How ’bout a Cup of Joe

As I started to write this latest posting, I wondered why do we call a cup of coffee a cup of Joe?  So I began my quest for the definitive answer. As it turns out, the answer is shrouded in mystery and speculation. There is no definitive answer, no matter who you ask.

Some theories on the subject seem more plausible than others. It could be a phrase coined by FDR.  As the story goes, President Roosevelt was so impressed with coffee served to him by Joseph Stalin that he procured the special beans for the White House, nicknaming the brew “a cup of Joe”.  And then there’s the tale of Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson.  Seems Secretary Daniels set out to reform the Navy, abolishing the use of liquor on all Naval ships.  Hence, the strongest drink served on board was coffee.  While it’s an interesting idea, it seems unlikely that a term used in 1913 didn’t enter the mainstream vocabulary for over twenty years.  There are those who attribute the expression to GI-Joe.  A lot of comfort and warmth came from a strong cup of hot coffee during WWII.  There’s the notion that coffee is the common-man’s drink, and Joe represented the common-man.  And finally it could be as simple as Joe is short for Java, and Java refers to the island of Java, in Indonesia, the third largest exporter of coffee today .  The truth is, we will never know with complete certainty the origins of “Cup of Joe”.  No matter, we sure do love our coffee.  Be it served hot or cold, spiked or pure, our love affair with a Cup of Joe has stood the test of time.

coffee-plant2Let’s start with the basics.  All coffee recipes will use one of two types of coffee –  brewed coffee and espresso.  For brewed coffee, I prefer a French Press.  While it might sound complicated, brewing coffee in a French Press is really simple.  The coffee it produces is smooth and well worth the extra steps.  When it comes right down to it, French Pressed coffee isn’t any more effort than say a good drip system.  It’s simply a two-pot system – the Press for the finished product and a kettle to heat the water.  While a superior bean is always better, even brands such as Folgers will taste better using the press method of making coffee.

French Pressed Coffee
1 French Press Coffee Urn
Hot Tap Water
Boiling water, enough for pot size
Coarsely Ground Coffee, enough for pot size

Fill French Press with enough water to brew a full pot. Pour measured water into a kettle and heat just to a boil.

As water comes to a boil in the kettle, fill French Press with HOT tap water. This will prepare the press for making coffee. Allow hot water to sit in press for several minutes to warm the press. Pour the tap water out, then add enough coarsely ground coffee to make 1 pot. (Estimate for 24-26 ounces of water; use 5 heaping scoops of ground coffee; for 40-42 ounces; use 7 heaping scoops of coffee. This will make a moderately strong cup of coffee. Adjust for personal tastes).

When water in the kettle just comes to a boil, remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Pour boiled water into press. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon (metal spoons will damage glass urns). Place plunger fitted with filter over coffee, press SLIGHTLY – just enough to touch mixture. Let steep for 4 minutes, then press plunger SLOWLY down, forcing the grounds to remain at the bottom of the pot. Pour into coffee cups or demi-cups and enjoy.

Mastering a perfect shot of espresso is a bit more complicated.  It’s important to remember to grind the bean just before using.  The longer a ground bean is stored, the less flavor it will impart.  And splurge a little – the quality of the bean DOES make a difference.  Unlike brewed coffee, espresso is pulled, resulting in a concentrated dark liquid.

Perfect Espresso
1 Espresso Machine
Demitasse Espresso Cups, 1 per person
Finely Ground Espresso Beans per machine recommendations

Pre-Warm the Demitasse. The first thing you need to do is pre-warm a demitasse so you can pull the perfect espresso shot into it. Pour very hot water into the cups and allow to warm.

Select a high quality WHOLE espresso bean. Grind just enough beans for this use. Never store for later, as this will produce a less full-bodied espresso. The beans should be ground fine, almost to a powder. Make sure to grind the gourmet coffee using a burr coffee grinder, and do this just before it is used. The best type of burr grinder to use is a conical burr grinder. You will need about two tablespoons of ground coffee, or about eight grams, per espresso shot. Store any unused beans in a cool; dark place. DO NOT store beans in the refrigerator or freezer or allow beans to be exposed to sunlight for long periods of time as this will produce a less flavorful bean.

