Cold Brew: The Sweet Tea of NYC
Updated: Oct 6, 2018
Those summer temperatures are creeping up, and it’s time for everyone’s favorite summer caffeine fix: cold brew! Now, if you’re a good gay like me, you know that cold brew and rosé should be enjoyed year-round, but for the rest of you, welcome to cold brew season!
But what’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee? *If you’re gay or live in Brooklyn, feel free to skip this section of the tutorial.* Iced coffee is simply regular hot coffee that is cooled and poured over ice. It’ll do in a pinch, but I think it usually ends up tasting like watered down lame coffee. Cold brew is when coarsely ground coffee beans are steeped in room-temperature or cold water for 12-36 hours, and has a much smoother taste that isn’t as acidic as coffee steeped in hot water. It’s pretty much the sweet tea of New York City.
Cold brew is finally mainstream even if you aren’t in New York, and you can even find it at Starbucks. Coffee shops everywhere are serving it, but it’s usually more expensive than normal iced or drip coffee because of the little bit of extra labor that goes into making it. Luckily, with a little effort, it’s easy to make at home!
Once again, Chef Alex to the rescue! I was dying to make my own cold brew at home to save a couple dollars instead of the $4.50 at my local coffee shop, and Alex was already one step ahead of me in perfecting the recipe.
There are a ton of fancy (and expensive) devices to make cold brew at home, but all you really need are a few things:
Big ole mason jar
Coffee grinder (they’ll also do this for you at your grocery store)
Fine mesh strainer
Paper coffee filters
You can use your choice of coffee beans, but I’m enjoying For Five, especially since they are local to me in Queens.
Another secret to home cooking that has changed my life is the addition of a kitchen scale to more accurately measure your ingredients. I got this super simple one from Amazon and it’s perfect for all your cold brew and baking needs.
Alex’s Perfect Cold Brew
200g coarsely ground coffee (about 2.5 cups)
1200g cold water (about 4.8 cups)
Simply ground your coffee on the most corse setting and add to the mason jar and cover with cold water. I give it a gentle turn once or twice to make sure the beans are fully soaking and leave it in the fridge for 36 hours. Once time is up, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve a few times to get all the big chunks out, then once or twice through a paper coffee filter to get it to optimal smoothness. Then you have your cold brew concentrate! When you are ready to serve, just mix it with equal parts milk or water and serve over ice. Voila, cold brew at home to last you the week!
Because it’s such a smooth taste, I usually drink it black with equal parts concentrate and water, but if you like your coffee a bit sweeter, here’s a bonus section for you. Adding normal sugar isn’t always the best with cold brew because it doesn’t melt like it will in hot coffee, so it’s best to use simple syrup, which is also super easy to make at home.
The Most Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
Heat your water up in a small saucepan, to just under a boil. Once the water is hot but not boiling, stir in the sugar until it is fully dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature before using. It can be stored (in a mason jar, of course!) for a few weeks in the fridge.
Now if this all seems too overwhelming to you, and you need to take baby steps, my easy homemade solution is Grady’s Bean Bags. They come in a tin, and you just add the bags to water and don’t have to do any of the filtering yourself. Grady’s is New Orleans style cold brew with chicory and spices that adds a little sweetness. You can buy them on their website or at your local Whole Foods or fancy grocery store.
I hope with these simple steps you can make all your cold brew dreams come true! Happy (cold) brewing! ✌🏻