Café de Olla

If you have not heard of Café de Olla and you like your coffee sweet, then this is a great way to serve coffee. The name Café de Olla literally means Pot Coffee in English, and is traditionally prepared in earthen clay pots, hence the name. It is principally consumed in the colder climates and in the rural areas of Mexico. Sometimes you will hear it referred to as Café de Vaquero or Cowboy Coffee due to it’s rural background.

Café de Olla has a distinct flavor that is provided by the ingredients of rich mountain grown Mexican coffee beans that have been ground and French roasted, cinnamon and piloncillo.

For those who are unfamiliar with piloncillo, the name is Mexican for Panela, which is what they call unrefined whole cane sugar in Central and Latin America. The word panela is used for a cheese in Mexico – Queso Panela. Piloncillo is basically a solid piece of glucose and fructose that is obtained from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. It is marketed in several forms from solid blocks to granulated forms and a liquid. It is used throughout Mexico and elsewhere in the canning industry, candy making, soft drinks, bakery products and in making wines and vinegars. It is also used in the cosmetics industry to make facial and mask products, because of the presence of glycolic acid. It is also used in treatments to slow the aging of skin. It is available at most Mexican supermarkets.

Here we present three ways to make your own Café de Olla at home – Traditional, Modern and the Lazy way…

Traditional Café de Olla

Ingredients

6 tablespoons of high altitude grown, slow roasted Mexican coffee
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 cone (or 5 ounces granulated) of piloncillo

Utensils

1 stone molcajete
1 earthware cooking pot
1 wood spoon
1 piece of cloth to act as a strainer

Preparation

  1. If you are working with a cone of piloncillo, you will need to grind it to powder in the molcajete before continuing
  2. Pour 1 1/2 liters of water in the earthenware pot
  3. Place the pot on an open fire until the water begins to boil
  4. Add the 2 sticks of cinnamon and the piloncillo
  5. Stir often with wood spoon until the piloncillo has disolved (about 5 minutes)
  6. If the pot begins to boil again before the piloncillo has disolved, simply move the pot to the side until the boiling subsides
  7. Once the piloncillo has disolved add 6 tablespoons of ground coffee to the pot and bring it to a boil once again
  8. When the water boils move the pot away from the direct fire to a lower heat
  9. Let coffee continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  10. Pour the mixture through the cloth to strain and serve hot
  11. Makes about 6 cups of coffee or 3 cups if you are using a regular coffee cup

Note: In the rural areas of Mexico, they do not strain the coffee, but enjoy the richer taste by consuming some the grounds as they drink their Café de Olla.

Modern Version of Café de Olla

Yes, it is so in to drink Café de Olla that Nescafe has their own instant version on the market, albeit made with canela and cinnamon. I know, it’s not quite the same as real coffee.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons of ground coffee
2 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 piece of orange peel with the white interior removed
1 cone of piloncillo or substitute with 200 grams of brown sugar
Milk or cream to taste (optional)

Utensils
1 saucepan
1 cooking spoon
1 strainer for grounds

Preparation

  1. Place 1 1/2 liters of water, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, piloncillo and orange peel into the saucepan
  2. Boil water over high heat
  3. When the water boils reduce heat to low and stir regularly until the brown sugar has dissolved
  4. Add the ground coffee into the pot and bring the water to boil again
  5. When the water boils reduce heat to low and let coffee seep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Strain and serve coffee hot

This has become a favorite coffee drink at Christmas time in Mexico and at parties.

Lazy Café de Olla

  1. Brew coffee in a coffee maker or espresso machine
  2. Pour into cup
  3. Add a stick of cinnamon and dash of brown sugar to the cup
  4. Stir and serve on a saucer with a few coffee beans placed around the cup for garnish
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About G. William Hood

G. William Hood is a writer, fine arts painter, educator and world traveler. He lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
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