People, I am feeling it. I am feeling that excitement about spring and green things sprouting from the ground and sunshine warming my back in the mornings and bright afternoons and bird song riding gentle breezes that dance through open windows. Winter has been decent with a slightly above average snowpack. Higher sun angles and longer days mean we can look forward to crust cruising in the mornings, swooshing soft or slushy stuff in the afternoons, big spring snow storms, increased (avy) stabilization, and more backcountry fun.
bluebird backcountry day
skijor with the pups
celebrated 23 years of marriage with an early morning uphill ski
and we grabbed a surprise 13-inch powder day
I used to resent the loss of an hour as we adjusted to Daylight Saving, but I was pretty happy to shift ahead this weekend. It’s partly for the later sunsets and mostly because Neva has the annoying habit of waking before daybreak and standing next to the bed, moaning/growling at us until we get up and feed her or until she pukes. So we’ve gained a little more sleep time in the mornings for another month. It’s not that bad, because I’m a morning person. Jeremy isn’t so much of a morning person, but he gets up early because that’s the best time to get things done and because he has coffee. If there wasn’t coffee, I’m just not sure Jeremy would be a functional member of society.
Last summer when I was out foraging with Erin and Jay, we stopped for a snack break and Erin handed Jay a large Nalgene bottle of dark half-frozen liquid. “Is that coffee?” Yep, it was cold brew. Erin told me cold brew is easy to make and a lot cheaper than buying it. I would occasionally get Jeremy a bottle of cold brew coffee, but he rarely requested it – probably because it’s so spendy. I made a mental note to read up on it and to try making some.
There is good news with regard to making your own cold brew such that I can’t wrap my head around shelling out the bucks to buy it anymore. First off, you don’t need to use the fancy high end stuff like that fair trade, light roast, single-origin, unwashed Ethiopia bean. Save that for your extra special hot cuppa. The lighter, brighter, more acidic and floral notes of regular coffee don’t really come out in the cold brew process. Instead, you’ll hit the earthy, chocolatey, nutty characteristics of a darker roast. And it will be smoother since heat is required to extract the acidity you find in hot brewed coffee. I use Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast whole beans. As for equipment, you can get away with a $14 coffee grinder, a $2 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or a few more bucks for a 2-quart wide-mouth jar), some coffee filters (or a nut milk bag), and a sieve. You could use a large plastic container, but glass doesn’t retain odors and I find it much easier to wash the oily residue off of glass.
coffee beans and water
Don’t grind your beans too fine because it makes for a murky final beverage and a lot more sediment. A quick few pulses work great in my Krups spice grinder and I process the beans in 1/4 cup batches. I’ve started following the general rule of thumb of about 1/4 cup of beans per cup of water, but the recipe below starts off a tad more conservatively. It’s all very forgiving. Scale the amount accordingly to accommodate your tastes and the volume of your brewing vessel. The grounds go into your jar with the water (I happily use cold tap water) and get stirred until there are no dry pockets floating about. I cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and secure it with the canning lid ring (but not the actual lid). You can use a towel or cheesecloth, but I think the idea is to allow airflow without introducing undesired extras like floaty pet hairs.
coarse grind works best
stir with water until all grounds are wet
the grounds float at first, but will mostly sink with time
cover with a cloth or a coffee filter
The problem with cold brew in this world of instant gratification is that you need to let it brew for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours. Beyond 24 hours, the cold brew takes on bitterness that you may not enjoy. That said, it’s not much effort to set it up so that Future You will think Present You is a rock star. When the coffee is ready, strain it through a coffee filter or reusable nut milk bag set over a strainer. We then compost our spent coffee grounds.
pouring through a nut milk bag (very fine mesh)
allow as much liquid to drain as possible
What you now have is homemade cold brew coffee concentrate (it’s quite strong, even for Jeremy). Cold brew stores well in the refrigerator for up to a week, after which time you may find the flavor drops off. If that happens, you can dilute the coffee with water and water your plants. Add water to your cold brew until it reaches your desired strength. Pour it over ice, heat it up, add a twist of lemon, mix it with seltzer water or soda, stir in milk or cream, top it with ice cream or whipped cream, spike it with booze, whatever tickles your fancy. With so many options, I foresee making large batches of cold brew as the months grow warmer and our mornings start earlier.
serve over ice
start your day easy
3/4 cup whole roasted coffee beans, coarse grind
4 cups cold water
Stir the coffee grounds and water together in a large container until all of the grounds are wet. Cover the vessel with a cloth or filter and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Set a sieve over a large bowl and place a filter or nut milk bag or cheesecloth in the sieve. Strain the cold brew coffee through the filter/sieve. Compost or discard the spent grounds. Store the cold brew concentrate in a closed vessel in the refrigerator for up to a week. Dilute with water to taste before serving. Serve over ice or with seltzer water, milk, cream, soda, booze, ice cream, etc. Makes ~3 1/2 cups.
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