Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Cooking

After lots of testing, we found the perfect recipe for homemade cold brew coffee

RECOMMENDED READING


Hot coffee is terrible. Hot tea equally bad. Actually, there is almost no drink better hot than it is cold, and especially not coffee.

I never understood the coffee hype until a year or two ago. Hot coffee always tasted burned to me, took too long to cool and seemed watery. Iced coffee was the same; just hot coffee carelessly poured over ice.

Cold brew changed everything.

Cold brew coffee is made by soaking ground coffee beans in water for 24 to 36 hours before serving. The result is a less-acidic, delicious wake-me-up, the homemade version a cheaper alternative to buying the iced coffees sold in Tampa Bay.

The great part about a cold brew recipe is the simplicity of its ingredients (coffee, water, patience) and materials. (Don’t be fooled by fancy coffee contraptions. You only need a pitcher/large drink container and a strainer of some kind.) Here’s how I perfected my method.

Start with a good bean: If you want to splurge, grab beans from your favorite roaster in town. You will need a coffee grinder if you are buying your beans whole, but some local shops will grind them for you if you ask. You will want a coarse grind, similar to one for a French press, for your beans. One of my favorite spots to grab coffee is Mazzaro’s in St. Petersburg. The prices per pound are fair with a tremendous mix of coffee bean styles, plus they have a grinder on site. Publix’s Premium line of coffee is also superb — woo, their ground espresso is strong — and often on sale.

The second ingredient is water, and just like beer, the better the water the better the coffee. Use filtered or spring water and steer clear of the unpalatable water that comes from some Florida taps.

When it came to the actual brewing, the biggest issue I came across was finding the best coffee-to-water ratio. After consulting the internet, I found a delirious amount of ratios. I started with Jamie Oliver’s recipe, but his 1:8 milliliter "liquid conversion" had my American brain befuddled. How many cups in a liter? How am I supposed to pour 4.22675 cups and still find this magic 1:8 ratio? Can you even use decimals in fractions?

A friend directed me toward a recipe she loved from the Pioneer Woman with — thankfully — a lot less math but perturbing imagery about being a "naughty, naughty, bad, bad girl" when it came time to add cream to the coffee.

I attempted to find a middle ground between their ratios and start with 1 cup ground coffee to 5 cups water, since I knew I wanted my coffee to be a bit stronger and the brew would likely be sitting for only 12 hours since I was making it the night before I’d drink it. I ended up marking on my pitcher where these lines usually fell, so the process became easier over time. And the results were oh so (naughtily?) delicious.

How to make it

Once you have mastered your first coffee brew, the fun begins as you experiment with different flavors. Just toss whatever you want in with the coarse beans to infuse the flavors into the coffee. During fall, I’ve been incorporating a lot of allspice, cloves and orange peels. As winter approaches, nutmeg and cinnamon will be musts. During the other 10 months of the year in Florida, dried fruit or flowery, bright flavors sound like an excellent complement to warm weather. I prefer my coffee black and find that the rich, robust flavors of the beans I buy rarely require sweetener, but I also love bitter IPAs and detest most sweet flavors. You may want to add some sweetness. A hot trend with cold brew right now is mixing in tonic water instead of creamer. If you want to take that one step further, just top your brew with La Croix or some lesser seltzer and call it a day. The combination is incredible.

Basic Cold Brew

1 cup coarsely ground coffee beans

5 cups water

Place the coarse coffee beans into an empty pitcher.

Add filtered water.

Stir beans to incorporate. Make sure the beans are not just sitting at the top but floating throughout the pitcher.

Steep the brew for 24 to 36 hours in the fridge.

Place a cheesecloth (see note) over a mesh strainer positioned above a large bowl.

Pour your steeped coffee, beans and all, slowly into the bowl. Press down on the beans with a spatula or wooden spoon to get any excess liquid out. Remove strainer.

Using a funnel, transfer the coffee back into the pitcher.

Pour desired amount of coffee over ice into a glass and mix with your favorite creamer or sweetener.

Makes about a liter and a half, which lasts me two or four days depending on the kind of morning I am having. A full pitcher can keep for up to a month.

Note: If you are not using a cheesecloth, your concentrate might need to be strained twice. I found once was usually enough if the beans were coarse.

Source: Scott Pollenz,
Tampa Bay Times

Comments
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even if you’...
Published: 11/21/17
Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Take small bites.This may be the most crucial advice for Thanksgiving hosts who don’t have years of cooking and coordinating experience to provide the confidence that comes with leading the charge on the year’s biggest cooking day.It’s the first thin...
Published: 11/20/17
How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

Perfect your crust. Try new filling recipes. Learn some decorating tricks. And prepare for the biggest pie day of the year: Thanksgiving.   From apple to thyme You’ve got the crust down. Now it’s time to choose a filling for your holid...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

From appetizers to pies and everything in between, we’re here to help you put together a low-stress Thanksgiving spread. Here are a few ideas, and be sure to check out our Thanksgiving special report for more tips on preparing for the big day. ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

There are probably a handful of essentials, things you must have on the Thanksgiving table lest some family members begin to riot. But I find there are often a couple of slots open for new things, chances to get weird or creative or, gasp, healthy. ...
Published: 11/17/17
How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

As far as we’re concerned, anything you can make in advance of actual Thanksgiving Day is a good thing, and this make-ahead gravy fits the bill. Plus, Tucker Shaw of America’s Test Kitchen says it tastes just as good as if you made it wi...
Published: 11/17/17
How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

Planning a really good menu is the stealth approach to being a really good cook. Here are some tips from the experts. New York Times Put some thought into the menu What leaves an impression is not only the dishes you can make, but also how they t...
Published: 11/17/17
Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey is the unquestioned star of the Thanksgiving meal. It can be the most daunting part as well. But with a little planning and care, it doesn’t have to be.   Before you start • A decent roasting pan, one heavy enough that it wo...
Published: 11/16/17
Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

If you want to spend more time with your family and friends this holiday season and less time in the kitchen, our judges suggest serving Hormel’s mashed sweet potatoes. No need to wash, peel and heat potatoes. Just pop the container in the microwave ...
Published: 11/16/17
From the food editor: An expert weighs in on how to stay calm this Thanksgiving

From the food editor: An expert weighs in on how to stay calm this Thanksgiving

I can tell right away that Tucker Shaw has thought about Thanksgiving a lot, and not just as a home cook. As the editor in chief of Cook’s Country, a member of America’s Test Kitchen and the former dining critic and food editor at the Denver Post, Sh...
Published: 11/16/17