Sweet, bold, and boozy, Greenlandic coffee — consisting of freshly brewed coffee, cognac, coffee liqueur, and bourbon — is the perfect drink in a country covered in ice and snow. BRCC photo for Coffee or Die..
Every spring, members of New York’s 109th Airlift Wing deploy to Greenland to conduct training on the country’s nearly 700,000-square-mile ice sheet. The airmen spend four days and three nights learning arctic survival skills in temperatures that can plunge as low as negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Naturally, as soon as the exercise is over and the trainees step off the ice, some of them will want booze, hot coffee, and fire — all at once.
If post-training libations are on the itinerary (and I can’t say for certain they are), the airmen are in luck. Because nobody knows how to warm the frost-nipped soul better than Greenlanders. One popular elixir on offer at many bars on the island is known simply as Greenlandic coffee. Order one and the bartender will add piping-hot Joe to a warmed mixture of whiskey and Kahlua, top it with whipped cream, and then douse the concoction with a spoonful of flaming Grand Marnier. The citrusy sweetness of the liqueur cuts the bitterness of the whiskey and black coffee. It’s tangy, bold, and easy to drink. Maybe a little too easy.
If you’re not in Greenland, and don’t plan to visit anytime soon, we’ve got you covered. One of Black Rifle Coffee Company’s product gurus, Garrett Kidd, has come up with a recipe for Greenlandic coffee that can be easily made at home. Sure, it’s July, but why wait until the weather turns cold to knock back a few of these after-dinner drinks. Coffee and booze are always delicious, regardless of the season.
Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing prepare to depart Greenland’s wind-whipped ice cap after Arctic survival training in May 2023. Photo by Ryan Fitting/Coffee or Die.
First, gather your ingredients and tools.
BRCC product guru Garrett Kidd pours freshly brewed Blackbeard’s Delight from a French press to make Greenlandic coffee. BRCC photo for Coffee or Die.
Kidd’s Greenlandic coffee recipe starts with — you guessed it — coffee. He recommends making the cocktail with BRCC’s Blackbeard’s Delight, which is on the darker end of the coffee spectrum.
“Dark roasts are going to have more caramelized flavors due to the Maillard reaction,” Kidd explains. “They pair nicely with bourbon, coffee liqueur, and citrus-flavored spirits.”
The Maillard reaction gives browned food its distinct color and flavor. When you put bread in the toaster or a marshmallow over the fire, the Maillard reaction is responsible for the delicious golden-brown results. For coffee, the longer the beans roast, the more color, flavor, and aroma they develop.
“The notes for Blackbeard’s Delight are milk chocolate and nuts, with a fruity finish — the perfect combination for this cocktail,” Kidd says. He recommends brewing the dark roast with a French press and a 1:16 coffee-to-water ratio (although anywhere between a 1:12 and 1:18 ratio is fine).
“The French press brewing method allows for more coffee oils and particulates in the brewed cup for a stronger taste and bolder mouthfeel, which stands up better to spirits.”
While Black Rifle Coffee Company’s Blackbeard’s Delight will warm you up all on its own, adding cognac, coffee liqueur, and bourbon increase the heat exponentially. BRCC photo for Coffee or Die.
Step one: Brew the coffee. Put some water on the stove and set it to boil. Then preheat your French press by filling it with hot water and letting it sit. Preheating ensures your brew is even, which results in better-tasting coffee. If you’re working with whole beans, now is a good time to grind the coffee. A medium-coarse grind is best.
Once your coffee-making water reaches a boil, discard the preheating water from your French press and replace it with the coffee grounds. Next, pour just enough boiling water into the press to soak the grounds and let them sit for 30 seconds. The soaked coffee should bubble, or “bloom,” releasing pent-up carbon dioxide so the full pour won’t be tinged by the sour taste of runaway gas.
Once the 30 seconds is up, pour the rest of the water into the French press and stir until the coffee grounds are fully infused, without a layer of crust on top. Replace the plunger, press it down slowly 1/2 inch, then leave the coffee to steep for four minutes.
Garrett Kidd finishes his Greenlandic coffee with a 1/2 ounce of flaming Grand Marnier. BRCC photo for Coffee or Die.
While the coffee is steeping, measure 1/2 ounce of bourbon, 1/2 ounce of Kahlua, and 1/2 ounce of Grand Marnier each into a separate shot glass. Next, pour the bourbon and Kahlua into your Bordeaux glass and warm the mixture with a torch lighter or spirit burner.
When the four minutes is up, fully press the plunger on your French press. Then add 3 ounces of the freshly brewed coffee to the bourbon-Kahlua mix and generously top with whipped cream.
Finally, pour the Grand Marnier onto a large metal serving spoon and ignite. Then spoon the burning liquid over the drink and wait for the flame to go out. Take a sip. Enjoy. Repeat.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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