Pre-Warm the Espresso Machine Portafilter! This is an important step, so don’t skip it. Before you start the espresso shot make sure to pre-warm the espresso machine’s portafilter by running it under hot water.

Fill the portafilter with the necessary ground coffee per shot. Tap the grounds using the tamper. Use a very even twisting motion as you push down on the coffee grounds to tamp, or compact, the coffee grounds using the tamper.

Fill the Espresso Machine with the recommended amount of water. Position the portafilter and clamp into machine as directed. Place warmed demitasse cup directly under the drip spout. You are now ready to pull the coffee. Hit the brew switch and watch the Espresso Stream closely. Within a few seconds, the brewed espresso will start to stream from the spout. It should be the color of rich maple syrup.

Timing is important to pull the espresso without drawing out any bitter flavor in the beans. Per shot, this should take about 18 to 23 seconds per cup. The perfect espresso should be in three layers. The bottom layer will be the darkest, the middle a lighter beige color, and the top layer will be the crème.

Repeat as necessary until everyone has a cup. It will be necessary to refill the portafilter for each shot. It may not be necessary to fill the machine with water each time, depending upon your machine’s reservoir capacity.

Now comes the fun part – creating coffee/espresso based beverages . . . unless otherwise specified, each recipe is designed for a single cup of Joe.

Some Like it cold . . .

Café Velluto
1 double espresso
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
Crushed ice

Brew espresso according to manufacture’s instructions for 2 cups. Place espresso, vanilla extract and ice cream into a blender. Add crushed ice to fill about half way. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and serve.

½ Cup of Cold Coffee
2 Tablespoons of Chocolate Syrup
½ Cup of Milk
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
½ Cup of Ice
Whipped Cream

Place everything but the whipped cream into a blender. Blend well, pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream.

Iced Coffee Mocha
½ cup fresh espresso or strong coffee
2 ½ cups milk
¼ Cup Sugar
¼ cup chocolate Syrup
Whipped Cream, optional

Place all ingredients into a blender. Mix until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Pour into tall coffee glasses over ice. Top with whipped cream, if desired and serve.

Vanilla Bean Iced Coffee
1 cup ground coffee
4 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (save pods for garnish)
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
Ice cubes for serving

In a pitcher, stir the ground coffee into 4 cups water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours or up to overnight.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the vanilla beans, milk and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and immediately remove from the heat. Let steep for about 20 minutes.

Strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Strain again through a coffee filter into a large, clean pitcher. Fill the glasses with ice cubes. Pour the coffee into the glasses, filling them to within 1 inch of the rim. Top each glass with 1/4 cup of the vanilla-flavored milk.

Garnish each drink with a vanilla bean pod and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Some like it hot . . .

Brûléed Cappuccino
1 shot espresso
1/4 cup steamed milk
Superfine sugar as needed

Place a cappuccino cup under an espresso drip and draw the espresso directly into the cup. Pour in the steamed milk, reserving the froth. Spoon a heaping spoonful of froth on top.

Lightly sprinkle superfine sugar over the top of the foam. Using a culinary torch according to the manufacturer’s instructions, move the flame continuously in small circles over the surface until the foam is caramelized. Serve immediately.

Classico Café Latte
4 oz of espresso
4 oz of steamed milk
Freshly grated cinnamon

Brew espresso in espresso machine according to manufacture’s instructions. While espresso is brewing, steam milk. Pour espresso and steamed milk in a cappuccino cup. Top with freshly grated cinnamon. Serve hot. If desired, place ice 2 ice cubes into cappuccino cup and serve cold.

Classico Cappuccino
2 oz espresso
4 oz of foam from frothed milk
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder or ground chocolate

Brew espresso in espresso machine according to manufacture’s instructions. While espresso is brewing, froth milk. Pour espresso into a cappuccino cup. Top with foam from frothed milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder or ground chocolate. Serve hot.

