Clay Pot Coffee: How It is Done

Home-brewed coffee, more popularly known as clay pot coffee, is a quick and straightforward way to make coffee at home. Different names recognise it in different regions (for example, café de olla in Mexico, or café de pota in North-West Spain and Portugal). Still, in the end, the way it is prepared is very similar in all cases.

The recipe for clay pot coffee is one of the oldest ways of preparing coffee, and comes from many years ago, when coffee pots were not such a standard tool in kitchens, and not everyone had one at hand. Back then, you had to use your imagination to make a homemade coffee, and that’s where the concept of homemade clay pot coffee comes from.

Let’s find out what the ingredients of clay pot coffee are, and how it’s prepared.

Ingredients of clay pot coffee

  • One litre of water.
  • Seventy grams of freshly ground roasted coffee.
  • Sixty grams of sugar (optional). You can use brown or white sugar, as you wish.
  • A cloth sleeve or strainer, to filter the coffee. If we don’t have a paper filter of the kind used in drip coffee machines can be used.
  • Spices to taste (for example a sprig of vanilla, cardamom, some cinnamon sticks, cloves)

As you can imagine, the quantities are optional and will depend on how much coffee you want to make. The important thing is that you respect the proportion: approximately 70 grams of coffee per litre of water, or 100 grams of coffee per litre and a half.

Another essential detail is the grinding of the coffee: it must be quite thick, so you don’t usually get the pre-ground coffee packages you can find in any supermarket. For this reason, the idea is that you buy the coffee beans that you like the most and grind them yourself at home with coarse grinding.


How is the process to make clay pot coffee?

Before we start, we will need a large pot or a clay pot (which is where clay pot coffee gets its name). We pour in all the water and put it on to heat.

IMPORTANT: if you are going to use spices to flavour the coffee, or you prefer it to come out sweeter, you should pour the spices and sugar into the water at this point, when it is still cold.

As soon as the water starts to boil, we must take it away from the fire. Let a minute go by (so that it cools down a bit, since coffee should never be served in boiling water), pour in all the ground coffee, stir the whole thing a bit, and then cover the pot. It is crucial not to forget this detail: the pot must be covered so that the coffee brews correctly.

When we have done this, we let it rest for a quarter of an hour. It will be the infusion process, during which the water will take on the colour, aromas, and flavours typical of coffee beans.

After 15 minutes, it is time to filter or brew the coffee.

The coffee is abundant (it is assumed that in our recipe we have prepared a litre of coffee from a pot), so we can’t pour it all at once over the filter. We must filter it little by little, using a spoon to serve it. In this step, the most important thing is to be careful not to remove the bottom of the clay pot (or casserole), as all the dregs will have remained there. Use the spoon as many times as necessary, until all the coffee has been filtered out.

Once prepared, you can drink the coffee immediately. Or, if you need it, you can reserve it and keep it warm in another pot on a low heat (essential: don’t overheat it because it can’t boil!)

Do you have any doubts? Well, to clear it up, we recommend you to check this video that explains in a graphic way how to prepare stew coffee:

The resulting pot coffee will be a coffee with an intense, aromatic taste (if spices have been used) and with a low concentration of caffeine, mainly if a raw material of the Arabica variety has been used.

Mexican Clay Pot Coffee

Café de Olla is a very typical Mexican coffee drink. Mexican clay pot coffee is similar to the way traditional clay pot coffee is prepared, which we have seen before, but it has some particularities that make it unique.

Clay pot coffee in Mexico is made by heating water in a large earthenware pot or jar, which must be wide. The water and the coffee must be cooked in a clay pot, because otherwise the taste would be different and it could not be considered an authentic café de Olla. Besides, the coffee beans must be very thickly ground, and sometimes they are even used whole (unground).

Clay pot coffee from Mexico is usually mixed with cinnamon and piloncillo (brown sugar cone), unlike clay pot coffee in Spain or Portugal that is flavoured with spices to the consumer’s taste. And of course, to serve it you have to use the genuine earthenware jars, so that the particular flavour of this coffee pot is maintained until the last moment.