How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chemex Crucible

We actually used our Coffee Love book as recently as Valentine's Day of this year, but it seemed longer. Over the past few days we discussed it, and finally got organized for a post-work, pre-lecture experiment.

The lecture in question is a presentation on coffee at the local public library, so this seemed a great time to try something new in coffee.

Author Daniel Young introduces this concoction:

The French word brûlot, from the verb brûler (to burn), can refer either to a small fire ship with enough fuel to incinerate an enemy position or a sweetened, flambéed brandy. In New Orleans, the café brûlot is pretty much both those things. 

I have never been to the Big Easy, though I have visited vicariously through Pam's visit, films, and food. Our success with this little beverage makes me want to get there all the sooner.

We made our café brûlot essentially the way Young describes it, except that he calls for orange peel and we had none. As readers of this blog well know, lack of orange is a good excuse to get out the Triple Sec, which I did. I later learned that a variation by Melissa Roberts on Epicurious does exactly the same thing.

Essentially, I made coffee in the Chemex (I'd make it a bit stronger than usual next time) and meanwhile gently heated some courvoisier with sugar, cloves, and a cinnamon stick. Once the coffee was brewed and the sugar dissolved, I lit the liquid on fire, and then slowly doused it with the coffee (which amazingly did not splatter anything) and continued pouring it in. Then I poured the whole concoction back through a sieve into the Chemex.

The result: smooth, spicy, and delicious -- and definitely on the list for next Valentine's Day.

Now that we have proven this recipe (or more precisely, proofed it) we will work on our technique so that we can try it table-side after a nice meal.


From our friends at Atlas Obscura, Pam found a story about how café brûlot is done tableside.

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