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Berkeley's Frozen Frontier

Humphry Slocombe sweeps the East Bay into its cold (but oh so sweet) embrace.


Photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe

House-made waffle cones cradle scoops of crunchy cornflakes, and caramel crowns bowls of bourbon ice cream at Humphry Slocombe’s new Berkeley store.

Since opening their first ice cream parlor in San Francisco in 2008, founders Jake Godby and Sean Vahey have generated a cult following and national press by offering bold flavors (like the evocatively named, brown liquor–infused best seller, Secret Breakfast). Over the years, the duo has added retail locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. But their latest expansion presented a different challenge.

Launched in March in Berkeley’s Elmwood district, Slocombe replaced East Bay frozen dessert royalty: Ici Ice Cream. Beloved for its seasonally shifting fruit sorbets and understated flavors such as Earl Grey and honey lavender, Mary Canales’s artisanal scoop shop had patrons lining up on College Avenue for more than a decade before shuttering suddenly late last year, much to the dismay of sweet-toothed locals.

“We were nervous because we knew we had big shoes to fill,” Vahey says. “We wanted to treat the space with respect but bring our own flair.”

So far, so good. Humphry Slocombe has admirably filled the Elmwood ice cream void with its inventive frosty treats starring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. And Godby and Vahey are tailoring their goods to the Berkeley community by using the on-site kitchen to whip up creations inspired by the city’s rich culinary scene. Expect ice cream laced with La Tourangelle roasted hazelnut oil, vegan offerings using the plant-based dairy of Eclipse Foods, boozy creations featuring Rare Barrel brewery’s award-winning sour beers, and more—all alongside monthly specials and the brand’s signature flavors.

“The neighborhood has been very welcoming,” Godby says. “On our opening day, we had a huge line down the block, and everyone was so gracious and nice. It reminded me of when we opened in the Mission.” humphryslocombe.com.


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