I will consume coffee almost any which way. There was a scene in a Jim Belushi movie where he eats a tablespoon full of coffee grounds because he’s desperate for his morning coffee*. One can relate.
Cold brew has become more popular as of late. The lack of heat keeps coffee sweeter, keeps the acid down so it’s less harsh on your tummy and allows different flavors to come through. A great experiment is to brew your usual beans using your usual method and then try the cold brew method. You might notice more chocolate or vanilla flavors that weren’t there before because they were hidden under a layer of heat and acid. I wouldn’t say cold brew makes “better” coffee, but it’s certainly different**.
One thing about cold brew is that it is THE easiest method of brewing coffee ever. It is also the longest. But with a little planning you can wake up to a great cold brew. You can incorporate it into your schedule by making it right after dinner, or right after your morning coffee. These brew methods make more of a coffee concentrate that you dilute with water or milk, so it’s a great make-ahead method (and it will keep in your fridge for a long time). All you need are ground beans, room temperature water, a container and a method of filtering out the grounds when you’re ready to drink. This can be cheesecloth, a paper coffee filter, a fine mesh sieve or… a French press! Having a grinder would also be nice because you can experiment with the size of the grinds so they filter out nicely with your French press, but this isn’t crucial since almost every grocery store has their own grinder. Instead of grinding a whole pound of coffee on the spot, grind a little coarsely, then a little medium grind and so on.
The grind plus the time spent brewing will affect the final brew. If you’ll be brewing for 24 hours, a coarser grind might be nice and would filter out nicely in a French press. If you’re going to be getting up in 10 hours and will need your coffee standing by, a finer grind will complete the task faster. Personally, I don’t mind a little sludge at the bottom of my coffee. If you do, have a bit of coffee filter or cheesecloth standing by in case your grinds were too fine.
There are all kinds of cold brewing methods out there, some of which are quite complicated. But here’s my method.
The short version: Grind Coffee. Pour in Water. Stir. Wait 12-24 hours. Filter. Drink.
The long version:
1. Haul out your French press.
2. Grind your coffee. Let’s start with coarse ground and see how that goes, shall we?
3. Use this ratio: 1 cup water to 2 oz. coffee. This recipe makes a coffee concentrate. More on that later.
4. Using filtered water (unless your tap water is positively Godly) pour your ground coffee into the French press and then pour your room temperature water over the grounds.
5. Wait until the grounds float to the top and then give it a good stir. I like to use leftover chopsticks from Thai takeout as coffee stirrers.
6. Take your French press’ lid and press down just enough so the grounds are submersed in the water. At this point you can throw plastic over the top of your French press, or you can live dangerously and just leave it on the counter away from direct sunlight. I prefer to live dangerously…
7. Wait 24 hours. A full day seems like the sweet spot for cold brew, although you can do a 12 hour brew. Some methods call for stirring periodically throughout the day. I don’t think either of these things will truly affect the brew but you’re welcome to try (and then leave you results in the comments so I can try it too!).
8. Wake up! Time for coffee! Using the French press’ lid, press the coffee slowly down to the bottom. Usually, you’d do it slowly since the heat plus the gasses given off by the coffee can cause a French Press Coffee Explosive Disaster (F.P.C.E.D) but pressing slowly will ensure better filtering.
9. Pour and drink. Diluting with water seems to be de rigueur for cold brew (one part coffee, two parts water). I don’t do this. If you’re a cream-and-sugar type, I dare you to try it black. It’s much more delicate than hot coffee. And sweeter. Start with a splash of cream and go from there. 4 oz of the final brew is equal to about one cup of coffee, so beware of the caffeine. Drinking it in the same amount as your regular drip coffee might turn you into a one-man mission to Mars.
Two words: Chocolate milk. I’ve had it with regular milk and it’s quite fine. But chocolate milk exists in this world and it seems like cold brew and chocolate milk are on a first name basis.
Finally, if all of this is way too complicated/you’re too hung over to use such a method, I’ve had Chameleon Cold Press Coffee. You can find it at your local Whole Foods. It’s organic, and it’s cheaper than going to a coffee house to get cold brew. It comes in two sizes: Reasonably Sane and Coffee Fiend. To each her own.
*Think it was Mr. Destiny. Michael Caine was in it and played a Fairy Godfather-type. Seriously though: Jim and his baseball movies. Remember Taking Care of Business with Charles Grodin? And it’s not like there was one line about baseball: these movies had baseball sewn directly into the theme. Fun for him, boring for me. Also, I think Michael Caine would play a good God. How about a “God-Off” between Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine? Alan Rickman would do the play-by-play. I’d watch that. Freeman would have experience going for him but Caine would be the underdog with that British superiority thing. The halftime show would just be Fire and Brimstone with a Special Appearance by the Ten Plagues. Wow, this got out of hand. Clearly I measured 8 oz of cold brew instead of 4 this morning. And CLEARLY I wrote all of this simply to post this 9 second video about what God does all day…
**Don’t get me wrong: I still drink hot coffee most of the time. But it’s summer and I like cold coffee when it’s hot outside. As a side note, do smokers smoke when it’s hot out? It seems similar to wearing a ski jacket in Miami, as in hot weather + burning smoke in your lungs = more heat to deal with.