Perhaps the most delicious beverage south of the border is a complicated concoction called horchata (alternately spelled orxata). Morro horchata—the variation of the drink most commonly consumed in the U.S., is made with water, rice “milk,” vanilla, almonds, cinnamon and sugar—and is the latest and greatest ingredient to enhance cold brew coffee. The powerful new coffee drink with a Mexican twist has a portmanteau name—Brewchata.
Horchata—History And Variations
Though it’s primarily known as a Mexican drink, horchata actually originated in Valencia, Spain, and its popularity as a refreshing summer beverage quickly spread across Europe. The name originally derives from the Catalan word orxata, from ordiiata, because the drink was made from ordi (barley).
True horchata is entirely non-dairy, though many add cow’s milk, perhaps to add a taste of America to the beverage. It enjoys tremendous variation across different nations and cultures: the nut of choice can vary from almonds to tigernuts to peanuts to cashews; Southern Honduras and El Salvador use morro seeds, while certain parts of Honduras and Nicaragua make it from jicaro seeds ground with rice and spices; in Puerto Rico, the drink is known as horcata de ajonjoli, and incorporates ground sesame seeds, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, evaporated milk and occasionally coconut milk, allspice, barley or lime zest; Venezuela uses sesame seeds, water and sugar; Oaxaca adds prickly pear cactus; Ecuador uses an infusion of 18 herbs.
Make Your Own Brewchata
While a brewchata is a simple combination of cold brew coffee and horchata (the ratio is up to you—some prefer an even 50/50 split, some favor a heavier pour of horchata), the individual ingredients are a bit more labor-intensive to concoct. They are well worth it, however. Here is a good recipe for the more complex of the two, horchata.
Authentic Mexican Horchata (adapted from Latin Post)
Yield: 4-6 cups
- ⅓ cup uncooked, long-grain white rice
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 C water, divided (3 C hot, 2 C cold)
- ½ C concentrated simple syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
- Blanch the almonds by tossing them into boiling water for about a minute, then draining under cold water. After blanching, squeeze each almond to slip off the skins. Discard skins and allow almonds to dry.
- Once dry, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly brown.
- Pulverize the rice in a spice grinder or blender until it is fine powder.
- Add the ground rice to a large jar or bowl with the almonds and cinnamon stick.
- Stir in the 3 cups of hot water, allow the mixture to cool, then cover and let stand overnight (NOT in the refrigerator).
- The next day, transfer the mixture into a blender. Add 2 C of cold water and blend until smooth (1-4 minutes).
- Strain the blended mixture slowly into a pitcher (a fine mesh tea strainer should work fine).
- Add concentrated simple syrup to taste.
Now, brew the coffee:
Cold Brew Coffee
- A coffee grinder (or coarsely ground coffee)
- Coffee beans, preferably a roast specific to cold brewing (probably light or medium)
- Cold or room temperature, filtered water.
- A wooden spoon (non-reactive)
- A French press coffee maker (a mason jar works too)
- Grind one cup of coffee beans on “coarse.”
- Combine with four cups of cold or room temperature, filtered water.
- Place in refrigerator and allow to steep for at least eight hours, preferably twelve.
- Strain the solution through a coffee filter, a fine mesh sieve, or layered cheesecloth. Or if using a French press, just filter with the press mechanism as you would with hot coffee.
Mix to your own preferred ratio, and raise a glass to Mexico this Cinco de Mayo!