Amy Clark

Iced Coffee the Cold Brew Way

I have a few weaknesses in my life- pretty yarn, delicious books, lovely shoes…and coffee, coffee, coffee!  In the winter, I crave a hot drink to warm my hands. In the summer, it is an entirely different story and I want a delicious iced coffee  to keep me cool while I dream of exotic vacations and escaping the reality of my mountains of laundry and cranky children. Does coffee let you escape too?

As the Indiana weather has begun to make it’s way towards Spring, I was anxious to finally give the cold brewed coffee technique a try from the New York Times.  This winter, I saved my Swagbucks and decided to buy myself a treat… a French Press that I could use in the evening for my decaf coffee. When Rachel highlighted her own cold brew technique using a French Press on Small Notebook (and then featured here), I had to put my little gadget to work and see what all of the fuss was about.

Traditionally, when I use my French press, I heat the water in my teapot and then add it to the grounds, steep it for about four minutes, and then plunge it to push the grounds down. With the cold brew technique, you just do everything wrong. You put in the grounds, add cold water, don’t plunge it for an entire night, add more water, and then finally plunge it for your iced brew. To be honest, it looks like really watery coffee sludge and you wonder if you just wasted your coffee and a moment of effort to pull it together.

I then poured it and mixed mine up with almost half skim milk and a generous little shake of caramel coffee syrup and excitedly went in for a taste. The taste? Coffee perfection! There is no bitterness and no coffee edge at all.  It just tastes like a delicious coffee that you would get at the fancy coffee joints, but only costs pennies versus dollars!

After I made a coffee for myself, the next day I made one for my grandmother. If you don’t believe me that it was good, perhaps seeing the two of us ladies rushing over to Target that-very-instant to buy a French press so she could easily replicate the coffee at home, our fun discussion dissecting the recipe and what could be done with it, and then talking about how delicious it was for an hour just might convince you.

Really though, a French press is not required for this technique, in fact, you could just use a coffee filter and a jar, if you don’t want to make the purchase. If you are in the market to buy one, I recommend one that has a second mesh filter around the lip (as pictured above) to give your coffee an extra strain. Should you use the medium grind coffee, as recommended by the manufacturer, you might not need this additional strainer as much. If you are like me though and choose to use the coffee you already use every other day of the week (which is most definitely not always freshly ground) then that extra little strainer might come in handy. The one pictured here is the BonJour Hugo ($19.12).

As an aside, I have made my own coffee syrups and also have bought them. It really depends on how motivated you are, but I love to have a variety of them when I have my girlfriends over for coffee. I am all about the coffee shop experience on a pauper’s budget, and syrups are one of those things that make my coffee brewed at home feel a little more special.

The best deal I have found on them has been at the wholesale club. Our local Sam’s Club (our area does not offer a variety of wholesale clubs, unfortunately for price comparison purposes) offers a 25.4 ounce container of gourmet coffee syrups for $4.42. Basically, for the price of one of those expensive caramel coffees, you can make a few dozen of them. The prices in the grocery store typically are much higher so if you are going to buy them, definitely put your membership card to work on this purchase and peruse the aisles for affordable coffee too!

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Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee (Recipe Courtesy of The New York Times)

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)

Milk (optional).

In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

For the French press: Place 1/3 cup of ground coffee in the bottom and add 1 1/2 cups water. Allow to sit overnight without pushing down the plunger. The next morning, add 1 more cup of water. Add milk as desired and coffee syrup as desired. Stir and serve.

For more great coffee tips and tricks for savings, be sure to visit, “A Frugal Mom’s Guide to Good Coffee.”  I told you, I am so passionate about this topic!

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To clean your French press- Keeping your French press clean is quick and easy. First, dump the grounds in your trash can and not down your sink. You may want to trust me on this, but even with the best garbage disposals it can create a big mess and clog your drain. I use a spoon and scoop as much as I can out of the bottom before giving it a wash.

Most French presses can be placed into the dishwasher for easy cleaning on the top rack. If you are worried though, don’t hesitate to give it a quick wash by hand (using just a tiny bit of dish soap). For the unbreakable plastic variety, a little shake of baking soda and water is an ideal way to get it clean. Allow it to air dry or gently towel dry it, if you are trying to avoid the spotting. However you clean it, put it to good use and make it earn its keep in your cupboards!

What are some ways that you save on your coffee experience? Any tips or tricks for cutting the cost on your daily brew?

Published March 30, 2010 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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