I love my iced lattes from Peet’s. I get one nearly every day (no matter what time of year). But heading to the local café for a cold beverage can be expensive.
I’m a fan of the iced latte because it is made with espresso and milk and ends up being a cold, frothy delight. But I’m not so much of a fan of the regular iced coffee. The difference is that I find iced coffee to be just a watered down version of my morning cup a hot Joe. Yuck!
However, I have been hearing so much about the process of cold brewing to make iced coffee, I just had to try it.
The theory goes that cold brewing eliminates the bitterness of the hot water steeping the coffee. It is supposed to create an intense pure, smooth flavor that results in a concentrate that can be stored for up to 4 weeks in the fridge. Then you can simply pour that cold liquid coffee into a cup, add ice, a splash of half and half or milk, sugar (sweetener or simply syrup, if you prefer) and have your refreshing “brew” to cool down on a hot day.
It’s a simple concept but the process requires a little commitment and experimentation and definitely a lot of time – or maybe, I should say patience.
I didn’t follow a particular recipe, but I did adhere to the cold brew process. I just Googled “cold brewed coffee” and looked at all the different methods and measurements and then went rogue.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 very large jugs, pitchers or glass containers. You must have lids.
- A fine mesh strainer
- A piece of cheese cloth or 2 paper coffee filters (you can use paper towels in pinch)
- About a quarter pound of freshly ground beans (ground coarsely for a French Press)
Because the cold brew process takes a minimum of at least 15 hours, I think you’ll want to make a big batch. As I mentioned it can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. This is not something you’ll want to be making every couple of days. Some recipes I saw online say you can make the concentrate in a French Press (just don’t plunge until after 15 hours) but that would only yield two to three cups – even with the largest French Press. If you’re going to take the time – go big!!
So, here’s how I did it.
- I put a quarter of a pound of my favorite freshly ground beans into a large 1.5 gallon glass container
- I added cold water (it can be from the tap or filtered). I just used water from our Brita pitcher. I think it tastes better.
- I stirred the mixture once to make sure all the coffee was mixed in. But don’t over mix – it will result in a cloudy brew.
- Then I put the lid on tight.
At this point you should have a huge container of what looks like mud sitting on your countertop. Let it sit there for no less than 15 hours and up to 24 hours. Patience, my friend.
After it has “brewed for the required time, here are you’re next steps:
- Open the container and pour the muddy coffee mixture into another pitcher using the mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth, coffee filters or paper towels.
- Let it slowly drip into the new pitcher.
- This can take hours to get every last drop of the liquid. I used a cheese cloth so I could squeeze out all the water.
I also kept the grounds and will use them to help fertilize my plants and flowers.
What you have now is a liquid coffee concentrate. It should be really strong and intense.
Put the lid on the new pitcher and place in the fridge to get cold.
Once it’s cold you can pour some into a cup. Again, I didn’t use a recipe, I just went by taste. Add a handful of ice, then milk or half and half (or soy or almond milk…whatever you like) and sweeten to your liking.
It’s was delicious.
However, because it’s hot outside this time of year, the ice will tend to melt quickly and water down the drink. To avoid this, I found a great tip online. I used my Keurig single brewer to make a couple of cups of strong coffee and then I transferred that coffee to ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. This way when the cubes melt it will result in more coffee and not water down the drink.
I also saw some great recipes for adding alcohol or flavorings like vanilla or chocolate, or making a Vietnamese iced coffee. Once you have the basic coffee concentrate, you can flavor it how you like. I encourage you to experiment. I’m thinking that I might use my hand-held foaming device to add a little froth to the cold milk next time (which will be later today).
And while this coffee was not quite on par with my iced latte, it was certainly the best iced coffee I ever had and has me thinking about giving up my iced lattes for a while. Plus, the cost savings is amazing. Most people have all the items on hand. The coffee was about $12 for pound (and I only used a quarter-pound) and it looks like my batch will yield about 12 iced coffees. Compare that with $3.95 for an iced latte or $3 for an iced coffee.