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Strange coffee prep while traveling?

I was in Quito, Ecuador staying at a small b&b/hostel this winter and the owner had a strange coffee preparation. I recall asking about it, but don't recall the details now. Basically she had a tall glass refrigerated decanter of thick, syrupy coffee that was possibly slightly sweet. You simply added this to hot water with or without milk to a desirable proportion.

Anyone have an idea of what this preparation is called?

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  1. "Instant" coffee comes in a syrup, as well as dried/freeze dried. Not to be confused with the flavored coffee syrups.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      Interesting; I didn't know that. In this case it was not in a commercial bottle and I was led to believe it was homemade in some fashion.

      1. re: standish

        It sounds like cold brewed coffee to me. I started doing this a few years ago and it is quite good. I usually mix cold brewed coffee with milk and pour it over ice as an iced coffee. Cold brewed coffee is quite strong but seems to be less bitter with less acid. I put a pound of ground coffee into a kettle and pour 12 cups of coffee over it and let it steep for 24 hours in the refrigerator. After straining the coffee I put it into .5 liter water bottles and freeze it for future use.

        I have used it in a similar fashion as to how you were served it in Ecuador. We have some recreational land with a cabin in northern Minnesota that is quite rustic, no running water or electricity. Since I abhor perked coffee I would bring the cold brew and mix it with hot water. Since that time I purchased a manual drip coffee pot so I don't use the cold brew up there anymore. I could be wrong on the Ecuador thing because I am not familiar with their food culture. (I did used to work with a guy that was a missionary in Quito however).

        1. re: John E.

          I am brewing my first cold brew right now which is what reminded me of the coffee in Quito. The stuff there was pretty syrupy though. Nice and thick. My understanding of cold brew is that it's a liquid--not a gel. I'm formerly from MPLS and miss heading up north on weekends to friends cabins and the BWCA. Thanks for writing.

          1. re: standish

            In my neck of the woods, cold brew concentrate is available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, you might want to check there.

    2. I have seen this type of preparation done with tea as well a coffee. A very strong batch is made (7-8 times normal strength) and then stored as a concentrate.
      I first ran into this when staying with some very orthodox Jewish friends who do not cook on the Sabbath. They would not brew coffee or tea, but added hot water (from a kettle that was kept on a sheet of tin over the burner all Sabbath) to the concentrate in order to have tea or coffee on the Sabbath. They called this concentrate 'sentz' I think ot was a corruption of the English word essence.

      1. Check out the Toddy cold brew system sounds very similar

        1. It was probably instant coffee, mixed with hot water and sugar, then cooled. Then to serve, you just pour some in to hot water or milk (or both) as needed. It's basically homemade sweetened coffee concentrate.

          1 Reply
          1. Your heading "Strange Coffee Prep While Traveling" reminded me of years ago when we rented a holiday home in Agde, France, a 400 year-old house built into the ancient city wall so that from it you approached the street by descending a long stone staircase. In early morning hours these stairs were adorned with the contributions of an enormous dog who lived nearby and there were no street lights, so that the one of us who went down to the bakery for breakfast rolls ran considerable risk---I won't go into details. But the rolls were heaven, flaky and still warm and topped with lemon-flavored custard and sweet raisins, and meanwhile the other one of us was (here's where your subject heading comes in) making coffee by filtering it through a gauze bag into an empty mayonnaise jar. A lovely memory of a lovely breakfast.

            1. I believe this concentrate is often called 'tinto'. Usually tinto means red, as in red wine, but this is a local usage. Tinto is also the Columbian name for coffee.
              claims the Columbian tinto is usually made with moka pot. I'm not sure about the Ecuadorian concentrate.

              Traditionally when you ordered cafe con leche you got a pot of hot milk, and a cruet of this tinto. Less traditional places would just give you a jar of instant coffee (Nescafe from Columbia, or the Ecuadorian copy).

              This thread claims tinto is an over night cold brew.

              2 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Thanks Paul! I should've known the PNW (and hikers no less) would come through. A most informative post on the topic. It also resonates in my mind a bit since I think the owner might have called it tinto. Will have to confirm with my wife to see if it sounds familiar when she returns from picking sour cherries. As an aside I have tried making cold brew since bringing this question to the table and while my coffee liquor was not syrup-like it was excellent brew. Though very strong for my tastes in terms of caffeine. I just need to dilute a bit more I guess.

                1. re: standish

                  If it was sweet then it was likely a simple syrup with coffee concentrate (i.e. both the coffee and the sweetener are concentrated and meant to be added to a larger volume of hot water).