Coffee and Soda
I love coffee. Coffee and I have been through alot together. Coffee was there when I met my wife. Coffee was there when my son was born. Coffee is always there, meeting my need for a warm, tasty beverage. Is there anything coffee can’t do? Yes. Because as much as I love coffee, sometimes I’m in the mood for sweet, refreshing soda. Soda has been there for me long before I knew Coffee. Soda has been at every childhood (and adulthood) birthday party. Soda has been there for every ill-judged late-night McDonalds visit. Soda is the shoulder-devil to Coffee’s shoulder-angel.
What if I could combine Coffee and Soda into a morally neutral shoulder-being? Would I become unstoppable? Possibly.
The Problem with Coffee Soda
Coffee Soda has been done before, but it is usually gross. One of the biggest issues I’ve experienced is the finished beverage tasting too much like coffee. Coffee soda doesn’t need to be a perfect 50/50 split between it’s components. Like if you make a flying car there’s not a rule that you need to make it exactly 50% out of car parts and 50% out of airplane parts; you just build something that works. In my mind, coffee soda should be primarily a soda with coffee flavor as a noticeable, but not overwhelming, component. There is a good reason for this beyond simple flavor preference: Soda is fizzy because of carbon dioxide and when coffee is exposed to carbon dioxide it combines to make carbonic acid, which is very bitter. So there is limit to the amount of coffee you can put into a soda before the bitterness is overwhelming.
The other issue that I’ve found, particularly with the “craft” and “small-batch” type coffee sodas is that they aren’t sweet enough. I know that sweetness is completely a preference, but if you hand me an un-sweet soda, that sucker will get poured down the drain as soon as you turn your back.
The Ideal Coffee Soda
So I’m trying to create a sweet soda that has a complex flavor, with a noticeable but balanced coffee aspect. This is what I came up with:
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons coriander seed
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- Zest and juice of 2 limes
- Zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 4 cups water
- 1.5 pounds sugar
- 8 shots Fast Track Espresso (180 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add spices, zest, juice, water and sugar to pot and bring to boil and simmer for 30 min.
- Strain solids from syrup then add vanilla and espresso.
- To Serve: mix ¾ cup syrup with 3.5 cups ice-cold water and charge in a 1 Liter soda siphon. Alternately, add ¼ cup syrup to a cup and dilute to taste with cold soda water (approx 1 cup.) then add ice.
This soda is sweet, but not as sweet as you might think when you see “2 pounds of sugar” in the ingredients. I’d say it is 75% the sweetness of Coke. The flavor is somewhat like old-fashioned cola recipes, like Jones brand cola. It is immediately citrusy but the spices and coffee are noticeable in the aftertaste of the first sip and then became more noticeable to me as I drank the soda.
I think this soda is delicious and I can already tell that when spring rolls around next year I will be eager to start a tradition of drinking the year’s “First Batch of Coffee Soda.” Did it make me unstoppable? Who can say?