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cold buzz

Recipe: cold brew coffee

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

Cold Brew Coffee
[print recipe]
from Food52

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.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

this battle station is fully operational (coffee whiskey amaro cocktail) coffee ice cream espresso chocolate sorbet espresso panna cotta

10 nibbles at “cold buzz”

  1. Margaret says:

    Coffee is the only thing that gets me up since my dog Stella is a late sleeper.

  2. Karen says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    I love your reading your posts and enjoy your photography. Thanks for sharing with us all.

  3. Pey-Lih says:

    What a way to celebrate your 23rd Anny by starting the day with uphill skiing. I hope you feel rewarded from putting much efforts in your fitness and regaining your health. As usual, I enjoy reading your blog because you let us peer into your daily life with a sense of humor, creative recipes, along with pictures of your culinary masterpieces, beautiful landscape, dogs, etc. I didn’t know this was how cold brew was made until now. Thank you for sharing your methods! I am going to make cold brew when it stops raining.

  4. pam says:

    Floaty dog hairs. Now that’s something I understand.

  5. kat says:

    Congrats on your 23rd anniversary.

  6. Maranda says:

    Happy belated anniversary! Congrats on 23 years! I came across you’re blog for the first time on cold brew.
    Loved the way you write, the awesome recipes and beautiful pictures.
    I’m from suburbs of Dallas Texas, and have never seen real snow. All we get is ice.
    I’ve already bookmarked it and can’t wait to read more :)

    Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!

  7. Gina says:

    Iced coffee is lovely. I will give this process a try. Currently, I use the pour through and refrigerate overnight.

    I need to find some of those plastic ball jar lids, I am tired of the rings rusting.

  8. jenyu says:

    Margaret – Hi Mom! Now I know where Jeremy gets it from ;)

    Karen – Thank you! xo

    Pey-Lih – I didn’t know either! They never tell you how easy some things are to make – ha ha ha!

    pam – I should list it as the second ingredient!

    kat – Thanks :)

    Maranda – Thank you! You’ll just have to come up to the Rockies one day to experience our fluffy dry snow. It’s something else :) xo

    Gina – The plastic jar lids are AWESOME. I hate the rings except for canning. You can probably find them in the grocery store or hardware store near the canning supplies. I have several packs of both large and small lids and use them daily!

  9. alison says:

    I use the Toddy cold brew system, from a company in Fort Collins! It makes a lot, but we drink a lot of it!

  10. Helen Page says:

    Happy anniversary and thank you so much for this post. I bought a Kitchenaid cold brew maker on a huge discount at Macys with a gift card. I didn’t need anything else or I wouldn’t have made such an indulgent purchase. Sometimes my cold brew is good, sometimes not. You’ve confirmed my choice of coffee and water. I’m going to try your ratio. That’s what I’ve been looking for. I adore your blog.

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