Cold Brewed Coffee

Of course post #1 is all about coffee. Because let’s be real, I wouldn’t be here without it. I’d still be in bed, staring at the ceiling, willing myself to get up. Those days when I know there is no coffee in the house are the worst. Especially on a workday – it means I have to wait *that* much longer before I can have a cup. There aren’t any decent coffee shops on my way to work. If it’s a non-workday I can hop over to Cambridge no problem. Luckily, I plan ahead. Most of the time…..Some of the time…..Occasionally. Honestly, cold brew has made my life so much easier – way less work, and I can take care of it at night, rather than in the morning when I’m bleary eyed and half cognizant.

I know, I make it sound like I drink tons of coffee each day. I actually keep it to a cup, two on very rare occasions. But without that one cup….

coffee

So, cold brew. It seems intimidating. Or just plain confusing. It took me a while to land on a recipe that I like and find easy. I’ve tried a few different methods (coffee sock, filters, etc.) but really the easiest thing to do is add water to the grounds, stir, and let it sit for the night. 1 bag of coffee lasts me just under 2 weeks (just myself, on one cup a day). I like cold brew, especially in the summer, because it’s easy and very forgiving. Plus who wants hot coffee when it’s 95 degrees out with 80% humidity? Not me. The slow brewing method at room temperature allows more flavor to be extracted  out, which gets rid of most of the bitterness. It’s a great choice for less-than-stellar beans, but also tastes amazing with high quality, freshly roasted beans.

The above photo is coffee that I roasted a few months ago. It’s important to use whole beans with any type of coffee, as it is way more fresh than ground coffee. Grind what you need and then put the remaining whole beans in a jar in the cupboard until you need them. Don’ buy pre-ground coffee – it’s stale and not tasty. Also, try to use the freshest beans possible. Most roasters will put a “roasted on” date on their bags – I’m a snob and prefer my coffee to be used within a month (at most) of roasting, but an unopened bag can keep for a few weeks. See below for notes on places to buy  whole bean coffee.

So, without further adieu…

Cold Brewed Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 12oz bag of coffee (whole beans!)
  • 5 cups of water

Equipment:

  • Scale
  • 2 Pitchers
  • Spoon
  • Sieve or filter
  • Patience

Steps:

  1. Measure out 6oz of whole bean coffee (see below for info on kitchen scales)
  2. Grind your coffee to a coarse grind, similar to that for French Press (see the Blue Bottle guide to French Press, with pictures of the grind level)
  3. Add the grounds to a pitcher
  4. Add 5 cups of water. If your tap water has lots of chemicals in it, use a filter. Here in Boston we’re lucky enough to have some of the best water around, so I use straight tap water; water with a chemical taste will impart that flavor to the coffee
  5. Stir the grounds in to the water until the grounds are saturated. I prefer to use a wooden spoon, mainly because it’s the one with the longest handle
  6. Cover the pitcher and place it on the counter overnight. No need to refrigerate (in fact, please don’t, as that will slow down the process)
  7. The next morning, filter the coffee through a fine mesh sieve (or use a coffee filter, somehow) in to a new pitcher. I’m crazy and like to press all of the coffee through using the back of the spoon
  8. Compost the old grounds. Or see this link for ideas on how to use the grounds
  9. Put the filtered coffee in the fridge
  10. Use and dilute*

*Now, the most important thing to note is that this makes a concentrate of coffee. That means you will need to dilute it with water before you drink it. You can drink it straight up, but then you’ll be running around while your heart races (or is that just me?). What I do is pour about 1/2 a cup or so in to a glass/travel mug and then add a few ice cubes. I add more ice than I think I’ll need (usually 3-4 cubes), and as the ice melts it dilutes the coffee. This is most practical while I’m driving to work – once I get there, the ice has melted enough but is still mostly intact. My coffee is nice and cold, and diluted pretty much perfectly. You can also add straight water – start with a little bit, and go from there.

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Notes

  1. Whole bean coffee is the way to go. Trust me. You can find whole bean in your local grocery store (I use Peet’s when I’m in a pinch), but I urge you to check out local roasters.
    1. If you are in the New England area, I can’t recommend Tandem Coffee enough. They are based out of Portland, ME and you can buy fresh roasted beans at Cambridge Naturals in Porter or Render in the South End. They also have subscription info on their website.
    2. Another local roaster I love is Barrington Coffee out of Lee, MA. You can buy their coffee at their shops in Fort Point or Back Bay, or at Trillium Brewing in Canton, MA.
    3. If you are not in the New England area, google “coffee roasters” and some should pop up for your area.
    4. One of these days I will do a post on roasting your own coffee – it’s super fast, and fun!
  2. A kitchen scale will be very helpful for measuring out the coffee. I have an old Salter digital scale, which is great. It measures out in grams and ounces. I don’t know what I’d do without it.  This scale on Amazon gets good reviews.