The old trope about the “half-caff one pump chocolate two twists of caramel with whip” concoction is, thankfully, long dead, but there are plenty of kinda weird and wacky coffee drinks out there nonetheless. While we might prefer a stiff cup of black brew (no chaser) on the average weekday morning, every once in awhile it’s nice to break out of a caffeinated rut and give something unusual a try. Here are five of our favorite out-there options that will put the pep back into your coffee break—or at least become a funny story to relate to friends over your next run-of-the-mill latte.
This Scandinavian-style brew is common in Minnesota (it’s even featured at the state fair), and despite the name, it is not actually a way to make a one-bowl breakfast: Mixing an egg in with coffee brewed in a pan is simply a way to eliminate bitterness in the coffee while also clarifying the liquid and adding a silky texture. (Believe it or not, the egg doesn’t impart much flavor—this will not, in other words, just become a very weird omelette.) It’s super simple to make, if you’re up to try it: Simply mix together one raw, lightly beaten egg with about 1 1/2 cups ground coffee and 1/2 cup of cold water, until it makes a kind of sticky paste. In a medium saucepan, boil 6 cups of water, and then dump the coffee-egg mixture in, letting the whole mess boil for three to four minutes. Cut the heat, and pour the coffee liquid through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a serving vessel, and…enjoy? Get the Swedish Egg Coffee recipe.
The Americano is an espresso drink with an interesting history: Rumor is American G.I.s stationed in Italy during World War II would walk into bars and order a “caffè” off the menu, seemingly easy enough. When what they got was the super-strong, thick, and bittersweet espresso that Italians drink, they’d demand it be diluted with hot water until it resembled something closer to the weak, thin filtered coffee they knew at home in the States. Hence “Caffè Americano” became shorthand for a diluted espresso. A few years ago, a South Korean coffee shop called Alex The Coffee had the genius idea of taking the Americano one step further, into the modern day: Instead of dieting espresso with hot water, they use a chilled can of Coca-Cola, pouring it all over ice for a sweet and sparkling shot of high-fructose perfection. Get the Fat Americano recipe.
If you’ve ever forgotten about a batch of homemade cold brew for a few days, you might have already been inspired to give fermented coffee a try, but did you know that making caffeinated kombucha is actually a thing? All you need is a SCOBY (aka a kombucha starter that stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), some cooled hot or cold-brewed coffee, a little sugar, and some time. Before you know it you’ll be super hyped up and annoying all your friends by talking like a dippy hippie about healthy gut flora and your fermented probiotic coffee. Get the Coffee Kombucha recipe.
Why should coffee and lemonade be any weirder than iced tea and lemonade, but somehow it seems that way at first blush. Turns out that the right coffee—something floral and delicate, typically a light roast—is actually the perfect complement to the sweetly puckering stuff, and even better when topped off with a little sparkling water (and/or a jigger of your favorite spirit). Get the Coffee Lemonade recipe.
Don’t worry: This booze-infused brew won’t kill your buzz—while wine-infused coffees are making something of a splash among “gourmets,” they are simply aged in wine barrels to impart flavor without actually absorbing any of the intoxicating effects. While that means you can only get one kind of buzz on by drinking the stuff, it also opens up the opportunity to enjoy oaky, complex, fruity flavors in your morning cup without getting in trouble for showing up to work with half a bag on.
Merlot-Infused Coffee Beans, $20 at Uncommon Goods
Snag a bag for yourself.
Whatever kind of coffee you want to make, it should start with good beans, so check out our guide to The Best Coffee Subscriptions.
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