Cafe De Olla is one of the signature coffee-based beverages of Mexico and has a deep-rooted history that spans back over a hundred years. These days, you can find Cafe De Olla in specialty coffee shops and even larger chains as this popular Mexican beverage gains in popularity around the world.
What Is Cafe De Olla?
Cafe De Olla is actually quite a simple drink to make, though its delicious flavor profile may suggest otherwise. Literally translating as “Coffee from a pot”, there are a few main ingredients that you’ll need to brew your own excellent batch of Cafe De Olla. Probably the first thing you’ll need if you plan on making an authentic Cafe De Olla is a clay pot. Though the specific recipes of Cafe De Olla can vary greatly from region to region in Mexico, the use of a clay pot to give this delicious coffee a more earthy flavor is a must in every version of the recipe.
Along with a clay pot, you’ll need the following basic ingredients: Mexican ground coffee, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, whole milk, and Piloncillo – which is a form of raw sugarcane.
The Fascinating History of Cafe De Olla
Before we teach you how to make your own Cafe De Olla at home, let’s take a look back at how this beverage grew in popularity in Mexico. Though there are many legends surrounding how Cafe De Olla was actually invented, the most prevalent story is that of revolutionary soldiers in 1910 creating the beverage to stay warm during cold winters.
The story goes that adelitas (revolutionary women) would prepare coffee that was spiced and sweet to keep soldiers alert and in good spirits during cold nights outdoors and through bitter fighting. It is believed that because the soldiers often had to drink old and reused coffee, spices and sweetness were added to make the drink taste better.
Since the 1910s, Cafe De Olla has grown in popularity all across Mexico and is now enjoyed in almost every part of the country. Though many families have their own recipes, a few major ingredients are always prevalent. Cinnamon is almost always used, as is an accompaniment of various spices. The clay pot is also a star feature of this delicious and warming drink. In some southern parts of Mexico, you may even encounter versions of Cafe De Olla made with orange peel for an extra burst of uniqueness and flavor.
How Cafe De Olla is Making a Resurgence Globally
While many in Mexico were worried that this traditional coffee would slowly die out because of the special methods and ingredients used to create it, there has been a huge movement to bring Cafe De Olla back into the limelight. Coffee aficionados who have visited Mexico have certainly done their part in reviving this drink and spreading it to all corners of the world. While it may not always be possible to get the true Mexican ingredients to prepare it, the spirit of making Cafe De Olla is being kept alive.
In addition, many of Mexico’s younger generation have fond memories of enjoying Cafe De Olla with their families. Usually, where there’s nostalgia, a yearning for those older times brings traditions from the past back to the future. Indeed, many millennials of Mexican heritage and descent have started opening coffee shops that feature this drink from their childhoods. The result? In areas close to Mexico, like Southern California, there has been a huge uptick in the number of people (Mexican and others) who have come to appreciate this drink to a whole new level! As the popularity of Cafe De Olla grows, its legacy will continue to live on!
Making Your Own Cafe De Olla
Whether you have the correct ingredients or not, you can still try your hand at making your own Cafe De Olla at home.
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 6 cups of water
- 6-8 Ounces of Piloncillo (you can use dark brown sugar instead)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 6 tablespoons of finely-ground dark coffee
If you have a clay pot at home, you should use it for this recipe. Otherwise, a simple saucepan will suffice.
- Bring the water to a boil and add in the Piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise.
- Stir the ingredients for 5 minutes until you notice that the Piloncillo dissolves.
- Add in your coffee and continue stirring briefly before lowering the heat and letting everything simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Strain your coffee and enjoy with a splash of milk or even orange peel!
Bringing a Taste of Mexico to Your Home
Truly, one of the greatest delights of Cafe De Olla is the delicious scents that will fill your kitchen and home. If you’re able to source authentic Mexican ingredients your beverage will truly transport you as you enjoy it. But, even if you can’t get the exact ingredients used in Mexico, you can send your taste buds on a culinary journey with simple ingredients you can buy from any supermarket. So why not take that trip to Mexico? All you have to do is head into the kitchen and brew yourself a cup of Cafe De Olla!