Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cold Brewed Coffee

I try to keep my life simple.  I like my sleep, and so in the morning I keep my routine to a bare minimum.  I don't wear make up, I don't do much with my hair, I don't spend a lot of time picking out clothes, and I don't drink coffee.  I don't want to have to deal with the issue of coffee grounds, filters, hot water, and cleaning up.  I also don't own an espresso machine, Keurig, coffee maker, French press, or anything like that.

It's not that I don't enjoy coffee -- I actually think it's great when made properly (i.e. not Starbucks) -- I just don't find it to be worth the hassle.  Sometimes though, with my terrible sleep schedule, I feel like I need a cup of joe to start my day.  So one day I gave in, set my alarm 10 minutes earlier, woke up, fumbled with grounds, hot water, and a filter, was annoyed by the process and, ultimately, disappointed by the results.  It was simply awful.  I don't know if it's because I was impatient and didn't give the coffee enough time to "steep" (is that word only acceptable to use with tea?), but it was both weak and bitter.  I bought the exact same coffee my dad drinks at home (classic, French roast) and so I knew the problem wasn't the coffee, but rather my method of making my cup of joe.  But there has to be a better way to make coffee, without going out and spending $50 on a clunky machine.

Then I remembered something I had read once in the New York Times about cold brew coffee.  I googled it for the exact ratios and decided to to try the cold brew coffee method.  I prefer my coffee cold anyhow, so it didn't seem like I had much to lose.  I altered the ratios of coffee grounds to water just a bit and then gave it a go.

The process is very easy.  Simply combine  ⅓ cup coffee grounds with 1 ⅔ cup water.  It doesn't matter if the water is tepid or cold.  Let this sit for about 12 hours (though sometimes I leave it for a day and it doesn't affect things too much) at room temperature or in the fridge.  Strain through two coffee filters.  Refrigerate or drink.  For me, this makes 2 servings of coffee.  The coffee is concentrated enough that you can "dilute" it with ice or milk and it still tastes strong.  In the fridge, covered, it will keep for about 2-3 days before you start to lose the lovely flavor profile.

I know I said I don't normally drink this coffee with
milk, but I thought it made for a nice picture
For each of my cups of coffee, I found I barely needed a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten up a cup (normally I stir in about 4 spoonfuls of sugar) and I didn't need milk.  The cold brew method results in coffee that isn't bitter.  Instead, it is mellow, warm, almost chocolate-y in taste.  I really truly enjoy drinking it; so much so that I now make this every week or so and keep it in a bottle in my fridge so that it is always on hand when I want or need some coffee.  The method is convenient and simple, and it results in great tasting coffee.  Somehow this method of flavor extraction brings out naturally sweeter notes for a very different flavor experience.  The coffee is rounder, fuller on the tongue.  It is smooth.  It is exactly what I want in a cup of coffee.

Enjoy the flavor and the experience of a cup of coffee with none of the hassle.


  1. Does heating it up after brewing (by microwave?) change the flavor at all? Or is it best to drink it cold?

    1. It is best to drink this cold. Microwaving coffee is never a good idea because of the uneven way that microwaves heat liquids. The chemicals extracted from the coffee will breakdown and even though the cup may not yet be hot, the flavor can essentially be "cooked out" of the coffee. This will result in acrid or bitter coffee.

      If you want to make hot coffee that has the same smooth flavor profile that you get from cold brewing, make a double strength batch (i.e. increase the coffee grounds, or decrease the water). When you want to drink your coffee, heat an equal amount of water (and/or milk) in the microwave and combine it with your cold brew coffee.

      I hope this helps!

    2. Thanks, that makes perfect sense. Cheers!