Summer is cold brew season.
Don’t be turned off by the fancy-sounding name, which has been popularized by coffee giants but really just refers to the process of letting coffee grounds steep in cold water.
The result is a cool, smooth, extremely sippable jolt of caffeine you can tote around on sweltering days.
You can find some exceptional cold brew at Tampa Bay coffee shops. Or you can make your own at home.
Start with the beans. The key to good cold brew is a strong, bold bean. Whole beans are also crucial; the more freshly ground your beans are, the better your cold brew will be. When it comes time to make your cold brew, you’ll coarsely grind the beans, the coarse grind more suitable for the long steeping time required.
Consider opting for a higher quality bean at the grocery store, maybe the Lakeland-roasted Patriot Coffee Roasters, or take a look at the whole bean bags on the shelf next time you go to your local coffee spot. One 12-ounce bag of beans will yield at least a dozen cups of cold brew, keeping your cost per cup quite low even if the bag costs $15.
There are two tricky things about cold brew: ratios and patience.
Because the method involves nothing more than pouring water over ground-up coffee, the ratio of how much coffee to how much water is what sets apart excellent cold brew from brownish water.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried a few different ratios and landed on one I really like: ⅓ cup ground coffee to 1 ½ cups water.
Now, the patience. Cold brew needs to sit for at least 12 hours, and ideally 24 hours, to fully steep. I like to make mine on Sundays and pop it in the fridge so it’s ready for Monday morning, when we need it the most.
Another important thing to know about cold brew: You need to dilute it. What you’re making is essentially a concentrate that will be quite strong. When you’re pouring yourself a serving, you need to add water, ice cubes or even milk. The general rule is 50 percent concentrate to 50 percent water or milk, but I tend to go a little higher on the concentrate. Taste as you prepare your first serving to see what you like. And keep in mind that adding ice to your cup decreases the need for as much water, because the ice will melt.
Cold Brew Coffee
1 cup coarsely ground coffee
4 ½ cups cold water
Half-and-half or milk (optional)
Flavored syrup or simple syrup (optional; see recipes below)
In a jar or other large container, stir together coffee and water. Cover and place in the fridge, letting it rest at least 12 hours, or preferably 24 hours.
Strain twice through a fine mesh filter, then transfer back to the container or another storage container. It will keep in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.
To make one serving, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water. Start with less water and adjust to taste, if desired. You can also fill the cup with ice, then pour in coffee concentrate and omit the water; the ice will melt and mellow out the coffee.
Just before drinking, stir in half-and-half or milk and syrup, if desired.
Makes about 10 servings.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times
Try these syrups
I like my cold brew pretty black, but I also like to prep a couple of homemade syrups for when I want a little extra sweetness. Stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator, all of these will keep for 1 month.
Bourbon Vanilla Syrup
Don’t worry, the booze cooks out, leaving just the flavor of the bourbon behind. You can also omit the bourbon if you’d like. Combine the following in a saucepan: ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon bourbon. Bring to a low boil, stirring and cooking just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass container and cover and store in the fridge.
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Syrup
This syrup is made with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar for a nuttier flavor. Add ½ cup brown sugar to a saucepan along with ½ cup water. Add a pinch of cinnamon. Bring to a low boil, stirring and cooking just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass container and cover and store in the fridge.
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
We are responsible for conjuring the autumnal vibes we crave, no matter the time of year. This syrup gets the job done, and it’s a lot less cloying than the ones you’ll find at major coffee shops. To make, combine the following in a small saucepan: ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves). Bring to a low boil, stirring and cooking just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass container and cover and store in the fridge.