As the chill winds blow and cold weather settles in, we start exploring coffee drinks that can warm us to our cores and help us survive the cold. There’s the breve, a latte made with half-and-half (whole milk and cream) that’s very popular in Alaskan winters. There’s also a huge range of spiked coffee drinks like Irish coffee, cafe corretto and the New Orleanian cafe brûlot, where a ribbon of orange peel studded with cloves is soaked in brandy and set alight before being dropped into dark roast chicory-infused coffee. And there’s the maple butter coffee- a simple winter drink to warm the soul.
The original inspiration for this drink came from Sherri Johns’ excellent little book Coffee Café. In it, she floated a pat of butter in coffee, with a cinnamon stick on top. The richness of butter complemented the roasty flavours of a dark roast coffee to heighten the warmth of the brew. The cinnamon brought forth a welcoming whiff of spice that instantly took you to a warmer place.
Madhushree, Anindya and I were talking winter coffee drinks when the subject of maple syrup in coffee came up. The best maple syrup comes from a very cold place, and it’s not unusual to sweeten coffee with sirop d’érable as the Francophones call it. Hence, the idea of combining these two recipes to further heighten the warmth struck us, and this recipe was born.
Now let me get something out of the way. This is definitely not a recipe for “butter coffee”, where you’d blend butter or MCT oil into coffee to make a pile of froth that fills you up till the afternoon. Nope. This drink is simplicity itself, and that’s where its appeal lies.
We opted to use a very special bean for this — Guatemala ELLA, a curated lot from women coffee producers in the Huehuetenango region. Over 70% of the workforce in Guatemalan coffee, from picking to packing, are women. Yet, women in leadership positions and farm owners are relatively rare. Some trailblazers like Paty Perez and Ana Maria Ortega have broken through the iron ceiling of discrimination and violence to lead their own farms. Onyx Coffee, a speciality coffee importer working in the area, curated their beans into a single lot that cups like a dream. Brown sugar sweetness and hints of orange complement a full creamy body, making it a delight to drink even by itself. I am honoured to be roasting this coffee.
You can prepare the coffee in your method of choice — French press, pourover or any other non-espresso brew method is fine. We chose pourover to better control the aroma and body of the cup. A slow pour enhances the body, which will be needed for mouthfeel when the butter comes in. A 1:16.5 weight ratio of coffee to water was used. Also, the water temperature was between 195 and 205ºF, about 20 seconds off the boil. Grind size was medium fine, about the consistency of fine sea salt.
So I did a free pour, allowing for a 30-second bloom and graduated extraction to build layers of sweetness in the cup. The only thing that stirred the grounds was the water stream; no agitation or swirling was done. This resulted in a sweetness-forward creamy bodied cup, with just enough aromatics and muted acidity. A spoon of maple syrup was added at this point.
Madhushree then cut a perfect sliver of butter, and we floated it in the steaming cup. As it began to melt, a tiny piece of cinnamon was placed on the butter. And as it all dissolved into a glorious little pool, it was time to take a sip.
We hope you enjoy this recipe just as we did. Life is brief my friends. Take on what it offers you, and create a more just world in the process. Peace and love.
This is a guest post by Arka Chaudhuri, owner and roast wrangler of Kustomcoffee, a micro-roastery based in Fairfax, Virginia roasting ethically sourced speciality coffee since 2011.
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Maple Butter Coffee
- 1 cup pourover coffee or coffee of your choice
- 1 small slice of butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 small sliver of cinnamon
- After you make your coffee in your method of choice, stir in maple syrup.
- Gently slide a pat of butter and add a slice of cinnamon on top.
- Let the butter gently melt and then stir and sip your maple butter coffee