Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

My dad came to visit this past Saturday, which I think was officially the hottest day of the summer. It was a brief visit but I was so excited to have him here, and I planned an itinerary that allowed him to take in more culture and great cuisine in 36 hours than most people do in a month. He arrived late Saturday afternoon when I was home between performances, and I made my killer Summer Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese which we devoured with lots of bubbly. On Sunday I introduced him to A Voce Columbus, my favorite restaurant discovery this summer, and we went to Sarabeth’s on Monday morning when there were no weekend brunch crowds to battle. I decided that Sunday was “Bring Your Father To Work” Day, for I got tickets for Dad to see my matinee of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center followed directly by my evening concert with Harry Connick Jr. at the Neil Simon Theater. Talk about a jam-packed day! But brunch reservations and theater tickets aside, the one thing I did to truly prepare for his visit was make Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee.

I’ve written in the past about my dad’s coffee devotion. From the time I was a little kid, the man sought out great coffee beans before such a thing was commonplace. While my friends’ parents all drank coffee made from pre-ground beans in a can, one of my happiest childhood memories is the sound of Dad’s Krups grinder whirring away at any time of day or night, immediately followed by the most exquisite coffee aroma wafting from the kitchen as he made his rich brew in a French press pot. My dad and great coffee are indelibly linked in my mind.

I’m more of an espresso drinker myself, but I was recently introduced to the joys of cold-brewed coffee. Until this summer, I figured that the best way to make iced coffee was by brewing it at double-strength and letting it chill before serving it over ice. But the logic behind the cold-brewed method—which has you steep the coffee grounds in cold water for 12 hours before pouring it twice through a filter—is that the resulting coffee is much smoother and more aromatic. There is no bitterness in this brew, for the inherent flavors of the coffee beans are much more pronounced by not having come into contact with boiling water. My espresso consumption has gone way down this summer, for I have instead made myself endless batches of iced coffee by this cold-brew method, especially now that my nearby Whole Foods is carrying beans from the Brooklyn-based Gorilla Coffee Company.

While most people sip iced beverages and frozen blended drinks in the summer, my dad still orders a large extra-hot coffee, even in July. However, as we are in the middle of the most unbearable heat wave here in New York, I knew that even my extra-hot coffee-drinking father might enjoy drinking his favorite beverage over ice, if only for this weekend. Always eager to share my new culinary discoveries, I was very excited to pour Dad a glass of Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee immediately upon his arrival in my apartment.

“Honey, this iced coffee is fabulous!” he’d said. “Is there any more of it left? Can we make more?” I’d made a double recipe of the cold coffee concentrate, thinking that it would be enough to last us through the weekend since he’d probably end up making regular coffee for himself anyway. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I immediately began mixing up a triple batch of coffee concentrate as I started to tell Dad about the restaurants and shows I had planned for us. It felt undeniably RIGHT having him there in the kitchen with me, as my own little Krups grinder buzzed away and the heady aroma of freshly ground coffee beans filled my home. It was an animated start to a memorable weekend fueled by great performances and much laughter, not to mention a LOT of iced coffee.

Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times, published on 6/27/2007.

2/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind)
3 cups cold water
milk (optional)

Stir the ground coffee and cold water together in a jar or a large glass measuring cup. Let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours or overnight. When it has steeped, strain the coffee concentrate by pouring the mixture twice through a coffee filter or a fine-meshed sieve.

When ready to serve, fill a tall glass with ice. Add equal amounts of the cold coffee concentrate and cold water, adding milk and/or sugar to taste. Makes enough coffee concentrate for 4 drinks.


Anonymous said...

Hi Louise, for my own at-home iced coffee there is a designated ice-cube tray in the freezer. It gets filled with leftover coffee and when I want full flavored iced coffee into a tall glass go the coffee ice cubes and the room temperature coffee. No more watered-down iced coffee! Not as tasty as yours I'm sure, but works in a pinch...... CM

louise said...

I like your coffee ice cube idea! If I had a bigger freezer, I'm sure I would fill ice cube trays with all sorts of other things to have on hand at a moment's notice (pesto, homemade stock, coffee for iced java in the summers, etc.). Alas, the reality of my small Manhattan kitchen is somewhat different. Thanks for saying hello!