A couple of summers ago a new trend erupted in every Trader Joe's and Starbucks that was once something found only in small hippy cafes of Brooklyn, New York- the cold brew. What looks like a simple Cold Americano (and some cafes still don't get the difference) is made very differently to achieve a very different goal. An Americano is made with hot water that is passed through fine ground coffee, further diluted with water, and chilled down with ice. A cold brew however, is never heated.
The aim with the cold brew is to create a spectrum of flavor which is achieved by soaking coarse coffee grounds for long periods of time. This passive process of diffusion extracts the oils within each bean and gives a complexity of flavor that is missing when we shock coffee with boiling water. There is something peaceful about a cold brew. As compared to an espresso it isn't made with a mechanical process, steam, or any of the loud hissing noises that I associate an espresso or a cappuccino. A brew is made overnight with the most rudimentary tools (a jar, spoon, and cheesecloth) and the only noise I associate with it is the clink on the rim of the glass after stirring in the milk.
Right up till my last year in high school I drank instant coffee. Grainy pre-made mix of chicory and burnt arabica that had an amazing chocolate taste and a smoothness that was so good that it felt synthetic. Not knowing that a whole world of coffee beans even exists, I entered college and encountered my first cup of $1 cheap coffee. The caffeine hit me like no other drug has before, and I was fascinated by the complexity of taste. Soon I became used to black coffee. No creamer or sugar. It became the ignition switch for my mind palace every morning and soon I was as dependent to coffee as I was to water after a failed attempt of working out. As my interest in food grew, I was introduced to different coffees, blends, roasts, and grind types. If people are curious, I love mild blends because it offers more taste which allows me to actually enjoy my drink as compared to a dark roast that which is more of just bitter caffeine water. One of my close friends, Naomi once mentioned that original coffee was actually colorless (or at least wasn't as dark as what we consume today) and consumed like green tea. I found that fascinating and something that I wish to explore soon.
Since I have been brewing my own coffee, I have became a lot more selective on the coffee I purchase. In the US, I stuck to Starbucks Veranda Blend. It was worth the money and had this industrial standard roast which ensured the same quality of coffee every time. In India, I swear by Blue Tokai. A fairly well known coffee company in India that prides in sourcing its produce from Indian farmers and roasting their coffees in Delhi. I have been to their roastery (a cafe where they roast coffee as well) and loved the ambience and options of coffees. Each coffee comes with an exact description of the kinds of flavors it has, the farm it was grown in, and things like elevation and farm type-- information that you never thought you needed to know but once you know you feel more educated. Each coffee bag (when bought online) comes with your name and roasting date along with a beautiful painting on the back. I love the brand because of how much pride it takes in the product and how much pride it wants to instill within its patrons. Additionally, there are few companies that are this transparent- something that reminds me of Everlane (but for food).
Cold brews are amazing. It makes the coffee the hero of the dish, not the milk, the stupid foam, or the foam art. It's true to its form and its simplicity is what drives me to make a fresh batch (or two) every week.
As always, please like and share as well send along pictures of what you have been cooking!
Serves: 6 servings
3/4 Cup Coarsely Ground Beans (at Blue Tokai, I get the Attikan Honey Sun Dried)
4 Cups of cold water
1 tsp of maple syrup (optional)
1 tsp of milk/ creamer/ soy (optional)
Add coffee and water in a jar or french press. Mix well with a wooden spoon (wood is non reactive and doesn't influence the flavor)
Let the coffee soak overnight at room temperature, though if you live in the tropics put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. The longer you store the more caffeine you extract
Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Further strain with a cheesecloth in order to ensure none of the coffee grounds seeped through.
Store your concentrate in the fridge and enjoy by diluting the mix in a 1:1 ratio with water. Add maple syrup into the mix which is a much healthier alternative to sugar since its rich in antioxidants.