There are so many different kinds of coffee in the world, how do we pick our favorite? Do you prefer hot coffee or cold coffee? With or without sugar? How about milk or cream?
Since coffee is a ubiquitous part of life no matter where in the world you are, there is bound to be something for everyone. I think we’ve pretty much covered every possible way that coffee can be made, right?
Wrong. Enter: coffee concentrate. What?! Yes, it’s like a juice concentrate, only, it’s derived from coffee. Incredible!
It’s pretty much what it sounds like: a coffee that’s much more concentrated than regular joe. The method of extraction for this kind of coffee is a slow one; where the beans or grounds are steeped in cold water to unlock the delicious natural flavors within, and really make them deeper and more potent.
You can drink a coffee concentrate either hot or cold, though typically, people will take a cup chilled. It’s also notable that people dilute a coffee concentrate when they’re making a cuppa, and if they’re using it in a recipe instead (which, by the way, is an awesome way to bring out the flavors in desserts…chocolate cake anyone?), they’ll add it as is, no dilution necessary.
Coffee concentrate is usually sweeter and of course, stronger, than the regular stuff and because there is more coffee per gram, packed into the syrup/liquid concentrate, this type of coffee tends to have higher caffeine content, than the average joe.
For this reason, people cut a coffee concentrate with water using a ratio of about 1:1. You could cut it with milk too if you like, but perhaps adding just a splash to a concentrate that’s been diluted with water first, would be a better way to go.
Well, that depends. Usually, a concentrated mixture can be refrigerated for up to two weeks however, the volatility of the very same compounds that imbue coffee with its signature flavors and aromas, tends to alter the flavors the longer the concentrate sits.
It’s down to the chemical degradation. If you’ve already diluted the concentrate, that can be stored in the fridge for two to three days at most, before it starts tasting, well…not that good anymore.
Why, yes, in fact, we can! All that’s needed is very strong coffee; you could grind your coffee beans to a relatively coarse grind (too fine and the lengthy steeping time can leave you with an almost acrid concentrate), and pour cold water over the grounds to steep overnight.
In the morning, drain the grounds and keep the concentrated liquid that’s poured off. Typically, 12 oz of coarsely ground coffee and about 6 oz of cold water (plus extra for diluting to taste before serving) should do the trick.
Now, this isn’t the only way to produce homemade concentrated coffee. You could also place 2 cups of strong coffee in a saucepan with a half cup of sugar and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and heat. Stir the entire time, until the sugar has dissolved completely and cool before using it- either as a drink concentrate or in a recipe; it’s really up to you.
Want to take your vanilla cheesecake to the next level? Add a little coffee concentrate. Need to elicit the most delectable chocolate notes in your best chocolate cake recipe? Use a splash of concentrated coffee. Then there’s always a cocktail. Or a mocktail. And even coffee soda.
The list is endless and basically you could get really creative with concentrated coffee syrup. How about adding a little to your favorite homemade barbecue sauce? Coffee has this unique way of mingling with other flavors and heightening them. It sounds like we’re running an ad and plugging a product, but these truly do take other food items to the top tiers of the culinary world.
That’s totally fine! You can kick your plain old coffee to the curb (unless you just love it, in which case, set it aside for a moment) and dress up your next cup. Add some flavored syrups into your brew. How do we do that? Well, think of it like this: to flavor an 8 oz cup of coffee, you’ll use one pump of syrup (whatever flavor you like, mind you) which equates to about a quarter ounce or half a tablespoon. For a 12 oz cup of coffee, use two pumps and for a 16 oz cup, add a third pump. At least this is how they do it at Starbucks.
There’s really no end to the kind of creativity that a concentrated coffee lends us. And one more thing, whether you want to enjoy a hot cup of joe or cool down with an iced coffee, a concentrate is the best way to go about making a cup that’s truly yours; one that is an expression of who you are. A concentrated coffee is a bold illustration of ourselves. It’s a statement and manifestation of some part of us; all in delicious liquid form.
The bottom line is this: it’s always interesting to watch our personalities represented in the simple art of making something to drink. In the case of coffee, it’s the balance of flavors and how we choose to represent them in our drink, that can give away small clues about who we are and what we like.
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