Month to month we have been on a journey to discover the joys of coffee and the intricacies of getting the most from our magic beans. I hope we have shared (virtually) in different times and places the soothing aroma of a perfect cup of coffee and have learned to appreciate the nuances of the cup.
While I personally enjoy my coffee simply black or with the occasional splash of milk, there is a “theme” in the coffee world that connects well with our Mother’s Day related topic today.
That theme I refer to is a debate that centers around coffee being simply a preference or something that has a right or wrong to it. No matter how much you love your perfectly crafted cup, I hope that you will “allow” for human diversity and that people are entitled to enjoy their coffee anyway that makes them happy.
It seems easy to me, but I have often been faced with “judgement” from coffee purists when coffee preference begins to deviate from the “science”. Let me give you a couple of quick examples.
There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that coffee is best consumed between 9am and noon to use caffeine most effectively. Would that cause you to deny the early morning construction worker his cup of joe at 5:30am? Of course not!
Sensory science says slurping and aerating your coffee on the palette, while measuring body, evaluating acidity, and identifying individual flavor notes gives us deeper insight into the coffee. Yet, if you are at an elegant restaurant with friends enjoying a cup of coffee with the dessert course and enjoying lively conversation, would it be ok to just enjoy the cup without the analysis?
What coffee science purists often overlook is the cultural and social dimensions of coffee’s role in our lives. Sure, there are precise and measured ways to elevate coffee, but the ritual, the personal and emotional connection to certain flavors and aromas, the occasions and people from different points in your life are all valued experiences that can tremendously enhance a cup of coffee.
That brings us to today’s main subject. We call it “Mom’s Secret and Magical Brew.” For a little under a year, I have asked customers to share with me unique coffee rituals that have special meaning to them, and today I’d like to feature some of those recipes and the stories behind them.
The End of a Hard Day
Helen M. from Minnesota reports that she is an all-day coffee drinker. 4-6 cups depending and caffeine does not affect her at all. “I drink coffee because I love the taste and smell. I usually will take my coffee with a little warm half and half, but when I have a hard day and need something to turn my mood around, I have a special indulgence. In my big mug, I fill about ¼ of it with whole milk. I pour that milk into a small sauce pan, and then I drop a large dollop of Mrs. Richardson’s Hot Fudge Sauce and a hefty sprinkle of nutmeg. I dissolve those well and add them back to my mug. Then I fill the rest with my favorite coffee.
“I know it’s an indulgence, but try being in a bad mood while drinking it. It’s impossible. Sip slowly and think joyful thoughts.”
Mom’s Good Luck Coffee
Amy C. from San Diego shares that she has tried hundreds of coffee recipes and once while experimenting with a citrus-infused coffee drink, she had a really lucky day. ” It was crazy, I mean everything just kept lining up perfectly, and on that first day, I didn’t even think about the coffee until I was telling my husband about it and he casually asked what I did differently. That’s when I remembered the new recipe. About 2 weeks later, I made the same recipe and had an almost mystical day, meeting an old classmate, getting a great new assignment at work, and coming home to my son’s acceptance to college.”
Upon further inquiry, Amy explained that she is not superstitious and knows it is weird to ascribe these powers to coffee but that is how this particular recipe became her good luck cup. “Whenever I have a big day and need a little extra confidence, I make it.”
In a 16oz mug place a small pat of unsalted butter in the bottom of the cup. Cut from a citrus fruit a small piece of rind (about the size of a dime), and then cut it into small slices. Amy uses Yuzu (which may be hard to find), but also recommends lemon or lime peel. Make a pour over with high quality coffee right into the cup. Before pouring water on the coffee, sprinkle a tiny pinch of Himalayan Salt over the grounds. Then make your pour over and stir well. The aroma and richness of the cup will instantly wake your senses. She smiles and says, “It might also change your day in a positive way!”
A Summer Tradition
Sheila O. stayed with her grandmother during her University Days. She remembers a summer drink she and her grandmother shared that would relax and revive, and was so powerful that many years later Sheila starts every summer on her back porch with one or two good friends and serves the following. Note, this drink is based on an Algerian drink known as “Mazagran” with her own modifications.
“So, the main thing is to start with a tall skinny glass. Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a tablespoon of rum to each glass and stir well. Drop in a few fresh mint leaves and stir again. Add a shot of hot espresso to each glass, stir again, and then fill to the top with ice. Fill the rest of the glass with cold water and garnish with a thin slice of lemon.
“When I drink this, my youth, my grandmother, my current life, all the things I love seem to come to mind and I feel as if I am sipping happiness itself.”
The Spice of Life
Lily N. loves to travel. “I live for seeing new things and having new experiences. As I have gotten older with kids and more responsibilities, I sometimes get a bout of wanderlust. When I do, I will sometimes make what I call egg coffee. I think I first had it in Vietnam. It’s so different and just takes me out of the normal for a moment or two. I don’t think it’s for everyone but I find it delicious.”
In a large coffee mug, put in 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of condensed milk, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Stir into a thick paste. Place your pour over device over the mug and brew. Dark roast is best here. Stir it all together and enjoy a taste of the exotic!
“Then I close my eyes and imagine I am lost in a tropical jungle in South East Asia.”
Dad’s Coffee becomes Mom’s
Laura G. told me that her father loved camping. They would spend amazing family time in a variety of beloved locations throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. “It was one of those trips when I was about 12 that I tasted coffee for the first time. I loved it instantly. My father would make coffee in a traditional campfire percolator that he called his campfire coffee. I learned to make it to his exact specifications, which I still do whenever I have a chance. “
As percolators come in different sizes, you will probably want to make a full pot, so just find out the total water it holds, convert it to grams, and divide it by 16. That will give you the amount of grounds of coffee to grams of water. Many percolators come with a pre-measured holder for grounds called the basket.
Add to the bottom of the percolator pot half of a cinnamon stick, 3 whole cloves, and a dash of nutmeg. Next, add 4 big tablespoons of dark brown sugar. Fill the percolator base with water and give the water a few vigorous swirls. Set up the grounds, and set on the heat.
“This is a thick, warm, cup of coffee so enjoy as is or with a splash of milk.”
Those are some of the more interesting secret coffee recipes that have been shared with me. Notice the joy, the memories, the transformative power and the deep connections that emanate from each cup. A sure sign that coffee enjoyment is much more than just a scientific, step-by-step process.
Wishing all the moms out there a great and happy Mother’s Day and if you have a secret brew, please share it in the comments below!
About the Author
Matt Carter is a retired teacher (1989-2018), a part-time musician, farmer, and currently manages Greenwell Farms Tour and Retail Store Operations.