Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The icy side of coffee

Coffee beans. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
More than a few years ago, B.K. (before kids), my husband and I were free-wheeling adults given to do crazy things like shop for groceries late at night. In the nearly empty Kroger store at 10 p.m. (hey, it was late for us, I didn't say we were night owls), we would scoot along, filling up our buggy and dancing along to the oldies played over the in-store p.a. You'd get kind of lost in your own little world, just listening along, selecting your items, thinking you were all alone, until you turned a corner and saw another human. One one trip, we turned into the aisle with the coffee beans and grinder and heard a ghostly voice say "coffee" except it came out in a Vincent Price way "COF-feeeeeeeeee." From our end of the aisle, I couldn't tell if it was from a male or female, but my husband and I got the giggle fits and since then, whenever I've really needed a cup of coffee, that's how it's pronounced around here. COF-feeeeeeee.

For years, I liked my coffee "Airplane" style, if you know what I mean. (and if you don't get the reference, it's ok, we'll just move on). Every morning, I plop a filter followed by two scoops of medium roast into the basket, pour in 4 cups of water and let it brew. No cream, a little bit of Splenda, and I'm good to go. Until this summer, when I discovered bliss in a grande cup - the iced coffee.

Iced coffee. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

You may think that iced coffee is simply the morning's hot-brewed coffee poured over ice. But, there you would be mistaken, because the best iced coffee is made from a cold brew; ground coffee beans steeped overnight in water, mixed with sugar to form a concentrate that is then stored in your fridge for whenever the mood, or maybe I should say need occurs and only an iced coffee will do. When this mood hits, you pull the coffee concentrate out of the fridge and mix it 50/50 with milk or half-n-half, add a splash of hazelnut syrup or even a squidge of chocolate syrup, finish with a straw and enjoy a caffeinated pick-me-up. Well, this drink not only is a pick-me-up, it's a rocket booster.

Iced Coffee
adapted from The Pioneer Woman blog

for concentrate
2 quarts cold water
2 cups ground coffee beans
1 cup sugar, more to taste

for iced coffee
Ice cubes
Flavored syrups such as hazelnut or chocolate, optional

1. To make the concentrate, in a large container with a lid, stir ground coffee into water. Cover with lid and leave at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Line a strainer with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and place over two-quart container with lid. Carefully pour cold-brew through the filter and discard the detritus (coffee grounds), in a composter, if you have one. Stir in sugar to taste, cover with lid and place concentrate in refrigerator where it can stay for a couple of weeks, until ready to make iced coffees.

3. When ready to make the beverage of bliss, remove concentrate from refrigerator. In a tall glass, over ice, pour in concentrate, then milk. I like a ratio of 50/50, but this is a very personal thing, depending on the type of bean that you used, the level of sweetness you like and the richness of the milk (whole v. skim, etc.). Stir in syrup, for a flavor kick. Add a straw and keep by side your side all afternoon, taking a sip every now and then, to get you through that evening supermarket trip.

Iced coffee with milk. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


Helene Dsouza said...

I love to to go late evening shopping, which is impossibel in europe, cause the shops close by 7 pm and here in goa there are no supermarkets.

I ll try out your ice coffee one of these days!

By the way I love the way u write your articels, very entertaining and interessting. =)

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme said...

Love iced coffee! Especially an iced mocha cappuccino. Perfect for the 4 p.m. doldrums.

linda said...

awesome, Lucy! I like my hot coffee as latt├ęs and my ice coffee strong, tempered by milk and lots of ice. I have not done this cold brew method, but have read about it (maybe a Japanese method?) Anyway, will have to try.

HapaMama said...

Thanks for this tutorial, Lucy! Ice coffee is my summer afternoon pick-me-up of choice. But while I always brew iced tea, I always go out for iced coffee. I'll have to try this.