Cafe de Olla is a Mexican spiced coffee that is a very enjoyable way to prepare your coffee if you’re looking for a little variety. The coffee is prepared on the stovetop and it is flavored with cinnamon, orange and cloves, and sweetened with piloncillo. Piloncillo is an unrefined Mexican sugar that you can find sold in cones or large chunks at Mexican markets. It has a unique flavor that is somewhere between brown sugar and honey, and while it takes a little bit of work to chop up the block that it comes in, it is well worth the effort.
This coffee is traditionally brewed by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and allowing them to steep together, than straining out the spices when you’re ready to serve it. You can also make it in smaller batches in a french press, but I find that it is easies to make it the traditional way because nothing gets caught in the mesh of my french press. With the saucepan method, you can also easily taste your coffee and adjust the sugar level to taste, as piloncillo is quite sweet and you may find that you don’t want quite as much in your brew.
I serve this as-is, either for breakfast or with dessert. If I’m going the dessert route, I will often top it off with a big dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, too. You can substitute brown sugar for the piloncillo, but I highly recommend making a trip to the Mexican market to get the real thing.
Cafe de Olla
3/4 cup freshly ground coffee
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp whole cloves or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
2-inch strip orange zest
3-4 oz piloncillo, coarsely chopped
6 cups of water
In a large saucepan, combine coffee, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest and piloncillo. Add water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes, then strain into a carafe or individual mugs.