Once the domain of caffeinated hipsters, iced coffee has hit the mainstream over the last few years and is available at coffee shops, fast food chains and the occasional gas station. So why is it so disappointing when you make it at home?
It may seem straightforward to pour freshly brewed coffee over ice, but doing so all but guarantees you’ll end up with a cold drink that is depressingly weak, bitter or both. For those looking for that perfect glass of iced java this summer, there is a better way: Cold-brewed coffee.
Cold-brewed coffee might more accurately be called coffee concentrate. Using a much higher grounds-to-water ratio yields a brew that is nearly three times stronger than coffee brewed in a drip coffee maker, but with roughly one third the acidity. The result is a full-bodied brew that is remarkably smooth. Strong yet never bitter, it is meant to be diluted with ice, milk or water. This is iced coffee as it was meant to be.
This can’t-miss coffee concentrate will hold its flavor for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Serve over a full glass of ice and add as much milk as you like. Deceptively mellow, this stuff is super strong and will stand up diluted at a ratio of three to one or even more.
Cold-brewed coffee might better be described as coffee concentrate. Steeped in cold water, cold-brewed coffee has roughly a third the acidity of drip coffee, yet is much stronger and intended to be diluted before serving, making it the perfect choice for iced coffee lovers often disappointed by a bitter brew watered down when poured over ice.
Place one pound of your ground coffee in a one gallon container. If grinding your own, use a coarse grind to minimize cloudiness. Some recommend a mild roast, others dark roast. Use your favorite and you can’t go too far wrong.
Fill the gallon container to the top with cold water. If measuring amounts, you’re shooting for around 10 cups of water to a pound of coffee, but there is plenty of wiggle room.
Stir gently, making sure grounds are fully moistened.
Place a lid on the container or cover with plastic wrap and walk away. Allow to steep at least 12 hours at room temperature.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a second gallon container. I use a clip to attach the strainer to the lip of the vessel to reduce the risk of spillage. Slowly pour the steeped coffee through the strainer to separate grounds.
Straining may take a while. Allow coffee to filter at its own pace. Once fully strained, discard grounds and transfer cold-brewed coffee into a lidded container to be stored in the refrigerator. Expect a yield of approximately 8-9 cups of concentrated coffee.
Cold-brewed coffee will keep its flavor for two to three weeks under refrigeration. The flavor is so smooth, it’s easy to forget it is meant to be diluted at a ratio of 1:3 or more. Add water or milk to taste and enjoy a rich, flavorful coffee that will stand up beautifully, even in a glass full of ice.
Originally: How to Cold-Brew the Perfect Iced Coffee