The obsession for jelly food in Japan is alive and kicking—from photogenic sakura floral jellies to the Internet-famous water cake. While it seems the Japanese are constantly innovating new jelly fares, the concept surprisingly isn’t new. Take, for instance, coffee jelly, which originates from 19th century Japan.
WHAT IS COFFEE JELLY?
In the 19th century, after Westerners introduced coffee to the Japanese, the Japanese proceeded to find new uses for the plant. One of their first creations was none other than coffee jelly. According to several accounts, the idea originated from one Japanese coffee shop in the 1960s, when sweetened coffee was mixed with agar-agar or Kanten, jelly-like substances made of algae.
No longer just a sensation in Japan, now, the whole world knows what coffee jelly is—and you can find it just about anywhere. Find it at your local coffee shop, on the menus of your favorite restaurants, and in the supermarkets in portable cups.
If, in case you can’t find coffee jelly, however, you can make it in your own kitchen. Surprisingly, for a snack which appears so delicate, it’s super simple to make. And, chances are, you’ll probably find most (if not all) of the ingredients in your pantry already. Aside from plain water, it just requires 3!
WHAT MAKES THE PERFECT COFFEE JELLY?
First things first, it’s very important to note what makes the perfect coffee jelly. Check out a few of our suggestions:
1. A cup of yummy coffee.
The math is simple: a cup of yummy coffee equals yummy coffee jelly. Of course, what “yummy” is is a matter of preference. Meaning: you can use whatever coffee you like. If anything, you want to avoid using instant powder sachets, as it may weaken the flavor.
TRY: Figure of Beans is a local coffee label that offers a variety of Cordillera-sourced coffee bean, each with a unique flavor. The Caramel Beans, for one, is mildly sweet with a nutty overtone. If you want something extra sweet and creamy, opt for their Vanilla Beans. On the opposite end of the flavor spectrum, Arabica Robusta Beans offers a punchy, full-bodied flavor, as well as Sagada Dark Roast Beans which is just slightly more acidic.
2. The perfect amount of sweetness.
Traditionally, coffee jelly isn’t made too sweet. To prevent an overly cloying outcome, use just a small amount of sugar. And if the word “sugar” makes your teeth hurt, you can always swap out regular white or brown refined sugar for a wholesome alternative, like coconut sugar.
TRY: Cocoro Sugar is a Philippine company that works sustainably with local farmers to make coconut sugar. Made with coconut sap, it’s a vegan, organic, and gluten-free alternative to normal sugar. Plus, it’s low-glycemic index is perfect for sugar cynics. Cocoro Sugar is lighter than most white and brown cane sugar, which offers the sweetness you might crave without overpowering your recipes. Use it for your coffee jelly—or anything, really!
3. Optional: Toppings of your choice.
At the end of the day, there is no correct way to eat your coffee jelly. While it is very simple, its simplicity is what makes it incredibly versatile. Make it luxuriously indulgent by adding condensed milk or cream, use it as a topping on sundaes, mix it into milkshakes or ice cream floats, or enjoy it, plain and simple, as it is. The options you can make with coffee jelly are endless—which is why it would be a culinary crime if you opted out of trying it right NOW.
But if this won’t convince you, coffee jelly’s surprising nutritional value might. Yes, people, coffee jelly is actually pretty good for you! As you probably know, it’s main ingredient (coffee) has a number of health advantages. Aside from an instant caffeine kick—such as, an better mood, more energy, and mental focus and alertness—coffee also appears to improve cognitive function. Plus, it’s also said to lessen the risk of Parkinson’s Disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems, such as liver cancer. Gelatin, another one of coffee jelly’s main ingredients, also has its own set of advantages. Gelatin is essentially a water-soluble protein, which helps support the skin, hair, bones, joints, and tendons. It can also help manage weight, increase the metabolism, and help prevent water retention. Which is to say: you can have your coffee jelly, and it eat it, too!
Now are you curious? Luckily, we have a super easy recipe. Only 4 ingredients necessary to make this coffee jelly!
- 3 tbsp. water
- 15g gelatin
- 480ml coffee
- 60g sugar
STEP 1: First, mix water and gelatin together.
STEP 2: After a few minutes, mix coffee and water. Mix well.
STEP 3: Pour the mixture into a shallow pan (only 1” deep).
STEP 4: Place into the refrigerator for at least four hours.
STEP 5: Once the mixture is firm, cut the coffee jelly into cubes.
Optional: You may opt to make a sweet cream to complement your coffee. Just whip 100ml of cream with 2 tbsp. sugar. Pour it over your coffee jelly afterward.
Are you ready for this (coffee) jelly?
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