Kona Coffee

Lessons from My Cold Brew Journey

So, it’s been a little over a week of experimenting with cold brewing.  I really love the results. I haven’t had a bad batch. Although I admit that some were better than others. But now I think I’ve gotten down.

The Coffee Blend

At first, I used one of my favorite regular fresh ground beans from Peet’s – Garuda. It was good but didn’t quite elicit that really intense (almost syrupy in consistency) that I wanted.  Next I got the brilliant idea that an espresso blend would be stronger. That was good, but still not exactly what I wanted. It seemed a little bitter.

Then I consulted with my favorite barista and Peet’s manager. He told me that Peet’s uses a blend called Baridi to make its iced coffee. Although, they do it hot and serve over ice. Still, he recommended that Baridi would likely be a great choice for cold brewing. He was right.

The Ratio

At first I was a little timid about how much coffee to use. My measurements were a little off. But finally I figured out that that the ratio of coffee to water is pretty darn good at 1.5 parts of freshly ground coffee to about 1 part of water.  This seems to yield a pretty much perfect brew. For my container that ends up being about ½ a pound of coffee. You’ll have to do your own calculations.

The Timing

I’m not a patient person. Most of what I saw from recipes on the Internet said to let the concoction sit on the counter for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. At first, I could barely wait 12 hours because I was so excited. I can say with certainty that waiting make a better, smoother, intense liquid. I have been letting it sit for about 20 hours and that is working perfectly.

 The Equipment

I was doing a lot of pouring and cleaning and generally making a mess. It’s not that you need special equipment, but having certain types of pitchers and containers really reduce the steps and the cleanup.

I needed a large pitcher with a lid and a spout. I thought finding this would be easy. It was not. Many would have fit the bill but were too large for our ill configured fridge. I bought and returned at least three pitchers. Meanwhile, I was funneling the iced brew into a washed out plastic milk jug.  Classy!

Finally, on clearance at Target ($5) I found a large glass container with a wide mouth lid and opening along with a spout at the bottom. So, I don’t even need to take the coffee out of the fridge. I can just go directly from spout to cup. No heavy lifting.  No shifting of items in the fridge.

The Jug is also tall and wide enough that when I am straining the muddy brew to get that pure coffee liquid, the strainer is not sitting in its own liquid. I was previously having that problem as the only thing I had that was large enough to strain the liquid was a large but shallow mixing bowl. That just wasn’t working. The new pitcher also eliminated washing extra bowls. Now I can go from the large glass brewing container directly into the pitcher that it will be served in.

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The Strain

The first time I used cheese cloth and it worked great, allowing me to squeeze all the liquid out and save the grounds to help fertilize my plants. But I didn’t have that much cheesecloth on hand and next time around I was forced to use paper towels. I doubled them up but it still was a wet, soggy mess of grounds that were not as easy to manipulate or save. I found a package of cheese cloth at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $4.

The Ice

I was simply using two of my regular ice cube trays. They were white. They are now stained even after putting them in the dishwasher. So, I can’t have trays that do double duty as coffee cubes and regular ice cubes.

Instead, I bought these colored ice trays that have a lid. Not the OXO ones where you need to slide the lid. That was a mess. Instead, these are from JOIE and they have a lid with a pop open top. I can simply leave the lid on and put hot coffee, which I make from my single brewer, and pour it into the tray without any spills or stains. I usually end up transferring all the cubes to a large plastic container with the lid. That way I always have coffee cubes on hand.

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Benefits

Oh, there are so many:

  • I can drink iced coffee whenever I want it. Which has turned out to be all day.
  • I am not spending $4 a day on my Peet’s iced-latte habit.
  • I am having less dairy as this coffee only requires a splash of half-and-half and not an entire glass of milk (which as I age seems to have less positive effects on my body)

I hope you’ll enjoy cold brewing as much as I am.

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