tiramisu verrines (w/ Joshua Tree Coffee Company)

My visits to Joshua Tree have been consistently magical (for lack of a more appropriate word) and this time around wasn’t at all an exception.

I made the venture out to the hi desert to do two things: 1) film a video for Bubble Child to showcase my favorite coffee in the world: Joshua Tree Coffee Company and 2) to play a little concert for my solo project I’m just releasing this year.  I could not have been more delighted with what came out of both music and coffee discoveries and my affection for this place went from large to Sequoia-sized.

tiramisu-no-cinnamonjoshua-tree-at-nightOn a rather chilly Monday afternoon, I packed up my tri-pods, cameras, and hunger for caffeine and trekked through dusty roads in the middle of cactus, coyotes, and little cabins to the main strip of Joshua Tree Village.  It’s a tiny village, really, just a few blocks of central “boutique stuff”, and it’s utterly charming.  There is where you will find the headquarters of Joshua Tree Coffee Company, a shockingly petite sort-of back office space to a building hosting a yoga studio, pizza parlor, and a few other shops.  I’m not good with square footage, but imagine you have a large living room, attach a tiny closet to that for storage, and a little alleyway to enter.  That’s Joshua Tree Coffee Company.  Sales desk and coffee roaster included.

And what they do out of there is so impressive.

holding-roasted-coffee-beansFounder and owner, Royce Robertson, is one of those people you’re happy is alive on this planet.  He is brimming with passion for coffee and for life really.  It’s not surprising he used to work in IT, because the specificity with which he speaks about his roasting process and bean selection is nothing less than scientific — but it’s not at all methodic in a cold manner, it’s quite a heartfelt discipline.  If there’s anything I learned anything about JT Coffee Company is that it’s not about the profit, but completely about making the best coffee they can make, stressing the importance of purely organic, and creating jobs in the local community by sharing that coffee with as many people as possible without compromising their ethics.

So refreshing coming from something that’s seeing such success.

nitro-brewWhen I asked Royce what makes their coffee so unbelievably tasty, his first response was the roaster they used.  This is the Loring, the only solid reinvention of the coffee maker that has a near zero oxygen roasting environment.  In my assumption that it’s what makes the beans less acidic Royce gently laughed and reminded me that coffee roasting is an extraordinarily complex process.  Of course.  Coffee has more bioflavonoids than even red wine!  The sugars from the different beans are brought out by the different roasting temperatures, and of course vary based on the different varietals.

The machinery used has a dramatic effect on these flavors brought out, and I was very lucky to walk through a roast with Royce.  After a good 10 minutes of warming up the roaster to a sweltering 415 degrees Fahrenheit (yep, it was warm in there), the beans were dropped into the roasting compartment of the roaster (not the giant pan, that’s where they’re cooled) and heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the caramelization to occur.  He’d test them every so often using this little pull knob to check their color and aroma and once they were perfectly caramelized, he dropped them again into the large rotating bottom portion where they were cooled to maintain the preferred level of browning.  It all happened in the course of about 20 minutes!

tiramisu-platedI was fascinated by many things I learned about coffee, namely the fact that coffee is not as acidic as you think.  It has a pH of about 5.6-6 (when done correctly I imagine), which is not too acidic… at all!  There are certain bottled waters that have pH’s that are around 3 or 4 (yikes!) so if you’re drinking correctly roasted coffee, uh, you’re fine.  What’s more is when we got into flavor palates debating between light and darker roasts his view was informed and persuasive: while there is a huge trend towards light roast and single origin, it’s not necessarily the “best” in terms of palate and nutrition.  Light roasts and single origins are beneficial in the terms that the actual characteristics of the individual bean(s) will be glorified, which is logical if it’s a single roast and also is true for lighter roasts as you’re changing the bean less in structure.  However, with darker roasts you get a higher bioavailability of nutrients and also a rounder, less acidic taste.  That is why his favorite of their roasts is their first roast, which is a combination of Guatemalan, Columbian, and Ethiopian beans, all bringing a diverse and harmonious array of flavors.

