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Nitro café de olla with Cadence Cold Brew


It will surprise no one who has ever parented or spent much time taking care of a toddler that coffee is now a significant and important part of my life. I’ve long loved it – the smell, the flavor, the heady ritual of it – but for years caffeinated coffee gave me migraines (yes, you’re right, it really was the worst). Whatever divine spirits there may be in the world appear to have taken pity on me, however, because pregnancy changed something in my brain chemistry and I am now once again able to partake. And partake I do, in volume some days, generally with breakfast and again during Aldo’s midday nap.

So I was particularly excited when Cadence Cold Brew, a new Madison company, expressed an interest in new recipes and ways to use their canned nitro cold brew coffee. We generally make our coffee at home (okay, Brett generally makes our coffee at home – what a guy), but when I treat myself to a coffee drink out in the world, I often seek out nitro cold brew. Cold brew in general is more easy-drinking than regular brewed coffee, and the addition of nitrogen makes it even smoother and silkier, with a slight effervescence akin to beer.

After tasting the three varieties that Cadence offers in cans, I knew immediately what I wanted to do – create a twist on café de olla, a rich, spiced coffee drink traditional to Mexico.





Café de olla is traditionally brewed all together in a pot – coffee grounds, water, spices (always cinnamon, at the very least), sometimes some orange peel, and piloncillo, a raw sugar product from Mexico (more on that in a moment). In this case the coffee was ready to go, so instead I created a rich café de olla flavoring syrup, ready to stir into coffee poured directly out of the can. Based on the flavor profile of the nitro itself (I picked the Rhythm version as my favorite of their three options), I chose a mix of cinnamon stick, whole clove, black peppercorn, and orange peel, which perfectly enhanced the vanilla and chocolate notes in the brew.

A note on piloncillo: Piloncillo is in essence the most minimally processed sugar possible (aside from chewing on whole sugar cane, which you should definitely do if you find yourself somewhere that grows sugar cane). It’s not as sweet as processed sugar, with a richer, very slightly bolder flavor (like honey or toned-down molasses). Piloncillo is made by boiling and evaporating sugar cane juice, then usually compacting the result into a solid cone or block for transporting. Mexican markets tend to carry it inexpensively in the cone form, though should you want to indulge in what’s likely the best version possible, Rancho Gordo sells a granulated version that I used for testing this recipe (they appear to be out of stock on their website, but The Kitchen Gallery in downtown Madison usually carries it). If you buy a solid version of piloncillo (which is more typical), process it for use by grating it on a cheese grater or microplane.

If you do purchase piloncillo, the Rancho Gordo page linked above lists some wonderful ideas for using it (piloncillo kettle corn – yes, please!), and this looks insanely good.

If you don’t want to purchase piloncillo, you can make do with brown sugar and a drizzle of molasses (quantities listed in the recipe). I tested that version and it definitely works, though it’s not quite the same.


One more thing, before we get to the caffeinated nitty gritty of the deal: Rum. This was somewhat of an afterthought, to be honest, but during the last round of testing something about the flavor profile called me back to the rum I had been sipping the night before, so I added a splash and it was one of those perfect culinary moments where a flavor profile blossoms, each element enhancing the other in harmony. (Upon tasting it I literally cried out in happiness and scurried over to Brett to give him a sip, and he agreed.) Our house rum is Flor de Caña 7 year, which I’ve mentioned on this site before as perhaps my favorite of all alcohols. I still stand by that, and to discover it mixes so well with coffee is to fall in love with it even more. (Should you not have a source for Flor de Caña or you want to use something else, any aged gold rum will work fairly well.)


Nitro café de olla

Serves 1-2 (photos above are half the recipe below)

  • One 8 oz. can Cadence nitro cold brew, Rhythm flavor recommended
  • 1 1/2 oz. cafe de olla syrup, recipe below
  • 2 oz. aged golden rum (we love Flor de Caña 7 year) (optional)

– Assemble cocktail Pour cold brew into your serving glass. Add syrup and rum and gently stir.

Making ahead/storage: The effervescent quality of the nitro will diminish over time in an open container, but otherwise this drink can be assembled ahead of time. As noted below, the syrup can be made long ahead.

Café de olla syrup

Makes approximately 1/2 cup syrup

  • 1/2 cup (3 oz.) grated or granulated piloncillo (OR 1/3 cup brown sugar plus 1/2 tsp. molasses)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 orange peel (about 2 wide strips made with a vegetable peeler)
  • 4″ cinnamon stick
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves

– Make syrup Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to help dissolve sugar. Lower to a simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let cool before using. Strain into a jar or other container for storage.

Making ahead/storage: Prepared syrup will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 month (a bit of crystallization may occur).

Disclosure: Cadence Cold Brew sent me nitro samples and compensated me to create recipes. As always, I only partner with high-quality products and companies I truly love!

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