I keep getting asked if klava is real, and if so, how do you make it?

No, it isn’t real, but people have been working on it. The problem is the wood chips, which tend to increase the bitterness, and the whole idea behind it is to remove the bitterness (I’m one of those unfortunate people with an over-sensitivity to bitter; it’s why I hate most of the really good beers).

Now, one individual says he’s actually made it work, and even sent me the recipe plus all of the ingredients to test it out, and, to my shame, I got lazy and never got around to it. But if that person wants to come forward, I’ll put that recipe here, and then stick this post onto the sidebar.


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27 thoughts on “Klava”

  1. A few years ago someone had asked this on About and I found a couple of recipes. I don’t drink coffee, so I’ve no idea if these are good or not, but at least no one died from them as near as I can tell, here are a couple of klava recipes:
    This first page has a number of recipes from dishes mentioned in the books that sound tasty:
    Recipes from Valabar’s in Colorado

    Klava with Honey from the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust

    Here’s the Adrilankha Gift Shop where you can get the original recipe on mugs and such.

  2. Good to know. I work with wood and all that I have tasted (sawdust) are bitter or unpleasant. Many woods are toxic, evolved to kill the bugs that try to eat them. I was wondering if Vlad had found a special wood that tasted nice. Maybe only in Adrilankha?

    The women preparing Swedish coffee put an egg with the broken shell in the coffee. The shell removes the bitterness and the egg clarifies the brew.

    Thanks for the info.

  3. I do know old school cowboy coffee used egg shells to lower the surface tension of the water and keep the coffee grounds on the bottom, that was my grandfather’s trick.

    The best method for a no-bitter coffee is a cold brew. It very easy. Take twice the normal amount of coffee grounds and put in a jar with a wide lid. (Like a peanut butter jar or mason jar) Add the cold water then let it sit with the lid on for 12-24 hours (set up the night before or after each time you drink it in the morning) When you are ready to drink it, pour through a coffee filter and put in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until hot enough to drink but do not let it boil. That’s it! Don’t put sugar or cream in until after you taste it, the bitterness is gone and sugar might make it much sweeter than you want it.

  4. My suspicion is that there was a translation error from the original recipe. Rather than pouring the coffee through the various woods, the step should have been:
    Discard coffee. Brew roots and barks and allow to ferment for carbonation.

    Then it becomes a delicious root beer recipe!

  5. Steve H –
    That last recipe “Klava with honey from the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust” looks like it would work pretty well, actually.

    And I can kind of work my mind around how it would fit into the process as described by SKZB. The bit with suspending the mesh bag with the stuff in it to steep and then filtering it through a cloth in a funnel kinda resembles the bits about pressing klava.

  6. Anything even loosely resembling coffee carbonation *shudder* I doubt I can help with the foundation of the klava question, in that I like some bitterness. (Don’t ask how long I steep tea.)

    I do have an unrelated-to-klava question.

    I ran into this blog, not precisely by accident (for I was searching for related information), but without originally seeking or knowing of a blog. I rarely post in most comment sections anymore, for much the same reason I have no use for Twitter, Facebook, television news, and the like — but reading back, I discovered a post and comment thread of just over a year ago (“Why Trump”) to which I did wish to answer and had constructed a response you (all of you) may find of interest. I have tried twice to post it, without success. Are comments to older posts automatically disabled?

  7. Carbonation? I’m not sure how that got into the conversation.

    As for the other, my blog decided it was spam–maybe because of the length. I’ve now rescued it and it’s up.

  8. The carbonation isn’t in the recipes—a small attempt at a joke on my part.
    If one likes the underlying flavor of coffee, the recipes sound pretty good.

  9. I have the same problem with beer (and coffee).

    W/r/t beer, it’s the hops that I don’t like. Too bitter. I still like beer, I just go for Bocks (Shiner), Kolsch, sometimes a Heifeweizen (Pyramid). Stella Artois has grown on me.

    And if i can’t find a beer I like, screw it, a margarita is a pretty fine drink too.

  10. I have always thought of Klava as resembling cold brew. While the brewing process is very different, the resulting flavor sounds quite similar.

    I prefer to make cold brew in a French press, which may make it slightly closer.

    Klava brewing may involve the use of magic. As I recall we don’t see anyone making it who isn’t a magic user or being taught by Vlad, who may be subtly teaching a modicum of witchcraft with it.

    It’s also possible that most of the woods being used are not present on earth, even the cinnamon may even have been altered by the Jenoine.

  11. Also, Latvians are the second tallest people in the world, and the rumour in Estonia is that they have six toes on each foot. Make of that what you will…

  12. A quick comment on bitterness in coffee:

    Add a pinch of salt.

    I mean, just the dusting of a pinch in your cup. I had made a large mug of coffee a couple weeks ago (I am an infrequent drinker), but it was just a little too bitter, and I didn’t want to add any more sugar. So I took my salt grinder and just kind of shook off what was clinging to the bottom into the cup. The result was amazing. I had actually done a hair too much, so I could taste the salt, but the bitterness went *pouf*.

  13. The closest approximation, after many attempts and experimentation, of klava that I have found to be enjoyable is as follows:

    First, follow this recipe by Cook’s Illustrated based on “Cowboy Coffee,” (https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/6554-adding-eggshells-to-coffee-before-brewing).
    Then, take the resultant, cooled product, and heat it to just boiling, and pass through a coffee-filter lined, fine-mesh strainer containing any combination of your favorite wood chips for barbecue, along with a few sticks of cinnamon and some whole star anise pods. I’ve used apple, hickory, mesquite, and oak. I’m opposed to oak, too strong and aggravates my heartburn too much, but all three of the others have led to a pleasing result. I also am not a huge fan of licorice, but the addition of the anise pods does seem to make a pleasing difference. I have tried adding, in various quantities, cream, honey, and sugar. I don’t like the honey (it can be bitter), but agave nectar works great instead. I do like just a teaspoon of cream, and less then a teaspoon of sugar. Hope that prompts further experimentation, reviews and potentially, some enjoyment!


  14. Paarfi knows… just ask! Fermenting, carbonation, egg shells, eggs, surface tension – can someone please expound on these to this analytical chemist? The science is missing for me.

  15. Cinnamon flavored coffee? Nah. Vanilla flavored? Maybe. What we need is a book of recipes from the Astro-Hungarian Empire (which includes Dragaera, of course).

  16. It just occurred to me that coffee filters are made from wood, so maybe something was lost in translation and filters were intended.

  17. The descriptions of Klava I have read include a filter AND wood chips, therefore I don’t believe the presence of either is a translation error for the presence of the other.

  18. A friend and I made the recipe from “Klava with Honey from the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust” mentioned in the first comment, and was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.

  19. A friend once had coffee with a Bedouin family in Israel. The roasted raw beans in a sort of frying pan over a fire, ground them with a mortar and pestle, then put the ground into a filter made of slivers of juniper twigs, and poured hot water onto it all. I expect the juniper twigs affected teh flavor. Most Levantine Arabs put cardamum onto the coffee grounds too. Close enough to klava?

  20. Somewhat, all though it isn’t complete without the eggshells–the point is to remove the bitterness.

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