A recipe calls for a teaspoon of coffee extract, and you’re rummaging through your pantry shelves, trying to figure out what the heck that is?
Don’t fret, because you’ve come to the right place! Explaining to you what coffee extract is, how it is made, and more importantly, how to prepare a batch yourself, this article will help you create the best-tasting dessert flavoring ever.
So, grab your favorite Java beans, and keep on reading!
Coffee extract is the end product of combining roasted coffee beans with alcohol.
The extract is concentrated and quite strong in flavor and aroma, which is, in fact, its main purpose – to be used as a flavoring in desserts and cocktails.
The process of making is quite simple – you crush coffee beans, mix them up with alcohol, and let sit until the desired flavoring is achieved.
The alcohol here is the crucial part, as it acts as a solvent and extracts the trapped solids and the irresistible essence. While any type of 30-40% alcohol will do the trick, the point is to find a mild-tasting one that will not interfere with the flavor – hence the vodka.
You don’t want the alcoholic drink to overwhelm nor complement the coffee taste, just to extract. You may be a fan of gin, but you wouldn’t want your coffee extract to taste all piney and junipery, now would you?
While the two terms sound like they’re describing the same thing – coffee is a product of the coffee cherry plant, after all – the truth is, they are not.
Coffee fruit, which essentially is the bean’s housing, has a lower amount of caffeine, is milder in taste, and is actually higher in antioxidants and other healthy compounds.
So no, the fruit extract is not the same as a coffee extract. The bean is not taken out, roasted, and then extracted. Coffee fruit extract means just that – a concentrate of the whole fruit, mainly used as a health supplement.
On the other hand, coffee extract is the concentrate of the roasted beans. It is higher in taste and caffeine, lower in antioxidants, but makes an excellent flavoring – and that’s what we’re interested in today.
Coffee concentrate is another term that coffee extract gets commonly confused for. The difference here, though, is quite noticeable.
Coffee concentrate is the end result of brewing coffee grounds with water for an extended period of time, usually 24 hours, to create an intense and very concentrated brew. This concentrate is then mixed with water and ice (otherwise known as cold brew), and consumed as cold coffee.
There is no alcohol used in the preparation of coffee concentrate, as the point is not to extract all the trapped goodies but to create a richer, more-caffeinated, and much stronger coffee base.
To make your own concentrated coffee extract at home, you need just four things:
And here is how you can do it:
Step 1 – Place your beans in a mortar, and start cracking them with a pestle. This is a very important step that shouldn’t be omitted. The beans have to be crushed into smaller chunks to release more flavor. We need to increase their surface so that there is more room for the essence to escape from.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can just pop your beans into a coffee grinder or a food processor. Alternatively, you can also place them in a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or even a hammer).
However, keep in mind that your beans should be crushed into coarse pieces – not ground.
Step 2 – Make sure that your jar is clean. Ideally, you should sterilize it by boiling it into a pot of water. Place your coffee beans inside, and then pour the vodka over. Your beans should be completely covered by the vodka.
Feel free to swirl it around a couple of times to make sure that everything is incorporated well. Place the lid on, and seal the jar.
Step 3 – Find a cool and dry place for your jar, and let it sit there for a week. Remember, extracting the oils and flavors from the beans takes time, so give it seven days. Don’t be tempted to leave it for longer than that, though, as long extraction leads to bitter and not-so-pleasing taste.
Step 4 – Shake every day! By shaking the jar regularly, you encourage the extraction and help release even more of the trapped essence. Besides, shaking the jar is the only way to mix the alcohol and coffee well so that your extract can have a more consistent flavor and aroma.
Step 5 – Strain your brew. Now that a week has passed and the extraction is over, it is time to strain and separate the rich liquid.
For this, you will need a fine-mesh strainer and a regular paper coffee filter. The coffee filter (or a cheesecloth) is a must, as there will be tons of tiny particles inside that may pass through the strainer effortlessly.
For a clean extract, place your coffee filter inside your mesh strainer, and place it over a bowl. Pour the coffee extract into the strainer, and allow it to drop through. Have patience, as this may take up to 20-40 minutes.
Step 6 – Now that you’ve strained the liquid, place a funnel over a clean and previously sterilized bottle, and pour the extract into it. Close it airtight, and store at room temperature. Use within a year.
The best way to use your aromatic and flavorsome coffee extract is as an add-in to cakes, cookies, and other baked goods, as you would usually use vanilla extract.
Use it as a flavor addition to your ice creams, cocktails, sauces, or even as a boost to your iced coffee or creamy smoothies. One to two teaspoons to your food/drink, and nothing will ever taste bland again.
Who needs boring vanilla or almond extract when you can make every dessert taste coffeelicious? We hope that we helped you make your own batch of coffee extract with success, and we’re looking forward to hearing all about the creative ways you use it to enhance the flavor of your sweet dishes.