Holiday Coffee with Spiced Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons mulling spices
3 cups freshly brewed hot coffee
4 oz. brandy

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the mulling spices. When the cream starts to bubble around the edges, remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain the cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour. Using a whisk, beat the cream mixture until stiff peaks form.

Divide the coffee and brandy among 4 large coffee mugs or bowls, add 2 teaspoons sugar to each and stir to combine. Top each with a large dollop of the spiced whipped cream and serve immediately.

Mocha Latte
1 oz of freshly brewed espresso
1 oz of hot chocolate
2 oz of cream, frothed

Brew espresso in espresso machine according to manufacture’s instructions. In a saucepan, heat milk with chocolate syrup to create hot chocolate. While espresso is brewing, froth cream. Pour espresso and hot chocolate in a cappuccino cup. Gently stir in cream. Top with foam from frothed cream.

And others like to spike it up . . .

Café Borgia
4 oz. of coffee
4 oz of hot chocolate
Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 Tablespoon Grand Mariner or other orange flavored liqueur
½ teaspoon orange zest, grated

Brew coffee. Heat milk in a saucepan with chocolate syrup to create hot chocolate. Whip cream with grand mariner. Pour coffee and hot chocolate into a large coffee cup. Float a dollop of grand mariner cream on top. Garnish with orange zest and serve.

Classico Almond Amaretto Cappuccino
2 oz espresso
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
4 oz of foam from frothed milk
1 Shot Amaretto

Brew espresso in espresso machine according to manufacture’s instructions. While espresso is brewing, add almond extract into milk, froth milk. Pour espresso into a cappuccino cup. Stir in amaretto. Top with foam from frothed milk. Serve hot.

Classico Crème de Menthe Cappuccino
2 oz espresso
4 oz of foam from frothed milk
1 oz crème de menthe

Brew espresso in espresso machine according to manufacture’s instructions. While espresso is brewing, froth milk. Pour espresso into a cappuccino cup. Add crème de menthe. Top with foam from frothed milk. Serve hot.

Irish Coffee 1
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Shot Irish Whiskey
6 oz Hot Coffee
Heavy Cream, unwhipped
Sweetened Whipped Cream, optional

For Saint Patrick’s day, add a touch of green food coloring to the whipped cream or sprinkle with a little green sugar.

In a footed Irish Coffee Cup, add brown sugar, whiskey and hot coffee. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add cream to lighten. Float a dollop of whipped cream on top. Serve hot.

Irish Coffee 2
8 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
½ cup whiskey
2 cups hot brewed coffee, or as needed
½ cup heavy cream, lightly beaten to form soft peaks

Place 2 teaspoons of sugar in each of 4 mugs. Add 2 tablespoons of whiskey to each mug, then fill with coffee. Hold a spoon, rounded side up, over each mug and slowly pour the cream over the spoon, floating it on top of the coffee. Serves 4.

Italian Spiked Coffee
5 oz. of fresh brewed coffee
1 oz. of Amaretto
1 oz. of brandy
Sweetened Whipped Cream
¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Pour coffee into large coffee cup. Add amaretto and brandy. Top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Garnish with ground cinnamon. May sweetened with sugar, if desired.

Italian Coffee Royale
5 oz. of fresh brewed coffee
1 oz. of Drambuie liqueur (a form of whiskey)
Sweetened Whipped Cream

Pour coffee into large cup. Add Drambuie Liqueur. Top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Kahlua Espresso Martini
1 ½ parts Kahlua
1 part Absolute Vodka
1 part Espresso

Fill a shaker with ice, add Kahlua, Absolute Vodka and a fresh brewed espresso. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled martini glass.

cup-of-joe1Be it hot or cold, with or without that little “extra” kick, here’s to all those who enjoy a good Cup of Joe.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

3 thoughts on “How ’bout a Cup of Joe”

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