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The recipe below, on how to make cold-brew coffee, comes from HOMEGROWN’s flock tender, Jennifer, who likes her coffee shaken, not stirred.

 

I’m what you might call an intermediate coffee snob. I love it, I drink it daily, and I’m somewhat picky—but I’m not that picky. Most summer days, I drink two shots of espresso with milk and ice. (Yep, ice: the watered-down sign of a not-that-serious coffee drinker.) But I’m also lazy as all get out, so the thought of making cold coffee once and having it waiting for me all week in the fridge, ready to drink, was pretty appealing. So, I set out, about five years after everyone else, to make my first batch of cold-brew coffee.

 

As long as I was going for the good stuff, I figured I’d do it the real way, without shortcuts, which meant day 1 was a breeze but day 2 was slow going. That said, if you’re somewhere near me on the coffee spectrum and aren't a total stickler, there all kinds of ways you could shave some time off, including using a French press or using cheesecloth for both filterings. Just as there are a million ways to drink your coffee, there are a million ways to brew it, so experiment with the process below and make it your own!

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

» 12 oz whole coffee beans (Fair trade and organic, if you can find 'em! I chose the variety below for its flavor, its certifications, and its women farmers.)

» 7 cups cold water

» 2 large pitchers or similar containers

» Cheesecloth

» Coffee filter

» Milk of your choice (optional)

» Simple syrup (Also optional, but if you want it, here's how to make your own!)

 

One note: You could make a smaller amount of coffee, but since this keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, I recommend going for quantity. Another note: Cold-brew coffee requires an extralong steep—overnight and then some—so you can’t make this the same morning you want to drink it. In other words, plan ahead. One last note: What you’ll end up with is intensely concentrated coffee. Give a hoot: Do dilute! 

 

WHAT TO DO

1. Coarsely grind the coffee beans. Using a standard-sized grinder, I was able to get through a 12-oz bag in five rounds, grinding for about 12 to 15 seconds each time. Dump your ground coffee into a large pitcher—ideally with a lid, since, if you want to minimize dishes, this will be the container you keep your end result in.

 

2. Slowly add seven cups of cold water. I used a large water bottle so that I only had to measure twice (32 and 24 ounces).

 

3. A thick crust of grounds will immediately start to form at the top of the mixture, as in the first photo below. Gently stir the coffee to make sure all  of the grounds are thoroughly wet then cover the pitcher with cheesecloth. Don’t worry about all the grounds floating to the top. That's how it goes. Let the pitcher sit out at room temp for 15 to 24 hours. You’re done for day 1.

 

4. Day 2 dawns. Remove the cheesecloth from the top of the pitcher and use it to line a strainer. (The first photo below shows what the pitcher's contents looked like after sitting out overnight.) Got a second pitcher handy? Good. Pour the coffee through the cheesecloth-lined strainer into the second pitcher. Don’t stir! You’ve worked hard to get this pure nectar and you don’t want to muck it up. Once you’ve poured all of the coffee through, dispose of the cheesecloth and the grounds—or better yet, compost the grounds. Rinse your original pitcher; you’re going to reuse it in the next step.

 

5. Rinse your strainer and line it with a coffee filter. If you can, find a way to nest the strainer so that it sits securely over the pitcher. Trust me: You don’t want to have to hold it for the duration of this next step. I looped a rubber band around the handles of both the pitcher and the strainer to fix my setup in place.

6. Strain the coffee through the filter-lined strainer and back into your original pitcher. This takes time—like, a lot of time. Maybe even 45 minutes to an hour. I would pour a round in, go do something else while it dripped through, then pour in the next round on a subsequent trip through the kitchen. It’s OK to use a spoon to nudge the grounds around in the filter and help push the liquid through but, as in step 4, resist the urge to stir what’s in the pitcher.

 

7. Congratulations: You’re the proud maker of cold-brew coffee! It’s ready to drink as is but will taste better after chilling in the fridge.

IMPORTANT NOTE: What you’ve got is a highly concentrated beverage. Unless you like bouncing off the walls, you’ll want to dilute your black gold before drinking it. I suggest one part coffee to one part milk, soymilk, et cetera. I’ve been drinking half a cup of coffee concentrate with half a cup of milk, plus a tablespoon or so of simple syrup. (Plain old sugar won’t dissolve in cold coffee, but simple syrup takes 2 minutes to make and keeps in the fridge even longer than cold-brew coffee does.) To reap the full benefits of your fancy-pants brew, skip the ice. Since your coffee, milk, and simple syrup will be cold, you don’t need it. Bonus: Want to make Vietnamese cold coffee? Mix your coffee concentrate with homemade sweetened condensed milk.

 

8. Your cold-brew coffee will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Finally, a coffee you can drink without having to make it while you're half-asleep! For me, that's worth the wait.  

 

SPEAK UP!

Got a twist on the cold-brew process above? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in Cynthia’s Roasting Coffee Beans 101 and Simple Syrup 101. Or, for a foraging-friendly, caffeine-free option, try her Dandelion Root Coffee 101. There’s also Nicole’s Homemade Creamer 101, Sabrina’s Homemade Coffee Liqueur 101 (think Kahlúa), Christine’s Chai Tea Concentrate 101, and Jennifer’s Homemade Horchata. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and filter in the HOMEGROWN 101 Library.

 

ALL PHOTOS: JENNIFER

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I did a pitcher of cold brewed last summer and have been meaning to do it again this summer but I haven't gotten around to it.  It is far superior to iced coffee and I wish it was available in more places. I've noticed Trader Joe's carries jugs of cold brew coffee but I've been a little hesitant to try it.  

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