Once more he continued to surprise me in that suggesting that to maximize the health benefits from coffee, limit it to one cup a day, but if you want to go over, have DECAF (shock) that is decaffeinated from mountain spring water systems.  Basically, if the caffeine is washed out naturally, it contains all of the beneficial properties without the harshness of the caffeine to the body.

coffee-roastingAs you’ll see in this video I made a tiramisu using the coffee because it’s a little technique I use at home: instead of buying or even making coffee extract for coffee-flavored desserts, I just use coffee!  The more I eat completely all-natural, the more evident it is when things taste chemical, and I really cannot stand the taste of most coffee extracts.  When you use coffee, you get complete control — you get to pick the type and flavor coffee you use, you get to dose the amount.  Coconut milk is delightful as a replacement for milk or cream in the custard as its full-fat sweet flavor melds in complete harmony with the gentle acidity of the coffee.  I used my favorite ladyfinger recipe, but of course you can just buy store-bought gluten-free ladyfingers if you don’t feel like whisking eggs.  🙂

I’ve already rambled sufficiently, so I’ll leave you at this for now.  I’ll divulge more about the music part of the trip in due time.  For now, know that I’m finishing my debut album and will share with you soon.


Joshua Tree Coffee Company ships domestically everywhere in the United States: https://jtcoffeeco.com/

You can visit them in downtown Joshua Tree here–>  61738 Twentynine Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

tiramisu verrines (GF, dairy-free)

Serves 8-10
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Allergy Egg
Dietary Corn Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Nut Free, Soy Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 16 gluten-free ladyfingers (see recipe below for homemade)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup coffee (brewed really strong)
  • a large pinch sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cups agave nectar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup coconut cream or vegan cream cheese (mix with agave nectar and sea salt to taste for cream topping)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for topping the tiramisu)
  • 3/4 cups coffee + 1/2 cup agave nectar (for syrup for soaking ladyfingers)


Step 1 Heat coconut milk, coffee, vanilla, sea salt, and agave nectar in a saucepan until warmed, not boiling.
Step 2 Beat egg yolks until a bit frothy and add arrowroot starch and coconut sugar. Whisk until completely homogenous (blanched).
Step 3 Temper the egg yolk mixture by slowly whisking the warm coconut milk mixture into the egg yolks. Once you've added at least half of the coconut milk, pour back into the pot to heat to boiling while whisking constantly to avoid coagulating the eggs.
Step 4 Once your custard has reached a boil, remove from heat and whisk vigorously, immediately put back on heat, whisk for 5 seconds, remove 5 seconds and whisk, and repeat 5 more times. Transfer your custard to a clean bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Step 5 Meanwhile, mix together your extra coffee and agave nectar to make your syrup for soaking the ladyfingers, and also mix together either your vegan cream cheese or coconut cream with agave nectar and sea salt to taste for your cream topping.
Step 6 Assemble your verrines! At the bottom of your glass place two ladyfingers (break in half if your verrines are thin) and top with the coffee syrup to soak them completely. Then top with the custard, add another layer of ladyfingers and syrup, and repeat until the verrine is filled to your liking. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before eating. Can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Step 7 To serve, once they're chilled top with your cream filling and sprinkle with a little bit of ground cinnamon. Yum!!

gluten-free ladyfingers

Serves 2 dozen
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 11 minutes
Total time 26 minutes
Allergy Egg
Dietary Corn Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Nut Free, Soy Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 4 eggs (separated into whites and yolks)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup brown rice flour


Step 1 Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and prepare either a pastry bag with a 1/2" tip or get out a large zip-lock bag to improvise as your pastry bag.  Measure out ingredients and separate eggs into yolks and whites before you start whisking a thing!
Step 2 Whisk your yolks until they are a bit frothy and mousse-like either by hand or in an electric mixer over medium speed.
Step 3 Add 1/2 of the sugar and whisk vigorously until it is "blanched" or white and stiff enough to not move around easily when tilted.  (about 4-5 minutes by hand or 1-2 minutes over medium-high speed in a mixer.)  Set aside.
Step 4 Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.  (Same goes for electric mixer/by hand as above.)
Step 5 Add the remaining 1/2 of the sugar and whisk vigorously until stiff peaks form, aka, the "bird beak" phase. Immediately add about 1/3 cup egg whites into yolk mixture and whisk together.
Step 6 Gently pour the egg yolk mixture over the beaten whites (you don't want to flatten your whites or your yolks, or you'll have flat ladyfingers!) Very gently stir together the yolks and whites with a spatula, making sure not to push down on the mixture to maintain the air and bubbles in your meringues.
Step 7 Lightly dust the mixture with all of the rice flour, and, once again, very cautiously incorporate the flour into the mixture with a spatula just until flour is combined and you no longer see any chunks of it.  (Do not overmix.)
Step 8 Scoop you mixture into either a pastry bag with a 1/2" tip or a zip lock bag and cut a 1/2" opening.  Pipe your ladyfingers to about 2 1/2"-3".
Step 9 Bake for about 8-11 minutes, depending on the power of your oven, or until tops have turned golden and the bottoms are also cooked and the middle is cooked through, meaning, no liquid.  Remove delicately from the paper after cooling for a few minutes. 

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