this thing's incredible

This Highly Concentrated Instant Coffee Replaced My Weekly Latte in Quarantine

Photo: Courtesy the writer

I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, but I relish the ritual of picking up a latte at my favorite café on weekend mornings. Having someone else perfectly steam the milk, brew the espresso, and pour it together into some fancy leaf shape on top was such a treat. And it tasted so good. But when my café closed its door because of the pandemic, I feared it’d be months before my next chance to have a warm cup of smooth, rich, nutty coffee with a creamy layer of foam on top. A latte is just not something I have the patience — or equipment — to make at home.

But a few weeks ago, I got a well-timed press release for a new brand called Jot that promised a café-like latte in just a few minutes, with no professional equipment needed — just a stovetop and pot. It’s not a gadget but rather an ultraconcentrated coffee liquid made from coffee and water. What makes it different from other coffee concentrates, or even just regular old beans, is some new (somewhat vague) technology that is said to extract “maximum flavor” from its coffee beans, which are sourced from fair-trade and sustainable farms in Central and South America. The result is a liquid that’s supposedly 20 times more concentrated than regularly brewed coffee. It’s so strong, in fact, the publicist warned me to follow the directions closely: “Seriously, only use a tablespoon.”

So I did as the instructions told me: I boiled my eight ounces of oat milk in a sauce pot, poured it into a mug, added the Jot in, and stirred. It took about seven minutes total, but the final product had the exact same color and smell as my beloved latte. The only thing missing was a layer of froth, but that was due more to the oat milk than the instructions. (I tried it with Lactaid the second time, and I got a very foamy latte indeed.) And the stuff tastes great. I’ve shared it with my boyfriend, who errs on the side of coffee snob, and he approvingly described it as “smooth and balanced.” I’m admittedly less picky than he is, but I think the Jot lattes are just as good as the coffee shop version — except less expensive and made by me instead of someone else.

I’ve since made iced coffee on particularly hot weekends by putting the Jot into eight ounces of water with a splash of milk. I worried that it might separate, as I’ve had that experience with instant-type coffee before, but the concentrate seamlessly mixes into cold milk. And unlike if I were to start making my own espresso on the stove or in a machine, there’s no chance of it tasting bitter or too acidic, either, because the concentrate is perfectly brewed each time.

As it turns out, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso buys and drinks it too, particularly for coffee tonics. Even as things start to open back up, I’ll continue to drink Jot (while also supporting my local cafe). A single bottle is good for 14 servings, but I’ve already re-upped for me and my boyfriend to enjoy on the weekends spent in my backyard, instead of inside a coffee shop.

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This Instant Coffee Replaced My Weekly Latte in Quarantine