I started drinking coffee at 15, when a friend and I got into the habit of getting a macchiato (extra sugar, 50 euro cents) at the school vending machine before class. We killed time, shared survival strategies for tests we hadn’t studied for, tried our hardest to look sophisticated while holding our tatty plastic cups. It wasn’t long before I became a part of the circle of coffee drinkers at family lunches; a few more years later, I had ditched the extra sugar, too, and learnt to knock back black coffee in one sip. I could have seen it coming: I was born to a father who, at the height of his addiction, could consume up to fourteen cups of espresso a day. He’s alive to tell it, but I have no intention to follow in his footsteps. Three cups a day were my maximum when I lived back in Italy, and good coffee was the norm, rather than an exception.
Things changed when I moved to the UK. Enter chain coffee shops, independent stores with a penchant for aggressively bitter espresso, and dodgy office coffee machines: London dealt me a bad hand of coffee, and I had to strip my consumption back to the bare minimum. On most days, one cup in the morning is enough; without that one cup, however, I’m not a functioning human being. Don’t count on me to remember directions, birthdays, and shopping lists. Don’t ask me to add up numbers without a calculator, especially when decimals are involved. Don’t be troubled if I don’t say hi when I cross you on the street, either: I’m so dozy, I wouldn’t notice it if Ryan Gosling was waving at me.
When Lavazza UK offered to send me a selection of their coffee blends, I was over the moon. At last, some nice, familiar, warming Italian coffee: the kind my parents have been stocking in their pantry for years, and I’ve been smuggling to the UK more than once after visits to the homeland. True, UK supermarkets also sell it – but it costs twice as much, like oh so many Italian foods in London. At least coffee fits in my suitcase; I wish it was that easy to transport gelato!
Being the caffeine junkie I am, you’d think I have a wealth of coffee-based recipes up my sleeve, to boost my daily fix beyond my morning cup; the truth is, I’d never made one before last week. My not-so-secret ambition is making a huge coffee and walnut cake I can feast on for many days afterwards, but my partner hates coffee, and won’t try even the tiniest morcel. Anything I make, is mine to consume – and there’s only one meal I don’t feel sad eating by myself: breakfast.
Overnight oats have been on my mind for a while, but I’ve been so smitten with granola, I never really felt the urge to make time for them. As it turned out, I’ve been a fool all along: preparing them the night before serving them took hardly any time (no longer than 10 minutes, if you’re keen to put a number on it), and I felt so clever the morning after, when I realised I didn’t have to move a finger to make breakfast. Better still, I could use ingredients I already had in my cupboard. A bit of a gamble, this one, as I experimented with yoghurt (which I’d have eaten for breakfast anyway), while most recipes involve milk (which I rarely buy, and take ages to finish). Oh, and did I mention that my overnight oats tasted like glorious, wonderful coffee?
Yes, they did. Eating black coffee overnight oats felt like having an iced coffee dessert for breakfast (which I’d be more than partial to, by the way), without the heaps of sugar, and with a pleasant nutty aftertaste; the walnuts, in particular, worked like a charm. The tangy notes of Greek yoghurt give the oats a much more interesting flavour than the simple sum of coffee and milk, and I happen to enjoy the creamier, firmer texture too. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to up the dose of maple syrup. If you like your coffee black, with no more than a level teaspoon of sugar, you might well like my recipe as it is. And if you know about other quick and simple breakfast snacks that feature coffee, make sure you let me know; there can never be enough of those, if you ask me.
Black coffee overnight oats
- 80g rolled oats
- 100ml black coffee
- 2 pots (around 240g) plain Greek yoghurt – full fat or low fat, it’s up to you
- 2 – 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Hazelnuts, walnuts and grated coconut, to your taste
- Place the oats in a medium-sized container. A glass jar or airtight container with a lid are ideal, but if you’re not carrying your breakfast anywhere the next day, a bowl will also work.
Cook’s tip: if you want to save time making portions, use two containers instead of one, and divide up the ingredients between them. It’s a handy trick if you’re pressed for time, and want to have two days’ worth of breakfast ready each morning.
- Pour the yoghurt, coffee and maple syrup over the oats, and mix until well combined.
Cook’s tip: have a little taste of the mixture at this stage. If you want it sweeter, add more maple syrup; do it little by little, so you don’t risk going overboard and smothering the flavour of coffee.
- Seal the container, or cover it with cling film if you don’t have a lid.
- Put the container in the fridge, and leave the oats to chill overnight.
- Top with hazelnuts, walnuts and coconut before serving the next morning.
Note: Lavazza UK approached me with a request to create a coffee-based recipe, and offered me to send me a selection of their coffee blends of for free. All opinions are my own.