This isn’t Elf, I’m not promising the best; although if you spend the money for good coffee beans you could certainly accomplish both.
Now that we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I know some people outside the New England area will say, “Kerry, you’re explaining cold brew but it’s November; isn’t this more of a summer thing?” NO. As everyone in New England knows, iced coffee is a year round thing. Ask anyone who’s visited us in the winter, or any transplant you know who’s currently in your part of the world. Doesn’t matter how cold it is outside or how many inches/feet of snow you just forced off your car; iced coffee is always okay.
I bring this us more so because I’ve had so many people at work and beyond ask what cold brew is lately. Even though they see it on the Dunkin and Starbucks and Peet’s menus (although now all Peet’s iced coffee isn’t cold brew anyway), they are afraid to ask during the quick transaction at the register and look anything less than a genius in front of the strangers surrounding around them. Well screw that, this shouldn’t be a secret!
I prefer cold brew because I love picking the coffee beans instead of relying on the shop’s brand - right now my favorites come from George Howell - and I do notice a difference in taste between cold brew and regular iced coffee. Where iced coffee is traditionally hot coffee cooled and served over ice, cold brew is cold water that steps in beans overnight and is ready to enjoy the next day, avoiding the heating process entirely. This is supposed to keep the beans from getting a bitter flavor from the heating process, and I also think it’s stronger this way. Plus, if I use espresso beans, I get that espresso taste without the burnt espresso taste I’ve been finding at coffee shops lately.
So how do we do it?
Serves: 8 or so coffees or lattes (depending on your beans)
Time: 5 minutes hands on, at least 12 hours for the drink to steep
- 3 oz ground coffee or espresso beans - buy yourself a nice big bag of coffee beans that you wouldn’t normally splurge on since you’re going to save a shitload anyway by not going to a coffee shop. You deserve it!
- 24 oz cold water
- Now, you could just take your beans and pour them in a big mouthed Mason/Ball/Kerr jar, but I personally like to buy whole beans, measure 3 ounces out on a kitchen scale, and grind them fresh. The cool kids in all the original posts I read said it makes a difference in taste - and sue me! I’m a sucker for their instructions.
- If using a filter insert, like the one I found on Amazon pictured for about $10, add in now; otherwise you can use a fine mesh strainer or other coffee strainer after the coffee has steeped. I used mesh strainer at first, but the kind of wire filter that fits directly in a wide mouthed jar is so freaking helpful since all you have to do is pull the strainer out and dump the grounds later on.
- Pour coffee grounds in your jar (I say 26 oz, but I mean the kind that reads up to 24 and has some space at the top) and slowly cover with cold water, making sure to move the jar without tilting to get maximum water coverage without shaking around the grounds (again, no idea why/ if this really matters but the Cool Kids said it so here I am). If you do it slowly enough, you’ll strat to see beautiful layers form like when a nitro cold brew is being poured. As you can see in the top pic. Put your cap on and ignore this magnificent layered coffee for at least 12 hours!
4. Two options at this point in our own version of Choose Your Own Adventure:
A. Remove your filter, grounds included, dump them, rinse the filter out and enjoy!
B. Use a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or other straining method to remove grounds. I like to strain twice with this method just in case.
5. To enjoy: add ice cubes (see note below to make it even better), and milk/milk alternative. With espresso beans I treat this like a latte, and fill up a cup with ice and add lots of milk before pouring two or three ounces of espresso over the top. With a lighter coffee bean I’ll add less milk and more coffee. If you drink it black you may decide to add some water, but otherwise I highly discourage watering down this excellent caffeine hit!
A few notes: you could freeze one batch of this for coffee/espresso ice cubes (pictured at right), or add flavors to it while steeping. I tried vanilla beans and wasn’t pleased with the results (no real vanilla taste, would have been better to just add syrup layer), but if you have success with other flavors I’d love to hear how!