A single drink can’t be expected to accurately represent the quirky universe of Wes Anderson’s new movie Isle of Dogs. But Mecca Coffee in Alexandria might have come close.
The new stop motion animation film tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, a 12-year-old living in Megasaki City. When all dogs are exiled to a vast garbage dump called Trash Island, Kobayashi sets off in search of his bodyguard-dog Spots. With the help of dogs he meets along the way, he begins an epic journey, presented on screen with all the detail and wry earnestness we’ve come to expect from Anderson. The voice-over cast is classic, featuring familiar names in Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and more, to voice the film’s canine characters.
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
It’s the island of trash that inspired the drink says Ella Ward, manager of Mecca Coffee Alexandria. The “Umami Shima” affogato is made of three components – coffee, the Japanese liqueur Tsuru-Ume Yuzushu, and miso-caramel ice-cream – and is so-called because “being an affogato, it looks like an island,” says Ward. Loosely speaking “shima” means island when translated to English, and “umami is known as the fifth flavour [being both sweet and savoury] and reflects the five lead characters in the movie.”
The concept is based on what Mecca do best.
“We’re a roastery, so we thought lets showcase our coffee and what we’re about at the same time as showing off the movie,” says Ward. “We came up with the miso-caramel, which is an ice-cream we already use, and the Yuzushu because we also do a boozy brunch. It ties in with who we are but also what we offer.”
The team chose the recently released, single-origin Serra do Cabral coffee beans from Minas Gerais, Brazil for a similar link. “In Brazil there’s a lot of roaming dogs,” she says. “The idea behind [Serra do Cabral’s] coffee is they want to protect and enrich the ecosystem for generations to come. I thought that fit with the movie in the sense of it being an ecosystem overrun and the dogs exiled.”
For Ward, the contrasting components (ie. umami) are what make this affogato so enticing. “The miso is a bit salty and then the Yuzushu is nice and fresh, fruity and citrusy. Then with the coffee we add another tone of chocolates, fruits and a floral,” she says. “I like all of them together because it represents a multitude of different flavours. I’m excited for people to try it.”
Ward has a soft spot for Anderson’s characters. “The story line we really loved because it’s about five different dogs finding this boy then finding his dog,” she says. “The beautiful characters he creates and portrays, I guess for us we see a lot of similarities in our little family we have here.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Isle of Dogs, the new film from Wes Anderson, in cinemas April 12. Watch the trailer below.