On Little Bean's very first day in business at their Pearl District location, the shop looked the way I'm used to Portland's ice cream shops looking: slammed, with too much sampling going on. But Little Bean's ice cream doesn't involve cream at all, and their marketing materials often feature their flavors with the words "ice cream" crossed out.
Their dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free flavors are all made from milking sustainably produced chickpeas, and they use what's left over to make gluten-free flour for their waffle cones and pastries. In fact, Little Bean doubles as a gluten-free bakery.
The space is expansive, bright, and airy. There are a couple of huge murals in here, which give it some much needed color, as well as some thriving pathos plants that droop from high above. I was also excited to see Little Bean's full espresso bar, where they use chickpea milk to make their drinks. They've also got three taps that dispense Nitro cold brew, kombucha, and chai. I think I've died and gone to dairy-free heaven.
While their treats are "totally not ice cream," they are totally delicious. Little Bean's got some classic flavors and some more obscure, adventurous ones: triple chocolate, strawberry Szechuan, cherry chai, mint matcha, blackberry basil, cookies and cream, and cold brew coffee. In addition to getting scoops in cups, Little Bean also offers classic, chocolate, and matcha waffle cones.
I was interested to see how the chickpeas handled in a cold brew coffee with regular waffle cone, one of my typical favorite ice cream flavors. And let me just say, it was love at first lick. The blackberry basil was also delicious. Little Bean's non-ice cream tastes just like ice cream (who knew?), and my companion and I agreed it was sort of hard to tell them apart. The biggest difference between this chickpea ice cream and the more commonly sold dairy-based treat was that I didn't feel heavy and in need of a nap after the chickpea version. (Oh, and the fact that Little Bean's frozen snacks don't contribute to the mass-brutalization of cows, OR the evils of Monsanto! Yay!)
I don't normally go to the Pearl District unless it's for a specific reason, but Little Bean's mint matcha