Viscosity. It’s a word I learned from the dictionary, but understood after drinking rich, smooth, creamy cups of coffee. If you’re like me, sometimes a mug of watery drip coffee before work doesn’t quite cut it. Every so often I need something a little bit more, well, viscous.
Impossible? Difficult? Not at all! Let’s look at some ways to thicken up our coffee.
We’ve got a couple different thickening methods in store for you. For starters, let’s look at some basic principles that play a part in your coffee’s consistency.
Coffee Regions Matter
For those of you keeping track, coffee beans are grown in roughly seventy countries. The wide range of geographical elements can contribute to a wide range of flavors from earthy to fruity to bland. But did you know the altitude that coffee is grown at not only affects the taste, but also affects the thickness?
Anyone who has ever thought about climbing Mount Everest (or watched a TV show about it) knows that in high altitudes, oxygen levels are lower. These low oxygen levels don’t just affect people though. They affect plants too.
Plants grow slower the higher up they are. In the case of coffee plants, this means that the beans will grow denser as they have more time to develop and will result in a thicker coffee compared to beans grown at lower altitudes.
The Fresher the Thicker
You know what I personally love? Fresh coffee. By fresh, I mean coffee that is less than six months old. Have you ever heard of a process called oxidation? It’s a fancy word that has to do with a substance coming into contact with oxygen. When your coffee beans have been relaxing in oxygen for too long their sugars and oils deteriorate and that leaves less sugars and oils to thicken your java. In other words, coffee and oxidation are not friends.
Also, once your beans have been ground up, be sure to use them within the next two weeks. For best results though, using ground up coffee twenty minutes after grinding is ideal.
Note the Process
This is something that you most likely have no control over, but hey, let’s learn something! Two of the more common ways to process coffee beans include a wet method and a dry method.
In the first, the coffee fruit is separated from the bean and washed. Contrarily, the dry method allows the coffee fruit to dry out over the bean which gives it a more concentrated sugar content and results in, you guessed it, a thicker brew.
Taking the Coffee out of the Bean
How you get the coffee out of the bean matters too. For example, the drip coffee method extracts coffee, but to the tune of 1 part coffee particles to 99 parts water particles. Guess which method we’re not going to cover in this thick coffee discussion!
The best extraction method for a naturally thicker cup of joe comes from an espresso machine. In the case of espresso, we’ve got a lot of coffee grounds being packed into a very small amount of liquid and, like magic, we’ve got thicker coffee.
But maybe you’re not completely sure you want to spend a couple hundred bucks on an espresso machine, or you just can’t find one that you can squeeze in between your microwave and toaster. Don’t fret! There are other extraction techniques that will increase the viscosity of your coffee without decreasing the thickness of your wallet too much.
Try using a moka pot or a French presses for a thicker brew. Both of these methods will give you a thicker cup of delectable java in less than ten minutes and take up a much less space than any type of coffee machine.
Coffee + ???
You can add thousands of things to coffee to make it thicker, but most of those things won’t taste very good (see: toothpaste, sand, etc.). We’ve narrowed down a few of the tried-and-true supplements that will give your joe some extra heft and taste great.
Milk, Cream and Beyond!
The obvious and possibly most popular additive to a cup of coffee is milk or cream. The milk fat mixes with the coffee to create a thicker, creamier texture. But why stop with just milk and cream?
Try adding some heavy whipping cream and transform your joe into a frothy delicious experience! With that being said, adding heavy whipping cream isn’t a great daily practice unless you’re also looking to add numbers to your pants size as well.
The Starbucks Secret
Have you ever wondered how a Starbucks Frappuccino gets its thickness? You’re not alone! The truth is they add xanthan gum. This powder is a thickening agent often added to sauces, pastas and even medicines, but it works well with coffee too.
Corn starch and flour can also be used to ramp up your coffee’s viscosity but be careful! Don’t add too much or you might end up chewing down your beverage.
Try Making These Thick Drinks!
If you try some of the above techniques and you find that you enjoy boosting the viscosity of your java as much as I do, you may want to experiment with some of these famous thick caffeinated beverages.
Dalgona coffee: a foamy iced coffee drink from South Korea, which includes instant coffee, milk, water and sugar.
Turkish coffee: a drink that uses very finely ground unfiltered coffee that is concocted in a cezve.
Irish Coffee: found in cafés and bars, this drink is made with coffee, sugar, whipped cream and a shot of Irish whiskey.
Navajo coffee: a coffee mixed with toasted flour for a consistency so thick it can be eaten with a spoon.
Keep the Viscous Cycle Going!
There are plenty of ways to add viscosity to your next caffeinated beverage. Switch up your extraction method, add a thickening powder, try out a new recipe, or combine all three! The possibilities are endless. Experiment until you find the consistency and flavor that makes your morning!