Make Ahead

Magical Coffee

by:
December  2, 2009
Author Notes

This recipe was inspired by a drink I love at a local cafe. (Theirs is "magic coffee.") After my first taste, I went home and immediately started tweaking a recipe. They brew the coffee hot, but since it was summer and I am lazy, I wanted to use a cold-brewed coffee base, and I started with a recipe from the Times. There's lots of room for variation depending on what flavors you like--I did a Scandinavian version with white sugar, almond extract, and crushed fennel seeds too. —ErinH

Test Kitchen Notes

"One of those recipes that's a great concept rather than a precise formula, ErinH's iced coffee takes inspiration from both her local coffee house and Mexican café de olla. Adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few spoonfuls of dark brown sugar to the coffee as it cold-brews gives it a lush sweetness and a hit of warmth. After a night in the fridge, you strain the coffee and pour it over ice cubes. Then comes the cream. (Or milk, depending on your mood.) And then, as ErinH says, you 'die of happiness.' We loved this iteration and think her 'Scandinavian version' (using almond extract and fennel) sounds like a winner too." –A&M

"When we talk about new and better ways to brew coffee, we usually talk about new methods (like cold-brewing, or new machinery)—but today I need to talk about a coffee that’s all about the ingredients.

It’s called magical coffee, and it’s going to change the way you think about iced coffee.

What makes this coffee so special is the use of cinnamon, a brewing method popular in Morocco and the Middle East that adds spice and complexity to even the most basic cup of coffee. Coupled with a few tablespoons of dark brown sugar, the flavors in this overnight recipe are so much more than the sum of its parts.

In the morning, add milk or cream—or add a Scandinavian touch, as the recipe’s originator does, with fennel and almond extract—and there’s your magical coffee. The heat in this rich and full-bodied cold brew will wake you up like nothing else.

What really makes this coffee magical, though, is how forgiving and adaptable it is. If you like, try cardamom in place of cinnamon, or both! And if you like a more velvety formula, do as the Vietnamese do, and use condensed milk instead of cream. No matter how you make it, the end result is something so delicious, it tastes like witchcraft." –Karen Lo

"Every so often you eat something magical. Something so special you can’t decide between taking your time to savor it, or chewing it as fast as possible so you can swallow it, so you can tell everyone around you just how good it is. These are mystical moments, far and few between.

The experience of drinking this Magical Coffee is just that. Community member ErinH, who originally graced our site with the recipe, says she got it from a nearby cafe. But it's so good, we’re prone to thinking that maybe it came to her in a vision.

Is it magic because it tastes amazing? Or because it’s so wildly simple to make? We're thinking a little of each.

She starts by mixing coffee grounds, freshly grated cinnamon, and a pinch of brown sugar in a jar. These get covered in water and left alone for a night of beauty sleep. The next day, she pours the content through a sieve and into a tall glass of ice. She adds some milk or creamer (drinker's choice). And for the adventurous, Erin recommends a Scandinavian twist with almond extract and fennel seeds.

You may be thinking: This is too easy. Well, it is! And it's a good thing. It's beautiful, in fact. In a world of hard things, maybe there's relief in knowing that this one easy thing really works. It sits all night, waiting for you in the morning, to wake up to and pour. And with that first sip, you're almost guaranteed to start your day feeling pretty magical yourself." –Valerio Farris

—The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Magical Coffee
  • Prep time 5 hours
  • Serves 2-4
Ingredients
  • Coffee Base
  • 2/3 cup coarsely ground coffee
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • The Finished Drink
  • milk, half and half, or cream
  • ice
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Coffee Base
  2. Put ingredients in a quart jar and stir.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  1. The Finished Drink
  2. Pour the coffee base through a sieve or strainer into a bowl, then strain back into jar for easy storage.
  3. For each drink: Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour in coffee until glass is about 3/4 full, and add milk/half and half/cream to taste.
  4. Die of happiness.
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