How to make creamy, caffeinated ‘affogato’ at home without an espresso machine
KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — We are long past the days of the pandemic, when lockdowns meant we had to forgo dining experiences we took for granted.
There was only so much that we could manage at home, limited by our kitchens and our cooking prowess.
One of the things I missed the most back then was a good shot of espresso. Not just the taste but the delicate mouthfeel or texture that one only gets when pulling from a proper espresso machine.
No espresso at home also means no espresso-related beverages or dishes.
On a hot, summery day, when the sweltering weather threatens to force us into early slumber, this means no creamy, caffeinated affogato - that classic Italian dessert of a scoop of vanilla ice cream "drowned” by an intense shot of espresso.
That is, till now. Instead of an espresso machine (an unnecessary and extravagant expense for home use), I can now make a decent affogato with pour-over coffee instead.
Read on to learn how I managed this.
Measure your coffee beans to get the right amount.
A NO-ESPRESSO AFFOGATO
Obviously a pour-over coffee will not be the same as an espresso shot you’d get from a machine. The lack of a crema, that distinctive layer of flavourful froth that sits atop a shot of espresso, is the key reason for the different taste or mouthfeel.
Or in local parlance, it just isn’t kaw enough.
What is a crema though? According to baristas and coffee professionals, the crema is formed when pressure forces some of the carbon dioxide inside the ground coffee into the water. Numerous tiny bubbles are formed, presenting themselves to the naked eye as a dense and stable foam.
While we can’t exactly replicate this without an espresso machine (which uses pressure), there are a few hacks we can use with our pour-over coffee dripper of choice.
I asked seasoned barista Darren Lee of Sunday Coffee & Cakes about this conundrum and he advised me to apply the following five techniques:
One, use a finer grind size — closer to that you would use for espresso than for pour-over coffee. This can be easily done by adjusting the collar on your coffee grinder and checking the resultant grinds till the right fineness is achieved.
Adjust the collar of your coffee grinder for finer coffee grounds.
Two, use half the normal ratio of coffee grounds to water. Typically we might use a ratio of 1:15 or 1:16; use 1:8 here.
Three, rather than allow the kettle to go off the boil for a water temperature of 90°C to 96°C, you may pour directly after the water has reached boiling point (i.e. 100°C, or close to it).
Four, don’t be afraid to stir the water and coffee grounds more aggressively, to encourage extraction.
Lastly, use a coffee dripper with larger holes such as a V60 so that the coffee liquid can flow more easily through the grounds, rather than be "stuck” - we want extraction of flavours but not over-extraction, which would cause too much bitterness.
The result of these modifications would be more of the flavours and coffee oils coming out, offering us much of the taste of crema if not the texture or appearance.
Pour this into a cup or bowl of your favourite brand of vanilla ice cream (I’m a fan of small batch artisanal ice cream maker Forty Licks) and enjoy the sort of bliss you used to only enjoy outside at a café or Italian restaurant... now in the comforts of your own home.
Brewing with a dripper to make pour-over coffee.
8g coffee beans, finely ground
Using a digital scale, weigh out 8g of your coffee beans. Transfer the measured quantity to a coffee grinder. Grind to desired grind size (fine rather than coarse).
Place coffee filter paper into your coffee dripper. Wet the paper with some hot water, then allow it to drain.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, place a carafe or pot onto the digital scale and the coffee dripper above it. Pour the coffee grounds into the dripper.
A spoonful of sheer bliss.
Once the water comes to a boil, carefully pour 64 millimeters onto the coffee grounds. (This amount of water will approximate two espresso shots in volume, though without the crema since no pressure is employed during the brewing process.)
Stir briskly to agitate the water and grounds.
While the coffee liquid is dripping into the carafe, add one or two scoops of vanilla ice cream to a cup or bowl. Pour the pour-over coffee (once it has finished dripping) onto the ice cream and serve immediately.
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