While living in Italy, I discovered “caffè d’orzo”, a barley-based coffee substitute that is by default caffeine-free. It’s a very common drink there, but virtually unheard of in the U.S. After doing some research, I found that it does exist here under the name “grain coffee”. While it’s more difficult to find here than in Europe, there are a handful of brands available in health food stores and on the Internet.
Grain coffee is almost always barley based and sometimes has rye and chicory added for flavor as well. I get the kind that dissolves when stirred into water, but some are meant to be brewed in a coffee pot, just like regular coffee grounds. Not only does it have a similar taste and aroma as coffee, but grain coffee has a maltiness that reminds me of mocha- the combination of coffee and chocolate. Try mixing it with warm almond milk on winter nights as a “grown-up” alternative to hot chocolate!
In the summer, I like to make this raw porridge as a cooling alternative to traditional oatmeal (perfect for an AC-free New York City apartment!). If you don’t have grain coffee, the base of oat bran, flaxseed and nut milk can be the starting point for limitless other variations (mango-brazil nut, berry-almond, apple-walnut-cinnamon…)!
“Mocha” Oat Bran Pudding:
1/4 cup oat bran
1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed
1 cup nut milk of choice, preferably homemade
1/3 banana, thinly sliced
a few raisins
2 teaspoons grain coffee powder (water soluble kind)
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
walnuts, for topping
What to do:
Mix all of the ingredients (except for walnuts) in a mug or small bowl, cover and let sit 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove from fridge a few minutes before eating so it’s not ice cold and top with crushed walnuts.
Budino di Crusca d’Avena al Caffè d’Orzo:
4 cucchiai di crusca d’avena
1 cucchiaio di semi di lino, macinati
ml latte di mandorle, preferibilmente fresco
1/3 di banana, tagliata a fette sottili
un pò d’uvetta
pizzico di sale
2 cucchiaini di caffe d’orzo in polvere (quello solubile nell’acqua)
1 cucchiaino di miele
piccolo goccio d’estratto di vaniglia
delle noci, per servire
Mischiate tutti gli ingredienti (tranne le noci) in una tazza o in un scodella piccola, coprite e lasciate in frigo per almeno quattro ore.
Tirate dal frigo qualche minuto prima di mangiare, così non è freddissimo, e sbriciolate le noci sopra.