A seriously GOOD cuppa coffee

January 22, 2016

My cold brew set-up.

My cold brew set-up.

I have mentioned before that I am a coffee snob.

I order my coffee beans from Cafe Brazil in Dallas, which is where I had, some 8 or 10 years ago, the best cup of coffee I ever had in my LIFE, and I’ve been buying coffee from them ever since. It ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it. I generally brew it, or used to, in my French press, because there’s no point in buying good coffee and then downgrading it by running it through your Mr. Coffee, and a French press is significantly cheaper than a high-dollar Bonavita (2015 top rated coffee makers here, and in all fairness, Mr. Coffee comes in at No. 7). I also like the decidedly low-tech feel of pouring boiling water over the grounds, stirring, waiting eight minutes, and plunging the grounds to the bottom.

But the French press has been relegated to tea-making. I’ve discovered cold-brew coffee.

My long-time love affair with coffee has gone from me drinking it black (because that’s how my Mama drank it, and how I figured I was supposed to drink it), through years of swilling down newsroom brew or cop shop/courthouse brew, through the onset of Starbucks (loathe it), the discovery of Dunkin’ Donuts (still the best drive-thru coffee out there if you’re in an area that has them), and the mere toleration of the weak stuff that passes for coffee at lots of restaurants. (Oddly, up there on the list of semi-decent coffee places you can find anywhere are Sonic and Mickey D’s. Go figger.) Somewhere along the way, it started bothering my stomach, so I started adding cream to counteract the acidity. And then it got to bothering my stomach more, even with the cream, so I just about gave it up.

But I decided to try iced coffee back in the summer, and that’s when I discovered cold brewing. And it’s the best thing to ever happen to coffee.

Quite simply, you pour cold water over your coffee grounds, stir it up well, and let it sit and steep overnight (up to 24 hours) on the countertop. Next day, you strain the grounds, put the resultant very strong coffee concentrate into a container, and stash it in the fridge, where it’ll keep a LONG time. Depending on how much grounds you use and how strong you like your coffee, you’ll use a quarter to a half-cup of coffee concentrate and finish up with boiling water to make yourself a cup.

My setup is a glass carafe that holds 1.6 liters, which allows me to use about a cup and a half of coffee grounds and 5 cups of water, which will make 10 8-ounce cups of coffee the way I like it. Whenever I find my refrigerator container running low, I make another carafe, using the filtered, chilled water that comes through the door dispenser in my fridge.  Here’s how:

I grind two grinders’ worth of beans, filling the grinding chamber as full as I can. That turns out, as I mentioned, about 1 1/2 cups of grounds. There’s no reason you can’t use pre-ground coffee, except for the fact it won’t taste as good. I dump the coffee in the carafe. I put five cups of cold water over it, and stir it up with a chopstick, which I’ve found is the perfect implement for that activity. I pop the top on, and find an out-of-the-way spot on the countertop to stash it until the next day.

Sometime near the 24-hour mark, I get out my coffee concentrate container — doesn’t matter if it still has some of the last batch in it, just pour the new on in — and strain the new coffee into it, using a strainer lined with a paper towel. The paper towel gets the “coffee mud” you frequently get in French press coffee. If your strainer is a fine one, and you don’t mind coffee mud, forego the paper towel.

To make a cup, I flip the switch on the electric kettle that sits on my counter filled with water at all times. While it’s heating, I pour my half-cup of coffee concentrate, add a little cream, and stick it in the microwave for a minute. The combo of cold concentrate and boiling water in the proportions I use makes a slightly hotter than lukewarm cup of coffee, and that ain’t hot enough. Nuking for a minute is perfect. Stir in the boiling water, have a seat, put your feet up and enjoy.

Because this will be the smoothest, mildest cup of coffee you’ve ever experienced. Absolutely NO bitter “whang” to it, said bitterness being partially a function of the darkness of the roast, and partially a function of the water temp in brewing. And with the concentrate waiting for you, it’s certainly quicker than the coffeemaker, and doggoned near as quick as a cup of (shudder) instant. You don’t waste coffee, either, since you make it a cup at a time, and because it’s not heated until the last minute, it always tastes fresh.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em try you some of this. It makes a good cup of coffee better.



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