Serious Eats: Drinks
How to Make Cold-Brew Iced Coffee
"No particularly special equipment is essential to the process."
I hate to be the millionth person to say it, but yeah, it's pretty sweaty in the Northeast right now. Your best defense against heat, humidity and that mysteriously pungent smell wafting up from the sidewalk? Iced coffee. Delicious, life-restoring iced coffee.
It's the only thing that's getting me through this brutal heat, but it can be an expensive habit, to the tune of an easy breezy $2-to-$4-a-pop. That'll put a dent in your refreshment budget right quick. Keep the summer thrifty by brewing your own iced joe—yes, even that fancy cold-brewed stuff everybody's talking about, though I confess it's not my preferred method—and blow the extra cash on iced cream.
What You Need
Though many aficionados rave about the Toddy system, no particularly special equipment is essential to the process.
You just need:
- A container to steep the coffee in (yes, you can use a French press; Mason jars work nicely, too) and one to hold the final elixir
- Medium-coarse ground coffee
- Fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth (your French press is okay here, too)
- About 12 hours of patience.
The ideal coffee-to-water ratio will natural depend on your preferences, but let's start with roughly 8 ounces of coffee and 36 ounces of tepid water, which you can adjust to taste.
Time to Mix It Up!
Mix the water and ground coffee in your brew vessel or press pot, giving it a good-but-gentle stir to wet the grounds evenly. Let the container sit at room temperature for about 12 hours. The resulting liquid is going to be your iced-coffee concentrate.
Once the steeping's done, slowly pour the liquid through your strainer or cheesecloth into your second vessel (if you're using a press, depress the plunger and pour the liquid through a cheesecloth into another pitcher). You may want to filter the concentrate again, if there are still grounds in it.
To dilute the brew for drinking, mix yourself a cup that's two parts coffee to one part water. The rest can be stored in the fridge for future cool caffeination.
About the author: Erin Meister (just "Meister" to friends and enemies) trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook.