Colombian Coffee Ice Cream

For several reasons including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. summer weather is still here,
  2. we have an insatiable sweet tooth,
  3. we still haven’t returned the ice cream maker we borrowed weeks ago,
  4. we love coffee,
  5. we love ice cream, and
  6. one of us has become a bit obsessed with the science behind the “perfect ice cream,”

we made coffee ice cream this weekend.  And let us just say: this ice cream will change your life.


One of the things we’ve come to realize in our ice cream research, thanks to Shirley Corriher, David Lebovitz, and Michael Ruhlman, is that any good custard-based ice cream has 4 main ingredients:

  1. milk/cream
  2. sugar
  3. egg yolks
  4. flavoring (i.e., whatever ingredient(s) define(s) the flavor of the ice cream)

However, two of these items tend to vary a lot from recipe to recipe: ratio and sources of milk/cream and the number of egg yolks (flavoring doesn’t count here, that’s too obvious).  Some recipes use heavy cream and whole milk, some use heavy cream and half & half, still others use half & half and 2%.  And the ratios of these dairy sources vary all over the place.  Then, when it comes to egg yolks, we’ve seen recipes that include just 2, and then others that include up to 11 (both recipes making 1.5 quarts of ice cream).  What are aspiring ice cream makers to do?

Experiment, of course.

So this weekend, for our Saturday evening guests, we made a coffee ice cream adapted almost verbatim from Shirley Corriher’s CookWise.  Besides the specific coffee used, the only real variation from her recipe was the actual method by which we made the custard.  Since we used Starbucks‘ Colombian Coffee, we’ll call this

Colombian Coffee Ice Cream (following the “Rich Cappuccino Ice Cream” in Corriher’s CookWise)

  • 1.5 cups half & half
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Starbucks Via Instant Coffee, Colombian flavor
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground Starbucks Colombian flavor coffee beans

It’s worth noting, for the same amount of ice cream, this recipe uses twice the number of egg yolks as we used in our Maple Walnut ice cream.  Also, this recipe uses half & half instead of whole milk.

Shirley also calls for lemon zest.  She doesn’t say why, but zest is a good “flavor brightener,” so we figured why not throw it in ice cream?

Now for the custard making.  Again, no pictures of the process – sorry.  Perhaps on our tenth time making a custard we’ll feel confident enough to pull out the camera in the midst of the whisking madness.  You can refer back to our Maple Walnut ice cream post for photos of what “pale yellow” egg yolks or a typical ice bath looks like, for reference.

Prepare the ice bath and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the water and egg yolks until they turn a pale yellow color, about three minutes.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, pour the cream, half & half, Starbucks Via, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.  Whisk to mix well, then place over medium heat and whisk periodically, until the temperature of the mixture reaches 175 degrees.  Remove from heat.

Ladle out about a cup of the hot cream mixture and pour slowly into the egg yolks while whisking the yolks vigorously.  Then slowly pour the now-warmed yolk mixture back into the cream mixture saucepan while whisking the contents of the saucepan vigorously.  Place the saucepan back over medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture reaches 180 degrees, then remove from heat and immediately pour into the ice bath bowl.

Now continue to whisk until the temperature of the mixture reaches about 80 degrees or so.  You can add the vanilla once the mixture stops steaming.

Cover and chill the custard in the refrigerator, from 4-6 hours, or overnight.

This is what our custard looked like after chilling overnight – kind of looks like the “large cappuccino” from So I Married an Axe Murderer, doesn’t it?

Before you pour your custard into your ice cream maker, put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  According to Corriher, this will help “prevent the mixture from freezing too fast, which will produce large ice crystals and not incorporate air.”

And don’t forget to set aside 1/4 cup of freshly and coarsely ground Colombian coffee beans.  These will go into the ice cream once it starts to thicken.

In our borrowed-but-may-never-give-back Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, our custard took just over 25 minutes to freeze to this consistency.  We then scooped it into a ceramic loaf pan, covered the pan with plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer for about 12 more hours.

So, wow.  We thought this was a pretty decent picture but the image itself doesn’t even begin to do this ice cream justice.  The texture and creaminess are just unbelievable – almost as silky as gelato.  This ice cream just coats your tongue with happiness, and the coffee flavor is deeply and richly satisfying.  The coarsely ground coffee adds a nice crunch to every bite, and sharpens the flavor just a bit.  In short, we loved it, as did our guests.

For them we served the ice cream with a gingersnap cookie on the side.  We think gingersnaps and coffee ice cream were made for each other.

Thank you, Shirley, for encouraging us to use eight egg yolks.  Separating the yolks from eight eggs is a bit tedious, but worth every minute.  We really think doubling the number of egg yolks took the creaminess of this ice cream to the next level; in fact, we’d say the texture was worlds better than our maple walnut ice cream.  Even the way in which the ice cream scooped was totally different.

So why will this ice cream change your life?  Well, we think that the ratios in this recipe are right on; you’ll be hard-pressed to match this creaminess with store-bought ice cream.  So now the sky is the limit – using the same ratios of milk/cream, sugar, and eggs, the flavor possibilities are endless.

Next test: remake the Maple Walnut ice cream using the ratios from this recipe.  Or maybe we should try a totally different flavor . . .

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

(Sorry, Wamsteds, you may never get your ice cream maker back.)

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19 Responses to Colombian Coffee Ice Cream

  1. Daddy says:

    from momma–it was superb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait to try another flavor!! you’ll have to get a maker for the shoebox!

  2. this looks deliciousss! thanks for sharing!

  3. Milisa says:

    I love coffee ice cream! I don’t usually make ice cream with eggs, but this seems totally worth the effort! Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a great recipe and a very nice blog.

  5. Debby says:

    This sounds delicious 🙂

  6. carrotplease says:

    Oh my… I cannot WAIT to try this. Coffee ice cream with some chocolate is about my favorite thing, but I’ve never tried to make it on my own. Thinking one could add finely chopped dark chocolate instead of the coarsely ground coffee?

    • Yes!! Please do some with chopped up dark chocolate and let us know how it turns out – that just sounds amazing!

    • hobbesian says:

      To be truthful, the results of adding chopped chocolate to that wonderfully smooth coffee ice cream are not improved. Sad to say, chocolate becomes hard, wax-like, brittle yet tough, crisp and honestly tasteless. Choccy melts at blood temperature; when you eat ice cream your dear little mouth is anaesthetized by the icy creaminess and there is no warmth left to melt the choc; Results: after the coffee ice cream has melted and disappeared down your grateful throat, your mouth is left with a clutter of gravellized choc bits; they cannot melt; you have to chew this stuff to a sandy powder, and trust me it does not taste like choc until your mouth has warmed up and melted it; several unrewarding chilly minutes: it is a lot of work with no reward. My suggestion to add choc to coffee ice cream is to make a hot choc fudge sauce; serve it hot with the coffee ice cream; let everyone dip their spoons of cold ice cream into the choc sauce; allow it to shape itself to the ice cream, then eat through both….. sigh; So much better than as an aggregate in the cream.

      • Elizabeth, those were actually bits of coarsely ground coffee beans, which really added a nice contrasty texture and little pockets of amped up coffee flavor.

        On your note about chocolate, though – we recently made mint chocolate chip ice cream using Jeni’s recipe and we thought the chocolate bits (which we introduced by first melting a high quality chocolate bar and then drizzling the cooled but still liquid chocolate straight into the ice cream maker) worked perfectly – even with a cold mouth, the chocolate melted on the tongue and it’s flavor was very nicely perceptible.

        Just our two cents. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Yum! I love coffee ice cream with bits of crunchy coffee beans in it. My favourite flavour though is a regional one that I must create a recipe for! It’s called Moosetracks…vanilla ice cream, tiny peanut butter cups, and smooth chocolate fudge swirls….Just pure pleasure. But for homemade varieties..I recently made banana bread ice cream and it is by far my favourite yet.

  8. Kris says:

    I just made this for my mom’s birthday. The flavor from the lemon zest came out more than I expected but I really liked that…never thought I would make or like a coffee-lemon flavored ice cream. Excellent recipe!

  9. Maryam says:

    this looks amazing!

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  11. atouchofrojo says:

    First off let me state that I LOVE your blog. As in I L-O-V-E your blog. You all have some excellent recipes and awesome pics here and I am definitely subscribing and following you all once I finish this comment. I was looking through the recipes when I stumbled across this one. Mostly because we are a Colombian based food blog couple (Jasmin & Rafael Ortega). Plus my dad is Colombian too so everytime I see that word my ears perk up. I saw you all used the Starbucks Colombian coffee. You all have to taste some authentic, home-grown and cultivated coffee like Sello Rojo or Aguila from here. But hey, whatever you have, work with it, right? The only thing is that I noticed above you all wrote Columbia when referring to the ground beans that you added to the recipe…..I think I almost shed a tear. But don’t worry, I’ll forgive you. Because the recipe is good and it’s inspiring. I’m looking forward to more from you all.

    • Thank you so much for this comment, and thank you for pointing out our egregious typo – I just fixed it.

      I would love to taste some of your home-grown coffee – we’re coffee fanatics here, in fact we just recently started roasting our own beans. It’s a lot of fun and well worth the effort!

      Thanks for checking us out, and we hope to hear more from you in the future!

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