This Annapolis café lets you create your own flavors — and it is excellent.
Bored of the stale choose-and-scoop ways of your everyday ice cream shop? Mix it up at The Red Bean— literally! Located on Main Street in downtown Annapolis, this cafe created a fresh way to make soft serve ice cream. By mixing any toppings into your ice cream, The Red Bean allows you to create your own flavor combinations— from vanilla mango macadamia nut to chocolate Old Bay pretzel.
I was eager to try The Red Bean because I heard about how personal and customized I could make my ice cream. In comparison to other ice cream spots downtown, The Red Bean appeared to triumph in originality— at least according to the rumours.
The shop relies on Trickling Springs Creamery for their dairy needs, which “locally sources dairy from 25-30 family farms across MD, VA, and PA” according to theredbeannapolis.com. The Red Bean also partners with Open Seas Coffee Roasters for their coffee, which provides local and high quality coffee. In addition, the roaster is “making a positive impact on communities that supply the beans through fair pricing and sustainable farming practices,” as well as through the 10-4 Farmers Initiative, an initiative that gives “an average of 210 L of clean drinking water to real villagers in one of [their] source countries” for every 12 oz bag of coffee sold, according to openseascoffee.com.
Entering The Red Bean, my senses were instantly tantalized with dreamy scents of lattes and sweet ice cream. The shop was cozy and inviting, lined with cute tables accessorized by little red stools. The marble countertops displayed arrays of ice cream toppings and cones galore.
I ordered my ice cream after a long, hard look at The Red Bean’s extensive menu— making most likely one of the hardest decisions of my foody life. The simple procedure is to choose your ice cream base— chocolate or vanilla— and then choose two mix-ins to, well, mix in. The mix-ins include a variety of fruits, nuts, and sweets, such as candies and confections, syrups and spices. The small was $3.75, the medium $4.95, and the large size $6.95. Extra mix-ins were $0.50 each.
I stuck with my chocolate-lover’s instinct and made my ice cream base chocolate. To compliment this, I asked for brownie and coffee beans to be mixed in. I figured that the bitter but rich coffee bean flavor would pair well with sweet, chocolatey brownie. I also may have chosen this combination because I love Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered espresso beans.
My ice cream was ready in about five minutes, which was impressive considering The Red Bean’s line. Taking an excited first bite, my taste buds were instantly singing with delight. I could taste every flavor in the ice cream— the rich chocolate base, the velvety brownie chunks, and soft notes of coffee beans that provided a satisfying crunch in the ice cream. Each flavor went together well— nothing seemed to overpower anything else, and I don’t feel like it lacked any of the flavors I was expecting. It was creamy, flavorful, and full of varied texture.
Despite its lengthy mix-in menu, The Red Bean is somewhat lacking in its ice cream base options, and could definitely open up to more flavors, such as strawberry and mint. Additionally, it was relatively affordable for a small cup of ice cream at $3.75, but increased quickly to almost $7 for a large cup, and cost nearly an extra dollar to get the ice cream on a cone. While these were small drawbacks, they did not take away from the overall creativity, quality, or experience offered at The Red Bean.
The Red Bean proved to spice up the Annapolis ice cream game with endless delectable, adventurous, and crazy flavor combinations to try. Whether you like your ice cream fruity, super-sweet, or even spicy, The Red Bean has something for you. It is also a mindful ice cream shop, with partnerships that source locally and give back to their sources. If you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Annapolis, go to The Red Bean and try something new.