Vietnamese Coffee

June 23rd, 2016 by

Vietnamese Coffee

If you’ve never had Vietnamese coffee, you have to try it. It’s shockingly good. I like my coffee black or with a little cream, but never sweetened so I can’t explain why I like this intensely sweet drink, but I love it, especially over ice. The sweeter the better. Coffee in Vietnam is typically Robusta, which has a reputation for being slightly bitter. Dark roast levels are common, as they minimize this bitterness. A big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk helps too. For this recipe we used our Super Dark Espresso, which contains some Robusta as most espresso blends do. We also used a traditional 6 ounce Vietnamese coffee filter called a phin. These stainless steel filters are inexpensive and easy to find online in several sizes. You can substitute brewed espresso or strong French Press coffee if you prefer.

Ingredients (1 serving)

  • 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons ground coffee. A French press (coarse) grind works best
  • Hot water

Instructions

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a heat safe glass or mug. Start with a little if  you’re not sure how much sweetness you’ll like and stir more in if you prefer after brewing. Remove the interior screen from the filter (you may need to unscrew this manually). Add coffee to the filter and replace the inside screen, tightening the screw fully, the unscrewing it one full turn to give the coffee room to expand. Rest the filter on top of your mug or glass and add a splash of near-boiling water. Let this sit for half a minute, then fill the filter chamber with water. Cover the top of the filter (there’s a cap provided) and allow the coffee to drip through. Once the water has drained through, remove the filter, stir, and enjoy hot or pour over ice.

This entire process takes about five minutes. If the water drains through too quickly, your grind may be too course and you’ll have a watery cup of coffee. Too fine a grind will clog the filter. If you grind your own beans, play with the grind level until you find what brews and tastes best with your filter.

Watermelon Mimosa Green Tea Popsicles

June 22nd, 2016 by

It might sound like there’s too much going on in this recipe, but there are only three ingredients in these simple popsicles. We came up with this idea to celebrate the return of summer and our Watermelon Mimosa Green Tea Blend, a flavored blend of Sencha and Jasmine green teas, blackberry leaves, and spearmint. Fresh watermelon juice adds color and sweetness without overpowering the green tea flavor.

Watermelon Mimosa Pops

Ingredients (makes 10 large popsicles)

1 small seedless watermelon (or about 2 1/2 cups of watermelon, cubed)

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups brewed Watermelon Mimosa Green Tea Blend

Instructions

Brew the tea using the standard steeping instructions (1 teaspoon per cup, brewed 2-3 minutes). Stir in the sugar while the tea is hot and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Blend the watermelon in a blender and pour through a mesh strainer. Add the strained watermelon juice to the tea and pour into popsicle molds. Set in the freezer for 1 1/2 hours, then insert the popsicle sticks. This will prevent the sticks from floating or moving in the mold. Freeze overnight or longer.

Kombucha 101

May 24th, 2016 by

Curious and slightly afraid of kombucha? We decided to dive in and the results were pretty exciting. The key is to change the way you think about that gelatinous, stringy, rapidly reproducing mass that floats on top. That mysterious and slightly disgusting entity is what transforms ordinary tea into a refreshingly fruity and slightly fizzy fermented beverage with a multitude of (purported) health benefits. You can read about those here if you’re interested. To sum it all up, kombucha contains probiotics, which have been linked to digestive and immune system health. Some people drink it medicinally while many just love the taste.

Scoby

This is a SCOBY. Yes it feels weird.

Bottled kombucha is available commercially, but it’s much cheaper to make your own. Plus, many commercial kombucha beverages are pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. This pasteurization process creates a more stable product but also kills the live bacteria. When you make your own, you can control the fermentation process yourself to achieve the flavor and fizz level you like.

What you’ll need

A SCOBY (or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”). You can buy them online or make your own from an existing batch of kombucha.

