Coffee Jelly

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About Coffee Jelly

Previously, we published an article on the 5 best coffee treats you must have – one of these included coffee jelly. A lot of you seemed very interested in this treat, so here’s an article talking about it in more detail- and even a recipe for making coffee jelly at home!

coffee jelly cups
Coffee jelly cups @Pinterest

First, let’s talk about how this exotic dessert first appeared. 

History of Coffee Jelly

Nowadays, it is widely regarded as an Asian -Japanese, to be an exact- dish. However, coffee jelly originated in Europe, with recipes for it being found in old English cookbooks that date back to the year 1817. So how in the world did it become such a foreign, exotic dish? 

It is possible that marketing had a lot to do with it. In Europe and America, coffee jelly was largely made so as not to waste leftover coffee. Big restaurants made little to no effort to hide this. Add to this the fact that it was made with gelatin which was extracted right there and then (as in, using the brewed coffee while cooking animal parts such as hoofs and skin to remove the gelatin). The taste would have been a little difficult to hide. 

All in all, coffee jelly felt more like a cheap extra made from leftovers- both leftover coffee and leftover animal parts. It wasn’t alluring to the customer. 

Coffee Jelly Before

In Japan, however, coffee was all the rage. In the 1920s, Western culture had made its way to this island, and people were eager to participate in it and enjoy- particularly young people. Cafés offered a space for this, as well as to socialize with people that shared similar interests. 

Here, coffee jelly was re-interpreted. It was made as an exotic western dessert, using fresh coffee as well as agar-agar, a type of odorless, colorless vegetable gelatin. 

There are many different ways to enjoy coffee jelly. Traditionally, it was dropped into coffee, chilled, as if they were ice cubes. Nowadays, coffee jelly is still made into cubes and enjoyed in beverages such as frappuccinos, milkshakes, etc. Perhaps one of the most fun ways to enjoy coffee jelly is to add it cubed to an ice-cream cup and garnish with whipped cream, condensed milk, chocolate shavings, and even cherries. 

Coffee Jelly Today

Nowadays, coffee jelly can mostly be found in two places: exotic food stores that import food items from other countries and very old establishments that have been making coffee jelly since back when it was a thing. That’s more than a century, give or take, so there aren’t many such places. 

Otherwise, Japan is where coffee jelly happens. It is a must-have dessert in almost all types of restaurants (particularly western cuisine restaurants, of which there are many). It has remained popular for such a long time that all age groups love it equally, from teens to older people. 

While coffee jelly is served in restaurants with many toppings -with toppings to choose from, it is also easily found in convenience stores at very low prices as well as in vending machines (there’s a vending machine per 23 people in Japan!) devoid of any toppings but still very refreshing and tasty. 

Luckily for the rest of the world, the love for coffee jelly seems to have begun to spread to the rest of the world, with many people trying it at home and more and more restaurants and coffee shops beginning to offer their take on coffee jelly. 

How to Make Coffee Jelly

As we said earlier, there are two ways to turn brewed coffee into jelly: either you use animal gelatin (also known as “regular” gelatin), or you use agar-agar, a vegetable source of gelatin which is, however, more expensive. The latter has a rich history in Asia, being used for essentially the same thing animal gelatin was used in other parts of the world. It has been adopted as a healthy option in western culture. 

 Here are two recipes, just in case:

Using regular gelatin:

  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 cups brewed black coffee (espresso works great!)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet you like it)
  • ¼ cup hot water 
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Instructions: 

1. Dissolve the gelatin powder in hot water. Set aside. 

2. Heat the coffee in a saucepan, but do not bring it to boil. 

3. Remove the coffee from the heat and whisk in the gelatin and sugar. 

4. Pour the coffee mixture into dessert cups for individual servings or into a shallow baking dish*. 

5. Refrigerate until set; this can take up to 6 hours. 

6. Top with whipped cream, condensed milk, or any other topping of your preference. 

*If using a baking dish, cut the coffee jelly into cubes once the gelatin has cooled.  

Using agar-agar:

  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 3 grams agar-agar powder
  • 2 cups water 
  • Sugar, to your liking 
  • Whipped cream, optional

Instructions: 

1. In a saucepan, pour water and whisk in agar-agar powder. Bring to a boil. 

2. Bring to a simmer as soon as it starts boiling.

3. Add sugar and coffee, mix until blended. Cook for 2 minutes. 

4. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. 

5. Pour the coffee jelly mixture into dessert cups and refrigerate until set. 

6. Top with whipped cream.

Conclusion

As you can see, coffee jelly comes in many shapes and forms. It is one of those foods that can adapt to almost any occasion and is guaranteed to be the main topic of conversation because of its delicious and unique topic. 

Remember that the sky’s the limit. You can use as many topics as you like no matter whether we have mentioned them in this article or not. You can also make use of spices, such as cinnamon, to further add layers of flavor to this dessert. 

The more your experiment, the better your results. Try making some with different types of coffee beans, from example, and you’ll see how much that transforms the taste!

Don’t miss out on this fantastic treat, and get to making some for yourself! 

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