Neighbor Larry’s Revelatory Coffee Syrup!

Homemade Coffee Syrup

If you’ve ever been to Rhode Island and have any interest in coffee – the flavor (as in ice cream, a Coffee Cabinet, or syrups only found locally) then surely you’re aware of Autocrat and Eclipse. Kind of known -as it says on the Eclipse bottle- as the official state drink of Rhode Island. I would long for it as soon as my supplies dissipated, begging anyone headed for New England to grab a bottle for me on their return.

I even have friends who graciously stopped at Newport Creamery to haul two Coffee Cabinets with them one bright morning (the RI version of a malted) as they drove from Providence to NYC to meet me at a funeral. It was meant as kind of a toast but that’s another story. (the drinks actually survived the drive fairly well!) Coffee Syrup works in a milkshake or malted, turns plain yogurt into…voila…coffee yogurt or is fabulous drizzled over anything if you ask me. Plus it perks up a glass of milk faster than you can say Hersheys.

So during the recent hot streak, Neighbor Larry invited me over for a beaker of his renowned iced espresso. Always full of good tips and relaxed conversation, how could I say no to catching up? Who knew that the conversation would find its way around to coffee syrup! And the idea that he glanced at his watch and said – I can show you how I make it right now if you’d like. Would I? Clubfoot.

Neighbor Larry would be the definition you’d find under painstaking with passion in the good neighbor dictionary. I not only love his creations, like the hummus several blog posts back, but I’m fascinated by the shall we say…exacting detail in his approach. I’m especially fond of the true joy he feels if his efforts were not in vain. So herewith – your chance to make coffee syrup at home a la Neighbor Larry. This is your lucky day.

First things first. Get a can of Cafe Bustelo, which you can find at pretty much any supermarket anywhere. Pour half of the can into a bowl. It should be 5 oz and you’ll know that if you have your bowl on an electronic scale. And if you know what your bowl weighs when empty. Let me say – you’d best know all that. Or the Neighbor Larry swat team will be knocking on your kitchen door.

The pour was a shade under. 5 oz or bust.

Once that 5 oz is confirmed, documented, given sworn testimony – put it into your measuring cup. The taller the cylinder the more accurate the measure will be. The measures are further apart on a taller vessel so you can determine 2 oz with greater accuracy. Neighbor Larry carefully explained this to me as he poured the grounds into an old pyrex measuring cup that he’d clipped from his mother many years ago. It has a flatter bottom than the current crop so will do the job well.

2 oz mark for example

Next, take 1 cup of sugar and pour it into the glass base of a french press. You’re not actually going to press it so it can really be any appropriate glass container that can withstand heat.

1 cup even. The filter should be at the ready. It’s the coffee syrup portal.

Fill a kettle and start boiling water. You’ll need 27 oz worth. However, the 27 oz only refers to the total volume of water + fully saturated coffee grounds. Neighbor Larry says “I don’t put 27 ounces of water in the kettle; it’s somewhat less and I approximate how much water to put in (intuitive and precise; I must be perfect). You probably should mention that as you add water to the grounds, the total volume will decrease as the grounds absorb the water. So once you’re satisfied that the grounds are fully saturated you add sufficient water to bring the total volume to 27 oz”

Straight from the Neighbor’s mouth.

Neighbor Larry apparently eschews the adage, a watched pot never boils…

Add the water to the grounds.

Wet all the grounds. Pour. Stir. Pour again.

Mash. Really make sure those grounds are soaked.

Get the measure right.

The total volume should be 27 oz not including foam, just combined coffee and water. Neighbor Larry, usually quite modest said – I don’t want to brag but I boiled the exact amount. He’s a force to be reckoned with.

Steep for 3 minutes. Three. 1.2.3. Exactly 3 minutes.

“We are at the 2 minute mark”. Neighbor Larry’s eyes never left the watch face. In the remaining minute he explained to me how he had perfected this on the second try. It was the sugar proportions that had toyed with him. He’d started with 1 and a half cups but it proved too sweet and was “a bitch to get into solution”.

Ding. 3 minutes. The coffee transfer into the sugar begins.

Neighbor Larry had made a permanent mark on the glass of the french press with nail polish. Not his own. This indicates 16 oz, the size of his syrup container. “If your grounds and sugar measurements are reasonably accurate and you follow the 27 ounce rule you should wind up with approximately 16 ounces of syrup. If you’re short you can try to squeeze more coffee out of the grounds or add more water. If you have any left over once you reach the 16 mark, check the temperature and pour directly into your mouth.” says Neighbor Larry.

A slow stir and scrape as it does clog. “There will be some sediment but that’s fine”, Neighbor Larry assured me.

A pour pause to stir sugar a bit more. It wasn’t all quite saturated.

Last bit

Don’t lose a drop

The verrrrry last squeeze

It’s go time. Pour it into your container and know that there will still be some undissolved sugar. And I quote Neighbor Larry, “you can’t get too fussy”.

Yeah baby


C’est fin

My take

I came home and refrigerated my vessel. And waited. Once chilled I was going for a taste test. Tried and true Autocrat and Eclipse are worthy opponents. I’ve been witness to enraged debates over which one of those reigned supreme, tho I do believe that Autocrat bought Eclipse years ago so not sure of a reality based controversy anymore.

As a former Dannon coffee yogurt addict, I was looking so forward to something that would fill the still gaping hole. Fage Total 0 % perhaps now with true coffee flavor? The healthier version.

And the winner is……oh don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s Neighbor Larry’s! I love the Rhode Island Duo as much as the next New Englander but here’s the thing – Autocrat was sweet and tasty and fueled my sense memory of Coffee Cabinets past. Eclipse (always my favorite truthfully) was a bit thicker which I preferred but same candied coffee-ish taste. A comforting indulgence. I opened my little jar of Neighbor Larry’s Coffee Syrup Supreme. It wasn’t thick, that was clear. I was a little anxious. But then I swallowed. IT TASTED LIKE COFFEE! Sweet coffee. Perfect as a mix-in. Lose that fructose corn syrup from the name brands and we have an actual coffee flavored syrup for a treat.

Liven up anything or anyone you want with that deep, luscious, loamy flavor. And cease your worry about when you’ll next get to Rhode Island. Unless of course you need a fix of Dell’s Frozen Lemonade. But that’s a whole other blog.

Thank you Neighbor Larry!

Neighbor Larry’s Coffee Syrup
You know what to do

This entry was posted in $ cheap, home cooking, recipe by eatquestnyc. Bookmark the permalink.

About eatquestnyc is for.....when you can't think, don't know, need inspiration and you have to eat. My services range from on or off the beaten track recommendations, organizing private culinary tours for a perfect dining-out experience and sourcing food items or private chef suggestions for those who prefer to dine-in. A fun way to rediscover NYC and the whole planet!

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