Monday, September 12, 2011

Cold brew cure-all

My dad woke me up at 5:40 every morning in high school to make the 6:35 train to New York City. Groggy and sour, I’d plod downstairs into the kitchen for breakfast in a dark corner of a quiet room with a cup of coffee. I started drinking coffee when I began commuting at 14, and those mugs fortified me for the daily trip from my house to the looming city. A decade later I am, at heart, still the same groggy, sour girl, but my three or four daily cups bring me the affability I don’t naturally possess and sooth the aches of adult life. Coffee is a potent elixir, one that transforms a small girl into a savvy commuter, a frazzled kid into a competent teammate, an awkward encounter into a serene stroll. When something is wrong, coffee can usually make it right.

These last few weeks of summer are a painful time, with shoulders stinging from lazy sunscreen application and scabbing insect bites, with legs cringing as they anticipate the departure of their beloved jorts. For an antidote, I prescribe several doses of cold-brew coffee. The method, which has become trendy in recent years, is too easy: just soak coffee grounds in cold water for 12-18 hours and strain through a filter or French press. The resulting concentrate is sweeter and milder tasting than chilled hot coffee, which becomes more acidic the longer it sits in the fridge. I like it diluted with a few tablespoons of water, a slug of whole milk, and a shake of cinnamon, the perfect salve to the aches of change.

Cold Brew Coffee
Ingredients
2/3 cup coffee grounds
1.5 cup cold water

Directions:
  • Pour grounds into a a large jar or bowl with a lid. Stir in water. Refrigerate for 12-18 hours
  • Ppour grounds through a mesh strainer. Discard solids. Line strainer with a coffee filter and pour the liquid back through. Store in a lidded container for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Notes for the Naked:
  • A French press will speed up the process—just prepare in the pitcher and plunge after 12-18 hours. I can’t deal with another utensil in my kitchen so I use my strainer
  • If you don’t have a mesh strainer, you can use a regular colander. Just be prepared to strain in batches using 2-3 coffee filters, because they’ll get so full of grinds that they will clog
  • Don’t forget to dilute the concentrate before drinking. Cold brew is naturally sweet enough to be drunk black—if you usually take your coffee with milk, give it a shot

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