Horchata is a traditional Hispanic beverage made with water, milk and rice, with all of the delicious flavors of a traditional rice pudding. Here in Southern California, it’s often served at popular Mexican restaurants and cafés.

Kern’s, best known for its canned nectars, has been selling horchata and similarly refreshing aguas frescas (lemon, tamarind, hibiscus) in mainstream supermarkets for several years, but the products are not organic. Enter Maria Elena’s Aguas Frescas, which sells a 10-oz. Certified Organic Horchata Mix that may be purchased online.

Today’s DIY recipe adds coffee and orange zest to the mix for a great spring or summer beverage. All of the ingredients should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store.

Coffee Horchata

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2½ cups milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest

  1. Soak the rice in the water for a minimum of 1 hour. (Overnight works, as well.)
  2. Mix rice, soaking water, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and coffee in a blender for 2 minutes. Strain (using cheesecloth or a strainer) into a pitcher, and add milk.
  3. Chill completely (overnight is fine). When ready to serve, pour the mixture into a serving pitcher, leaving the sediment behind. Stir in orange zest.
  4. Optional: Serve over ice, and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Starbucks/ARA. Photo: Ken Yasuhara/Flickr