Taylor London admits it's a bit weird to say he's "passionate about milkshakes." But it's the truth.
Growing up, the 30-year-old used to make milkshakes for friends "as a way to repay favors," and he brought an old-fashioned mixer with him to the University of Oregon, where he met his friend and future collaborator, Grahm Doughty.
While a shake is always welcome at your favorite small-town soft-serve joint or fast food burger chain, it's not necessarily the thing to get at one of Portland's high-end scoop shops—some of those more ambitious flavor combinations just don't work, or the texture isn't right, or the employees don't have practice making them.
For their milkshake-based pop-up Late Shake, London and Doughty put a lot of time and thought into technique, ingredients, temperature and milk-to-ice cream ratio, resulting in a product that is solid enough for funky toppings but also thin enough for slurpability.
"I do like a good, thick milkshake that needs a straw and needs a spoon," says London. "When someone gets a shake, it's already melting in some ways. We've just kind of put [the ice cream] in a different form."
Late Shake—which started in summer 2015 along Southeast Division Street and now operates out of Upper Left Roasters in Ladd's Addition—is big on seasonal flavors and local partnerships: Tillamook ice cream, Woodblock Chocolate, Jacobsen salt and honey, blackberries from West Union Gardens in Hillsboro.
Its top seller is usually Woodblock Mocha, though the staff's favorite is Double Gold, a turmeric, ginger and apple shake finished with a crown of Fruity Pebbles.
And while shakes like the Beyoncé-inspired Love on Top—a chocolate peanut butter shake topped with caramel and a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie—are good for the 'Gram, flavor ultimately trumps social media aesthetics.
"At the end," London says, "we want people to be satisfied, not filled with regret."