How to Master Making Irish Coffee

Irish coffee could spark as much debate among gentlemen as politics. Like many other things in life, everyone is a self-proclaimed expert on the beverage, and everyone has their own 'special brew' that is somehow supposed to change your life forever. Making Irish coffee is surprisingly easy.

Perfecting it, however, is another story altogether. What separates the men from the boys is the ability to find the perfect blend of ingredients that awakens the palate and stirs the soul. Below are some tips on how to make the perfect Irish coffee for you and your friends.

 

Next Level Brewing

Once you've mastered the basics, the road to perfection is more about choosing the right ingredients more than the method of putting them all together. The rule of thumb is this: quality ingredients make delicious coffee. Yes, it's possible to visit the local grocer and pull from the generic shelf. But we're talking about Iris Coffee and not some Keurig-produced latte.

 

 

The Coffee

A good barista knows that when it comes to flavored coffee, less is more. Strong coffee flavors such as espresso may add flavor, but they take away from the other ingredients that defeat the point of Irish Coffee. Remember, everything is about balance. So rather than go for the heavy-duty Americano blend, try using filtered coffee instead.

Filtered coffee is the fancy name for good old-fashioned brewed coffee that most people wake up to every morning. Most experts recommend a medium grind coffee that is not too bitter or weak. Every guy has his favorite brand of filtered coffee. So choose your brand, pick a middle of the road grind, and brew accordingly.

 

 

The Sweetener

When considering the right sugar, there are two things at stake and one of them is not taste. Sugar thickens the coffee enough to keep the whipping cream afloat. The right type and amount of sugar are paramount to the way the coffee tastes and how it's presented.

Although you may be tempted to stick with white sugar, the better option is brown sugar, and the best option is muscovado to hang with the big boys and impress your guests. The big question is whether to add the sugar to the glass or dissolve it in the pan with a few drops of water. Proponents of the melting method believe that it mixes better with the whiskey when both are poured into the glass together. We'll let you decide.

 

 

The Whiskey

The whiskey takes center stage in the Irish coffee. That being said, it's fair to say that the coffee and other ingredients affect the taste of the drink more than the whiskey - that is unless you add more whiskey. Tradition holds that the whiskey should be from Ireland. If this is true, then two brands stand out: Bushmills and Jameson. Take your pick. One is as good as the other in this particular setting.

 

 

The Cream

The most difficult task in making Irish coffee is getting the cream to float to the top. We've already discussed all the factors involved: sufficient thickness of the cream, the right sugar, a gentle hand, and keeping the cream chilled until the last minute.

The consistency of the cream plays a considerable role in whether or not it will float. Use a double, and stay away from the single cream. Keep the cream chilled and the coffee hot. A useful technique is to pour the cream down the back of a spoon rather than pour it directly into the coffee.

 

Basic Instructions for the Brew

Making Irish Coffee includes gathering some basic ingredients and following a standard procedure. So we'll end with some easy to follow instructions that will help you get started. Start with filling a coffee glass with hot water and let the water stand in the glass to keep it warm. Then it's easy to follow the ingredients and instructions below.

 

Ingredients

  • 50 ml cold double or whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. soft brown muscovado sugar
  • 50 ml whiskey, preferably Irish
  • 150 ml - 200 ml freshly brewed coffee
  • Nutmeg for seasoning 

 

Preparation and Instructions

  1. Whip the cream until it is smooth with no bubbles. The whipping cream needs to be thick and adhere to the whisk. Make sure the thickness is adequate. Chill the whipping cream in the refrigerator.
  2. The muscovado needs to be dissolved in a small pot or pan with two tablespoons of water. Do not overdo the water. The brown sugar should be almost creamy within in a relatively short period. Once it is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and mix it with the whiskey.
  3. Stir the whipping cream one more time for about 30 seconds until it is once again bubble-free and consistent.
  4. Pour the hot water out of the warm glass. Add the whiskey/muscovado mixture and then stir in the freshly brewed coffee. Gently pour the cream into the glass so that it is floating on top of the coffee. Add a bit of nutmeg for taste.

 

Your coffee is ready to serve. Mastering the basic techniques will also allow you to experiment with other ingredients. Try different kinds of alcohol such as Bailey's or Kahlua to get the coffee just the way you want it. Some ideas will work while other fail miserably. By experimenting, however, you will find the right mix of ingredients for your Irish coffee. Hell, you may even start a new trend. Good luck sir!

 

PHOTO CREDIT: SUSANNE NILSSON

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