This is a strange time of year, when the universe conspires to tell me summer is over — Paris is again full of life and the kids are back in school — but I want to prolong the feeling of it for just a little while longer.
My favorite way to do this is to continue, for another couple of weeks or so, to sip cold-brew coffee that I prepare at home.
My earliest memory of iced coffee comes from making café frappé at my parents’ house in my late teens. We would make coffee from instant coffee granules, pour it with some ice cubes in a promotional plastic shaker we’d received from the brand of instant coffee, and shake shake shake, shake and shake some more. The sound of the shaking was at least as delicious as the beverage, and my sister and I felt very sophisticated.
I confess I have become a leeeeetle bit of a coffee snob in the two decades since, and now I would not touch instant coffee granules with a muddy stick, unless I found out it can be used as a natural cleaning product of some sort.
(Related: My Best Gifts for the Coffee Lover.)
And making cold-brew coffee is not the same thing as chilling hot coffee: it’s a method in which you brew the coffee grounds at room temperature, giving them a lot of time to release all of their flavor. This results in coffee that has more body and less acidity.
That said, making cold-brew coffee is not the time to show off your absolute best coffee beans, as some of their subtleties will get lost at a cold drinking temperature. You should seek out an intermediate quality: not your cheap supermarket coffee beans, perhaps the entry-level coffee from your local craft coffee seller.
Cold-Brew Coffee: The Easy Way
The process for making cold-brew coffee is very easy: you just put coffee grounds in a big jar, add water, and let this steep overnight on your counter.
In the morning, you’ll filter the coffee through a sieve and a nut milk bag. The liquid you’ll get is a coffee concentrate that you should not drink straight — it is very strong! — but rather mix half and half with chilled water.
Add ice cubes and a dash of milk if you like, and there you go! Drink with a straw to enjoy a deliciously refreshing caffeine buzz.
I am loving my Kinto cold-brew coffee tumblers, as shown in the photos of this post. In fact I love everything that the Japanese brand Kinto makes, and these are my current favorite glasses to drink water from as well: nice and hefty, with the great feeling of the embossed lettering on the sides when I hold them.
What’s great about this cold-brew making technique is that the coffee concentrate keeps for a week in the fridge, so you can brew a batch (or a double-batch) once on the weekend, and quickly mix and grab your cold-brew coffee on your way out on weekday mornings.
If at all possible, I recommend you grind the beans fresh. If you’re at all serious about your coffee, having an electric coffee grinder is an investment that will pay dividends every single day. If that’s not an option, then get your coffee seller to grind the beans for you as close as possible to brewing time.
Recommended Equipment for Cold-Brew Coffee
• An electric coffee grinder, or this cheaper hand-cranked one (we take that one with us when we travel),
• A 1-quart/1-liter glass container with a lid,
• A fine-mesh sieve,
• A nut milk bag,
• A set of pretty cold-brew coffee tumblers.
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- 140 grams (1 1/2 cups) whole coffee beans, freshly and coarsely ground
- Milk of your choice, for serving (optional)
- Ice cubes, for serving
- The night before, put the coffee grounds in a sterilized 1-liter (1-quart) glass container with a lid, such as this French-made one.
- Add 720 ml (3 cups) cold water, preferably filtered, and stir to moisten the grounds.
- Cover and leave at room temperature overnight, 12 to 15 hours.
- Set a fine-mesh sieve over a mixing bowl with a pouring spout, and line the sieve with several layers of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.
- Pour in the coffee and solids, and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the glass container in the meantime if you want to use it to store the coffee concentrate.
- To serve, combine the coffee concentrate with the same volume of water, and serve in tumblers with ice cubes. You can stir in the milk of your choice, and a sweetener if you must.
- You can keep the coffee concentrate in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for 1 week.
- The recipe can be doubled.