Cold Brew: Sweet and Strong Iced Coffee

19401396_1448363675219662_1341008298_oby Rachel Rose

I’ve been making home-made cold brew coffee since high school, starting right before cold brew was available at Starbucks and in the refrigerated section of every major grocery store.

Almost every time I see cold brew at a coffee shop I get excited and try it out, but to my disappointment, most are very acidic, and one distinctive characteristic of cold brew is that it shouldn’t be as acidic as normal coffee.

I may not be a professional, but I know a thing or two about cold brew. In the warmer months, I will make a batch of cold brew usually at least once a week. I seriously don’t know what I’d do without it in my life (I mean realistically I’d be fine, but I don’t care I just really like it, okay?). The first summer I started making it was mostly trial and error, trying out several recipes I found on Pinterest and going through bags and bags of cheap Costco coffee. But then I found this recipe, and everything changed.

Since then, I’ve adjusted the ratios to my liking, adding ingredients or subtracting them, but the idea of adding brown sugar to the coffee while it was “brewing” changed my coffee game forever. Now, every time I make a new batch it is a little different, but here is my basic recipe:

  • 1 cup coffee, coarsely ground
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark brown, or a mixture of both)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional: 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and/or cardamom

First, you will need a pitcher with a lid; I use a 8 cup Pampered Chef glass measuring cup. I put the coffee in the pitcher and fill with just enough water to cover it, mix and leave it for about a minute, and then slowly pour in the rest of the water. Then mix in the sugar and salt, cover, and set in the refrigerator for 12-15 hours.

Now comes the fun part: straining the coffee. Be sure to set aside at least 30 minutes for this. It’s pretty simple, but you might need to babysit it a little bit to make sure everything’s going smoothly. You will need a fine mesh strainer, a pitcher of equal or greater capacity than the one you used overnight, and either normal coffee filters or cheesecloth. First I run the coffee through the fine mesh strainer without a filter on it to get the majority of the coffee grounds out, this is an extra step I do to speed up the rest of the steps. Then, quickly clean out and dry the original pitcher, position the strainer over it and place the coffee filter on it. Pour the coffee through the filter; it will drip slowly so just let it sit for a while, you can use this time to do other things. Once all of the coffee has gone through the filter, pour it into a bottle.

To serve: pour over ice, and add half-and-half (or non-dairy creamer) and syrup if desired.

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