Christmas Tidings

What are the holiday celebrations without a bit of imbibing in something decadent?

For me, aside from a well curated charcuterie board and cheese cake, this is means adding a bit of sumpin’ sumpin’ extra special in my coffee. Honestly it’s usually a nice pour of Kahlua with a splash of cream, but if you want it to be extra special you should try a traditional Irish Coffee, which brings both the decadence AND the sumpin’ sumpin’!

Since it’s Christmas and I’d like to get back to some decadent imbibing of my own, I thought I’d share with you a post I wrote several years back on EpicuriousTexan (click on the ET link to go back in time to the original post!) about some theories of the history of this popular drink, along with the all important recipe to make your own without even changing out of your jammies or leaving the house! Also now is the time to perfect yours because in exactly a month–January 25–it will be National Irish Coffee Day and time to show off your IC skills.

Until next time, Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Why Are Irish Eyes Smiling?

Because they have Irish Coffee!

What?  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Of course, everyone knows my position of coffee (nectar of the gods–in case you’re new here!), but when you add cream and whiskey, well, kids, it just becomes magical!

There are several theories as to who created this wonderful drink.  The most accepted theory was created in 1942 by Joe Sheridan who added whiskey to the coffee for passengers stranded at Foynes airbase.  When someone asked if the coffee was Brazilian, good ol’ Joe responded with “no, it’s Irish Coffee.”  He even coined the following when asked for the recipe:

Cream – Rich as an Irish Brogue  
Coffee – 
Strong as a Friendly Hand
Sugar – 
Sweet as the tongue of a Rogue
Whiskey – 
Smooth as the Wit of the Land.

Just don’t tell Joe Jackson that, he claimed to have created it year before Sheridan’s famous airbase interaction.  I personally think a nod to both Joes are in order, then again, maybe that’s why we call it a cup of joe?

With St. Patrick’s day only a day away, if you have never indulged in this delectable treat now it the time.  For the rest of us, Sunday brunch is as good of time as any!

How to make it?  Well, everyone tweaks it here and there, but the base is what good ol’ Joe Sheridan described.  The National Irish Coffee Day website breaks it down for us:

and in practical terms here’s how to make one:  Pre-heat a clear stemmed glass with very hot water. Empty the water, and add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Now add some freshly brewed rich coffee and stir. As soon as the sugar is melted, add a generous measure of Irish whiskey (about 4 to 6 teaspoons). Stir again, and then wait for the brew to still. Now take a hot teaspoon and pour gently whipped fresh cream slowly over the back of the spoon. The cream should be not too stiff and not too liquid. A perfect Irish Coffee should look pretty much like that other famous Irish drink – Guinness! And remember never stir it because the coffee is meant to be enjoyed as you sip the warm, sweet nectar through the luxurious cream.

Speaking of National Irish Coffee Day, which is a real thing, it’s on January 25th–plenty of time to hone your Irish coffee making skills! Slainte!

Coffee Talk: Finland

Did you know that the Finnish consume the most amount of coffee each year? According to the International Coffee Organization via the BBC, per capita coffee consumption in Finland is 12.5kg. Yes, 12.5kg (aka 27.5 pounds) of coffee per person per year! Sweden comes in right behind Finland at around 11kgs (just over 24 pounds) per person.

In fact, Scandinavian/Nordic countries round out all of the top 5 spots (Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, respectively). I’d like to think that I’m doing my part to keep up the United States’s consumption, but alas the US doesn’t even make the top 20!

Guess I gotta start drinking more…

Affogato

Affogato di caffe is probably the most amazing culinary delight in the coffee world. In Italy, it is served as a dessert. Here in America, it’s usually on the coffee beverage menu. Either way, it will make your taste buds very happy.

Literally translated, it means drowned in coffee. And what better to be drowned in coffee than gelato or ice cream. Of course you can get really fancy with it and add all sorts of toppings and flavorings, but my favorite way is just vanilla ice cream/gelato and espresso, like this one I found at Bucks On Bridge Coffee in Lambertville, NJ.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures or video of the assembly of one of the best affogatos I’ve had outside of Italy. Their vanilla ice cream was creamy and when paired with their rich espresso with caramel overtones*, the result was decadent.

*I believe their espresso had caramel overtones. It certainly did when paired with the ice cream, but did I think to do a tasting of the espresso first? Of course not, I was starstruck by the excitement of one of my most favorite pairings on the planet.

As the ice cream melted into the espresso, the last third of my concoction was reminiscent of a root beer float. I’m 100% certain I finished every.single.drop. and I may have licked the cup one brief second before I relinquishing it to the recycling bin…

Coffee Talk: The Original Father of Espresso

It is generally accepted that the founding fathers of the wondrous espresso machine were Milanese inventors/manufacturers Luigi Bezzara, who patented his espresso machine in 1901, and Desidero Pavoni, who bought the patent from Bezzara 1903 and released his own machine in 1905.

However, it was actually Angelo Moriondo who holds the first patent for an espresso machine dating back to 1884. His bulk espresso machine was used to serve coffee at the Turin General Exposition in 1884–nearly 20 years before Bezzara and Pavoni.

Wait…espresso in bulk?!? Sign me up, please!!

Nespresso Ethiopia

It wasn’t originally my intention to make this entire month about espresso, but that seems to be how it is working out and who am I to argue?

For today’s tasting, I have an Ethiopian coffee from Nespresso. 

Now before we get to the tasting, let me introduce you to Riccardo, my De’Longhi Nespresso machine (yes, I’m one of those annoying people who love to name inanimate objects, like kitchen appliances). Mainly I’m telling you this because this means whenever I’m tasting espresso from home, I am using Riccardo with the original Nespresso capsules–or as I like to call them: the non-dome ones. 

According to Nespresso their Ethiopa espresso is:

  • Made with dry processed Arabica beans
  • Intensity Level: 4 (of 10)
  • Roastiness: 2 (of 5)
  • Acidity: 4 (of 5)
  • Bitterness: 2 (of 5)
  • Body: 2 (of 5)
  • Aromatic Profile: Flowery & Bright
  • Aromatic Notes: Flowery

My Notes:

  • Smells: sweet, like honeysuckle or orange blossom
  • Tastes: bright, acidic, with overtones of lemon but as it cools overtones have less citrus and more caramel
  • Finishes: smooth with a sweet lemon taste that disperses quickly
  • Pairs: lemon bars/cake, cheese danish, old-fashioned doughnuts

Overall, this is a very smooth and delicious espresso. It is on the lighter side and tastes sweet. Personally I wish it were just a tiny bit stronger to increase the body and mouthfeel just a tad. If you are new to espresso and/or think all espressos are too dark/taste burned and/or looking for something lighter you can drink anytime, I highly recommend this one.

Coffee Talk: Cappuccino vs Espresso

As I mentioned earlier this week, when one is visiting the Land of Espresso (aka Italy) it is hard not to imbibe in a cappuccino or twelve. If you do find yourself visiting Italy (and I highly recommend it) and want to blend in with the locals in the cafe, the key is to never order a cappuccino after 12pm. After that, espresso is king. However, don’t panic. Italian espresso is much smoother and milder than its American counterpart. And if you really need milk, you can always ask for a splash.