Portland, OR: Thoughtful Flavors with Great Selection at Cool Moon
Monday, February 25, 2013

Cool Moon is one of those fun shops that left us at SCOOP Blog with a feeling of deep happiness when we were done with our ice cream. The options here are nothing fancy, for the most part – typical flavors are just one main ingredient. But what you will find here is a commitment to balanced, well-crafted flavors that are incredibly satisfying.

The shop was founded in 2007 by Eva Bernhard, inspired by her family’s tradition of making ice cream each summer the “old fashion way,” using a wood barrel. Although the shop is located in the posh Pearl District of Portland, there is no pretension in this humble shop. Cool Moon has an unusually friendly staff that is deeply passionate about helping you find the “right” flavor. SCOOP Blog had heard before reviewing that the staff is extremely friendly, and generous with samples. We certainly found that to be the case on our visit, where the young man scooping for us taught us about the different flavors and the ingredients Cool Moon uses.

And the ice cream definitely stacks up there with some of the best shops in the country. The flavors are rich, with a good density. A lot of Cool Moon’s literature talks up the “custardy” aspect of their ice creams, made with eggs, but we didn’t find the flavors to be particularly eggy or noticeably different than a proper full-cream ice cream. SCOOP Blog really enjoyed all the flavors, and were impressed by how well they were developed, given the vast selection at the shop. Almost all the flavors we sampled were true to the ingredients, and really did them justice.

You'll want to come for the ice cream, not the design of the shop

One thing SCOOP Blog would have liked to see was a few original flavors, given that we had seen most, if not all, the flavors at other shops. This was a surprise, given the sheer variety. Two recurring issues we also faced in our review were an unusual grainy aftertaste that plagued many of the samples, as well as occasional ice crystals. We imagine it to be challenging keeping top quality across all of the nearly thirty flavors they offered, and perhaps this is an inevitable downside to quantity production, as we have seen in so many other shops with this large a variety.

Flavor Tasting Notes

They have some surprisingly fantastic flavors, despite their unusually large variety. Consistency seems to suffer, however.

Belgian Chocolate

Very nuanced, true Belgian chocolate flavor. Tastes like Cote D'or brand. Outstanding - one of best Belgian chocolate ice creams we've ever had.

Banana

Tastes just like a real, fresh banana. This flavor works real well with the cream, which balances out the banana. Great density, although slightly grainy (perhaps astringency from the banana?)

Cinnamon Toast

One of the house specialties. Tastes just like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. Excellent density, although somewhat grainy (perhaps the cinnamon?)

Pistachio

Good, natural pistachio flavor with small, well-integrated pistachio bits. Almost a buttery nuttiness.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Dense, with a tasty natural peanut flavor. Great jelly mixed in. This ice cream was slightly grainy.

Marionberry

Marionberry is a local Oregon specialty. This ice cream had a balanced, natural berry flavor. We liked how it was not overly sweet, and even slightly tart.

Eggnog

OK eggnog flavor, but a little too nutmeggy for us. Good density, but slightly grainy from the added spices. A little bit of ice crystals were present, too.

8
Final Score: 8/10

Cool Moon

1105 NW Johnson St Portland, OR 97209