Opening the fridge to find a container of cold-brewed coffee concentrate is as much a part of summer for me as sunburn, a triple-digit heat index and mosquito bites – except it’s infinitely better.
When I’m struggling with the scorching temps, my mid afternoon pick-me-up of late is iced coffee. It cools me off and delivers the perfect caffeine kick.
I was first introduced to iced coffee more than a decade ago when my daughter Dana came home for a visit. She turned me on to the frappa-mocha-whatevers from Starbucks. The frothy, iced mocha coffee was addictively appealing. It was a short romance, though. The stuff is polluted with calories and a real wallet drainer. I was quickly cured.
That’s when I learned how to brew the perfect cup of iced coffee at home.
It’s so much more than simply pouring hot coffee over ice. Please, please don’t go that route. It dilutes the pure, coffee flavor and also gives you lukewarm iced coffee.
There were plenty of sites on the Internet that talked about their cold brew methods, including ones using fancy, expensive equipment.
In my less-than-scientific testing, I landed upon the perfect formula for iced java. It’s called cold brewing.
The process is simple: Grind, soak and wait. It might be the easiest method out there. And no, it doesn’t require anything more than a plastic pitcher and some time to let the liquid sit.
Making cold-brew coffee is a 12- to 15-hour process in which coarsely ground coffee beans (a smaller grind will result in a cloudier liquid) are steeped in cool water. The result is a thick elixir, which when cut with ice, water and perhaps some milk, creates a mellow, full-bodied coffee.
Here’s another reason to lap it up. I found cold brewing eliminated a good bit of the acids that sometimes turned my stomach.
It’s a superbly refreshing drink all by its tall, dark and handsome self, but let me dazzle you with a secret. I know it’s going to sound strange but consider adding mint. Not overpowering, a few sprigs actually bring out the light notes that are particularly refreshing in iced coffee.
Tarry not, folks. August is hot and you’ve got some brewin’ to do.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.
Cold-brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate
12 ounces coarsely ground fresh coffee beans
Place ground coffee in a large container. Gradually add 7 cups cold water. Stir gently to be sure all grounds are moistened. Cover with a layer of cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 15 hours. Remove cheesecloth and use it to line a fine-mesh sieve set over a large pitcher. Pour coffee through the sieve into a pitcher (do not stir); rinse jar and set aside. Discard cheesecloth with solids.
Line the same sieve with a large coffee filter and set over reserved jar. Strain coffee through sieve into jar. It may take up to 45 minutes for all the coffee to drip through. Do not stir or coffee may become cloudy.
Cover and chill. Coffee concentrate can be made two weeks ahead. Keep chilled.
To serve, fill glass with ice. Dilute 1 part coffee concentrate with 1 part water – or milk, if desired.