Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cold-brewed coffee

I was recently sitting in the lunch room at the office, eating, while paging through a copy of Bon Appetit that someone had donated to the reading pile. As I flipped through it,  admiring the “food porn” (the elegantly photographed food fussed over by food stylists), I found myself at an article about coffee. But it wasn’t just about regular coffee, which might have been boring. The article was about cold-brewed coffee and how this latest trend is sweeping the nation. This was news to me.

Everybody who loves coffee will likely love a good iced coffee as well. In the summer with all its heat, it's certainly more appealing to drink cold beverages than hot ones. But the article wasn’t just about drinking iced coffee, but how to best prepare it. So, I was intrigued. 

Apparently the cold brew method is superior to brewing it hot (and then allowing it to cool down and ultimately pouring it over ice). The article claims, “Steeping ground beans in cold water overnight produces bold, intense flavor with less acid and more velvety sweetness. Count on this method for consistent iced-coffee excellence.”

Given such a claim, I had to try it out for myself. I decided to make their recipe for coffee concentrate, although I wasn’t sure I needed so much of it, so I made half.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee Concentrate

Makes 5 cups of concentrate

What you’ll need:
12 oz. coarsely ground fresh coffee beans*
Milk (optional)
Special equipment: cheesecloth and a large paper coffee filter

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 (do not stir); rinse jar and set aside. Discard cheesecloth with solids.

Line 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 of the coffee to drip through; do not stir or coffee may become cloudy). Cover and chill. Keeps for 2 weeks, chilled.

Fill a glass with ice. Dilute 1 part coffee concentrate with 1 park milk, if desired, or water. Add ice if you're heading out of the house with it. Top with whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa powder or cinnamon, if you like. Otherwise, drink as is.

* Your usual coffee blend will work just fine for cold brew – lighter roasts make for a less bitter drink. For a clear liquid, use coarsely ground coffee (finely ground beans make for a cloudier drink).

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