Gray Matter


Rice Coffee and Corn Coffee

RT Cunningham | July 19, 2020 (UTC) | Coffee, Food and Drink

rice coffeeThere’s one thing about coffee that doesn’t sit well with people who don’t make a lot of money. It’s expensive. In some places, people make rice coffee and corn coffee, neither being the real thing. It’s far less expensive.

My wife, Josie, once told me about how she had rice coffee (kapeng bigas) in the Philippines when she was young because her family was too poor to buy the real thing. It was either when she lived in Tacloban, Leyte or Lemery, Batangas.

So I knew about rice coffee, but I didn’t know about corn coffee.

It’s Not Coffee

I don’t know why people insist on calling it rice coffee or corn coffee. Unlike teas called teas even when they’re not made from tea leaves, rice and corn coffee aren’t even brewed like regular coffee.

Perhaps it’s due to the way they look as opposed to how they’re made. Both rice and corn coffees are as dark as black coffee after you boil the ingredients. Josie swears the rice coffee tastes like regular coffee. I don’t think so, but I can’t argue the point since I’ve never tasted it. I think she just remembers it that way.

Making Rice Coffee

Josie said all they did to make rice coffee was to take raw, white rice and roast it in a skillet until it was almost burnt. Then they would add it to water and boil it. After they poured the liquid into cups, they would discard the rice sediment at the bottom of the pot.

I read somewhere else that you should grind the rice (with a mortar and pestle) before boiling, but Josie said it isn’t necessary.

Making Corn Coffee

I haven’t read how people make corn coffee, but it’s supposed to taste like coffee too. From what I’ve read, Native Americans in the United States and Canada were drinking it more than a century ago.

I’m not even going to consider it. It probably tastes worse than Postum does. Postum is pretty bad but some people like it.

No Coffee Means No Coffee

Josie said she’d make rice coffee some day, so I could taste it for myself. I’m sorry, but coffee is coffee and there isn’t a substitute for me. If I can’t get the real thing then I don’t want any kind of “make-believe” coffee. I’d rather do without coffee than to try to fool my taste buds and my stomach into believing that something else could be just as good.

I’m not faulting those who like rice or corn coffee. If you like it, you can drink it. Just don’t ask me to do the same. Now that most of the coffee companies in the Philippines sell one and two-gram sachets of instant coffee at affordable prices (less than an American quarter), there isn’t a good reason to accept a substitute. That is, unless you prefer the taste of rice or corn coffee over the real thing.

Photo Attribution: Rice Coffee aka Kapeng Bigas at fit n fab
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in July 2013.

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