The Perfect Iced Coffee?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the perfect iced coffee, my constant companion
I've always preferred my coffee iced, even on cold rainy days. I love the jingle jangle of the ice cubes and the swirl of the cream as I shake my cup. I spend way too much of my modest misc. budget on iced coffee. 

It's really is a rip off the way I order it.  Iced coffee is pricier than hot coffee, and iced mochas (my preference) are pricier still.  Then I request 1/3 the mocha syrup since it's always sickeningly sweet and I'm trying to cut out sugar, which means I'm paying for mocha I didn't even receive.  I tell them to put in extra ice so it will be freezing cold, which means I'm paying for mostly frozen water. But I do enjoy every sip of it.  It's an instant mood-lifter and makes even the dullest errands more exciting.

Solution:  This "Perfect Iced Coffee" tutorial from the Pioneer Woman has saved me $40.00 in just a few weeks, and numerous sharp turns into coffee shop parking lots where I must drag Sisi out of her carseat just to get my fix. 

The Pioneer Woman's tutorial is very detailed and the pictures are wonderful.  Even if you're not that into coffee, that post will make you crave it. To break it down, you are basically making a coffee concentrate that you can keep in the fridge and add to ice whenever you want to. Why not just pour hot coffee over ice?  Try it, and you'll see.  It's a watery, pathetic luke warm drink.  No jingle jangle at all. 

To summarize PW's tutorial:
  • Take a bag of ground coffee, put it in a large container, add a bunch of cold water.  Mix it well.
  •  Let it steep on the counter for 8 or more hours.  
  • Then pour it through a strainer to separate the liquid from the grinds.
  • Add ice, cream, sugar, fancy syrups, whatever!
 ***After making it several times, I've come up with a few tips to add to Pioneer Woman's awesome tutorial, especially for the more health-conscious peeps out there.***

coffee beans from Trader Joe's
1.  Choose your coffee wisely.  Ree says any ol' bag will do, and I totally disagree.  Poor quality coffee tends to have huge amounts of mold in it.   I'm no scientist, but it appeals to my logic that you'll want to find a good quality, low-mold coffee, since you'll be letting it sit at room temperature for 8+ hours, and will be keeping it in the fridge for a long time.

How to choose a safer coffee:
  • avoid decaf beans, which tend to have very high mold levels
  • avoid "natural-processed" (aka allowed to sit in the sun and mold) and aim for "wet-processed" (aka rinsed and processed more quickly)
  • avoid African beans, pick Central American if you can, as they are usually wet-processed
  • avoid blends, which are usually several cheap varieties mixed together
  • avoid the cheap cheap stuff like folgers or taster's choice.  mold-a-rama!
I didn't go super high-end, but chose a nice Trader Joe's Costa Rican coffee which seems to meet the qualifications above. I will probably be upgrading to a more splurgy bean soon.
    2.  Gotta love Pioneer Woman's down-to-earth spirit when she suggests brewing it in a bucket, but make sure it's a food-grade BPA free container!  I use a ceramic pitcher. 

    coffee sludge
    3.  You need to be really patient as you strain it.  The process takes a long time, as you want to be thorough and get all the little coffee bits out. I use a paper towel over a fine mesh strainer.  I'd use cheesecloth like she suggests, but where the heck to I buy cheesecloth? 

    4.  Try a smaller batch:  Straining an entire bag's worth could easily take 30 minutes!  And  because of the coffee mold issue, I'd rather it not sit in the fridge for weeks at a time.  I only brew 1/2 a bag of grounds in a regular sized pitcher of water because it's more manageable to strain.  I end up with enough coffee concentrate for a cup a day for 1 week, and I make a fresh batch every Tuesday or Wednesday. It's become a nice little ritual.

    3.  Make it a mocha!
    •  Put a few tablespoons of super hot water in your glass.  Add a spoonful or two of erythritol (or plain old sugar) and two spoonfuls of cocoa powder. Mix well until it's a syrup.
    • Fill the glass 1/2 full with the cold coffee concentrate.  Add heavy cream.  Then fill the glass with ice and stir well, making sure to admire how pretty the cream looks when it swirls.  :)


    Cindy April 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM  

    I love this kind of coffee too! I used to cold-brew all the time (since Tom doesn't drink coffee) and stopped when the Starbucks Via came out. I should do it again because, as you said, it is SO much cheaper.

    My tip is to first strain it all through a larger seive, to get out 95% of the grounds, then take that and strain it through a fine seive with paper towel to get the last bits out.

    Kristin @ Petal and Thorn April 11, 2012 at 2:06 PM  

    cindy- great tip! i was just thinking this morning as i was making a new batch that i should edit that one in.

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