Dirty Coffee – What is it and how is it prepared?

Dirty coffee is a concoction that is becoming increasingly popular in coffee-loving Asian countries.

What is dirty coffee?

The term “dirty” refers to the color of the coffee and the way it was brewed. A dirty coffee is nothing more than a mixture of hot espresso with cold milk poured over it.

Yes, we know it’s nothing out of the ordinary when you put it that way, but the truth is, this coffee tastes really good.

The combination of freshly brewed espresso and cold milk gives a very nuanced taste.

Where does the dirty coffee come from?

The exact origin of dirty coffee is disputed. This recipe is said to have originated in Japan. However, it is also said that dirty coffee is a South Korean invention. In any case, it is very popular in East Asia.

Many travelers claim that the original recipe for Dirty Coffee came from a restaurant called Bear Pond Espresso.

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for dirty coffee

However, many variants of the recipe are known, making the drink easily available, at least in Japan and other parts of Asia.

Don’t expect uniformity, however, as each cafe prepares it in its own way. For this reason, you can often find recipes online that use a ratio of 50% espresso and 50% milk.

In contrast, you’re also likely to find dirty coffee recipes that are very similar to other types of coffee, such as: B. cappuccino or macchiato.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for some recipes to substitute whipped cream for cold milk. However, it should be noted that dirty coffee is still not very popular in the West, so it is not surprising that it is difficult to find on cafe menus.

However, some people claim that at Starbucks (USA) you can find a drink that is very similar to dirty coffee, namely the “Undertow”.

However, if you cannot find it in the coffee shops, later we will explain how to make an excellent dirty coffee at home.

But why is it called dirty coffee?

This coffee is called “dirty” because of its striking appearance. Dirty coffee has a nice layer of hot espresso that provides the dark color, resting on a pool of cold milk.

The coffee is called “dirty” because a veined pattern can be seen between the coffee and the milk, accompanied by coffee drips.

This is an important visual stimulus of this preparation, caused by the difference in temperature between the two liquids. This warms the milk, which is initially too cold for the coffee to dissolve in it, and the layers combine to form a lukewarm drink.

So, the coffee gets “dirty” when the temperature evens out.

What does dirty coffee taste like?

In general, those who have tasted dirty coffee say that the first thing you taste is the strong taste of the hot espresso, which alternates with the sweet, cold taste of the milk.

Of course, this is the original recipe, because it is common for lovers of this drink to personalize their cup with various additions, such as: e.g.:

using a dark roast to make a good dirty coffee, so that the espresso has an intense flavor.

Experts also advise preparing the espresso like a ristretto, as this gives it a more complex texture.

On the other hand, it can be said that there are no requirements for the milk used for a dirty coffee as long as it is cold.

The colder it is, the better; However, the milk should not be cooled with ice, otherwise the temperature of the milk will drop too quickly and the preparation will become too runny.

Therefore, ideally, the milk should have been stored in the refrigerator for several hours.

Finally, it should be mentioned that toppings are usually placed on the surface of the espresso and not stirred, as they are intended to form another layer in the drink.

So how do you prepare dirty coffee?

Note: Remember that if you want to add something extra, e.g. B. a sweetener, ideally a liquid solution such. B. a syrup should be used so that a new layer can form.

5 more tips for making good dirty coffee

  1. Use a clear cup so you can see the layer that forms between the coffee and milk.
  2. If for some reason you don’t have cold milk, you can also cool the cup beforehand.
  3. Use a spoon to slowly pour the espresso over the milk so the coffee and milk don’t mix.
  4. Don’t let too much time pass between making the dirty coffee and drinking it, or you’ll end up with an iced latte.
  5. The more time passes, the more the ingredients mix and the more homogeneous the taste becomes.

How do you drink a dirty coffee?

There are no hard and fast rules about how dirty coffee should be drunk. Ideally, however, the coffee should not be stirred and enjoyed unmixed.

It is also advisable to drink the coffee in a clear glass so that you can see the grain typical of this drink.

Also, the glass is often chilled along with the milk, which helps keep the layers separate.

So, if you find the layers are too far apart and you want a little more color, you can quickly (just once) stir with a spoon.

Some restaurants, on the other hand, sweeten the milk before storing it in the fridge so it doesn’t have to be stirred.

Also keep in mind that if you choose to mix it, you will end up with a completely different tasting drink.

So, it’s best to drink the soiled coffee as it’s served to you, because that way you can experience the taste of hot espresso and cold milk in a blend that blends flavors and textures.

It is not for nothing that those who have tasted it say that the taste of dirty coffee is a strange contrast of aromas and sensations in the mouth that cannot be compared to anything else.

Other peculiarities of Dirty Coffee

Like any espresso, this drink is drunk in small sips. If the coffee is too hot, wait a minute, but not too long.

Keep in mind that as the hot coffee and cold milk adjust to room temperature, the drink will darken and thicken, so the contrast between the flavors will be lost.

The characteristic taste of dirty coffee

Since the espresso comes on top, it is the espresso that sets the tone for the first few sips, allowing you to experience the taste of hot coffee first.

Subsequent sips are less bitter as they are made from the mix of espresso and cold milk, and if you’ve had iced coffee before you’ll notice a similarity in flavors.

Finally, the last sips are the gentlest, as you taste the cold milk at the bottom of the glass, which tastes particularly sweet due to the contrast with the bitter espresso.

Dirty coffee is therefore best drunk in the morning or after a meal.

Variants of dirty coffee

Although the base of dirty coffee is espresso and milk, it is also common in Asia to use whipped cream to soften the coffee’s bitterness.

So, there is also dirty coffee with 3 or more layers. However, the flavor is milder and the texture is much creamier.

A variant of dirty coffee, on the other hand, relies on the addition of liquid caramel to balance out the bitter notes of the espresso.

The variants of Dirty Coffee are so diverse that some are already wondering whether this recipe is a coffee variation or simply a dessert with coffee.

Differences between dirty coffee and other similar preparations

Dirty coffee versus iced coffee with milk

Although these two drinks contain practically the same basic ingredients, their combination is of course different.

For example, hot, steamed milk is used for iced coffee with milk, which is then poured over an espresso glass and ice cubes and served.

With iced coffee with milk, the flavors should mix immediately and form a homogeneous solution.

With dirty coffee, on the other hand, the basis of the preparation is ice-cold milk, and the pouring of the coffee must be done very carefully, since the milk and coffee should not (at least initially) mix.

the goal of dirty coffee is that you get a different taste of espresso and milk with every sip.

Dirty coffee compared to Starbucks “hangover coffee”.

As mentioned, Starbucks is said to have a drink called “Hangover” that is quite similar to Dirty Coffee, but are they really that similar?

Well, yes and no, because a hangover coffee is basically the same as a dirty coffee, except the Starbucks recipe includes syrup.

The aim of Dirty Coffee is that it does not contain any sweeteners so that the contrast between coffee and milk is completely natural.

Also, the ratio of milk and coffee is different in the “hangover” compared to the dirty coffee.