Rich and dark at the bottom, creamy and light on top, and swirly goodness in the middle – cold-brewed iced coffee is all the rage. From your neighborhood coffee shop to the everywhere Starbucks, this refreshing coffee trend is the perfect treat for the summer. But you don’t have to leave our house to savor this smooth, mild coffee drink. With this easy cold-brew iced coffee recipe, you can savor the sweet flavor anytime you want.
First things first: cold-brew coffee isn’t just leftover coffee from the morning that you cooled down and poured over ice. That coffee has been hot-brewed – a method that we are all very familiar with. Hot-brewing (aka ordinary brewing) is popular and quick, but the high temperatures release oils and acids from the coffee beans that can create a bitter taste.
Cold-brewing, by contrast, is a slow and simple technique of steeping ground coffee beans in water that is room-temperature. This process creates a coffee syrup that is more concentrated, with a smooth and mild flavor. It also often has less caffeine – perfect for that early afternoon pick-me-up.
Like any coffee drink, the quality of the sip will depend on the quality of the bean. Choose fresh, locally roasted coffee beans. Buy them whole, and grind them up right before you’re about the use them.
Make a batch of this cold-brew iced coffee recipe the day before you’re ready for it, and keep it in your fridge. When you’re ready, combine the coffee with milk, water and/or ice for an invigorating and refreshing drink. This cold-brew iced coffee recipe makes 2 ¾ cups of syrup, enough for six servings. Store your leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
6 ounces (1 ½ heaping cups) of ground coffee, medium to coarsely ground
4 cups filtered water, at room temperature
Milk, water, ice and/or sweetener for serving, if desired
- In a glass container, combine your coffee and room-temperature water and stir. You can also use a French press if you prefer.
- Cover the mixture, and let it sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours. (Make it in the evening, and you’ll be ready to go by morning.)
- Using a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter (or cheesecloth), strain the coffee-water into a medium bowl. Don’t force the coffee through – it will drip slowly, in a small stream. Reserve the coffee grounds for your compost pile, or use them in your garden.
- To serve, combine equal parts of the coffee syrup with water or milk. Use about ½ cup of coffee and ½ cup of milk or water to make one serving. Add a sweetener if desired, but test the coffee first. Cold-brew coffee is naturally sweeter than hot-brewed, so you may not want as much added sweetness – if any at all. Instead of pouring over ice, pour ice into the mixture for the pretty, swirled effect. Enjoy!
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Photo by Jennie Faber