Thursday, April 8, 2010

Doing It Right: Cold Brewed Coffee

It's warming up around here, so now is the perfect time to talk about iced coffee. I'm a big fan. I like my iced coffee strong. There's going to be ice melting in there, so it better be. Now, for years I just kept leftover coffee in a pitcher in the fridge. There's no shame in that. The only truly unacceptable way to make iced coffee is to pour hot coffee over ice. If you try to give me that shit, I am sending it back.

But in 2007 I read about New Orleans iced coffee, also known as cold brewed iced coffee, in T Magazine. T is the New York Times' quarterly-or-something glossy style mag. This marks the first and only case of T Magazine being useful in any way, to anyone, anywhere.

Anyway, cold brewed coffee is great for a few reasons, first and foremost being that it is delicious and refreshing in a way that no other brewing method can achieve. By steeping the grounds in cold water for at least 12 hours (longer is fine) and then straining through a paper towel (don't laugh, it works) or cheesecloth if you're fancy, the coffee acquires absolutely zero bitterness. Hot water hitting cool grinds is a big part of what makes traditional coffee bitter. By starting with cold water and cool grinds, you eliminate all the bitterness, and a fair amount of acidity as well.

What you end up with is sometimes called coffee concentrate. It's dark and inky, almost like a super smooth espresso. I like to drink it with an equal amount of milk and a ton of ice. Sometimes I add a bit of simple syrup, but it's not really necessary--this stuff has a sweetness of its own. I compare it to coffee ice cream. If you take your coffee black, dilute this stuff with some water. If you drink a whole cup of it you'll be vibrating for days. For more info, and the recipe, follow the link to the Times below. You'll probably never look back.

Iced Storm [t magazine]
(Photo from flickr user thebittenword)
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