Every weekend morning for a span of my childhood, my grandma and grandpa, living on the street behind me, would open their house and brew coffee. I remember rolling out of bed way too early, used to my Monday through Friday routine, and being aggravated by my body’s affinity for habit. But the reward was coffee and time with family. Coffee was the vehicle and excuse for our time together. When I go home, it is something I always look forward too. Now that I dare say I am an independent, fully functioning adult, I repeat this small tradition on my own terms with cold brew.
With longer and warmer summer days, I recommend taking the slow path to a mellower and cool drink. Cold brew is steeping coffee for longer times at lower temperatures. It is not to be confused with iced coffee, which is just hot coffee over ice. I would argue it is easier than making the “regular” stuff. If you grind your own beans, switch to a coarser grind. If you buy pre-ground, then no worries. Grab a pitcher or jar and add coffee and water (room temp or cold) at a 1:8 ratio. Set it in the fridge and wait 12 to 24 hours. When the time comes, pour the swampy liquid through a coffee filter, mesh, or cheese cloth. Congratulations, you just became a three-star barista on Yelp!
If you want to go the extra two stars and embrace your new identity of coffee aficionado, there are a couple of easy ways to enhance and customize your cold brew. I love adding a touch of cream and making simple syrups to provide even more flavor.
The concept of simple syrups is … simple. A good starting point is 1:1 water to table sugar, and then add whatever flavor you want. A little can go a long way. A couple of my favorites so far have been vanilla, almond, and cinnamon-brown sugar. Pureed fresh fruit is also a great option.
Upon that first sip, you’ll realize how completely different the flavor is. The lower temperature means you have less caffeine, oil, and acidity. The chemical profile is radically different and remarkably fitting for time of year. Come next weekend, consider an alternative path to caffeine bliss, but more importantly take the extra time to share with family and friends. Let the drink be the excuse to reconnect during the 48 weekend hours we are afforded.