Why you should care
This recipe could save you $100 next month. And it’s heaven, besides.
Pooja Bhatia is an OZY editor and writer. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Economist, and was once the mango-eating champion of Port-au-Prince.
Summer is especially cruel to the late risers among us. Many of us want to wake early. We want to feel the last traces of night-cooled air on our cheeks, to feel sentient in predawn blue, to have a couple hours’ peace before rushing along the trash-fetid streets and onto the subway’s B.O. line, sweating through our silk blouses and making it, at last, to the office where the AC is always way too high.
The recipe below may help — not with the weather or the fetid smells, but by giving you late risers a reason to get your ass out of bed. For those of you who already know and love cold brew, it will save you about $3 a day. You will find that there is no need for the bottled concentrates appearing on grocery shelves or braving the Starbucks line or whatever. You should do cold brew at home.
The secondary appeal of cold-brew coffee, at least as I make it, is that it is utterly unfussy.
Cold brewing is a different chemical process from hot brewing. Hot water extracts flavor-producing compounds fast — and it also cooks those compounds, transforming their flavor. Cold brew’s tactics are gentler: It coaxes over long hours instead of forcing, and the result is happier too: Cold brew has less acid and no bite, but it’s still round and deep and full.
That said, you absolutely do not need a fancy gadget, like the Toddy Cold Brew System or the Filtron, to make this stuff at home. I use the same French press that does me in the cold months. Others swear by filters and Mason jars, or, heck, buckets — though that sounds a bit messy to me.
Indeed, the secondary appeal of cold-brew coffee, at least as I make it, is that it is utterly unfussy. Fussiness steals fun and joy. The best cold-brew recipe is tweetable — expressed in 140 characters or fewer, as I did last summer:
Pooja Bhatia - @bhatiap
Ground coffee, brown sugar, cardamom pods, h20–>French press. Stir, brew overnight in fridge, stir, drink w/ ice and cream. #summertimePSA
I’d like to leave it at that, but some will have questions:
Q: How much coffee and how much water?
A: Varies. Some advocate a 1-to-3 coffee-to-water ratio, others a 1-to-4.5, and still others monkey around with scales. Me, I eyeball it. I fill up the press a fourth or fifth of the way up with coffee.
Q: Fine or course ground?
A: I go with fine to medium. Course is wasteful, and I don’t mind a bit of sludge.
Q: Shouldn’t you filter again, to get the sludge out?
A: If you can’t handle a bit of sludge at the bottom of your cup, then yes, filter twice.
Q: How hot should the water be?
A: It shouldn’t be hot. See above, re: coaxing versus forcing.
Q: When should you press or filter?
A: After the second stir, just before drinking.
Q: Why cardamom?
A: I find cardamom complements the coffee beautifully. I take five or six whole pods, crack them open with my teeth and throw them in the press. You could also or instead add cloves, cinnamon or anything else you think might go well. Or nothing at all.
Q: How much sugar?
A: To taste.
Q: Why brown sugar?
A: The molasses in brown sugar complements the round, deep flavor of the cold brew.
Q: Can I use white sugar, or no sugar?
A: Yes, but I’ll be making my own, thank you.