I'm just back from Hawaii (will blog more about that later) and while waiting for my flight, Chris and I went to the nearby Starbucks for a cold drink. Since I just can't stand paying $3.00 for a cup of their iced tea, I decided on a cup of iced coffee instead. Paying nearly $4.00 just reminded me that I used to make great iced coffees using a cold brewed coffee concentrate. I looked into this concept a few years back but I'm too cheap to spend the $30.00 for the Toddy system and went about trying to figure out my own way of doing it. (BIG SURPRISE, HUH?) I'm not the only one who refused to pay for the Toddy as you can see here and here. I, however, figured out how to do it using my 32 oz. French press pot.
1) Measure 1 cup of coffee grounds and pour into the French press.
2) Fill pot with cool water, leaving about 1 1/2 inches from the rim.
3) Press dry grounds down slowly with the back of a spoon and then slowly stir so that all of the grounds get wet.
4) Rest the plunger and lid on the very top of the grounds. Don't press down.
5) Let the mixture rest on the countertop for 12 hours.
6) Slowly press the plunger down completely.
7) Decant your concentrate into a bottle with a lid to store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
8) Remove plunger, take a spoon and scoop out the grounds into either your trash or compost bin. You don't want to pour your grounds down the drain!
The best part about this method is that your coffee drinks can be made as strong or as weak as you want by simply adjusting the amount of concentrate you use. Also, if you suffer from acid reflux, you may notice that you can drink coffee drinks made from cold brewed concentrate because this method makes a brew with less acid than traditional hot brewed methods.
You can make hot coffee one cup at a time. Try using 1 to 2 ounces of concentrate for an 8 ounce cup and fill with hot water. You may need to nuke your cup in the microwave for a few seconds because adding hot water to cold concentrate may not produce a steaming hot cup of coffee.
For iced coffee, I dissolve a couple of teaspoons of sugar with hot water in the bottom of my glass (sugar syrup or flavored syrup would work great here), add a couple of ounces of concentrate, nearly fill the glass with milk and then top off with ice. If this is too strong, you can mix the concentrate with water and ice then top off with milk.
Of course, if this seems too labor intensive, you can always buy ready made concentrate. If you just want iced coffee that tastes surprisingly like the stuff sold at McDonalds, check out my previous iced coffee blog post.