milk only in the morning.

But I've also learned to trust the team at Old City's Menagerie Coffee. And because the whole turmeric trend has also begun to intrigue me, I figured I might as well try their unusual fall special, a honey-spiced cortado.

The title only tells part of the story. A cortado is essentially equal parts espresso and lightly steamed (but not foam-textured) milk. It's served in a warm 5-ounce glass cup, but it's not as hot or as large as latte, and definitely not as filling.

Unlike many milk drinks, the coffee flavor in a cortado is definitely still prominent, and I'm a fan of the berry-bright and nutty-sweet Neon espresso from Minneapolis that Menagerie uses.

But what really caught my eye was the big vat of curry-yellow milk behind the barista counter that cortado mastermind Stephanie Scott had steeped for 24 hours with a veritable masala blend of turmeric, cardamom, saffron, cracked black pepper, cinnamon, and dried ginger.

Warmed and mixed into the espresso with a shot of just enough honey, the overall effect was sparklingly exotic, savory, and sweet. It's sort of like drinking a coffee-based chai, its aromatic spice notes softened by the milk and then anchored by the espresso's bitter base. Even better, a chewy little square of Scott's "ginger snag bar" is served alongside on a spoon, and this clovey molasses bite is such an irresistible chaser, it was a proper reward for trying something new.

- Craig LaBan
Honey-spiced cortado, $5, Menagerie Coffee, 18 S. Third St., menageriecoffee.com.