Glass 1 gallon jar with a wide mouth

Filtered water

Caffeinated tea (3 tablespoons)

1 cup sugar

Temperature gauge (optional)

Instructions

Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a small pot, then remove from heat. Add your tea. We used Nilgiri black tea and our t-sac filters, steeping the tea for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea leaves. Stir in a cup of sugar and add the sweetened tea to your glass container. Add cold, filtered water until the tea is about 4 inches from the top. Make sure the tea is at room temperature, between 68-88 degree F, before adding your SCOBY. Stir the mixture, add your SCOBY, and cover the top with a piece of cotton secured with a rubber band. Place the jar in a dark place with good air flow.

Your kombucha will be ready somewhere between 7-21 days. The longer it sits, the more sugar is converted to vinegar by your busy SCOBY, and the tarter the taste. Test it by carefully running a clean straw along the side and under the SCOBY. Then, with your finger covering the top of the straw, draw some liquid out and taste.

Safety tips

Make sure your hands and all of your brewing equipment is very clean before starting your batch, transferring or bottling your kombucha, and any time you handle your SCOBY (antibacterial soap is not recommended however). Store your fermenting batch away from other food, trash, or plants and within a 68-88 degree F range. Be on the lookout for anything that looks like mold. Strings and blobs are good (gross, I know) and fuzz is very bad. When in doubt, throw it out.

When your batch is done

With clean hands, remove your SCOBY, which will have a “baby” SCOBY or two growing on it. Separate them and place each in a jar, covering them with some liquid. Store them in the fridge for future use. Pour your kombucha into bottles with tight fitting lids, adding some fruit juice for flavor if you like. You can leave the bottles at room temperature for a day or two for extra fizziness (they will continue to ferment slightly), or stick them in the fridge. The flavor will continue to change over time, so if you like the taste, consume within a few days of bottling.

After-2

Ready for bottling. This is what it is supposed to look like. You’ll learn to love it.

Bottled

 

Easy Chemex, Hot or Iced

May 6th, 2016 by

New to Chemex coffee? The Chemex is distinguished in the world of pour over brewing by its unique shape and heavy paper filter, which work together to create a flavorful and clean cup of coffee. If you like a bright flavor without bitterness or sediment, give it a try!

Coffee Purists

To brew hot coffee with the Chemex, you’ll need the following:

  • Chemex 6 cup or 8 cup brewer
  • Chemex Bonded Filters
  • Coffee ground slightly coarser than you would use for an autodrip machine (ask for a pour over grind if ordering ground coffee)
  • Near boiling water
  • A Kettle (preferably with a thin spout)

Instructions:

  1. Open your filter so that it forms a cone. You’ll see that one side has three layers. Place the filter in the top of your brewer with this side facing the spout.
  2. Measure your water and coffee. We recommend using 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6-8 ounces of water.
  3. Boil your water adding a little extra to the kettle to rinse the filter before brewing (optional).
  4. Preheat your brewer (recommended for hot coffee) by pouring a little hot water into your filter. This step serves to eliminate some of the paper taste from the filter as well as warm the carafe. Discard the water once it has run through.
  5. Pour your ground coffee into the filter.
  6. Wet the grounds with hot water. Add just enough water so there are no dry spots and let sit for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the rest of your water. Start by wetting all of the grounds again, then move the stream of water in slow spirals, pausing when close to the top. A gooseneck kettle is recommended for greater control.
  8. Once all the water has been added, allow the water to filter though. Remove the filter, give the carafe a swirl, and serve.

Iced version:

For iced coffee, replace half of the brewing water with ice. Place the ice in the carafe, skip step 4, and brew normally.

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Cinco de Pyro

April 29th, 2016 by

Cinco de Pyro small

Margaritas are great and all, but this tequila cocktail involves ice cream, coffee, and fire. Considered an after dinner drink, the Cinco de Pyro (aka “Mexican coffee”) is more conducive to starting the party than winding things down. For a less sweet version, substitute whipped cream for ice cream.

Ingredients (per drink)

1 ½ oz. reposado tequila (high proof)
½ oz. Kahlua coffee liqueur
Hot coffee, we used our Mexican Altura
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Instructions

Add the Kahlua to your mug and top with hot coffee, leaving room at the top for the tequila and ice cream. Add the tequila to a heat-proof pitcher or sauce boat, and light. Carefully pour the flaming tequila into your glass and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.