If something is famous in Mexico, it’s the “café de olla” (pot coffee). Do you know how to prepare it and why it has gained such fame? Let’s find out.
What is Café de Olla?
We could define this typical Mexican coffee as a prepared coffee that is flavored with various herbs, with cinnamon and “piloncillo” (unrefined whole cane sugar) standing out the most.
Although that is the most common, other ingredients like tabasco, anise, lemon peel, orange peel, cloves, bitter chocolate can also be used.
The name comes precisely from the container used to prepare it, as the mixture is usually made in a clay pot, and then served in cups also made of the same material.
Despite the belief that it is typical of rural areas (which is true), it is also easy to find it in large cities.
Why Use a Clay Pot?
You might wonder, and it makes perfect sense, why use a clay pot and not a metallic one?
The reason for using a clay pot is that this material adds a characteristic flavor to the drink. If you try to make café de olla with the same ingredients, in one clay pot and another metallic one, you will notice how the final product has a very different taste.
I feel compelled to address this issue because due to ignorance, things can be done incorrectly.
It is something that still happens a lot in Mexico today, and many people are not aware of it.
Clay itself does not pose health risks. If you make coffee (or any other food) in a clay pot, there is no problem at all. The issues arise when it’s not pure clay.
What do I mean by this?
Most clay pots sold in Mexico contain glazes called “gretas.” These are used as varnish for a better finish.
This material contains significant amounts of lead, which passes into the food during cooking and, consequently, into our bodies.
Lead is harmful to health. While consuming it once won’t harm you, if you prepare many products this way over time, it will cause significant problems.
Therefore, to make pot coffee, we must choose one that does not contain glazes, one that is 100% clay.
Ingredients for Making Mexican Café de Olla
This is one of the most popular recipes, but not the only one. You can add more ingredients or remove some if you don’t think their flavor will suit you.
- 2 liters of water
- 55 grams of ground coffee
- 150 grams of piloncillo
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 2-4 ounces of bitter chocolate
- 1/3 orange peel
- 1 anise stick
Preparation of Café de Olla
The preparation of this type of coffee is very simple once we have the ingredients.
- The first step is to pour the water into the clay pot, add the piloncillo and the spices we consider (they can be the ones mentioned above or you can innovate).
- Once we have done that, place the pot over high heat for about 5 minutes until it starts to boil.
- As soon as it starts to boil, turn off the heat and add the coffee, stir, and let it sit for about 5 minutes with the pot covered (important).
- Ready, after those 5 minutes of rest, we can serve the (strained) coffee in our cup, and it will be ready to drink.
As we can see, preparing pot coffee is very simple and quite quick considering all the ingredients involved.
This typical Mexican product is worth trying, as it has nothing to do with what you have probably tasted so far if you are not from there (most of the audience of this website is from Spain, and I’m sure you have never tasted coffee like this).
If you want to know how to prepare other types of Mexican coffee, you can read: Mexican Coffee | How to Prepare Mexican Coffee.