Sunday, February 7, 2010

Could This Be the Perfect Iced Coffee?

For some reason yesterday, I suffered from "link blink" (someone, I thought it was Linda - but now I cannot find her reference, referred to this as the act of getting caught going from one link to another until a ridiculous amount of time has passed).  But I did stumble upon a great site for Cold Brew Coffee (it also has fantastic photos, illustrating the process).  There are actually lots and lots of versions out there: feel free to google.
Cold brewing of coffee relies on time to flavour the water (instead of heat, which is applicable for standard hot coffee).  It apparently imparts more coffee flavour and less bitterness.  Essentially, you need to soak ground coffee for hours and then filter it.  You can do this in a plunger/french press (a common brand name rhymes with "snowdum") or just in a jar (in which case you need to use a coffee filter from a dripolator to filter out the ground coffee).  Actually, I've left out the third version: buy a specifically made cold-brew coffee maker!

As usual though, I cannot possibly follow a recipe straight up, so I've tweaked it a bit (original copyright Christy Jordan):
A plunger coffee maker OR
A jar, a sieve, two coffee filter papers (or some muslins) and a bowl
A spoon or chopstick
1/2 cup freshly ground coffee (not instant! never instant! never, ever, ever!*)
1 litre of tepid filtered water (my plunger actually only holds 750mls)
1 tbs chicory (optional)
1- Grind coffee (or just use ready ground coffee from a packet - it's not my preference but sometimes needs must).
2- Place 1/2 cup of freshly ground coffee into plunger or jar.
3- Add 750mls of tepid filtered water.
4- Stir the coffee grounds (a chopstick is ideal for this).
5 - Cover and let sit over night (12-15 hours is ideal).
6a- If you are using a plunger: plunge the coffee.
6b- If using a jar: place strainer over bowl and line strainer with coffee filter/muslin.  Pour over half the coffee and let it strain through; it may take some time.  Remove used filter (and coffee) and replace with a fresh filter.  Pour over remaining coffee and let it strain.  
7- Decant the coffee into the jar in which you will store it.  
8- Add the chicory (optional).
9- Store in fridge (make sure it's well sealed) and use within two weeks**.

Making Iced Coffee:
Mix 1:2 coffee concentrate to milk (adjust ratio to your preference), add ice and, if desired, sugar (or other sweetener) and maybe, if you're feeling decadent, some ice-cream.  Enjoy!

1- This concentrate can also be used to make a hot coffee.  Just use 1:2 concentrate to hot water (adjust to your pref.) and then add sugar, milk, etc. as you would normally.
2- For mocha, just add some chocolate! Either powered or syrup (or even real chocolate that you've melted). If you're going to use real chocolate, try to buy at least 70% cocoa chocolate (preferably fair trade and thus slave free).
3- Instead of chicory, you could substitute vanilla extract (or anything else that takes your fancy).
4- If you don't want ice-cubes making your iced coffee weaker, just freeze some of the concentrate as ice cubes!
5- The used filters and coffee grounds will go really nicely in your compost bin.
6- Some recipes suggest using milk instead of water - I'm a bit concerned about the potential for the concentrate going off, but feel free to try it if you want (let me know how it goes).

* If you're an instant coffee drinker, this is a waste of time, just make a paste and then add milk and ice - but I'd strongly suggest you leave the dark side and come and try some real coffee (I don't even use instant when cooking! Life's just too short).
** It's likely to to be used well before that, but the research I've read suggests this is the comfortable maximum for which you can leave the concentrate.  Other sites suggest it will keep for up to a month in a fridge.  Personally, as it's so little work, my preference would be to make a batch every few days; thus avoiding the potential for any nasty moulds to grow.

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