My household is filled with different contraptions to make coffee. Moka pot (x2), drip machine, Aeropress, Turkish cezve, French press. Rob and I met at the coffee shop where he worked for a few years, right after I got back from Italy where my love affair with espresso began. So coffee is one of those things that is important to us, although not entirely for the caffeine.
Although espresso is my forever jam, for the summer, we tend to switch over from hot brewed coffee to cold brewed coffee. What’s the difference, you ask? Well, rather than brewing coffee with heated water and then icing it down or leaving in the refrigerator to cool off, cold brew coffee is prepared by letting coffee grounds sit in cold water in the refrigerator for an extended amount of time. Because water temperature has such a huge effect on how flavor compounds are extracted from the coffee grounds, switching the brew temperature from near boiling to tap cold (and extending the brew time) tends to result in a coffee that is less acidic and smoother. Because cold brew has this result, we also save some dollars by cold brewing with coffee that isn’t exactly of the highest quality. As long as it’s 100% Arabica, we’re all set. Another huge benefit for those of us pressed for time in the morning is that, because cold brew is done in a large batch and kept in the refrigerator to be dosed out, you can shave a few minutes off your morning routine and still be adequately caffeinated.
There are about a million different ways you can prepare your cold brew, but I think our way is pretty good. What you are left with after about twelve hours of steeping is a smooth concentrate that we then dilute with milk, water, and ice. I think it is well worth the effort to have coffee at the ready whenever you want it.
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
Ingredients and materials needed:
- Ground coffee of your choice
- Something to stir the sludge with
- A brewing container, with lid or with plastic wrap (we use the pitcher seen above)
- A storage container that is easy to pour from and has a lid (we use quart Mason jars)
- Some way to filter. We use a fine mesh sieve/coffee filter combo. I’ve seen muslin bags, nylon knee highs, and cheesecloth as possible tools. You do you.
- A funnel
- Combine your coffee and water in a 1:3 ratio. So if you have two cups of coffee, use six cups of water. This ratio is one of many variables you can play with as you make each batch. This will make a pretty solid concentrate, which can then be diluted to your liking.
- Stir the sludge well to make sure there are no isolated pockets of dry coffee grounds.
- Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. This step is another than can be futzed with to your heart’s content. Brew longer, at room temp, etc.
- Strain your concentrate. Pouring through a fine mesh sieve into a paper coffee filter is our set up, but it does take some time. The result, however, is pretty great.
- Once adequately strained, the cold brew concentrate will keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks…if it lasts that long.
- To prepare a cup of iced goodness: combine coffee, dairy/non-dairy of your choice, and water in a 1:1:1 ratio. Top with ice.
Preparation of a cup of iced cold brew is another world with room for great experimentation. A batch of simple syrup comes in handy for sweetening this cold concoction, but you can make the syrup fancy by adding vanilla or orgeat. One fun trick is to take your concentrate and freeze some in an ice cube tray. Use your coffee cubes to ice your cup for an extra strong (or, rather, less dilute) mixture. You can also add a stick of cinnamon to the grinds for flavor, or wrap your grounds in cheese cloth while they steep for less mess. The options are truly endless, but if you follow the directions above, I can guarantee a fine cup of iced coffee. Whether or not you like it is up to you!
Java Good Night
Now, the next obvious question is: what cocktail should I make with this wonderful cold brew concentrate? I wanted a cocktail that specifically uses cold brew and has some great complementary flavors. I found what I was looking for in the Java Good Night from Serious Eats. It’s a take on Thai iced coffee, which is made extra creamy with evaporated milk and sweetened with sweetened condensed milk. A dash of orange bitters and muddled mint help take this rum drink to the next level. I highly recommend it!
- 2 mint leaves
- 2 oz. cold brewed coffee
- 1 1/2 oz. rum
- 1/2 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 oz. evaporated milk
- Dash orange bitters
- Mint garnish
Muddle the mint leaves at the bottom of a mixing glass or Boston shaker. Add all of the other ingredients (except for the garnish) and stir with several ice cubes until very cold.
Strain into a new glass with ice, crushed or whole. Garnish with mint.