Which visit to New Orleans for Mardi Gras would be complete without a traditional New Orleans Iced coffee. Especially if you’re going to enjoy some King Cake with your coffee, here are some cool facts about why New Orleans Iced coffee is so different than others.
A very special ingredient
If you’ve ever heard of Chicory before, you may have heard it’s used as a substitute for certain coffee blends. It’s hard to believe that chicory has been around for a lot longer than we give it credit for. Amazingly enough, chicory was prized by the ancient Egyptians as a home remedy. It’s right up there with all of the classic ancient herbs such as the ones mentioned in the Bible.
But it didn’t stop there since chicory has been used throughout Europe for centuries for many types of uses including livestock feed and even as a cooked vegetable. It wasn’t dried-up, roasted, and used as a coffee substitute until 1750 in a place you would think the name coffee bar means something else. In the late 1700s in Holland, chicory was initially used as a coffee substitute.
After this, adding chicory to coffee became a popular additive since chicory does have a similar taste to coffee beans. It was proving to be very popular in France during the era where Napoleon was ruling toward in the 1800s. At that time, chicory was added to the dwindling supplies of coffee beans caused by the Continental Blockade. After a historical purchase by Napoleon to acquire Louisiana, chicory was imported to New Orleans.
Traditional coffee is born
If you’ve never had New Orleans iced coffee before, the taste is iconic and stylish. Served in a nice tall glass with ice cubes and sugary syrup, the blend of coffee beans and chicory turns hot and balmy days into the perfect oasis within the Deep South. Now, making this type of coffee isn’t the same as brewing a fresh cup, since the flavor of chicory must be allowed to steep in a room temperature pot for no less than 12 hours.
This gives you a flavor that is more complete and is very similar to cold-brewed coffee. Depending on the amount of chicory that you like, you can add as much as your taste buds can handle, but in most cases, it’s about 28 to 30 grams per 2 liters of water, plus your coffee grounds. The grounds also need to be medium-fine just like French roast coffee is brewed. The result is a flavor that is very smooth with a very little bite like fresh-brewed coffee tastes.
Why syrup is so important?
You can add any kind of flavored syrup but the one that is a classic staple of New Orleans iced tea is made with two simple ingredients. It starts with equal water and sugar and is melted on low heat until the liquid. This sweet mixture is placed into a creamer cup and is used sparingly when it comes time to sweeten your iced coffee. It’s the very last item that’s added to your iced coffee when you add creamer or milk.
If you normally add sugar to hot coffee it can be in granulated form so the heat of the hot coffee melts the sugar. Slowly melting sugar in water will create sweet liquid syrup that disperses into icy-cold coffee much easier. You’ll never find a recipe that calls for New Orleans with chicory to be served hot. It’s just as awful an idea as making a Mint Julep that’s served hot in a mug.
And though the New Orleans iced coffee is always best-served ice cold, there’s no harm to adding a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream or perhaps a shot of coffee liquor, or cognac. It has to have creamy liquor otherwise it just won’t mix too well. So while adding the regular amount of milk or cream, substitute this for cream liquor instead. This will help anything with more kick mix in afterward taste just as smooth.
This will certainly give your iced coffee a smooth flavor that isn’t overpowered by alcohol, it will give this southern favorite a very typical spin for Mardi Gras-inspired beverages. See more on the coffee of New Orleans.