Lauren and I have gone through four distinct phases of coffee consumption in the past few years.
- Let Starbucks make the coffee (easy once you leave home / expensive)
- We’ll make espresso at home (messy / labor intensive)
- K-Cups (clean & easy but weak / watery / expensive)
- Cold Brew (easy, mostly neat, relatively cheap AND GOOD)
We have entered the Cold Brew era.
Cold Brew is the process of brewing coffee by letting it soak for about 12 hours and then filtering it. You end up with coffee concentrate, which you can then store in your fridge for up to three weeks. Ours usually lasts about three days, because we drink it like fiends.
It really makes a GREAT cuppa Joe, too — strong but without being acidic. You start with the concentrate and add water or milk and other fixings. I like it iced, Lauren heats it up in the microwave. It’s also buzzy. Very highly caffeinated. It’ll make you want to drive a tractor trailer rig across country while writing On The Road and Atlas Shrugged. Zoooom!
We’ve been brewing our own using the Toddy T2N Cold Brew System which works great. We buy fresh coffee beans, grind them at the store and brew overnight. We’ve tried different beans, such as using a hazelnut bean blend. That’s pretty awesome. I’m also partisal to whatever is on sale. My theory is that since the cold brew is so concentrated this is like cooking wine; the cheap stuff works just as well. So far, I can’t tell much diffeence. We’ve been using dark roasts for the most part but will probably experiment with lighter roasts, too.
There are also a few ready-to-rock, pre-made cold brews out there that are available either via mail order or on your foodie grocer’s shelf. These are super easy and worth trying PLUS with some of them you get a cool /useful glass bottle to put your own brew in. At our local Central Market, we can get Austin made Chameleon Cold-Brew - good stuff and a nice clear glass bottle in two sizes. The Chameleon website also a photo of people who look they came fresh of an Occupy tent but I don’t hold that against them. It’s Austin! Speaking of hipster, straight outta Brooklyn there’s also Grady’s Cold Brew. Excellent and a cool brown bottle. Bought it mail order via Fab but they sell through their website, too; it arrived all packaged up safe and sound. We have N.O. Brew at our local Whole Foods in a variety of flavors. The Hazelnut is Lauren’s favorite off-the-shelf cold brew coffee. Don’t buy N.O. for the bottle — it’s plastic, as is the bottle for Kohana Cold Brew.
So there’s your Cold Brew roundup and I’ll leave you with one last hint: try tossing in a tablespoon or so of cold brew coffee concentrate in your next batch of chili to add a nice smokiness. If you’re worried about the caffeine, do what I do and balance out the high by also adding some beer.