Thailand: Kaffee Boran

Bangkok, city of angels, how I miss your food, your markets, and your Kaffee Boran!

I had the opportunity to vacation in Thailand recently and 1 1/2 weeks later, in this heatwave of a summer, I am still craving the sweet, syrupy, thirst quenching ancient Thai iced coffee, Kaffee Boran.  Not to mention, the stacks of carnation milk cans that decorated the coffee carts in pop art fashion.

Found in markets, street-side and in local restaurants, the ancient coffee is made of a dark Espresso roast grown in Thailand.  The Street venders brew a strong batch of the coffee in a tubular filter made of white muslin or cotton attached around the top to a metal ring.  They then balance the filter ring above a tea or coffee pot.  Boiling water is added and coffee is let to steep to desired strength.  Finally, coffee is poured over crushed ice with evaporated milk and topped with sweetened condensed milk to taste.  If you are lucky, your barista will do a little coffee dance and aerate your Kaffe Boran for a nice and frothy presentation.

Note:  Sweetened condensed milk is really easy to find, has a great shelf life, and is essentially a mix of dehydrated milk and sugar giving it a thick silky texture.  I found this recipe online using whole milk. 
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 or 2/3 cup unrefined sugar (organic cane sugar, even sucanat depending on your final goal for the condensed milk)
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
Mix sugar and milk together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stirring often, bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. As soon as steam starts lifting off the milk, lower the heat even further, and when the sugar is entirely dissolved, put the heat as low as it can go. A simmer burner is great for this.
The goal is to reduce the quantity in the pot (which is not about 1 3/4 cups) by approximately half. It takes about 2 hours at very low heat to reduce to one cup of liquid. You could speed it up a bit if you watch carefully and stir often. I preferred the freedom to wander the house doing other tasks, and thus allowed my process to take quite some time.
Once reduced to your satisfaction, whisk in the butter and vanilla.The recipe is equivalent to approximately one half can of brand sweetened condensed milk.
Depending on what final product your sweetened condensed milk will be used in, you will probably need to allow the mixture to cool considerably before using.
One other option for a homemade sweetened condensed milk is to add 1/2 or 2/3 cup unrefined sugar to a can of evaporated milk. You may need to heat to fully dissolve. However, you still have to deal with the unhealthy can lining and whatever over-processing makes the milk shelf stable.

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4 Responses to Thailand: Kaffee Boran

  1. Bangkok misses you, too, Keri! There are more markets to explore (not to mention more areas to wander through in Chatuchak Market), more tasty treats to savor, and of course, plenty of kaffee boran to keep you energized and content.

  2. Dale, I have to say, not a day goes by that I don't think about the Chatuchak Market. I loved every minute of it and can only imagine all of the unexplored territory that I missed. I can sleep at night though, knowing you are taking advantage and enjoying it for those of us so far away. I will make it back to Bangkok one day, and to the Chatuchak Market, I swear!

  3. Have you tried to do Thai ice tea? Thanks.

  4. I would love to try this. Thanks for the recipe, I would not need to go to Thailand to have a taste of this. I wish I could do it the way it was done in the photos. koh lanta hotels


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