The Indonesian Iced Coffee That Features Blended Avocado

Ever thought about adding avocados to your morning cup of coffee? The idea probably sounds strange and potentially unappetizing if you've never tried it before. But you might be surprised to find that the mild, smooth taste that makes avocados a perfect base for guacamole — or a topping on toast — is also a perfect complement to sweet and milky flavors.

In fact, while avocados are primarily used in savory foods in North America, the opposite is true elsewhere in the world, such as in Vietnam or Indonesia. With its naturally buttery and creamy texture, avocado is a popular ingredient alongside condensed milk in many desserts and drinks — coffee included. For instance, one of the most popular coffee drinks in Indonesia is es alpukat kopi, or "iced avocado coffee" in Indonesian. Involving a sweetened blend of avocado topped with ice and coffee, this layered drink is a healthy and creamy treat that might leave you swearing off espresso milkshakes altogether.

The history of es alpukat kopi

An avocado smoothie blended with ice and condensed milk is available just about anywhere in Indonesia, often ordered alongside a meal or as an afternoon treat. However, this ubiquitousness is a relatively recent phenomenon, all things considered — while avocados were brought to Indonesia in the eighteenth century, it wasn't until 1997 that they caught on as a staple in icy drinks.

The sudden rise to popularity is often attributed to the success of Es Teler 77, a food stall brand that sold an icy fruit cocktail of avocado, jackfruit, and condensed milk (known as es teler). Es alpukat — also called jus alpukat — caught on as a simpler and drinkable version of es teler, where avocados and condensed milk were blended together. The total mash of ingredients meant that lower-quality or blander avocados could be used in the mixture, as the avocados' main contribution was to the texture instead of the taste. Of course, the sweetness and the buttery mouthfeel were perfectly complemented by additions of chocolate or coffee, and es alpukat kopi became one of the most enduringly popular ways of enjoying coffee in Indonesia.

How to make es alpukat kopi

While the exact recipe varies from restaurant to restaurant (as well as household to household), the basic ingredients of es alpukat kopi are generally ice, avocados, condensed milk, chocolate syrup, and dark coffee. One of the most common ways you'll see an es alpukat kopi prepared is by blending or mashing the avocado and condensed milk into a smooth paste, scooping the mixture into a glass that's been drizzled with chocolate sauce, then adding ice and coffee on top. Other recipes might choose to incorporate milk or some sugary syrup into the avocado base instead of the condensed milk, opting to drizzle the condensed milk on top of the ice later on. Usually, the ice goes between the avocado base and the coffee, but blending it directly into the avocado is an option as well.

Because of its layers, drinking an es alpukat kopi offers a complex flavor profile within the buttery smooth texture: As you push the coffee into the avocado mixture with your straw, you'll get the contrast of sweet and bitter — and hot and cold — with each sip. Feel free to experiment with the sweetness and consistency of each layer to tailor its mouthfeel to your preferences. You could substitute the coffee with cold brew, use a sweetened instant coffee mix, try shaved ice instead of cubes, or even drop in a scoop of ice cream to add a milkshake-esque dimension to your es alpukat kopi.

The versatility of avocado shakes

While it does lose some complexity, es alpukat kopi also tastes just as great when blended all together into one smoothie for an on-the-go drink. Something to keep in mind — especially if you prefer it over layering the ingredients — is that this fully-blended version is called jus alpukat instead of es alpukat more often than not. It doesn't always contain coffee, however, so make sure to ask for it if you're ever ordering from a restaurant or a shop.

You might find that similar drinks involving avocado and condensed milk also exist in other countries. Sinh tố bơ — meaning "butter fruit smoothie" in Vietnamese — is almost as ubiquitous in Vietnam as es alpukat is in Indonesia and is also served with coffee as sinh tố bơ cà phê. Avocado shakes are also an extremely popular drink in the Philippines alongside other delicious desserts involving avocado. Outside of Southeast Asia and an entire ocean away, Brazil also enjoys a sweetened blend of avocados and milk called vitamina de abacate. 

With so many versions across the world, it seems anyone who's ever tried avocado in sweet and milky treats agrees that it's a match made in heaven. Next time you're craving a luxurious frappuccino, consider blending up some avocados with your caffeine instead: Whether you're adding coffee, chocolate, or even matcha, you'll end up with an equally delicious treat.