Saturday, September 5, 2015

Best Iced Coffee Ever



Now that it's getting hotter iced coffee has been my life this summer. Usually I'd have to make a run to Starbucks before heading off to work but since finding my perfect iced coffee recipe my Starbucks run as been non existant.
Iced coffee is a complicated thing, and there are many different approaches. You'd think that one could merely pour brewed coffee into a glass full of ice and call it a day…but I find that method extremely flawed. First, no matter how packed with ice the glass is, once the hot coffee hits, some of the ice is bound to melt. This has two disastrous results:
1. The overall strength of the coffee flavor is diluted.
2. The iced coffee isn’t as cold as it could (or should) be. The finished glass of iced coffee should be frigid, not sorta cold with half-melted ice cubes floating around.

I've found that the solution to getting the strongest iced coffee is making a cold-brew method  aka creating a sort of iced coffee concentrate. There are reasons this method results in a smoother, richer, more delicious concentrate than simply brewing strong coffee and refrigerating it.  (Note: I’ve tweaked coffee/water amounts to suit my own tastes. Experiment to find your own perfect ratio.)


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I start with a  container. I love these food storage containers, by the way. 

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Rip open a pound of ground coffee. Any kind will do; the stronger and richer the better.

REE_4986Pour in the coffee.

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REE_4995Pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) cold water.

REE_4998Give it a stir to ensure that all the grounds make contact with the water…
Then cover the container and go live your life as the coffee steeps for at least eight hours. (You can go much longer if you’d like.)

REE_5001When the time has passed, grab a separate container and place a fine mesh strainer over the top.
REE_5008Place a couple of layers of cheesecloth inside the strainer…

REE_5010And slowly pour the steeped coffee through the strainer.

REE_5015It’ll take awhile for all the liquid to pass through. 

REE_5019Use a spoon to gently press/force the last of the liquid through. And note: I’ve tried the straining method without the cheesecloth, and stray grounds did make it through the mesh strainer. Definitely try to use cheesecloth (or even paper towels) to filter out the finer pieces.

REE_5022And there we have it. 
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You can store the liquid in the same container, or you can transfer it to a pitcher or other dispenser. Though it’s difficult to wait, I refrigerate this gorgeous concoction before consuming it. It’s meant to be cold! Note: this amount of coffee concentrate lasts me a good three weeks to a month if kept tightly covered in the fridge.

REE_5033Now, when you’re ready to make yourself an iced coffee, you can do two things. Start by filling a glass with ice. Reach into the fridge and dispense enough of the coffee liquid to fill the glass half full (or maybe a little more). Splash in skim, 2%, or whole milk…or, if you’re a bad girl like me: half-and-half.

REE_5040Make that naughty, naughty, naughty, bad, bad girl.

REE_5042Add enough sugar to achieve the level of sweetness you like, or you can drizzle in vanilla or caramel syrup if you have those kinds of things lying around.

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Stir it all up…

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Stick in a straw…

REE_5055 The ice is all there. The flavor’s all there. I’m all there.
VARIATION
And now for something a bit different. Same…but different.
This is a variation on classic Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which actually does begin with a hot brew…but I’m using the cold stuff.

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Fill the glass with ice and coffee concentrate as we did before, then crack open a can of sweetened condensed milk. Growing up in the Caribbean we tend to use sweeten condensed milk to sweeten tea's, coffee, or to drizzle over snow cones. 

REE_5066Drizzle in at least 2 tablespoons for a big glass (I wound up adding three.)

REE_5069Come…to…MAMA.

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On top of this, add a small splash of milk or half-and-half.
(I recommend the latter, of course.)

REE_5073Glorious.

REE_5075 I’ve tried all combinations of milk, half-and-half, sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavored syrups, and sweetened condensed milk. The winning combo for me is half-and-half/sweetened condensed milk mixture. It's out-of-this-world creamy and delicious.
Either way, try this cold-brewed method of iced coffee sometime soon. The flavor, convenience (and cost savings) can not be underestimated. 

Live long and prosper...

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