Java Jive

I don’t know many people who truly identify as a coffee drinker. I mean, I know a lot of people who drink coffee, but if I sat them down and asked them to write a list of their top 10 favorite things in this world, they probably wouldn’t include their daily dose of coffee on that list.

I’m one of those people who would.

There’s some disagreement in my family over when my lifelong association with coffee began. Some say it was as early as two years old, but we know with certainty that I was at least a java junkie by the age of four. While the other kids at daycare were pretending to nap on their cots (but were really sneaking peeks at the latest episode of Days of our Lives), I was sipping coffee and eating donuts in the office with the staff members who weren’t on nap patrol.

Since daycare, my coffee love has gone through phases – the one constant being that I need a cup of coffee every day, lest I face a splitting headache in the afternoon. By college I frequented Starbucks and the campus coffee shop for white chocolate mochas teeming with whipped cream, but even had to stoop to drinking * gasp * instant coffee for the caffeine fix (side note, I should review instant coffee varieties, because some don’t even count as coffee, but others were really quite good, especially if you weren’t allowed to have a coffee maker in your dorm room).

Nowadays I’m a bit snobbier about my coffee – I prefer to make it rather than buy it, and if I buy it I prefer the local, independent shops. I buy whole beans to grind at home when I can, and rarely choose flavored blends anymore (except hazelnut – I’m still a sucker for that). 

While I’m not a stranger to sipping a hot cup of coffee on a summer morning, some days it’s just too darn hot outside to really enjoy it. Thankfully, my taste buds are just as tempted by a cold, iced coffee as they are by a steaming cuppa joe. 

Some folks who like hot coffee can’t stand cold coffee beverages. I won’t hold that against them, but it’s my personal opinion that cold brewed coffee offers an experience of the flavors and intensity of coffee that you don’t get with the hot-brewed variety. But to each their own. 

Cold Brewed Coffee

To cold brew coffee, I use a large glass jar, a glass measuring cup, a mesh strainer, a coffee filter, water and – of course – ground coffee.

Cold brewing takes time, so if I want to take an iced coffee beverage with me in the morning, I set the coffee up the evening before.

In the large glass jar, I combine 1/2 cup coffee grounds and 2 cups of water (or a 1:4 coffee to water ratio, if I want to make more or less). I stir it up, seal the jar, and set it in the fridge for at least 8 hours, but usually more than that. 

Hint: use a piece of paper to make a funnel for the coffee grounds

The next morning, I set up the strainer with the glass measuring cup. If you’re as messy as I am, you  might want to do this in the sink. I pour the coffee/grounds mixture through the strainer and into the second jar, just to get the bulk of the grounds out. I rinse out the jar and the strainer, then prop the strainer on the jar and set a coffee filter in it. I slowly pour the coffee over the coffee filter to remove the rest of the coffee grounds – this can take some time.

I had made a mess and had to restart this step – that’s why I’m pouring it into the measuring cup instead of the jar here

Cold-brewed coffee can be kind of intense, like a coffee concentrate,  so you may want to dilute it with cold water to taste. Drink it black, or stir in your favorite coffee accompaniments – my usual choice is half and half. If you want a sweetener, I’d recommend making a simple syrup (I’ve never done this, but I’m sure you can find directions online). Granulated sugar won’t dissolve as nicely in cold coffee as it does in hot coffee.

Coffee & cream

BONUS: Want to make an iced coffee that stays cold but doesn’t get diluted as the ice cubes melt? Fill an ice cube tray with coffee (either hot brewed coffee after it cools, or cold-brewed coffee) and freeze it for coffee cubes! 

Cold brewing coffee takes a little time and a little forethought, but for a coffee lover who can’t stand the summer heat, it’s well worth the effort.

P.S. – Sara, our friend and fellow blogger over at By the (cook) Book, was kind enough to mention lace and lemons on her blog today, so we’d like to return the favor! You should click through all of her recipes (and home decor projects/activities), but my personal favorites are Eggless Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough, which I will eat straight out of the bowl with a spoon, and Sausage and Tortellini Soup.

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