Last Updated Jan 2021 – I’ll be honest with you: you won’t easily find a more enthusiastic Trekkie – I’ve seen even the bad movies hundreds of times, and I’ve watched just about every episode of the series to date. I even love the new series Star Trek: Discovery, and as time goes by, as a person that’s very interested in cooking, I’ve tried to emulate some of the more otherworldly dishes that have been featured on the various Star Trek shows.
As a person that’s always busy, I also fashion myself to be quite the coffee connoisseur, and this is where my two passions led me to my newest culinary pursuit: making my own raktajino, or as fans of the series often call this Klingon coffee, raktacino.
A Little History
Believe it or not, this Klingon coffee wasn’t a drink that was often consumed by the Klingon crew member of both Star Trek: The Next Generation or the later seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Commander Worf. In fact, it was primarily consumed by the senior staff of Deep Space Nine, especially his wife, Jadzia, and friend, Kira Nerys. Outside of the crew, this seemingly addictive drink was ordered by the occasional Klingon, but clearly, its taste and effects were favored by the station’s inhabitants.
How the Drink Should Taste
Put simply; this is supposed to be an alien drink, so don’t be afraid to explore your palate when you’re ready to make your first cup.
To be honest, it really wouldn’t be Klingon if it didn’t have a bit of spice, right?
For this reason, if you want to kick it up a notch, feel free to throw in a few interesting ingredients like cayenne pepper or smoked paprika to your drink. Having said that, some people like the drink on the sweet side as well, which illustrates how varied the experience can be. I’ve had both variations, and both can be pleasing to the palate. As a matter of fact, the recipes that I am going to show you blend both savoriness and sweetness so that you can have a unique experience when you first taste this drink.
Ways to Enjoy the Drink
As you might expect, like the Klingon dish gagh, there are multiple unique ways to try your Klingon coffee. Some prime examples of variations on the drink that were presented in-cannon include:
- Double – Have a project coming up and need a big burst of energy? Jadzia Dax, who served as the station’s science officer, was a fan of several variations on the drink, but when she needed a pick-me-up, she was all for a double.
If you’re going to make this variation, then instead of a single shot of the espresso that the recipe requires, opt for a double shot so that you can get a good start on your day.
- With Whipped Cream – This alien coffee didn’t just appear on Deep Space Nine; even on a rationed diet, characters like Lieutenant Tom Paris enjoyed a bit of Qo’noS’s favorite coffee. As you might expect, just adding a dollop of whipped cream to your drink works well, but you can also intensify the sweetness by tossing in some extra sugar crystals.
- With Jacarine Peel or Icoberry Torte – This variation on the drink was the go-to for the commander of the station and captain of the Defiant, Benjamin Sisko. While Ben certainly began to curb his desire for the drink as the show progressed, he apparently still loved his Klingon java with jacarine peel, which of course, is an entirely made up drink for the series.
Don’t fret though; you can emulate the taste by merely substituting orange or lemon peel – both of which can be used to cut the bitterness of the espresso that you’re using for the drink.
- Decaf – To me, this one variation goes a bit against the spirit of the drink since it’s designed to be a pick-me-up, but having said that, there is precedence that establishes a decaffeinated variation in the continuity of the show.
During Kira’s pregnancy, Quark created what was sarcastically called a “Quarktajino,” which was caffeine-free so that it didn’t affect Kirayoshi who was yet to be born. While this variation supposedly tasted bad, you can create a version for yourself if you’re caffeine-intolerant by substituting in standard decaf coffee or espresso.
- With Makapa Bread – Honestly, I don’t know what alien world is home to Makapa bread, but I’ll have to assume Bajor due to Deep Space Nine’s position. In any case, Jake Sisko’s habit was to drink this type of coffee with this type of bread, sans crust. To be honest, I love a nice pastry with just about any coffee, so for this variation, I suggest pairing the Klingon coffee with some nice chocolate chip bread or even some crunchy biscotti.
- With a Little Something Extra – If you watched the episode, A Simple Investigation, you’d remember that the Talarians had a somewhat unique experience with this coffee – it made them intoxicated. While standard versions of the drink won’t do this to humans, you can add in a bit of rum or hazelnut liqueur if you want an eye-opening experience. Additionally, if you read on into the actual recipe section, I’m going to provide a recipe for this strong brew that uses another form of alcohol.
It’s also important to note that the drink is very portable; it can be served up in a thermos or a travel mug. I also love the fact that both iced and hot variations taste equally great, but if you’re a Trek purist, you should probably stick with warmed versions of this coffee because none of the episodes of the series highlighted one of these drinks on the rocks.
