Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Cold Brew

As mentioned in previous posts I'm a froo froo coffee drinker.  I like coffee as long as it has milk and sugar in it.  If someone else makes it for me at Coffee Bean or Starbucks, that's even better.  I do have a single serve machine that makes outstanding vanilla and caramel lattes, but during most of the summer it gets very little use.  When you wake up in the morning and it's already 80 degrees, a hot cup of coffee isn't terribly refreshing.  However, the caffeine is desperately needed in the morning so I've been playing around with icing and blending those single serve lattes, but they just don't taste the same.  I limit myself to a coffee house ice coffee fix on Thursday mornings because I can't afford to do it any more than that.  There are still 4 work days needing caffeine left.
Then one day a few weeks ago I ran into Trader Joe's and happened upon their Cold Brew.  Not knowing what it was, I made a mental note to look into it when I got home.  I did, and I'll tell you's the bomb!
The gist...when coffee is brewed with hot water it creates an acidity and some bitterness in the flavor, hence the milk and sweetener I require.  In addition, creating cold coffee drinks out of hot brewed coffee creates even MORE acidity making it taste astringent-like.  No wonder my iced lattes out of hot lattes were always somewhat of a fail.  Anyhow, the cold brew method creates less acidity making for a sweeter brew.  In addition to the pre-bottled kind (like from Trader Joe's), it can also be made at home.  There are cold brew pots that can be purchased or a French press can be used, but I spent some time researching alternative home-brew methods and found one that works for me.
I add about a cup and a half of coarsely ground coffee beans to the bottom of a pitcher.  Then pour three and a half cups of cool water over the top of it.  I run a wooden spoon through the mixture a couple of times and then let sit on the counter about 12 hours.  When time is up, I put a regular coffee filter inside a fine mesh strainer and set over a bowl.  The pitcher of newly brewed cold brew is slowly poured into the filter/strainer a little at a time.
Once all the grounds are filtered (I use that wooden spoon to press a bit more liquid out of them) toss them and what is left if the cold brew.  Of course, the measurements can be adjusted, but for me I get about a week's worth of cold brew from this mixture.
Now the thing about cold brew is that it's more like a concentrate.  Some might be able to drink it like that, but the intent is to mix it with water or milk or both and serve over ice.  I fill my Starbucks insulated cup with ice, pour the concentrate in half way, and then add equal parts milk and water to the remaining half.  Sometimes I add some agave or honey,  but I can actually drink this without sweetener too.
I add the straw, twist on the lid, and head to work.  It is a great start to my day!


  1. I made some this morning. Brewing about 8 hours now so I'll get back toy you later.

    1. You did!?!? I look forward to your take on it. I'm sure your coffee grounds are much better than mine. I tried to buy better than average grounds, but I don't really know much about it.
      I also forgot to mention that it can last in the fridge for a week or two as long as it's sealed.

  2. You are so brilliant! I really want to try this. I don't put sugar in my coffee (anymore) (boo!), so I think it would be amazing to have it taste smoother. Wow!

    1. You should try it! If you can drink regular coffee without sugar, this stuff will be easy. :)

  3. Oh Kay.
    Drinking the coffee right now. And it's not just good it's very good.
    I thought it would be like the gaah you get when you pick up the cold coffee cup, but this is very drinkable.
    Flavour isn't lost, if anything it's very slightly better.
    Now I didn't put it in the fridge but left it on the counter. And I didn't use the amount you put in, mostly because I believe the cup is a different animal. But what I did do was put 120ml in 1500ml of water which is more or lee the measure for a french press, twice. Also the grounds are vastly finer. More like dust than grit.
    I'll make another today and put into the fridge for tomorrow.

    1. Oh good, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)
      I remember reading somewhere in my research that the fine ground will make for a cloudier brew, but I didn't really notice the difference. I think the finer ground might make filtering a bit more difficult, but using a coffee filter helps with that too. Did you use the french press for the brewing pot? I've read that it can be used...I don't gave one so I DIY. I have seen directions for the press on the www if you're so inclined.

    2. No, I used a measuring jug, but I put it into the french press and plunged it to drink it by pouring real slowly into the glass.
      I found it had settled and was 90% clear. Did you know you can put nutmeg and other stuff.
      I immediately go a bit nuts and begin thinking of weekly volumes by putting the coffee into the gallon water bottles I buy. But knowing my 'issues' with coffee I think it best to ration the volumes to 1500ml per day.
      I'm curious, how do you get the sugar to dissolve in cold liquid.
      What I may do is brew it in a glass water jug for it's not so good to have acidic things in plastic for a guy. But I need one with straight sides. The ones I've got have a pinched neck which wouldn't be so good for settlement. Mind you I could well be a bit idiotic and overly fussy.

    3. Oh yes ! I love nutmeg AND cinnamon! Neither do it for me in the summer though. They seem more wintery.
      Ha! Ha! One of the sites I read on "how to" makes it into huge jugs.
      I found the first couple of weeks I tried I was a bit obsessed with perfecting it...and making sure I had enough to get through the week. :) Recently, I bought some smaller glass jars with lids and use those to store it in the fridge. The first few times it was stored in the measuring cup in the picture or a glass with some saran wrap over the top. Now, I'm a pro...with a jar. ;)

    4. Mmmmm, yesterday's was better.
      I think it may be that if you are cooling it, it takes longer to leach into the water and so a bit thinner overall. Of course with you, the heat of the day would make it almost hot.
      I've read the reviews call it refreshing, and I don't think it's that. And it's the same but different coffee. Much closer to a good espresso.

    5. Yah, I think the refreshing part comes because we're drinking it over ice. It just has a smoother taste than a regular coffee over ice. It's definitely concentrated though. This morning I had my normal ice version above, but before I had anything to eat. I'm still feeling over caffeinated and it's been about 4 hours. :)

    6. (chuckle) I was checking the auto focus on lenses today. I had to stop for I was missing the spot for I couldn't hold it still I was so caffeinated as you say. I can usually shoot sharp to 1/60.