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May 18, 2012 09:03 AM

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.

    10 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. re: Alan408

        Actually, this is NOT a cold brew. In Ecuador, this coffee essence is prepared in a small metal filter. A tablespoon of hot water is poured over the finely ground coffee every 3-4 minutes for about an hour. The result of this process is a thick, syrup-like coffee essence. You can store it for up to a week in a glass jar. One teaspoon of the essence plus hot water or milk is all that you need. The flavor is very intense without any of the bitterness or sourness of traditionally brewed coffees.

        1. re: Jsamiljan

          Interesting. Sounds labor intensive, something that would have been done in a home or restaurant kitchen with lots of staff.

          When I was in Ecuador many years ago I wasn't drinking coffee, so didn't pay much attention to the taste. But I associate this tinto most with a large European style coffee shop in a downtown arcade, complete with the shiny brass espresso boilers.

          1. re: paulj

            Sadly, this process has disappeared in Ecuador. My wife and I bought several of these filters close to 40 years ago and brought them back home. It really is not as labor intensive as it sounds. If you are in the kitchen cooking anyway, it is really quite easy--and then you have a 2-3 day supply of "instant" coffee.

            1. re: Jsamiljan

              Hi Jsamiljan, Do you have to pour a tablespoon of hot water over the grounds by hand every few minutes or is there some kind of traditional coffee maker you use or special pot? What do you need to prepare coffee this way and how much coffee grounds do you use for each brewing? How exactly do you make it? Very curious! I have wondered what this type of coffee was called and how to make it since I visited Peru 5 years ago, when I had the pleasure of drinking it in a small cafe and in the mountains. Some of the most delicious coffee I ever tried.

          2. re: Jsamiljan

            Ecuadorean coffee essence filter

            1. re: Jsamiljan

              That looks like a manual drip coffee maker.

        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.