I dig coffee. Specifically, espresso drinks with milk and sugary flavorings. People are always suggesting that I brew coffee at home, but I hate brewed coffee as it tastes so watery, and if you add enough milk to fix that, it tastes too weak. Then they suggest that I buy an espresso machine. Then I explain that I don’t drag them to coffee shops for the coffee, I’m there for the birdwatching. If buying an espresso machine would bring hot girls into my living room, I’d do that. Unfortunately, I doubt even a $10,000 La Marzocco would have that effect.
And sometimes I just need caffeine, but there’s nobody around to ogle girls with me. Then the coffee house suddenly feels much farther away (if it’s even open), and $4 feels overpriced when you’re not staying to enjoy the view. In these situations, I was getting by with a packet of hot chocolate and some instant coffee, but that’s less than satisfying.
Then I learned about cold-brewed coffee. It doesn’t require any expensive equipment and results in coffee that is 67% less acidic. It’s smoother and tastes better and can be stored for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. It’s also so strong it can be used as an espresso substitute in iced coffees, which amazingly taste like a real iced latte (or in my case, iced white mocha).
The concept is simple: You add 2 parts filtered water to 1 part coarse ground coffee, wait 12 hours, then filter out the grounds. You’re left with coffee concentrate.
The easiest way to cold brew is to use a Toddy Cold Brew System for about $30 at Amazon. It takes a pound of coffee and yields about 6 cups. Toddy has been making these systems for about 40 years and they’re very highly rated.
Next easiest would be to use a 12-cup French press (4 cups coffee to 8 cups water) and pour it into a glass pitcher. However, this is only good if you already have the French press, as you could buy two Toddy systems for the same price. And if your press isn’t good about filtering all the grounds, you’ll have to pour it through a paper filter.
Finally, there is my “what do I already have?” ghetto brewing system:
- Combine 1 cup of ground coffee and 2 cups filtered water in the measuring cup. The coffee will float, so use a spoon or fork to gently mix it so the grounds are completely wet.
- Cover the measuring cup with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours.
- Put the filter in the coffee ground basket. Pour the coffee through the sieve into the basket.
- Dump the remainder of the grinds and rinse out the measuring cup. Place the cup under the basket spout and hold it so the coffee drains into the cup.
Iced White Mocha
- 1/2 cup coffee concentrate
- 2-3 tablespoons of Ghirardelli sweet ground white chocolate
- ~1/2 to 1 cup milk
- ~1/2 to 1 cup ice
First heat the coffee in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and add the white chocolate powder. Trying to dissolve the powder after adding cold milk is an exercise in futility (you’ll need a hand mixer).3 Add milk and ice to taste.
- I initially tried this with normally ground coffee and it turned out fine, as the paper filter removes all sediment. If you’re using a Toddy or French press, you’ll have to get the coarse grind.
- You can wait up to 24 hours for a stronger brew, but it will also have higher acid and caffeine levels and hence taste more bitter. I like the concept of more caffeine, but not at the expense of smoothness. If it’s not strong enough, you’re better off just using a bolder roast or less water.
- I find it’s easiest to prepare it at night and finish it in the morning. If you do it late on a weekend, you should have enough for the week.
- Check out Smart & Final for a great selection of syrups and coffee supplies.
- I’ve never tried it, but many people simply add hot water to the concentrate to make a smoother brewed coffee that’s gentler on your stomach.
- You can get by with a plastic one. [↩]
- Make sure your basket has a spring loaded spout/drain stopper and not just a hole in the bottom. [↩]
- Syrup would mix better than powder, of course, but the white chocolate syrups go bad quickly (3 weeks) and are only sold in huge, restaurant-sized bottles. [↩]
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