My wife, Josie, once told me about how she had rice coffee (kapeng bigas) in the Philippines when she was young because her family was too poor to buy real coffee. It was either when she lived in Tacloban, Leyte or Lemery, Batangas.
So I knew about rice coffee, but I didn’t know about corn coffee.
I don’t know why people insist on calling it rice coffee or corn coffee. Unlike teas called teas even when they’re not made from tea leaves, rice and corn coffee aren’t even brewed like regular coffee.
Perhaps it’s due to the way it looks as opposed to how it’s made. Both rice coffee and corn coffees are as dark as black coffee after you boil the ingredients. Josie swears the rice coffee tastes like regular coffee. I don’t think so, but I can’t argue the point since I’ve never tasted it. I think she just remembers it that way.
Josie said all they did to make rice coffee was to take raw, white rice and roast it in a skillet until it was almost burnt. Then they would add it to water and boil it. After they poured the liquid into cups, they would discard the rice sediment at the bottom of the pot.
I read somewhere else that you should grind the rice (with a mortar and pestle) before boiling, but Josie said it isn’t necessary.
I haven’t read how people make corn coffee, but it’s supposed to taste like coffee too. From what I’ve read, Native Americans in the United States and Canada were drinking corn coffee more than a century ago.
I’m not even going to consider it. It probably tastes worse than Postum does. Postum is pretty bad but some people like it.
Josie said she’d make rice coffee some day, just so I can taste it for myself. I’m sorry, but coffee is coffee and there isn’t a substitute for me. If I can’t get the real stuff then I don’t want any kind of “make-believe” coffee. I’d rather do without coffee than to try to fool my taste buds and my stomach into believing that something else could be just as good.
I’m not faulting those who like rice coffee or corn coffee. If you like it, you can drink it. Just don’t ask me to do the same. Now that most of the local coffee companies sell one and two-gram sachets of instant coffee at affordable prices (less than an American quarter), there isn’t a real reason to accept a substitute. That is, unless you prefer rice or corn coffee over the real stuff.
Photo Attribution: Kapeng Bigas
Originally published in July of 2013. Updated to correct some minor errors.