How to Make Your Own Klingon Cup of Coffee
Before we get started, if you want that authentic Klingon feel, it’s a great idea to have this uniquely Klingon drink freshly after a battle between your noble house and the house of your enemies. While this isn’t required, it certainly will add to the deliciousness of your honorable victory!
Some of the ingredients that you’ll need:
- Espresso (you can use an espresso machine if you have one, but just about any espresso from a Keurig or a powdered mix will do).
- One cinnamon stick
- Dark chocolate cocoa mix
- A teaspoon of nutmeg
- Four cloves (if you don’t want to grind your own, purchasing pre-ground cloves works well)
- A quarter of a cup of powdered milk (if you’re looking for a creamier flavor, just throw in as much as a full packet of the stuff)
- A teaspoon of ground allspice
- Optional Ingredient: The tears of your defeated foes
This variation will assume that you’re using an espresso machine – a variation for mixes will come afterward. Make up your espresso – since espresso usually comes in fairly small shot sizes, I’d suggest either utilizing a double-shot or just supplementing it a bit with standard coffee. When you do this, you should maintain much of the sharpness of the espresso, but you won’t need to become super-wired like you would if you made up a double- or even triple-shot of the delicious Italian coffee.
While the espresso is brewing in your machine, grind up your cinnamon stick and your cloves until they are well and truly powdered. Next, add these freshly-powdered ingredients as well as the nutmeg, dark chocolate cocoa, allspice, and powdered milk to a larger cup, and pour in your finished espresso on top. With the larger cup, you may want to add in a little more water, but don’t fret, there will be plenty of flavor in the cup so that it won’t taste watered down.
Serve the drink as hot as possible – no true warrior would ever drink this unique coffee chilled. The drink will be somewhat thick, but it should have the consistency of a freshly-made cup of hot cocoa. For variety and an even more unique and spicy flavor, you can even add a pinch of cayenne into the mix.
Klingon Coffee with Powdered Espresso
As mentioned, if you don’t have an espresso machine, you can still make this Klingon coffee with relative ease by using powdered espresso rather than the kind that you brew in a Keurig or an espresso machine. It uses some of the same ingredients, but for this variation, you can use a coffee pot to brew all of the ingredients together.
Rather than making your espresso beforehand, mix the espresso powder with the powdered allspice, cloves, cocoa, nutmeg, and the cinnamon. Place this powdered mix inside of a coffee filter and start the brewing process. If you want a Jadzia-friendly variation, double brew it for a near-excessive but Klingon-worthy coffee kick.
As the Qo’noS java is brewing, slowly and carefully pour in your ¼ cup of powdered milk as well as the amount of sugar that will suit your taste. Once you’re satisfied with the darkness and intensity of the brew, it’s time to stir it briskly and pour it into a large cup so that you can enjoy your drink in honor of Kahless the Unforgettable.
The Irish Variation to Drink Before Battle
So, you’ve run out of blood wine, and you still haven’t achieved that kick that helps you get battle-ready and prepared to hit up the bars with your fellow warriors. If this sounds like you, there’s a great variation of this Klingon java that uses one of my favorite alcohols of all time: Irish whiskey.
When I make this, I sometimes wonder if Miles O’Brien ever tried this with Commander Worf; they never were close, but considering that the Klingon drink was so popular on the station, I’d like to believe that this is just a variation that we didn’t see on-screen.
This is also a recipe that isn’t ingredient-heavy, so if you can make an espresso, either via a machine or a mix, then you shouldn’t have too much problem creating this alcoholic variation of the drink.
Some of the ingredients you’ll need:
- Irish whiskey
- Dark chocolate flakes
- Milk (preferably whole)
- Smoked paprika
The only way that this drink could be simpler is by simply ordering it up in a food replicator. Since we don’t have that technology yet, all you have to do is make up your espresso in whichever way suits your needs and toss all of the other ingredients except the chocolate flakes into a large drink shaker. Finally, throw in some ice and shake until all of the ingredients are combined, and top the drink off with some dark chocolate flakes and the paprika. You’ll be amazed how sweet-savory this drink tastes, and you may find yourself emboldened enough to take on even the great Dominion.
Wrapping it up
The Klingon way almost always involves battle, but fortunately, drinking their iconic coffee doesn’t require you to battle a rival house and their targs. Each of the recipes that I provided in this guide tastes delicious, and if you’re feeling adventurous, each pairs well with several types of pastries, and in many cases, the drink can be paired well with a full-on meal.
I always find that recipes like this one that explore our favorite imaginary worlds offer a great opportunity to explore and create, so I hope that you feel creative enough to craft some of your own raktajino recipes and share them with some of your fellow fans.