I’ll never forget the first time I tried coffee. I was probably in middle school, helping my mom at a volunteer event early in the morning. All the adults were drinking coffee and it smelled so good I asked my mom if I could try some. She laughed, told me I probably wouldn’t like it but helped me make a cup with plenty of milk and sugar anyway. She was right (as she usually is), I hated it. But, she said I’d probably learn to like it over time, eventually would be able to stop adding milk and sugar to cut down on the bitter taste, and she guessed I would be having some before work everyday.

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to coffee, but I do really enjoy it, and I don’t think there have been many days since entering the working world where I’ve gone without. We usually brew our own at home in the mornings, and over time I’ve slowly been upgrading the coffee makers. I started with a little 4 cup coffee maker, bought a grind and brew so I could have freshly ground beans, was given a Keurig (thanks Mom and Dad!), then Mom introduced me to the French Press and donated her espresso machine to the growing collection!

There are quite a few ways you could make coffee around the house depending on your mood! Now I keep seeing advertisements for cold brew coffee, and tried it for the first time when I was on vacation with my mom in Arizona. It was delicious! So smooth, not bitter and I could actually taste some of the flavors of the coffee.

Basically to make cold brew coffee you let your grounds soak in water for a long period of time, at least 12 hours, at room temperature. Then you filter out the grounds and are left with a coffee concentrate that you dilute, usually with water or milk. From what we’ve read, using hot water to brew coffee draws out oils and the bitter flavors from the coffee beans. But, using the room temperature or cold water produces a different reaction with the coffee beans, so no oil or bitter flavors. We decided the process sounded easy enough to try making it at home. Now you can buy special equipment to do this (like the Toddy for example), but we thought they were a little expensive when we could make our own set up at home.

Coffee beans
Coffee grinder
Jug for “brewing”
Coffee Filters
Bowl to collect the filtered coffee
Container to store the coffee

1. Grind the beans
I found a recipe from the NY Times to help make sure we got  it right, and they suggest a coarse grind. You’ll need 1/3 c coarse ground beans for every 1 1/2 c of water. We used some beans from our new favorite coffee shop, Beans and Leaves in Long Grove, IL. If you’re in the area, you need to stop. It’s a small little shop but they have some amazing flavored whole bean coffee at really reasonable prices. We’re planning on calling an order in and having them ship us some of our favorite blends.

Beans and Leaves Almond Amaretto Blend, yum!
Beans and Leaves Almond Amaretto Blend, yum!

2. Combine beans and water
1/3c of ground beans for every 1 1/2 c of water. Stir so everything is mixed in well. Any dry patches of grounds are wasted coffee, so make sure you mix it well. We like to make big batches (six cups at a time) so we can drink it all week.

3. Cover the container and let it sit
We let it sit covered on the counter for at least 12 hours. 24 hours is the recommended amount but you can get away with 12 in a pinch.

Letting the coffee brew
Letting the coffee brew

4. Strain the coffee
We put a coffee filter in a sieve over a large metal bowl to help collect the coffee more easily. Then we transfer it to a smaller container for storage in the fridge. It seemed easier than putting the sieve over a funnel into our smaller container. Someone would have had to stand there holding the sieve waiting for the coffee to strain. With the metal bowl we can simply pour the coffee into the sieve and walk away. This step can take some time as you wait for the coffee to filter through the grounds.

Strainer with the coffee filter
Strainer with the coffee filter

5. Enjoy! 
Since the cold brew process makes stronger coffee, or coffee concentrate, use a 1:1 ratio to mix your cold press with water or milk. When it was really hot last week, we were using milk and pouring the coffee over ice, it made a delicious iced coffee! Not diluted down at all like it was when we just poured hot coffee over ice. Now that it’s a little cooler in the morning, I’ve been mixing mine with hot water and it still tastes great. I love being able to taste all the flavors, especially the little amaretto taste of this batch!

We’ll have to go out and buy some flavored syrups now. I’d love to try adding some caramel on those days I’m craving something sweet! Has anyone else given cold brew a try yet?