Cold-Brewed Coffee


Ah… allergies. The rains, the blooms, the pollen. I haven’t been able to smell or taste anything for weeks. Not the best setup for kitchen adventures. It’s good to be back.

Though the primary beverage on this site is and always will be tea, coffee will be making an appearance from time to time. I love coffee, I just don’t drink it that often because it doesn’t agree with my stomach. But the aroma and flavor of a great cup of coffee are a little slice of heaven. In fact, for years, we roasted our own. It’s easy enough to do with an old air popper popcorn machine, and it saves a lot of money when you’re addicted to those beautiful, organic, high quality beans that make a coffee lover weak in the knees. For a great selection of mail order beans go here.

I know, I know… When it comes to coffee, San Franciscans can get pretty pretentious. For a great riff on the SF coffee scene watch this hilarious video from our friend Ken Grobe. But for those who think coffee is coffee–simply something dark and hot and caffeinated to wash over your gullet first thing in the morning to get the engines going… I’m sorry, because it can be so much more. I try not to be precious about food, or to fetishize something like coffee or leaf lard in a world where others are starving, but if you’re going to drink something every day it matters what it is–what it’s made of. And when it doesn’t cost that much more or take up too much of your time–roasting a weeks worth of coffee took ten minutes–why not?

OK, enough of that.

Cold-brewed coffee. Nothing new. Everybody’s doing it. And there are several fabulous facets to the process. No coffee maker required. The concentrate lasts for a week. You can make enough to serve a large crowd of people in a little jar. The acid and caffeine levels are much lower than in hot brewed coffee. And all of those little flavor notes printed on the expensive bags of coffee–malted milk, caramel, strawberry, apricot, tobacco, hibiscus–I could taste them more vividly in the cold brew. The integrity of flavor profiles in cold versus hot coffee is a matter for debate on par with the tonal quality of vinyl versus digital, and we’re not really going to get into it. It’s just something for you to quietly contemplate as you sip your cold-brewed coffee.

Of course with any trend comes the specialized equipment and precious people striking fear into the hearts of those who attempt to brew without the proper framework. Nonsense. A jar, something to strain the grounds, you’re done. Put the credit card back in the wallet and enjoy your cupboard space.

Cold Brewed Coffee (makes 3 cups of concentrate or 6 cups of coffee)

1 cup (240ml) or 3 oz. (85g) medium grind coffee
3 cups (720ml) water

1 quart (1 liter) mason jar or equivalent

The darker the roast, the darker the appearance of the resulting brew, so keep that in mind. You will need something to strain the grounds. I used a funnel and a coffee filter. You could also use a strainer and fine cheesecloth or an unbleached paper towel.

Add the coffee to the jar, add the water and stir. Cover and let sit for 12 hours in the refrigerator. Strain. The concentrate will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

To make the coffee, add 1/2 cup (120ml) concentrate and 1/2 cup cold or hot water. Most use cold brewed coffee for iced coffee, but you can use it for hot. It’s a great way to make coffee in advance for a large party when you don’t have a coffee maker..

To make an extra decadent iced coffee, I froze some of the coffee into cubes, added a little half-and-half and some sweetness by dissolving 1 teaspoon of coconut palm sugar in 1 tablespoon hot water. Always dissolve granulated sweeteners in a little hot water before adding to a cold beverage to keep things from getting gritty. And speaking of grit… no matter how well you strain the coffee, you’re still likely to get a bit of sediment at the bottom. So pour carefully off the top stopping short of the residue at the bottom of the jar.