“This easy recipe is for anyone trying to ditch an expensive coffee chain iced coffee habit. I can’t promise you free wi-fi and a comfy seat, but I can promise a beautiful taste and pennies in your pocket.”
My mother is no longer here but I always think of her when I drink iced coffee. A bit of a long-standing family joke, really. And as I am fairly getting through the iced coffee these days she is on my mind a lot. It makes me have a wee giggle inside. A nice memory.
Pretty much every morning growing up she would put on her General Electric drip coffee machine, drink a mug or two, then leave the pot sitting on its little hot plate throughout the morning – coffee strengthening to a bitter crescendo as the hours passed.
At some point in the morning, and no matter where she was in the house, my mother would invariably hear one of us rattling around in the kitchen. This would swiftly be responded to with a rather bossy shout of, “Don’t throw that out. I’m going to make iced coffee.” A reflexive response. Like I might fuss, “you’ll have someone’s eye out with that” even if what is being thrown was a towel, into a laundry basket.
I was probably the worst for wanting to chuck the dreggy liquid down the sink, but obediently I would transfer the bitter brew to a mug – a nasty layer of coffee oil already slicking the surface – and pop it into the fridge.
We always did as we were asked but never saw an iced coffee emerge from the kitchen. Iced tea, yes. Quarts per day. But never iced coffee. I don’t know if she made any when we weren’t around, but I am pretty sure I never saw her kick back on a hot afternoon (which they always are in Florida) with a frosty glass of iced coffee. And having actually tried to make iced coffee from cooled down, hot-brewed coffee I can understand why. It’s pretty crap. Too acidic and just plain wrong. Maybe my mother knew this all along. Her little joke on me.
Q: So, how do you make decent iced coffee?
A: Get some good quality coffee beans and follow this easy method. It is fool-proof.
You will see that we are making this a lot stronger than normal coffee. That’s because it isn’t normal coffee, it is a concentrate. When you cold-brew you lose a little of the flavour in the top and bottom notes so therefore you want to make it quite strong. But what you may lose in flavour (which you make up for by making as a concentrate) you gain in a sweeter, more mellow taste, and much better storing. This is because you haven’t aggravated the natural oils as with a hot brew, so you are keeping the acidity lower (by as much as 67%). And, in the absence of heat, the tongue gets to appreciate the caramel, chocolate and even slightly smoky notes that might be disguised while trying to avoid being scalded. That’s also why good beans are a must: you don’t want to be tasting any stale, musty notes after having waited patiently for 12 hours, now do you?
Result: Sweet, all-day sipping.
There is another method that I wish to give a go: Japanese cold brewed, aka “flash brewed.” It is supposed to keep the acidity (where proper aficionados say all the flavour resides). But today I am thinking of the havoc it might wreak on the weak of stomach (lining). Those who like their coffee black may prefer the flash method, but anyone who likes a wee tot of something in their morning or afternoon cup of joe should love this make-ahead-and-use-all-week method. A batch keeps for a week to 10 days.
What iced drinks are you enjoying this summer? If you are from the Southern Hemisphere, what iced drinks are you looking forward to drinking? And, do you have any cooking/drinking rituals or quirks in your house?
Making Cold-Brew Coffee Concentrate in a French Press (Cafetiere)
This easy recipe is for anyone trying to ditch an expensive coffee chain iced coffee habit. I can’t promise you free wi-fi and a comfy seat, but I can promise a beautiful taste and pennies in your pocket.
You will need:
75g (1 cup) whole roasted coffee beans (or 75g/ 2.65 ounces coarse grind beans)
750ml (3 cups) water
Standard-sized (32 ounce) French press coffee maker/cafetiere OR large glass/ceramic jug;
Another jug, or even a saucepan
Coffee grinder/clean spice grinder;
Fine mesh strainer/sieve*;
Coffee filter, muslin/cheese cloth, jelly/nut milk bag*;
Bottle or jar in which to store the coffee concentrate.
* you can just use the French press but you will have some sediment*
Optional: dairy or non-dairy milk; evaporated milk; coconut milk; flavoured simple syrup (to sweeten like coffee shops – not a healthy option though); extracts/powders such as vanilla, cardamom, hazelnut, chocolate, cinnamon, Christmas spice; liquers such as Kahlua. You can also infuse roughly ground cocoa nibs with the coffee to impart a chocolatey taste.
