While it is strange in other parts of the world, roasting butter with coffee is common in Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. If you’re wanting to try it out for yourself like I was, we need to know how to roast coffee with butter the right way for the ultimate experience.
There are two ways to approach roasting coffee with butter. While some add a chunk of butter to coffee, some add sugar and coffee while roasting coffee beans. Most roasters slowly add the sugar and butter instead of adding them all together.
To spice up our discussion, we will discuss butter roast coffee in its different mediums and how to roast one yourself. After all, if the Viets and the Malays found it delicious, why wouldn’t you?
What Is Butter Roasted Coffee?
Roasting butter with coffee is undoubtedly a novel thing to do in the west. Imagine how many people would throw stink eyes at you with yellow coffee beans or a cup with a big chunk of butter added.
To keep things formal and authentic, we will need to learn the local names of butter coffee, all the way to Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Kopi Gu You And Traditional Kopi
One of the first variants of the butter-infused coffee originated from Singapore, called the “Kopi Gu You.” Not to be confused with the traditional “Kopi,” Kopi Gu You is a unique cup of coffee. It includes coffee roasted with caramel and butter and is served with a floating blob of butter to add more buttery goodness.
On the other hand, we also have the traditional “Kopi,” like the Kopi Gu You, as it incorporates butter roasted with coffee. However, the critical difference is that instead of having a chunk of butter in your cup, what you’ll have instead is condensed milk– a drink friendlier for western eyes and tongues.
Both the Kopi Gu You and traditional Kopi originate from Hainanese coffee shops. Surprisingly, the origins of the sticks of butter or condensed milk during serving are because they need it to mask Robusta coffee’s bitter and robust flavors.
Unlike the western world, which has access to Arabica farms such as Brazil and, in general, South America, the Southeast Asian side has access to the bitter and stronger Robusta, most commonly grown in the highlands of Indonesia, Vietnam, and The Philippines.
Vietnamese Butter Coffee
Just north of Singapore and Malaysia comes another similar variant of Kopi: the Vietnamese butter coffee. Vietnamese butter coffee is essentially the same as Kopi Gu You and the traditional Kopi, but the difference is that some do not add condensed milk to it, nor do they add butter. Essentially, they will roast the coffee in milk and sugar.
Vietnam thinks quite differently from Singapore and Malaysia, where condensed milk and or butter is added to the coffee to make it tamer.
Vietnamese think pretty differently, and they incorporate the butter to add punching power to the (already) robust Robusta coffee. Think of it as a way how Koreans add chili to spicy fried chicken.
How Do I Roast And Incorporate Butter, Sugar, And Coffee In The Roasting Process?
Trying something new is always a challenge, and I understand that wholeheartedly. However, one thing you might need to take note of is that there is no harm in trying, okay? Now let us get things started with roasting the Kopi Gu You / Vietnamese Butter Coffee way.
Three Easy Steps To Serve Kopi Gu You
- Source the right kind of coffee beans. To create an authentic experience, buy Robusta.
- Roast it slowly while adding sugar and butter oil (not whole butter) to the mix.
- Serve with milk, condensed milk, butter, or creamer.
Source The Right Coffee Beans
In the last few years, a trend rose in the Silicon Valley area, wherein they drank high-calorie, high-caffeine coffee to shoo their energy gap away while trying to stay full throughout the morning.
Although it may have been a novel idea to Silicon Valley then, that certainly isn’t something new for the Viets. They have been doing it for a long time.
The Vietnamese Butter Coffee, one of the earliest renditions to the Bulletproof coffee, is one way to keep your butt running throughout the day. The secret to all this energy? Robusta coffee beans.
If you want to drink Kopi and Vietnamese Butter Coffee in the most authentic way possible, or you just want an energy head start in the morning, be sure to buy Robusta coffee beans.
They are bitter (as reminiscent of most Vietnamese coffee), but they are also mighty compelling for caffeine content.
However, there have been recent developments wherein some baristas would add Arabica coffee for a more mellow taste. But in actuality, if you like the traditional taste, stick with Robusta. If you find Robusta too bitter, maybe add Arabica for a more western feel.
Roast It Slowly, Add Butter Oil And Sugar
Most people have the misconception that Kopi Gu You had included chunks of butter during the brewing process. Although some do incorporate real butter into the roasting process, butter oil provides a more comfortable start as it sits better with high temperatures.
Another misconception about Kopi Gu You is that butter and sugar are added directly with coffee beans in the cooking process.
However, the truth is that butter, sugar, and coffee are three very different things, and adding them makes one big heck of a mess! Moreover, this may cause the sugar to burn swiftly or the butter oil to evaporate completely.
If you do not have butter oil at home, you can also use alternatives such as vegetable oil and add cocoa and a touch of vanilla.
To start the roasting process, in a large pan heated most preferably by firewood, pour the fresh coffee beans and begin mixing or stirring the beans. Slowly, while stirring, pour small amounts of sugar and butter oil (to taste).
It would also be preferable if one had already poured some portion of butter oil before roasting.
Here is one critical reminder: do not ever stop stirring the pan unless the whole process is over. If you stop mixing the coffee beans and the sugar, you may find your beans caramelizing and sticking to each other. Do this process for about twenty minutes in 200 degrees Celsius of heat.
After twenty minutes, put the pan away from heat or remove the heat if on the stove. Keep stirring until cool. One can also add sesame seeds during the cooling process.
Serve With Milk, Condensed Milk, Or Butter After Brewing
After everything has cooled off, you can now initiate the brewing process. You can brew these beans in the same manner as you brew the rest of your coffee beans.
For Kopi Gu You, add a chunk of butter on the top. This serving blends well with the locals and those who want to have an adventurous touch.
There are also options for having a traditional drink with a less strange vibe, especially to people not accustomed to Southeast Asian coffee culture, and that is by adding condensed milk.
While this is much friendlier to western standards, this variant, also called the traditional Kopi, still stays true to its oriental roots.
However, if you would want a more “neo” vibe to your coffee, there are many options to choose from as additives. First, you can use half-and-half, or you can make use of milk as well. Chocolate is an excellent addition to achieve more of a mocha flavor, and citrus is for a more floral approach.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Did Vietnamese Coffee Achieve A Bigger “Kick?”
Vietnamese coffee retains its strong energy-boosting capabilities by adding butter and sugar to the already robust Robusta beans. Moreover, they keep them roasted for a while as well, giving off the bitter flavor.
What Is The Color Of The Beans Used In Kopi Gu You?
Because of the caramel, the ideal color should be yellowish. Some locals had said they needed to coat the beans in yellow caramel before because some coffee beans were plucked unripe. However, today, all the beans in most cafes are ripe when brewed.