Monday, July 22, 2013

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

A few years ago cold brewed iced coffee hit the food blog circuit hard.  I appreciated the smoothness and high caffeine content, but it was never a regular part of my routine until this summer.  The reasons:
  • Calories!  I'm a big fan of eating them, not so much for drinking them.  Too many of the versions I've seen suggest adding sugar, cream, and/or sweetened condensed milk.  A big ol' rush of fat and sugar is not a good way to start the day.  But cut out the fat and sugar, and you lose the taste, and hence the point of this little drink. 
  • Time.  Homemade takes less time and is much cheaper than stopping to see the barista, but no one can deny that home made iced coffee is a heavy.

Fueled by the desire for a cold treat on hot summer mornings, I finally found the right combination of ingredients to get a sub-100 calorie beverage and made peace with the equipment requirements.   Let's check it out.

Recipe from The New York Times
Yield: 2 drinks
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • ⅓ cup ground coffee 
For each drink, add:
  • ¾ cup sweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon (or less) sugar
  • 4 ice cubes

The night before, fill a sealable container with 1½ cups cold water and ⅓ cup ground coffee.  I've had good results with all brands of coffee and would venture to say it doesn't matter where your coffee falls on the Starbucks-to-Folgers index.  The magic is in the brewing, not the ingredients.

Stir in the grounds.

Seal the container and place it in the refrigerator overnight. 

The next morning, rise and shine!  Retrieve your coffee and set up a filtering system based on the available equipment in your kitchen.  My coffee filter in a strainer basket set over a mug may not be the most photogenic approach, but it's what I've got to work with.

Strain the coffee.  The original recipe calls for double straining through cheesecloth.  Single-straining through a regular coffee filter has always worked just fine for me.

Now it's time to make a drink.  The original recipe is designed to be diluted one-to-one with water.  Think about it: an overnight brew time makes for a strong cup of coffee.  However, I didn't care much for this approach.  What can I say, it was just too watery for my taste.  I needed to find something else besides water.

So my solution is to dilute it one-to-one with one of the finest substances on earth, sweetened almond milk (not to be confused with unsweetened almond milk, which is just OK).  Place ¾ cup coffee and ¾ cup almond milk in a blender.

Add four ice cubes and a pinch of sugar.

Give it a whirl.  And yes, the blender lives up to its name.

Transfer coffee to cup.

And transfer the cup and yourself to a better place.

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