DIY Cold Brew Iced Coffee
I adore coffee. I have for a long time, and yet I seem to appreciate it more and more as I try it different ways. I tend to get on a kick of one type of coffee over another, and then I get tired of that and switch to something else. I’ll use my espresso machine for weeks at a time but then decide I only want French press coffee for the next couple of weeks. One thing I never seem to tire of, though, is cold brew coffee. If there’s an option for me to have it, I’ll choose it over anything else. If Eric and I are at the farmers market on Saturday morning, you can bet we’re drinking cold brew.
Cold brew coffee is on a whole different level than other coffee drinks. Because there’s no heat involved, the beans don’t release any of their bitterness. Because of this, the coffee is more smooth (less acidic) and requires less (or no) sweeteners if you’re into that sort of thing. I will put homemade caramel sauce in a latte like there’s no tomorrow, and even I can drink cold brew with next to nothing in it. So that should give you an idea of just how awesome it is.
We made our first batch of cold brew at home more than four years ago. I remember thinking that we didn’t need to dilute it as much as the recipe called for, thinking that the coffee would taste watered down, and I ended up trembly because of all the caffeine. I haven’t made that mistake again! I’ve tried pretty much all of the go-to recipes for cold brew (who knew there could be so many?!) and have finally found one that I feel is worthy of sharing with all of you. The thing about coffee, and cold brew in particular, is that it’s really based on your preferences, which makes it hard for me to tell you how to make it. At its core, cold brew coffee is just that – coffee brewed slowly with cold water. The variations arise when you change up the ratio of coffee grounds to water when brewing and then coffee concentrate to additional water when it’s finished. After trying many different ratios, I think I’ve found the one that suits us best. It’s not so strong that I get jittery but also doesn’t taste at all watered down. I like to serve mine with a little bit of vanilla bean simple syrup and a splash of milk, though I have used sweetened condensed milk to make a luscious Vietnamese iced coffee.
I double filter my cold brew so that there’s no sludge left in it, and it’s worth the wait. I actually prefer using a t-shirt these days. It’s much faster. If you plan ahead (which, ahem, I obviously didn’t before taking these photos), you can make coffee ice cubes to use in your iced coffee. And if you can, I definitely recommend using a local roaster for your beans. We love Blanchard’s if you’re in the Richmond area (and if you aren’t – they ship!).
1 pound coarse (freshly) ground coffee beans
12 cups (3 quarts) water (cold or room temperature)
Combine the coffee grounds and water in a large container. Stir to wet all the grounds, then cover and steep at room temperature overnight (for at least 8-12 hours).
Line a fine mesh strainer with a clean t-shirt and place it on top of the container you’re using to store the coffee. Pour the coffee through, and discard the grounds (we put ours in the garden).
Measure your coffee concentrate (I had 7 cups) and dilute as desired with additional water. I added 9 cups of water to achieve the flavor I was hoping for, but you can dilute it more or less based on your taste.
Store in the refrigerator and serve over ice. It’s great on its own or with simple syrup, sweetened condensed milk or just a splash of your favorite type of milk.