Best Served Cold
First, an admission: I hate iced coffee.
I love – love! – the hot version, whether a lovingly pulled single-origin double espresso or the cheap crap bodegas sling in paper cups.
But, for whatever reason, the cold stuff doesn’t do it for me. Nonetheless, I realize I’m an outlier, and therefore spend the summer watching my friends and family suck it down. In the past few years, the iced coffee trend has been towards cold brew. Yes, it’s smoother and sweeter than hot-brewed coffee, with less than half the acidity, and more caffeine kick. But, at most joints, it’s also upwards of double the cost of a hot coffee.
In part, that’s due to additional expenses on coffee shops’ part: plastic cups, straws, ice machines to crank out ice. But in larger part, it’s also due to the hipster factor; people really want cold brew these days, so shops up the price because they can.
But here’s the dirty secret: cold brew coffee is super-duper easy to make, dirt cheap, right in your own home.
Here’s what to do:
- Buy some coffee beans. Go medium or dark roast, and ideally not crap.
- Grind them coarsely; fine and medium-fine grinds will end up cloudy and silty.
- Find a big pitcher, and add the grounds and water in a 1:5 ratio. I.e, 1 cup grinds, 5 cups water.
- Leave the pitcher somewhere out of the sun for 12-24 hours (any less and the beans won’t properly extract), stirring occasionally during the first few hours.
- Strain out the grinds. You can use a French press (pour in the mix, affix and press down the top, pour out the cold brew), pass it through cheesecloth (or, if you’re ghetto-fab / in a pinch, a paper towel), or (for the clearest coffee) put it through a coffee filter lining a funnel or the swung-out body of a drip coffee machine. Really, you should probably just get a Chemex, as it’s perfect for this, and makes truly excellent hot coffee, too.
Voila. You now have cold brew concentrate that will last a couple of weeks in your refrigerator (or, thanks to Jess, about 48 hours in mine).
To serve, fill a glass completely with ice (as the concentrate is strong and needs the ice to properly dilute), pour in the coffee (and milk, if you’re weak), and enjoy.
For bonus points, collect the money saved over time, and fill a swimming pool with it a la Scrooge McDuck; the cold brew makes a perfect poolside drink.