Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
Make cold brew coffee concentrate at home, for the flavor of cold brew and the convenience of instant coffee! Just add water (and ice.)
One of the great advantages of blogging is that I can work from home. I don’t have to dress up, fix my hair and makeup, pack a lunch (or try to find someplace I can eat,) spend half an hour commuting… I can fix lunch, start dinner, answer the door, choose to run a personal errand.
One of the great disadvantages of blogging is that I work from home. I forget to wear pretty things, I need to make a point of getting out of the house to walk and get fresh air and sunshine, there’s no clear beginning and end to my workday.
And there are no co-workers to chat with at the water cooler, waiting for the elevator, or over lunch. The isolation can get bad…
I cope with that by having a network of people I chat with online. Some I have known for fifteen years or more, some I just met, some I originally knew in person, some are half a world away. And enough also work from home that we have the same needs… Pop in, check in with each other, mention a problem or an accomplishment – and then go back to work without anyone wondering why we don’t hang out and chat.
Unsurprisingly, I connect with people interested in food and cooking, whether or not they blog. So lists of accomplishments may be “I posted, I finished the photographs, I edited another chapter, I finished the pattern for the jacket” but they’re as apt to include “I canned six quarts of stock, I put the pork in the slow cooker, I found a source of periwinkles!” (Periwinkles are small edible sea snails, if you wonder, as I did…)
And one woman has listed “I made the coffee syrup.” The what? Well… she has a fancy gadget to make cold brew coffee – but as a concentrate, not just to pour over ice and drink as is. She dilutes it with ice and cold water in summer, sure, but also with boiling water in winter, so it’s as fast and easy as instant on a busy morning, but tastes so much better with the smooth cold brew flavor. She’s done this for several years. Last year I started asking questions, and she was very helpful – because no, you don’t need the gadget. And I started making my own.
Now, I will admit I returned to the French Press in the winter – partly because refrigerator space is at a premium in this house in peak harvest season! But I love having this for iced coffee – and it’s so convenient to easily make a single cup if I want one during the day, without fussing with the coffee pot! And, well, my friend has been nudging me to share it on the blog… so here you are. It’s really barely a recipe – and so easy…
When I started making it, I didn’t have the French Press, and just used bowls and strainers. I’ll write that up as the basic way since most of us don’t have French presses – but if you do, they make this task much easier!
First, you need a coarse grind of coffee. Most of my adult life I’ve carefully purchased fine grind for drip coffee, so that took me a while to get used to… but this process uses time instead of either a fine grind or heat to extract the coffee.
Place one and a half cups of coarsely ground coffee in a large bowl. Add two cups of cold water, and stir. Add another two cups – you want one quart, all together – and stir that well. (Sure you could add all the water at once – I find it is easier to mix well this way.)
Let it rest about fifteen to twenty minutes. During that time most of the grounds will float to the top and join together in what is called a raft. You don’t want that, as it keeps the coffee from steeping properly, so take a spoon or whisk and carefully stir, breaking up the raft. Now the grounds will sink to the bottom, but much more loosely – this will steep well.
Cover it, and set it aside roughly 20-24 hours. I usually mix it right after breakfast, for breakfast the next day – if mornings are crazy, do it at night. It only takes a few minutes of your time. You don’t need to refrigerate it at this stage.
The next day, you need to strain it. I use a fine kitchen strainer, and start by ladling off the liquid on top, so I don’t get much of the grounds to begin with. After straining, I pour that liquid into my bottle through a coffee strainer to get the silt. Then I pour the rest of the coffee and grounds into my strainer, and give that some time to drip. Then I pour that coffee through the filter.
You started a quart of water, but some is still absorbed by the grounds, and some has evaporated. Add more water to bring it up to the quart. And there you have a quart of coffee concentrate!
Now, if you do have a French Press, all that straining is easier… Just put your coffee grounds and water in the pot, and stir. Let rest, just as you would in the bowl – you can just see the way the raft floats above the coffee! Stir that down, and put the lid on, but leave the press up – and let that rest until the next day. Then just push the plunger down and pour off the coffee. I do still pour through a coffee filter – there is always a little silt at the bottom, and too much will muddy the flavor, especially if it sits a few days.
I dilute this one part concentrate to three parts water. For iced coffee, that usually means one part concentrate, two parts cold water, and 2-3 ice cubes… In the glass I most typically use, I add one third of a cup of concentrate, a splash of half and half, two ice cubes, and then fill it with ice water. You will, of course, work out your own ideal proportions and measurements, in your own glasses.
Keep the concentrate in a covered container in the refrigerator. (Yes, I use an old milk bottle – it holds the right amount, has a cover, and fits nicely on the shelf!)
Wouldn’t this make your morning easier?
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
- 1 1/2 c coarse ground coffee
- 1 quart cold water
- Mix coffee and water in a large bowl or pot. Let rest 20 minutes.
- Stir down the raft of coffee grounds that will have formed at the top - stir well. Cover, and let rest 20 - 24 hours.
- Strain well. Refrigerate the concentrate.
- To use, mix one part concentrate to 2 parts cold water and one part ice, for iced coffee, or one part concentrate to three parts boiling water, for hot coffee. (Or to taste.)