A white (faranje) adoptive mother to two Ethiopian (habesha) girls wends her way through
Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D. J. Mesfin

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yebunna T'ej (Coffee-Flavored Honey Wine), part IV

Today was a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of day.  I needed to make coffee, and I needed to move onto the next step with the t'ej, which included adding the coffee!  

Yesterday, I had strained the t'ej mixture, then returned it to its place on top of the stove, covered.  Approximately 24 hours later, it was looking a little less green/muddy than it had yesterday:

Today's first step was roasting the coffee, which is covered in the prior blog post.  I should have purchased two pounds of green coffee beans, because I needed an entire pound for the t'ej alone.  And because I really wanted to brew what I roasted, I needed to use a cup of the beans originally intended for the t'ej.  To make up for it, I pulled out some coffee beans that were purchased in Addis Ababa.  This coffee comes from the Sidama region, the region where the girls were born.  

I'm glad I only needed a little bit of it, because it looked so inadequate next to my home-roasted stuff:

(the dark stuff is mine; the lighter stuff is the coffee we bought in Addis)

I never realized how much coffee beans expand after they're roasted.  The pound of green beans I received was in a little rectangular pouch not much larger than two Pop-Tart wrappers side by side.  The volume of those beans roasted filled a colander.  Ground, there was simply a TON of it!

The challenge today was how I was going to get cheesecloth-ensconced coffee grounds into a giant carboy with a neck that was approximately only an inch in diameter.  I started with the idea of making a sort of coffee-ground/cheesecloth string of sausages, but there were just way too many grounds and it quickly became clear that I wasn't going to be able to get the "sausages" narrow enough to fit into the neck.  

So, I went with my husband's idea of making a sort of pouch with the cheesecloth, poking it down through the neck, and adding the coffee grounds through a funnel.  

I quickly discarded the funnel because it wasn't very large (yet it was the largest I had) and the bottom was narrow enough that it got clogged quite quickly.  Plus, the grounds just weren't flowing smoothly through the cheesecloth-lined neck.  I ended up tediously spooning the grounds into the neck with one of the girls' old baby spoons.  Every few spoonfuls, I'd need to loosen the cheesecloth, shake it to settle the grounds, and release a bit more cheesecloth into the bottle to make more room for more grounds.  To reduce the risk of grounds seepage, I originally doubled the cheesecloth, which actually made it even more difficult to get the grounds in.  About halfway to three-quarters of the way through, I lost control over an edge of the cheesecloth and grounds started leaking out.  At this point, I tied it the best I could, realizing that it was going to be inevitable that the grounds would be leaking out.  I'll just have to filter the t'ej again later on.  

Because I hadn't gotten all of the coffee grounds into the carboy, I grabbed another piece of cheesecloth, except I kept it to one ply and it was still damp from being rinsed out yesterday.  This made a huge difference; while it was still slow going, it went much more quickly than it did before, and I was able to tie the cheesecloth so that there would be no leakage at all from at least that group of grounds.  

After getting all of the grounds into the carboy (I have no idea how I'm going to get them OUT again....I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it), I added the t'ej.  It is actually starting to take on a nice honey color.  

the cheesecloth-covered grounds floating in the t'ej

A notation in the recipe mentioned adding some brewed coffee to impart some coffee color to the brew, so I took some of the coffee I had made in the previous post and poured it on in.  It didn't give me any idea of how much to put it, so I just poured it in until I thought it looked good. 

with some brewed coffee added

Then, it was just a matter of adding a water lock (recommended by the dude at the home brewing supply store) on the top:

Now it gets to sit for 20 days!  And though I mentioned yesterday that today's step would be the final one, I discovered that I missed one additional 2-3-day step, so this is the penultimate step.  

If anyone is at all interested in having a taste in 3 to 4 weeks, please feel free to e-mail me with your address and I'll be happy to send you a small sample!  That offer stands for anything I make, as long as it's something that can tolerate shipping.

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