Too Hot for Coffee? Try Coffee's Cooler Cousin

Coffee in the summer has always fascinated me. I remember as a kid, my parents having coffee even when the thermometer close to 100. Heck, even when Mother Nature turns up the thermostat, I still have my hot coffee first thing in the morning - although I typically switch to iced coffee, or tea, as the day goes along.

I’ve been drinking iced coffee since I was in my twenties but some of it was better than others. Originally, I attributed this to the quality and roast of the bean, but lately I’ve learned they aren’t the only ways to guarantee a great flavor.

Iced coffee has traditionally been made one of two ways - either by icing down hot coffee, which yields a watery and weak drink, or by cooling brewed coffee to room temperature and then pouring over ice. The later tends to be less aromatic and a bit acidic.

Coffee’s cooler cousin - cold brew

Cold brewing coffee an extremely simple technique to make iced coffee that is both flavorful and aromatic. It’s extremely easy and dirt cheap to make compared to the price of iced coffee in some shops. All you need is coarse ground coffee, water, a jar or pitcher and a means to filter it when finished. That’s it!

Cold brewing isn’t brewing at all. Brewing, by definition, involves hot or boiling liquid (typically water) at some point in the process. Cold brewing coffee is steeping the ground coffee in water at room temperature for about 12 hours or overnight. This method yields an aromatic and less bitter drink that is ready for ice on a hot day.

Grind your own

I’ve ground my own coffee for as long as I can remember. So, it’s easy for me to say use coarse ground coffee. All I do is grind for 5 to 7 seconds in my little burr grinder. But what if I don’t have a grinder? You can buy whole bean coffee at many groceries and typically have it ground on-site. Just pick the coarsest setting available. It should be coarse for good steeping and easier filtration - resulting in less haze.

How do you take it?

As the temperature soars, I have noticed a definite increase in commercials for iced coffee’s and other frozen coffee drinks. French vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, caramel and Irish cream are all popular flavors. And, you can make them all at home for a fraction of the price! With iced coffee you can use flavored creamers or flavored syrups in them just like the hot stuff. I personally use 2% milk and a sugar free flavored syrup such as French Vanilla. 

Want your coffee sweetened?

Many of the over the counter creamers have sugar already. If you prefer your iced coffee without creamer but sweet, I suggest using simple syrup (recipe follows) which is just a sugar and water solution you prepare and keep in the refrigerator. No more undissolved sugar on the bottom of the glass!

Concentrate or not?

Some cold brew recipes yield a very strong concentrate that you can dilute down to your desired strength. I personally like to cold brew my coffee at the strength I like because I know the ice will dilute down the resulting drink - not to mention the milk, and flavored or simple syrups I might add. I’ll give you recipes for both and let you experiment.

Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Cold Brew Coffee concentrate

  • 4 ½oz (or about 1 ¾ cups) coarse ground coffee
  • 3 ½ cups water

Put the water into a container of appropriate size (pitcher, mason jar, or French press) and stir in the coffee. Cover with a loose top (I use cheese cloth) and allow to sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Pour the mixture through a sieve into to remove coarse grounds and then a coffee filter to catch the fines. (I put the cheese cloth mentioned above in a sieve and filter once). Store in the refrigerator.

Dilute 1:1 with water or milk.

Cold Brew Coffee ready to drink

  • ¾ cup coarse ground coffee
  • 4 cups water

Put the water into a container of appropriate size (pitcher, mason jar, or French press) and stir in the coffee. Cover with cheese cloth and allow to sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Remove the cheese cloth and place it in sieve. Pour the mixture through a lined sieve to remove grounds. Store in the refrigerator. Add your favorite flavors, milk or sweeteners and serve over ice.

Simple syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Place in a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer about 10 minutes and then remove from heat and cool. Store in refrigerator.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipes for this week!