Cold Pressed Iced Coffee

I’ve made iced coffee before, but always with heat brewed coffee subsequently chilled, but I’ve never had the time or patience to try the cold brewed method. Borrowing from a Washington Post article, I used half a pound of dark roast in five cups of cold (not freezing) water in a large bowl. It takes some stirring to get the mixture thoroughly saturated. Although the recipe did not mention it, I found that stirring the muddy concoction every hour or so seemed like a good idea because the grounds tend to congeal in a thick mass (at the top at first, and later in the bottom as they saturate). Cover well to avoid evaporation.

Twelve hours later (yes, 12 hours), I began to strain the resulting liquid. Some filtering paper, paper towels or the like is a very good idea to get all the pesky grounds out. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of fiber in my diet.

The result is a highly concentrated coffee. Do not drink this straight unless you are Turkish, Ethiopian or an American trucker. This concentrate can be set aside in the refrigerator and used to make “instant” coffee by combining it with 3 parts scalding hot water for every 1/4 part concentrate. Add sweetener and cream to taste.

To make iced coffee mix, I kept the concentrate at room temperature and added 3 parts cool water and 1 part cream/milk to each 1/4 part of concentrate. Sweeten carefully! I find that warmer liquids taste less sweet than chilled ones. What tastes perfectly fine at room temperature, may be sickeningly sweet over ice, but your mileage may vary. You’ll end up with close to a gallon so make sure you have a large pitcher and room in your fridge. Chill and serve over ice.

After chilling the resulting iced coffee in a pitcher, I found it traveled well on a picnic hike in a good quality thermos and stayed icy cold for several hours. Very refreshing after a lunch.

I also plan to bottle some of the concentrate for hiking trips and avoid the mess of grounds and brewing on shorter trips.

I can see how cold brewing might appeal to many people who traditionally do not like coffee, as the process seems to avoid the acidic “bite” many associate with strong coffee drinks. Without this component (which some people enjoy), the concentrate also has a very good shelf life.

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2 Responses

  1. Dave Newton says:

    Could you conceivably do this with a coffee press (assuming you were willing to make it in smaller batches)?

    As much of a coffee drinker as I am, I never thought of making it cold. Even with my press, it’s been used with hot water to MAKE the coffee, even though it often winds up iced after.

    By the way, I’m sure you are aware that a lot of factors can cause bitterness, but the two I’ve heard most often are poorly/over roasted beans and coffee subjected to heat over time. At the coffeehouse where I worked, we would brew our pots and put them in airtight carafes – and the coffee stayed fresh and hot without becoming bitter over the course of the hours until it was sold.

    Great stuff; thanks!

  2. Mystech says:

    Sure, I don’t see any technical reason that you couldn’t make a small batch in a traditional press. My only concerns would be:

    – Enough surface area to water contact in a press (some are much narrower than a large bowl and cold water is far less reactive than hot).

    – Because of the very long brew time, is making smaller batches worthwhile for most people. The half-pound method above, creates about 3 measuring cups of concentrate which makes 15-20 measuring cups of coffee (there is an error in my original post, correcting it now).

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