January’s brew: A creamy, caffeinated pick-me-up for the new year

Kenny Mah
·4-min read
January’s brew: A heady concoction of cold brew coffee, creamy milk and instant coffee foam. — Pictures by CK Lim
January’s brew: A heady concoction of cold brew coffee, creamy milk and instant coffee foam. — Pictures by CK Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — New Year’s Eve is over. We have entered 2021, a much-longed-for fresh start after the rough year before.

Some of us might be feeling a tad rough ourselves over the weekend if we have overindulged, if we have celebrated more than we ought have. This happens almost every year, if we’re being honest with ourselves, so we aren’t really surprised.

But fret not, if we can barely get out of bed and even contemplating a complicated morning smoothie, with all the chopping and peeling of fruits and vegetables involved, threatens to worsen our headache. There’s a better way.

It’s January and a perfect time for January’s brew, a creamy and caffeinated shot of energy we need to truly wake us up and greet the new year.

Not much is needed, just grabbing a carton of whole milk from the fridge and a bottle of cold brew coffee we have wisely kept for emergencies just like this.

From the pantry, our trusty canister of instant coffee granules and an old protein drink shaker we’ve abandoned along with our promise of hitting the gym (maybe this year, this year we will exercise regularly again, we swear).

Roasted coffee beans (left). Instant coffee granules (right).
Roasted coffee beans (left). Instant coffee granules (right).

A quick shake to get our limbs moving again, and all that remains to do is to pour each layer of manna atop the other: ice, milk, coffee, foam.

And there we have it: January’s brew. Barely a minute to assemble and suddenly we discover a reason to welcome the new year. We think to ourselves, this year? This year will be a good one.

We feel it in our bones. It might just be the caffeine, but who cares? It’s a start. Happy New Year, everyone — stay safe and be well and joyful always!

Chilled cold milk forms the base of this hangover cure.
Chilled cold milk forms the base of this hangover cure.

1. JANUARY’S BREW

This is a simple recipe, requiring only three basic ingredients: cold brew coffee, instant coffee and milk. These, and some ice cubes to keep the beverage irresistibly cold and that wake-you-up clink-clink sound.

Ingredients

Ice cubes, enough to fill half of the glass/mug
250ml whole milk, chilled
250ml cold brew coffee (purchase from a café or see below for an easy make-it-at-home recipe)
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
20ml cold water

Method

Fill two glasses with enough ice till about half full. Pour the cold milk into the glasses, dividing equally between them. Pour an equal amount of cold brew coffee next.

You can easily buy cold brew coffee these days or make your own.
You can easily buy cold brew coffee these days or make your own.

Using a shaker or any suitable container with a tight lid, shake the instant coffee granules and cold water till they form a thick instant coffee foam.

Top up both glasses with this instant coffee foam by spooning it over the cold brew coffee and milk. Serve immediately.

2. SIMPLE COLD BREW COFFEE

These days, cold brew coffee is widely available for purchase from many cafés, especially those focusing on specialty coffee. Alternatively, if you’re already an old hand at brewing filter coffee at home, you can easily make your own cold brew coffee.

Pour the cold brew coffee over the milk (left). Make a thick instant coffee foam using a shaker (right).
Pour the cold brew coffee over the milk (left). Make a thick instant coffee foam using a shaker (right).

One benefit of this, besides cost savings, is you’d be able to decide what kind of beans you prefer for your cold brew coffee. Dark roast or light, or something as specific as a medium-light roast. Different processing methods (natural, washed, anaerobic) and hailing from different farms, regions and countries.

You could try a natural processed Pink Bourbon from Colombia one day, redolent of passionfruit and strawberries. The next week you might fancy a cold brew made with washed Ethiopian beans, with floral and citrus notes.

But first, just get the caffeine into your system: your post-hangover body will thank you.

Spoon the instant coffee foam over the cold brew coffee and milk.
Spoon the instant coffee foam over the cold brew coffee and milk.

Ingredients

100g whole coffee beans (preferably single origin beans roasted for filter brewing)
900ml water

Equipment

Coffee grinder
A 1.5-litre container (or larger), with lid
Sieve or strainer
Glass bottle for storing the resultant cold brew

Method

Grind the coffee beans using your grinder’s coarse setting on your grinder. Pour these coarse coffee grounds into the large container.

Even the foam is caffeinated for a real pick-me-up!
Even the foam is caffeinated for a real pick-me-up!

Top up with water and stir thoroughly to ensure the coffee grounds have completely been saturated with the water. Cover the container with its lid. Transfer to the fridge and allow it to steep overnight.

The next day, strain the cold brew liquid using a strainer and store in a glass bottle (or two, depending on the size of your bottles). The cold brew coffee will keep for up to a week if refrigerated.

For more Weekend Kitchen and other slice-of-life stories, visit lifeforbeginners.com.

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