Coffee has been a household word for probably 2000 years. No one seems to know exactly when it was discovered or how, just that human beings have been ingesting it in various forms for a VERY long time.
The earliest mention of coffee as a food or substance has been attributed to Ethiopian monks (or an intrepid goat herder) who simply chewed the berries for the ‘sprightly’ effect it produced (particularly in his goats). It took nearly 1000 years of ingesting, consuming, and pondering before it became a brewed drink, however, sometime around AD 1000. Several hundred years later it was carried north into the area around the Mediterranean Sea where it enjoyed quite a following. There, coffee was hoarded, policed, and heavily controlled to keep a much desired monopoly on the product. It was not until sometime in the 1600’s before it was ‘smuggled’ into Europe. Something this wonderful cannot be kept prisoner — everyone loves it and everyone wants more!
Coffee Essence was introduced as a product sometime in the mid-1850’s and became a popular drink for entertaining all the way through the 1920’s and early 1930’s. It slowly lost popularity over the last 60 – 70 years for some reason, perhaps when automatic coffee makers came on the scene.
Happily, though, coffee essence is making a comeback and there are many possible reasons for this. One, it’s way simple to make. Two, once it’s made it’s a much faster way to enjoy a cup of coffee than having to brew a pot. Three, it’s versatile. You can use it to make your regular morning cup of hot coffee, or use it for a glass of iced coffee on a hot summer afternoon. Four, and perhaps most importantly, it’s delicious! The process of cold-soaking produces a surprisingly low-acid, velvety rich ‘essence,’ with a long shelf life when kept in the refrigerator. You may have just discovered a new friend.
Of the many ways to make Coffee Essence, I always use a Coffee Toddy, a two-piece cold-brewed coffee system. After you use one you may decide to move your electric coffeepot into the closet to make room for one of these! They are compact, non-electric (and, therefore, environmentally sound), and they make superior coffee. This recipe demonstrates the use of the Coffee Toddy, and although it’s not the only method for making ‘Essence,’ it’s the one I prefer. (See the details or get one for yourself from Amazon with the link at right.)
1 lb. ground coffee
10 c cold water
1 Coffee Toddy Coffee System (or your own filter and jar)
- From the outside, put the rubber stopper into the hole in the white plastic container. Do not put the stopper into the hole from the inside or you will not be able to pull the plug when it is time to filter the essence.
- From the inside, press the coffee filter into the round indentation at the bottom of the plastic container. (It helps to first rinse/soak the filter in water, squeezing it out like a sponge before inserting it into the container.)
- Pour the coffee grounds into the bottom of the container.
- Slowly fill the container with cold water until it is about an inch from the top. This will be approximately 10 cups. At this point you can set the plastic container over the carafe to catch any coffee that happens to drip past the stopper.
- Let the container sit undisturbed for at least 10 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours). Important: Resist any urge to stir or mix the grounds!
- After the proper amount of time has passed, quickly pull the rubber stopper out of the bottom of the container, making sure to keep it over the carafe — sometimes the essence floods out of the container! Let it rest on the glass carafe while it drains completely. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours.
- That’s it! You are now ready to enjoy the best coffee you have ever tasted. Enjoy!
Try a delicious Coffee Milk for your first taste of Coffee Essence!