January 1, 2020

Coffee - Navajo Coffee - A Thickened Coffee Experiment

My buddy, Paul Galvani, sent me a video link on YouTube for "Navajo Coffee".

Navajo Coffee Video - Screenshots Follow Below

Navajo history: when they were moved away from their traditional homelands to reservations by the U.S. government and given rations by the government ( The Long Walk - 1800's). Wheat flour played an important part in their diet. Flour was rationed. Coffee was rationed. The Navajo people were dependent upon the US government for certain dry goods.

In order to stretch the coffee ration, they roasted flour and added it to the coffee beverage, thickening it in the process. Browned flour added to coffee. Now, if you toast flour too much, it loses its thickening ability and just becomes a flavor component (re: Cajun gumbo for example...as it gets darker and darker during the roux phase, the thickening ability diminishes). The science behind this is how heat affects the ability of the two proteins, gliaden and glutenein to form gluten. The videos that I have viewed indicate a light browning of the flour in order to preserve some of its thickening qualities.

So, I followed the instructions in the video that Paul sent me and made Navajo coffee. 

Thickened beverages. In Mexico, nixtamalized corn ground fine or as masa harina is added to beverages to thicken them (champurrado and atole, for example). And then there are the thickened hot chocolates in Spain and Portugal.

It wasn't totally unpleasant. It needed sugar. I would never waste artisanal coffee on Navajo style coffee. But a better quality grocery store coffee such as Community Coffee would be fine to use. 

But it was interesting to try something new.

Would I make it again? Probably not. But I'm glad that I got to test it out today.

More information? Here is the original recipe video by Sierra Johnson.

Sierra Johnson Video

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