1. Grinding the Beans For the best, smoothest flavour, use a coarse setting. Or as I do with my old Bosch machine, just letting it whirr for a short while, shaking the whole thing! The normal grind used for cafetieres or coffee pots is too fine and will result in a bitter brew. You can use pre-ground from the shop but it’s difficult to get them so coarsely ground. Most coffee shops will grind beans to your preference.
2. The Water Pop the grounds into the French press (or large jug) and cover with the water. Give it a gentle stir then cover with some cling film and set aside in a cool room – out of direct sunlight (which would ‘cook’ the brew) – and let it infuse for about 12 hours. You can get away with as little as six hours and as long as 24, but 12 seems best.
3. Straining the Brew If using the French press (highly recommended – less fuss), secure the plunger on top and gently, gently depress until the grounds are wedged underneath. Put a fine sieve over a jug or pan, line with muslin cloth – or use a coffee filter/jelly bag – and pour the coffee slowly into the sieve. You can skip this if you don’t mind a little sediment. If you are using a jug, two sievings is recommended. Pour into a sealable glass or ceramic container and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
4. Drinking! This is where you can customize to your heart’s content. Whether you keep it straight or add flavours, I would recommend diluting the concentrate at least 1:1 with water or something milky. I do the coffee concentrate as decaf so this isn’t so necessary, but is definitely needed for a caffeinated drink.
Some of you will prefer 2:1 – water to coffee. Also, some people find that, due to lower acidity compared to hot-brewed coffee, cold-brewed coffee is sweet enough as is.
5. Fripperies On-the-rocks is fab, but here are a few ideas to try:
Coffee Addict. Pour some coffee over coffee ice cubes (made from either an earlier batch of concentrate or any leftover coffee you have) and top up with a little water or milk.
Vanilla Frappe. Add a few drops of vanilla extract (or vanilla powder), ice cubes and 1-2 stoned dates and whiz coffee in a high-speed blender (I used my Froothie). If you don’t have a powerful blender do use a liquid sweetener as the dates will be ‘bitty’.
Chocolate-Mint. Add one drop each of peppermint extract and chocolate extract (or a chocolate syrup) and any liquid sweetener. Blend with ice, or pour over ice.
Silk Road. Add a pinch of ground cardamom or cinnamon and any liquid sweetener to the cold brew concentrate, along with some ice. Blend until completely smooth. As silk.
Some Like It Hot. Cold-brewed coffee concentrate actually makes a fabulous hot drink too! Dilute with hot water – a super mellow but rich drink. The best instant coffee I can think of.
Simple Stuff. I like mine diluted 1:1 with skimmed evaporated milk and a drop of pure liquid stevia. On the rocks.
Nutrition: You might expect me to say that this is just a treat, despite the lack of sugar. But not so. Coffee has long got a bad press, probably because we enjoy it so much ( a lot of killjoys out there). But plain coffee (no sugar or milk) is known to have a positive impact on health, and may help prevent numerous diseases: type 2 diabetes; neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s); cancer (prostate, bladder, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, colon and colorectal); cardiovascular health; and liver health. Coffee’s positive effects on mood, suicide rate and cognitive performance are also well-documented. So too are the negative health ones: on pregnancy, insulin sensitivity (although this is contentious), dehydration, gastric irritation, anxiety, and withdrawal syndrome issues. If blood pressure and/or heart palpitations are not an issue, most can safely drink up to 5 cups of normal strength coffee (i.e., diluted concentrate) per day. Pregnant women, children, teens and the elderly should typically consume less as the effects of caffeine are more profound in these population groups. Here’s a very good academic paper (Nutritional Recommendations for Cardiovascular Disease) that you may wish to read. Wade down about halfway. It is an interesting paper concerning studied risks and benefits of most factors involved in CVD.
Other cold summer drinks to try (some indulgent, others not so much):
Avocado and Hazelnut Milk Coffee Smoothie from Veggie Desserts
Cold Brew Green Tea by Fuss Free Flavours
London Fog – Just Like Starbucks from Cakeyboi
Coffee Milkshake by Fishfingers For Tea
Watermelon and Green Tea Soothie by Food To Glow
Banana-Lychee Lassi by Food To Glow
Frozen Banana, Coffee and Almond ‘Wakeup Shake’ by Food To Glow
PS I have quite a few cold drinks in the Index.
Disclosure: I am A Froothie Ambassador and was given my fab blender to use for recipe development. I am under no obligation to post a positive review, and opinions are completely my own. But I LOVE my Froothie!