The Irish Coffee Project – Mastering Irish Coffee at home

The Irish Coffee Project – Mastering Irish Coffee at home

One of my travel delights, especially when I’m on a bartour in the UK, is an Irish Coffee. The first I ever had was at Swift and the last one at Kwant, both in London. I also had the pleasure to try the legendary Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee. The mix of coffee, whiskey, sugar and cream are just meant to be together. I just remember the velvety texture on my lips, the creamy fresh taste before the boozy warm potion kicks in. Let’s get creamy and indulge ourselves with a velvet coffee cocktail. Time to master this Irish coffee moment.

It’s winter holiday season and the right time for a warm drink. Irish Coffee was born in the 1940s, so quite recently. On a stormy winter’s day in 1942 in Foynes a flight to New York had to turn back due to the weather conditions. To serve and warm up the passengers dinner was prepared in the Foynes restaurant. The young chef Joe Sheridan from Northern Ireland was in the house that evening and wanted to treat the soaked guests to an Irish speciality, almost as compensation for all the excitement.

Few ingredients, many possibilities. The trick here is the balance.

He made his guests a dark, strong coffee and added a pinch of brown sugar and a shot of soft, smooth Irish whiskey to awaken their spirits. Then he crowned the whole thing with a cap of whipped cream and served it to his guests. The passengers were surprised by this new drink and wondered what it was all about. Finally, one of them took heart, approached the young chef and asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee? To which Joe Sheridan glibly replied, “No, that’s Irish Coffee.” And so the now world-famous drink was born.

The secret to the perfect Irish Coffee is to keep it sweet but not too sweet, hot but not too hot, strong but not too strong, and you have to make the cream silky and luxurious. The Method is simple. Add boiling water to a coffee glass or mug to warm. When ready to prepare the coffee, discard the water. Combine coffee, whiskey and sugar to taste. Whip the double cream, not too much air in the cream to make sure it floats on top. Spice up with nutmeg. Enjoy through the velvet layer, do not stir.

The coffee factor is a nice way to make your signature drink.

I went to my favourite coffee roaster in town Helder & Leeuwen to ask for a matching coffee for my project. Eight years ago I attended a Barista seminar and will definitely repeat it when it’s possible again. I decided on a Brasilian coffee with some fruity acidity, chocolate and nut aroma. The bean (arabica) is grown on a 230 hectare farm “Nossa Senhora de Fátima” in the Minas Gerais region. This farm works in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way and places great emphasis on quality and the involvement of local people in this process.

The plan was to use different sorts of coffee but I also decided to play with brewing methods. I used my French Press and my Pour Over Set. The coffee factor is a nice way to make your signature drink. I also tried a coffee from Cuba with an intense aroma of nut, cocoa and tobacco, less acidity. Both coffees went well in the drink. My preferred method of preparation is the filter method because of the refined aroma extraction.

The star of my Irish Coffee is Jameson Caskmates Stout.

For my Irish Coffee I wanted to have a special highlight and asked the German brand ambassador for support. Jameson Caskmates Stout matures in Irish strong beer barrels. Jameson once lent some barrels to the neighbouring Stout brewery Franciscan Wells. Stout beer is characterised by sweet chocolate and coffee aromas, which can also be found in the whiskey aroma. Sounds like a perfect match to all parts of the drink.

On its own the Caskmates has a distinctive hop aroma and you can recognise the beer finish very well. The nose is aromatic, full of pear, apple, peach, very fruity and a lot of hop flavour. The taste is very reminiscent of beer. Beer drinkers will love this whiskey.

Layered not stirred!

Cream should only be slightly whipped. The texture must be velvety, drinkable and float on top of the mix. It works best for me using my milk frother. But it also works great in a shaker or preserving jar. Just make sure that the cream and also the vessel are cold when you begin whipping the cream. Heat is just going to make things runny. The garnish of a sprinkling of nutmeg not only looks pretty but tastes pretty good too.

There are many recipes to be found. Here is mine, the one that worked for me and my equipment at home.

30 – 40 ml  Jameson Caskmates
90 ml coffee
10 ml Demerara and Muscovado sugar syrup ( 2 parts Demerara sugar and 1 part Muscovado sugar in 3 parts of boiling water)
40 ml lightly whipped double cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg

It can be incredibly easy to make tasty things. Enjoy!!